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