Friday, December 21, 2012

This Is the Knowing

Cheeks flush pomegranate red
upon embers - this is the knowing
that eventually everything ends badly.
Still, there’s a welcoming of the wet
taste of raspberry against my tongue.

Fingers lace saltwater gray
between damp - this is the knowing
that eventually everything turns tepid.
Still, there’s an easy sway to the talk
on the scaly brown boardwalk.

Lungs inhale thick sticky black
against rot - this is the knowing
that eventually everything is a suffocation.
Still, there’s a strange steady rhythm
to this sharing a blanket each night.

Minds race cold paisley and blue
upon ice - this is the knowing
that eventually everything grows gone.
Still, there’s unlocking my eyes in the dark
and seeing the absence of being unknown.



Shadow Road Quarterly - Winter 2012

Always I Laughed

Did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything? - Mary Oliver

The grass was brown, prickly against my bare feet.
I could smell summer ending and things changing inside.
Eight years old and solitude was my favorite thing,
such a quiet sound, but always I laughed, just like my dad.

I could smell summer ending and things changing inside
the tiny house with the big back yard where apricots fell to rot,
such a quiet sound, but always I laughed just like my dad
when they squished between my callused toes.

The tiny house with the big back yard where apricots fell to rot
was a place he never lived with an overgrown field he never knew.
Apricots squished between my callused toes
and the warm morning air filled with the scent of my being alone.

This place he never lived, that overgrown field he never knew,
how the sunshine made me squint before reaching the shade,
the warm morning air filled with the scent of my being alone -
there was a learning, just then, how to watch from a distance.

The sunshine made me squint before reaching the shade.
Eight years old and solitude was my favorite thing;
there was a learning, just then, how to watch from a distance.



Shadow Road Quarterly - Winter 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Debonair

Darlin', my name is
Earl and you sizzle my
bacon. How's about you sidle
on over here onto ol' Earl's knee.
Now, don't go playin' shy. Earl
ain't gonna bite ya. No ma'am,
I's taught to treat my little fillies with
respect.



Boston Literary Magazine - December 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wallowing Is Underrated

I mean, why not just sort of roll around
in the mud, let the filth of it cover you entirely,
let its reek gag you until odor-fatigue
begins to work its nasty little magic?

Why not refuse hands offered to help you up?
They don’t know the freedom that comes
with being able to just shit in your shit.
There’s nothing quite like rooting around
with your face buried in what shoulda-coulda-woulda,
snorting, coveting, pining.

And don’t even get me started about slop
quality. You got your rinds, rots, cobs, swills,
just-turned-green’s, and nobody-remembers-
what-it-is’s. There’s always something more
to feed upon. Always.



Other Poetry - December 2012

Of Pearl or After the Divorce I Get a Cat

Covered feet cricket
in a peaceful cozy calm –
little Pearl pounces.

     While writing haiku,
     fingers count five, seven, five –
     Pearl times her attack.

          Come to Daddy, Pearl.
          I extend my arms; she leaps –
          purring already.



The Broadkill Review - December 2012

A Blessing for My Sons

May you each find a girl who

doesn’t mind wearing pig-tails
as long as you never pull them,

loves math and animals
and kissing you where it hurts,

has a stand on Roe v. Wade
but would never stand for you v. her,

can wink at the checker when choosing
between the milk and the bread,

is loved for the shirts off her back
and comfortable arms that know how to let go.

May you each find such a girl
and tell her you did and you will
and you do; then keep your word.

When your girl becomes your wife,

sink deep into the soft of her
and let her find rest in the firm of you;

put your ear to the ground and discover
her tender names and endure their sweetness;

bask in the folding of blankets together,
the soapy smell just after showers;

revel in the smile of your favorite chair being moved
to a pretty spot too far away from the wood-stove.



The Broadkill Review - December 2012

Gifts

Two beloved sons
seventeen years before
bartering against their good.

Wild and passionate
laughter
that just about got things done.

Firsthand knowledge
of the blacksmith power
of a constantly wagging head.

Her breast to cry upon,
more comfortable than safe,
still, better than crying alone.

