Tuesday, January 29, 2013

After 40 Days of Fasting

I can walk on water
like it’s the gray cobbled path
to paradise and hoping to God
I find there the eventual pleasing
of my father.

I can wish the fog yellow,
the sagebrush green, the water
as warm as the ignorance
of what it means to be his
only begotten.

I can resurrect leaves in trees,
make apples grow red
in the wake of desire
I cannot taste, and watch
white flesh fall into a sweet
brown rot.

I can sweat blood at midnight
and mumble conversations
he says he hears
until torches, kisses
and propitiatory pinpricks
betray the true nature
of his love.

Crack the Spine - issue 53 (page 20)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sometimes I wonder who I think I am

click-clacking marks across the page in the sleepy gray
of all alone dawn. Too early yet for yellow, I stare

at the chilly overcast of a disappointing spring.
There is a breeze this morning whispering through

the maple like an aubade and hummingbirds are already
busy sipping clear sweet sugar-water my still-sleeping wife

made ready for them before bed. The minute-hand starts its way
back up the round and it’s time to stop pretending. I buckle my belt,

lace steel-toed boots, carry everything with me to the truck and drive
directly into another day of begging, begging, begging for mercy.

Little Patuxent Review - Issue 13 Doubt


I was fighting with myself
for the steering wheel
while driving to Eugene in the fog.
Watching from the back seat
was my oldest son,
the child of my earliest dreams,
the boy who would love me
the way I loved my father
and make being alone
a thing of the very long time ago -
the young man I never drive
anywhere anymore.

Just past Monroe I missed the bend
and all three of us went into the river,
the two of me and my oldest son.
Then there was only one of me.
I was buried in the water, searching
the sinking of the car for my son. The river
was deep, and he could not open his door,
could not open his window,
could not stop being so damned distant
from all of the reasons for his being
out of breath. My lungs filled up
with water, but I reached the car,
opened the door, pulled him out limp.

I shoved him to the surface, followed
his floating there, climbed the bank after him,
saw the wet footprints of his escape.
Then, I could not find him.
When I screamed his name
the only noise I made was the sound
of a baby crying colicky echoes
no one else could hear.
The other me was back now,
on the bank, wordless, glaring.

Little Patuxent Review - Issue 13 Doubt

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Did the universe know it was her last breath

or did it have to wait with the rest of us
for the lack of another?

Did it carry her gently away
like a kitten in the maw
to a warm dark place,
or did it rip things from her body
the way wedding rings get torn
from the sky-blue fingers
of battlefield brisance?

I hate to think of her erasing
into nothing more than nothing more.

It would tickle her pink to know
that one crisp autumn afternoon
in the not too far away, a little boy,
having spent all of his Saturday playing
outside, rushes into his warm house,
grabs a shiny red apple, takes a bite
as juice leaks down his chin

from where the universe has allowed
a little bit of my mother to run.

Strong Verse - January 10, 2013

Alumnus at Spartan Field

It’s just turned cold in the mornings
on the field where wide-shouldered
young men hone the heat of their prime
and imagine that they are gods.

He hears the clash of power
against power, the grunts, the curses,
the bleeding, that old gravelly voice
snarling into the sweaty steam of stupid youth.

He watches until his soft body shivers
and his tired joints begin to ache
with the stiffness of relentless melancholy
and a longing for the ball.

Strong Verse - January 9, 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013

Peacefully, in His Sleep

He awoke as shadows gnawed his chest
like they hadn’t eaten in weeks. His eyes opened wide
upon the black. He heard his wife breathing deeply,
clutched where the pain clutched, found something in the dark
to appease his need for focus. The ceiling fan spun steadily
above the lovemaking that had preceded him into sleep.

He watched it spin as each rotation came with a memory
and a self-diagnosis. Did it burn? Yes. It burned in his center
like the time he leaned into the furnace when he was eight
and let it be his excuse for crying over missing his father.
Was it radiating? Yes. It spread like the warmth of the first time
he saw her. Was his left arm tingling? Yes. It tingled like a fairy tale,
like a helpless maiden’s rescue from a black-hatted witch.

He could not wake her for this. He felt tears now, sliding
into his ears as he lay prone to emotion. He tried to turn for a kiss.

Strong Verse - January 8, 2013

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Onions and Butter

The mother’s hand shakes
as she spoon-feeds her son.
She’s missed lunch again.

All she wants
is to get him fed and down
before starting on dinner.
But her hand is shaking
and her baby is teething.

His face is covered in cereal and drool.
He cannot get enough of the feel
of his tongue between his lips.
Trills another cereal-laden raspberry.

The father looks up
from yesterday’s newspaper.
Tries to choke down a laugh.

She drops the spoon
into the bowl. Stands,
one hand on round hip,
one hand waving, “He’s yours.”

After a few minutes,
yesterday’s paper set aside
for the last time, the father scrapes the bowl
as she spreads peanut butter on toast.

He airplanes the last mouthful
into the baby’s wide-open smile.
The baby rubs red-rimmed eyes.

Just dusk now.
He sings to the baby
in the rocking chair.
She starts to hum along.

There’s a sizzle in the kitchen.
The baby’s eyes close. The house is full
of the smell of onions and butter.

Strong Verse - January 6, 2013