Slouching, biting fingernails,
two decades of knowing
my prayers could never be loud enough.

I gave her gifts, too.
(Her list to share, not mine.)
I will only mention the one I want back.

I gave her my prime.



The Broadkill Review - December 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Just Pink

There it is again; this time
it’s in the morning sky
over Three Sisters and it’s layered
with various shades of blue
and somber dawn.

The gray frost on the grass
is a metaphor, but I don’t get metaphors.
So, I stare at swirls in the sky
until I see smoke from a chimney
and colors begin to fade.

It’s gone now and I wonder
if it was ever there at all.
Maybe it was really
a more sophisticated hue of itself,
a near-relative with money
and a hundred-dollar name.

No, I decide it was just pink
as I stumble into the bedroom,
kiss her barely wetter than a peck,
whisper I’m sorry for last night
and head to the barber for a trim.



The Toucan Magazine - December 2012

Muse

You’re right.
I show way too much
skin and roll up the blinds
so high that the neighbors can see
too much of the inside and private of us.

You blush
at the almost half-way
of a page of prayers for you
and I can tell that you secretly wonder
what life would be like if shared with a carpenter

instead of a poet.
You might be sipping
iced-tea on a new shaded
deck watching him drive nails hard
with single blows of his tanned, muscled arm,

and your busyness
would be your business.
Instead, you married an indiscreet
worshipping wordsmith with a vanity blog.
It is lucky for you that I don’t know how to draw.



The Toucan Magazine - December 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Step-Dad's Dog

Shame on me
for not loving that dog.

Part collie, part shepherd,
barrel-chested and brown with
white and black swirled in,
Pete was a runner and a barker
and he came with us when my step-dad
packed us all up and moved us
from California to Oregon.

We got a place in the country
with some land and with post-holes to dig.
There were seven of us kids still too young
to have a choice about moving. Still, only I
got assigned to dig the holes.
I was 16 and strong
and, seemed to me,
always the odd-man out.

Well, I’d get a hole dug and then run
in the field as fast as I could just to see
if Pete could keep up. Of course he could –
we were in our primes
with ferocious lungs
and legs that never tired.

I’d do what lonely kids
with dogs in the movies always did –
run in the tall grass and stop
to wrap my arms around
that barrel chest and roll around
and laugh it up and talk to him
as the sun set. I’d scratch his belly
and under his chin and let him
lick me right in the face.

After I graduated and got married
and had myself a couple of sons,
Pete got skittish and cranky
and just about all the way blind.
My step-dad refused to believe
that it was only a matter of time.
It ended up being a neighbor kid –
one serious bite right above the ankle,
four deep holes that earned Pete a bullet.

Shame on me
for shooting that dog.



Memoir Journal - Issue 11

Friday, November 30, 2012

Hard Pull


When it comes to turkey,
I’m more cold than wild –

too much
abandonment in abandon,
too much
left wanting when wanton.

And, I think it’s funny
that when no-rules rules
it can lock you down tight.

Who am I trying to kid?
Pass the bottle.



The Toucan Magazine - November 30, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Love Begins with a Metaphor

The dining room chairs
used every holiday and when the will
needs going over.

A dusty fish tank yearning
for wet and bubbles and the scaly
hierarchy of a manufactured habitat.

A yellow balloon resting
in a basketball net, heavy enough
to get stuck in the middle,

too light for falling all the way through.
A toddler reading pictures in a book, laughing
with the exaggerated applause of his parents.

A stack of wooden blocks
waiting for one too many and the slow lean
of just before tumbling.

The cat curled up in a blanket
beneath a sunny window
sleeping with one eye open.



Full of Crow Poetry - October 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Oregon

Will you claim me now, after 30-years
of breathing your air, growing tall and then bent
in your ubiquitous rain?

I gave you my prime, two sons, a marriage,
a thousand questions, the only answer,
another son.

My knees are callused with three decades of kowtowing
to your peaks and valleys, your green and your gray,
the ruggedness of your shores.

Will you claim me now as I walk with you still
in gentle contemplation and watching
as you turn men calm

and make women strong? Let me lean-in and listen
to you whisper the blessing of shade and tranquility.
Claim me now

the way you claimed me that first summer so long ago
as I cleared fescue from the overgrown garden with scythe
and splinters and blisters.

I found your rhythm then, do you remember? Between
deep breaths, steady strokes and dripping sweat,
I learned your name.

In time, I stopped and drank clear water as Mary’s Peak
turned black against the dusk of my youth
and you became my mother.



Toe Good Poetry - October 3, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

So Gray

I did not know
the lighthouse was white;
it always seemed gray,
like the cold empty sea
to which it stood sentinel.
But, once, the sun danced
through the clouds
and the lighthouse beamed -
adagio of glow upon stone.
Soon, the tide ebbed;
bitter clouds closed in;
things returned to gray.
I am lonely, fearful of storms.




Burningword - October 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

Pure autumn color bursts
under snow-white whipped cream.
Memories of Mama and family and noisy
people gathered to eat and laugh and casually
kindle the ties that bind
intensify as the aroma of sweet savory
nutmeg crowds the kitchen and my beloved
parents' house becomes a home again -
in spite of the year's long
emptiness.



Boston Literary Magazine - Fall 2012

Losing Track of Time

I’m an old-fashioned watch-tapper
with a peptic stomach
and a recurring nightmare
of all eyes turning slowly my way
as the scowling man at the podium
begins pelting me with condemnations
over my lazy procrastination.

You could say I appreciate punctuality.

If I was a woman, I’d be a bun-headed,
horn-rimmed-glasses-wearing,
red-lips-pursing, battle-axe
of an I-hate-late-people person.

Still, I just love losing track of time with you.



Boston Literary Magazine - Fall 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My First Good Beer

It was after a long day of bucking bales.
I was hot, itchy, smelled of sweat
and straw and old-truck fumes.
Pretty sure I bucked the most,
definitely bucked my share –
and all the way to the top, too!

I was seventeen, law-abiding,
and had not acquired the acquired taste.
Plus, I was kind of scared of alcohol
(I had my reasons).

I put the last bale in its place,
wearied myself to the truck
and put back the sideboards.
Next, I took off my leather gloves,
soft from hard use;
my hands smelled like saddle.
I took off my wet grassy shirt
and hosed down cold.

Everybody else had started
pulling beers from the cooler
when my step-dad gave me the nod –
I didn’t often get the nod.
So, I shoved my hand into the crushed ice,
got myself one, and braced
for the bitter. But it was good.
It was real good.

I let myself lean
on the rusty tailgate, wiped my face
with the wadded-up shirt, and savored
that goddamned nod.



Naugatuck River Review - Summer 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

I Was Married Once to a Bonobo

I know that sounds mean,
but it’s ok, she was a bonobo –

a drop of the hat mad,
mud-slinging, screeching,
taunting-and-running-away-
sulking bonobo.

Funny thing is,
I don’t think she knew.

There were a couple of times
in our twenty years together
when I saw her almost react
to what she saw in the mirror.
It was something akin to self-awareness,
an almost seeing
what she had let herself become.

Perhaps I was holding the mirror too close.



The Broadkill Review (a print-only journal) - August 2012

Leaves

I love watching wind
nudge leaves off trees
so red and orange sails
can glide through crisp
chilly air with furtive flits
that prolong their descent.
Eventually they bounce
upon deep green grass
like children jumping
into their parents' bed
way too early
on Saturday morning.
I cannot stop missing my sons.



The Broadkill Review (a print-only journal) - August 2012

Sweet Milk

Sometimes I run my tongue
around the mouth of my beard
just to remind myself
what I had for breakfast.

Just now, I tasted
sweet milk left over
from a branny
bowl of cereal
I'd poured using
light from the fridge.

I’d eaten in silence
at just before dawn
like I was at an old
one-pump gas station
in the middle of nowhere
wondering where I was going.



The Broadkill Review (a print-only journal) - August 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pococurante

Paradise wasn’t lost; it was taken away
over a tree-turf dispute between God’s
children and God’s pride. His eloquent
opining about what goes before falls
came later and was apparently a hard won
understanding that hasn’t quite sunk in.
Rather than let bygones be bygones
and accept the divine wisdom of the street game,
No harm, no foul, He takes elocution lessons
then Pontius-Pilates His hands in a shallow bowl,
excusing the bloody consequences as the wages of sin.



Punchnel's - August 15, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Smooth

We’re nibble-close
in our sheet-strewn bed
on a Wednesday
while Jackson is sleeping.

It’s dark outside
and we spend most of the time
staring into each other;
I tell you that your blue eyes
are the stuff of poetry.

I run my fingers through
your long brown hair
just because I know
you will slide your body
closer to mine.

I admit,
that my work began to suffer
from the moment I met you
and that I was wrong
to have told you
during our honeymoon
that I could never be happier
than I was right then.

I tell you that I became aware
of this mistake the first time
I saw you nursing Jackson
and had just become aware of it again.

You whisper in my ear,
I love you, Danny.
But you’re lying on my hair.




Snakeskin Poetry Webzine - August 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tsunami

Tragedies
like this don’t
just happen all
of a sudden. First,
there is this unseen shift;
then a shaking and a splitting
at the core of things. Next, the rush,
fast and hundreds of miles deep. From
the very first wiggle sirens sound evacuations.
Sometimes there is a scrambling for higher ground.
Sometimes there is denial, fascination with the odd receding calm,
exploration of new beauty until holding on for dear life, a few loud words,
                                                                                                     and
                                                                     being
                                swept
away.



Other Rooms Press - Summer 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Huck Finn Summer

I turned twelve during Huck Finn summer
just after spring delivered baby brother,
red-curled and dimply. All I wanted
was to teach Stevie life’s important things,
but his crib bars kept him jailed from playing
bare-footed outside or climbing in trees.

     Squishy brown fruit from our apricot trees
     aimed at my sisters - two prissy summer
     targets, pigtails and sundresses, playing
     house or dress-up - splat them mad, our brother
     laughs as they chase me inside. “There’s one thing,”
     I holler, dashing by – I am Wanted.


Our house was full of holes we each wanted
filled – Mom, by herself, could not trim the trees;
big sister’s silky quilt, a threadbare thing;
little sister drew one picture all summer
long, over and over: baby brother
and our father, loves of her life, playing.

     Calloused against sharp dry grass, I’m playing
     with the worn brown boxing gloves Dad wanted
     me to have. “Don’t you mess with my brother,”
     I warn unseen bullies, jabbing at trees,
     smelling old leather, apricots, summer
     sweat, and the rank taste of some big lost thing.


I wag my head at how tiny a thing
it takes – the sound of children playing,
the wet of dew between my toes, summer
afternoons hammocked with nothing wanted,
peanut butter and apricot jam, trees
with swings – I was a lousy big brother.

     Between his bars I say, “You’re my brother
     and you won't have to play alone. One thing
     you can count on is me. We’ll climb high trees
     and have adventures, just us two, playing
     pirates like Tom and Huck – outlaws wanted
     dead or alive. You’re gonna love summer!”


Each year as trees grow bare, I wonder how my brother
marks the passing of summer. Can he see that things
age and hue? Playing with me was all he ever wanted.



Big River Poetry Review - July 9, 2012

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Residue

I was propped in bed
smoking a cigarette
under the ceiling fan
after recent exertion.

My wife,
fluffing her hair
in the bathroom mirror,
had already moved on to talking
about how her cell phone
no longer holds a charge.

Strange.
All I could hear
and see and taste
was the nasty yellow residue
my ex-wife left

hovering around
my nakedness
like smoke rings
that never float away.



Yes, Poetry - July 2012 (titled there as I Have a Hard Time with Happiness)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The New Boss is from Hawaii

Hola, Knife River Company,
how can I help you?

Annie, this is Dan.
Why are you answering
the phone that way?

It’s Hawaiian-Shirt Friday.
Didn’t anybody tell you?

No.
Annie, hola is Spanish.
Don’t you mean, aloha?

Dangit. You’re right.
Let me start over.
Aloha, Knife River Company,
how can I help you?

I need to talk to Fred.
Hey, why didn’t anyone tell me
about Hawaiian-Shirt Friday?

Maybe it’s because
you don’t know how to hang loose.
Maybe it’s due to fear
that you will show up
in a grass skirt and sandals –
my god!
Do you still want to talk to Fred?

Yes. Please.

Well, I’ll have to send you
to voice-mail. He is busy eating
a pineapple and Spam sandwich.
Mahalo and adios.



The Waterhouse Review - Summer 2012

Our Son Cries

your heart is a cracked accordion filling fast with salt - Patrick Rosal

My ex-wife called to tell me this.
Well, not exactly this. She called for money
I’d already paid. As an aside, in passing,
she added this: Our son cries.

He holds his face in his hands and sobs.
He stops by for food, cleansing, a couch
for sleeping on. He talks to himself.
He scratched the name “Jesus”
into his chest, says he’s fighting
the devil. He asked if he was adopted,
says Bob Marley is playing games
with his mind. His prescription
bottle’s full; he says the doctor is stupid.

Our son cries, she tells me in passing
after asking for money I’d already paid.
She cries, says she prays for magic.
I do not cry right there in front of her,
on the phone. Instead, I blink hard
and blink hard again.



Burningword - July 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

Water Balloons

Before he can take off his boots
his wife says, “Come here, quick.”
She is smiling, giddy,
points out the window
over the kitchen sink,
says, “Look.”

The neighbors have water balloons.
She loves balloons,
especially yellow ones that float.
In this case the colors cover the spectrum –
blue, red, yellow, pink, white -
every one heavy.

She directs his attention to Dwayne,
the dad and, as far as dads go, he’s young.
He is the big one creeping-up
from under the trampoline.
In his sights is the unsuspecting Lila –
his four-year old daughter.
Her little pink swimsuit is still dry.
Rapid-fire!
Lila stiffens, screams, runs away,
stops to look back.
She's never smiled so wide.
She is being pursued.

“I love it,” says the wife at the window.
Feet aching, he says,
“It’s all fun and games until
someone gets hit in the face.
Someone else breaks out
one of those big ol’ water guns.
Before you know it, there’s a garden hose
involved. It escalates.
Things get said.”

She goes back to the dishes.
He takes off those boots.


Poetry Quarterly - Fall 2011

Shiny Blue Crow

I befriended a shiny blue
crow on the cold soggy
sand of the Lincoln City shore.

We walked awhile,
not side by side, but along
similar enough paths,

each enjoying the odd
malodor of fish and foam
upon salty sea air.

She never once looked at me
squarely, too skittish to find
comfort in companionship.

Occasionally acknowledged,
sideways glances expended
effort from busy pecking.

Still, I followed, tracking
her trail, hoping she might
light upon my hand,

rest atop my shoulder.
Whenever I neared,
she fluttered

just out of reach,
beyond my grasp.
Lingering awhile,

I watched her move away,
watched the distance
between us grow.


Poetry Quarterly - Fall 2011

Thirst

It is all of the thirsting that makes the all of the drinking
worth the two-handed rush of the cold sweaty glass
toward your lips – cracked and bleeding and aching
for the grace of the cool tender wet of a healing.

Every day is a parched throat of grit and insufficient
spit for swallowing anything other than your withered
pride; you search the horizon for relief and only get blurs –
it is all of the thirsting that makes for all of the drinking.

Hot wafts of mirage focus your squints, your voice
cracks leathered appeals for clarity that does not come;
then you glimpse a distant and wavy beauty you know
is worth the two-handed rush of the cold sweaty glass

she offers your delirium. You try to blink the sweat
from your eyes as you stumble over your need
and burning bare feet, eager to feel just one drop
drip upon your lips – cracked and bleeding and aching

against your knowing it is all a hazy convection
of every wonderful thing you can feel but never touch.
Still, you lunge for the fresh and, as you drink at last,
you feel the grace of the cool tender wet of your healing.


Poetry Quarterly - Fall 2011

Smitten

Speechless and unable to
maintain my dignity,
I stare.
Taken entirely by surprise,
this celestial beauty leaves me breathless,
enraptured by her glorious joy and knowing
nothing will be the same.


Poetry Quarterly - Fall 2011

It Wasn't All for Naught

It was all for this –

the holding of breath to the toddle
of the next, next generation;

fat fingers tracing maps
along the face of the first generation;

giggles upon tickles
upon arms wrapped around necks;

warm-oven chocolate-wafts
and shared glasses of milk;

tongue-and-groove grip,
perfectly tight, perfectly loose;

teary backward glances
and tiny hands learning to flap goodbye.


Poetry Quarterly - Summer/Winter 2012

The Coffee Girl

The coffee girl is beautiful.
Her jade eyes find me, she smiles.
I can only look down.
Mumbling my order,
my heart races,
my cheeks flush.
"Thank you."
Tip.

She twists her curls subconsciously
when I compliment her hair.
She blushes, restrains her joy.
"I was running so late
I just threw it back."
"It's nice fluffy."
"Well, thank you!"
"Welcome."
"Bye."

I drive six miles out of my way
to enjoy her youthful bounce,
implied invitation.
"Usual, today?"
"Absolutely!"
I pay her.
Our hands
touch.

The coffee girl is beautiful,
I yawn between morning stretch
and obligatory
morning kiss upon
dear wife’s cheek. All
I want is
one smooth
sip.


Poetry Quarterly - Summer/Winter 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

Outside My Window

Trees dance
outside my window
in the same wind
that carries your perfume
into the deepest breaths
of our first morning together.

Beneath the yellow sun
and too blue sky,
quaking leaves
are your hands
the day they reached out
to draw my face to yours.

There is a swaying
just beyond the glass
like silent lovers leaning
into their knowing
everything between them.

Trees dance
outside my window.
I miss you.



The Broadkill Review (a print-only journal) - June 2012

A Hollow and Dark Place

Dad,
why don’t
you call,
or write,
let me know
you’re alive?

I remember your kisses,
reaching high up
to hold your hand,
you calling me Tiger
and Danny Boy.

Dad,
don’t call,
don’t write.
I hope
you’re still alive.



The Broadkill Review (a print-only journal) - June 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Hole

My middle son is missing something
in the middle of the middle of his chest.

For 21 years, he was my youngest son;
then there was this calling it quits
followed by a starting over (for me).
Now he is in the middle.

He was five when the doctor told us
about that hole and that murmur.
Nothing to be worried sick about after all –
just watch for infection.

I watch. I see how he loves to smoke
some things more than other things.
He talks slowly. I see all the signs of an infection.

My middle son, when he was still my youngest son
and before he grew tall, learned to drive with the ball
and blow right past me and take it all the way to the hole.
He’d walk back to the line and wait for me to toss him the rock.
My god, that smile.



Avatar Review - 2012 Issue

Poet

He was the kid who stayed up late
after marshmallows and scary stories.
He’d sit there for hours, entranced
by the deepest red of the campfire,
soaking-in the heat. He’d watch sparks
escape and turn into stars against the black
mountain sky like red-hot secrets taking flight.
Before long, he’d find himself huddled
against the edge, eyes burning,
overcome by the heat of the moment,
focused on nothing but the wiggle of the flames
and the wavy hot glow of the smolder.


Avatar Review - 2012 Issue

There Was This Goodbye

First, there was this fusion
of kindred imaginations,

then there was this burning
like the hot seep of a whiskey shot,

then there was this guilty tending
of what must have been Eden,

then there was this lacing
of map-cracks in all of the solid things,

then there was this pining
for back to the imagination of it all,

then there was this goodbye.



 Avatar Review - 2012 Issue

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Portrait of a Woman in Soft Brown Pastels

She hung on the wall opposite the stairs –
hair as full and bulbous as the times.

Her chestnut eyes fixed upon the black leather
recliner, indented and empty. I was five

and she was beautiful. I would descend
the stairs in uneasy dreams as she turned

her gaze toward me and my worries –
will Dad come home, is Mom crying

herself to sleep again, am I going to awaken
wet and ashamed.



Punchnel's - June 12, 2012

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Unintended Consequences

If you are a man,
tell your woman she is beautiful.
Do not worry about the truth. Tell her
she is sunshine, blue ocean, the red glow
just before twilight. Tell her she is the fantasy
that feeds other men’s fantasies. Make her drunk
on the tequila of your lips, the salty lime of your tongue.
Let her drink you into the very marrow of her knowing pleasure.

Do this
and you will be a man
who understands happiness and love.

Do this
and you will see
the beaches of Puerto Vallarta turn fat
with roll upon roll of barely bikinied women
wearing nothing more than the deepest tans of being adored.



Boston Literary Magazine - Summer 2012 (Entitled there as "Tell Her")

Saturday, June 2, 2012

For a Moment, Purpose

I was young once and didn’t know it
was the frothy whitewater time of my life;

strong, violent and shaping sharpness smooth
before becoming gentle in dreary decline,

widening into pools where dark carp lurked
and skulked in the muck that had settled below.

Still, there was a seeping of black earth green
around me and, for a moment, purpose

until everything turned the after-harvest brown
of a tired and worn-out ground.


Big River Poetry Review - June 2, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Nay Nay

He was the sun to me. He was the sun
to us all. Each time our come-and-go Dad
came, we basked in his hereness, shrugging off
past abandonments, too young to arrive
at harsher conclusions, conclusions Mom
would reach then renege—something in his smile.

My big sister, Lyne’, had that same smile,
teeth slightly bucked, a tad gapped, still the sun
bounced off them like summertime. But not Mom’s
smile – gravity drew hard on it. Each time Dad
dashed it grew flat and stingy and arrived
on my heart inverted, always just off.

One warm afternoon as Nay Nay hopped off
the school bus, Dad and I met her surprised smile.
They hugged and twirled round and round. We arrived
home; he lit a cigarette – red as the sun
setting over Saddleback Mountain. Dad
blew smoke rings and we all laughed, even Mom.

I remember the first time I saw Mom
cry. There was this slam; I startled, threw off
the covers, and shot up. Nay Nay said, Dad
just left again. I almost cried but smiled
instead. Sneaking downstairs, I watched the sun
share gray dawn with Mom just as her sobs arrived.

I cried hard, though, that one time we arrived
at the jail to drop off Dad. He kissed Mom
and gave me and Nay Nay tight hugs; the sun
from behind him made us squint. He took off
his sunglasses, had a smoke, and left smiling –
with swagger. I never stopped missing Dad.

I can’t remember rain when I was with Dad –
only sunshine and shadows, arrivals
and departures, hugs and promises, smiles
and smoke rings, and wishing I was him. Mom
and Nay Nay, though, they remember awful
storms and thunderclaps and months without sun.

Nay Nay used to tell me, You know, Mom really loves Dad.
I knew. I’d watch Mom’s face as Dad arrived – she’d send off
a smile that lingered like smoke rings in the afternoon sun.



 Rose & Thorn Journal - Spring 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Shades of Gray

for Alisha

I see fewer shades of gray
these days, have a crisper appreciation
for the black and white of things.

I can see deep inside colors
I never knew existed. I squint
and stare, tilt my head, smile a lot.

The other day I swear I watched
rain fall for the first time.
Each drop holds a rainbow, you know.

Of course you know. You put them there.



Poetry Breakfast - May 12, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bitter Pills

Sometimes,
you just gotta
scrape the tip
of your tongue
against the sharp edge
of your bottom teeth,
work up the spit
and swallow hard.



Yes, Poetry - May 2012

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Firsthand Knowledge

I am firsthand knowledge
of the powerless power of prayer.
Don’t tell me the answer was no;
there is no no for the begging
I begged.

I am firsthand knowledge
of don’t you dare teach me a lesson
on my sons. Don’t tell me there is a reason
for your no reason could ever be
reason enough.

I am firsthand knowledge
of holding nothing back. Don’t tell me
I held back, that I did not strap them
to the altar, watch their jugulars pulse,
raise my knife.

You spared Abraham the loss
of his son. Why not me mine?



Punchnel's - May 2, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Careful

I have to be careful of closing my eyes
and taking deep breaths in the memory

of you leaning against me, resisting
the pull of stares we shared

in the tightest gripping of restraint
between hushed acknowledgments

that everything had just gone wrong
in the imagining of a thousand kisses

that would have been much too soft
to make possible the impossible leaving

of your emerald green pleas and desperate
wanting for the world to spin back to normal.



Full Of Crow Poetry - April 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Darren

Disagreeable yet fun ex-husband
arrives in her mind and displaces
reason. This time, warm cinnamon
rolls spice the air, wisting her
eyes closed as she lingers in
not remembering everything.



Punchnel's - April 4, 2012

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Plowing

Turning black earth against twilight
as muddy legs plod, shoulders ache
and bow before worn leather straps
that sag between his bull and his beliefs.

Bent in the knowing that gray
becomes green and sweat waters
ground into overflowing, he grows
dark patches of glove on his palms.

After supper, his thick hands reach
to caress flour from her cheek,
slide gently along the softness
there, coffee brewing on the stove.



Poetry Breakfast - March 30, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

There Was Pink on the Roof

It was dusky and I could see pink on the neighbor’s rooftop
out the living room window from where I sat at the dinner table.

The boys were watching baseball on TV; I could hear
that the score was close and that the right team was winning.

Normally, I would have been watching the game
with the boys, but that night I was at the dinner table,

it was late, and I could clearly see the fading pink
on the roof of the neighbor’s house.

She was talking when I got up to take a shower.
She was saying something to me.

I finished my shower when all the hot was gone.
The wrong team had come back to win.

The curtains were drawn over the living room window.
I sat at the dining room table; it was late.

I tried to figure out when it was
that I’d shrugged my shoulders for good.



April 2012 Goodreads Monthly Newsletter Poetry Contest finalist.
Reprinted on The Houseboat (poetry page)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A big round belly stretched nine-months tight

with a smudgy brown
longitudinal line
running up the globe of it,
shiny thin spider webs
pulled over and around
its snare drum circumference,
the occasional anaconda slither
just beneath the surface,
the every-now-and-then cartoon sock
from the inside bulging out,
and that odd little button
popping out in the very middle –

this is beauty.



The Smoking Poet - spring 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It Was a Giraffe

Actually, it was a recipe holder.

Ok, it was a stick painted yellow
with brown spots and a glued-on
clothes-pin stuck into a styrofoam
cup filled with plaster of Paris.

It was a Mother’s Day present.

It came from kindergarten
and it was in my hands when I got mad.
(Mom, it’s my turn to sit up front!)

It was unwrapped by my stomping feet.

It is the eyes shut tight
brown-and-yellow-and-powdery-white taint
of every Mother’s Day since.



Boston Literary Magazine - spring 2012

Nursing on a Park Bench

He squawks for his next drink
like a hunched-over, half-drunk
curmudgeon of a wobbly wino
with a lifetime of sorrows to drown.

She attends like a bawdy barmaid -
busty, casual about modesty –
and serves with an affectionate
familiarity that turns faces red.

I wag my head, smile at passersby,
reach into the bag, unfold the little blue
rocket-ship swaddle, pause, watch
their stare, refold the blanket.



Friday, January 20, 2012

Idioglossia

I said,
Did you hear me?
I said, Did you hear me!
Oh, my God! You are not
going to close off! You never
listen! All you ever do is tune me
out! I can't believe the total disrespect you
show me. Listen, all I was saying is that, in
spite of your macho, negative attitude,
I want us to go to counseling
again.



The Monarch Review - 01/16/2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fix Yourself Some Peanut Butter Toast

After Galway Kinnell

Our bedroom door was locked.
Our radio was turned on loud enough
for the entire family to know
that traffic was light
and there was a 30-percent chance of rain.

The speed of our movements
was insufficient for sweating.

Caresses and kisses
snapped eyes shut
in a passionate focus
on quiet propriety.

The usual words were transformed
into a skin-to-skin telepathy.

In spite of all this,
or, perhaps, because of all this,
there came a knock at the door
and a high-pitched insistence on pancakes.

What followed that knock
was supposed to have been
a muffled come-cry,
but sounded a lot like
"peanut butter toast!"



Pale Horse Review - Winter 2012 (page 8)