Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Churning Butter

It’s not the kind of thing
you see every day, an old woman
straddling a butter churn, working
the thick wooden dasher up and down
between weathered thighs, plunging
over and over, humming in rhythm,
gazing with half-closed eyes until the chore
is complete and she can move on.
It’s not the kind of thing you expect
to make you flinch, lose your breath,
wag your head squint-eyed, remind you
of the detached acquiescence of an ex
you could never (no, never) love right.

Atticus Review - August 28, 2013

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Falling Flower

after Arakidu Moritake*

The falling flower I see drift back to the branch
is a butterfly riding two bluish petals of swirl.

The breeze caught her drowsing upon the afternoon
as grass bent to and fro on its way to chilly green sleep.

Dandelion seeds, liberated by breath, meander
toward clouds they mistake as salt-and-pepper gods,

who abruptly bless them with heavy gray wet,
driving them back to damp and settling-down.

The falling flower I see drift back to the branch
is the sigh of your kiss on the very tip of my tongue.

*from the haiku by Arakidu Moritake ....

The falling flower
I saw drift back to the branch
was a butterfly.

Pirene's Fountain - Spring 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sometimes You Just Have To

My dad broke the eight-ball the day I was born.
That’s what he told me, so that’s what I believed.

I asked him once if it’s OK to stick up your middle finger
at someone. He told me, “Sometimes you just have to.”

I used to think I might take up shooting pool. There’s something
about the sound of the break, the slide of the cue between your fingers,

the light blowing of the blue dust off the tip of the stick, that strut
to the white ball after sinking something in the corner pocket.

For the first twenty years of my life, I loved knowing I looked just like him.
I was as proud of that as I was of the Jr. I eventually dropped from my name.

Vine Leaves Literary Journal - April 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Their lovemaking is as artificial
as an insemination and drier
than the sarcasm served hot
with each night’s dinner.

They smile, nod, drink coffee black,
manage to stay just ahead of the whirling
dust devil they kick-up as they run away
from constantly running away.

But, now and again,
there is backgammon on the loveseat,
a few laughs, and looks
that come from somewhere back in time.

Crack the Spine - Issue Sixty

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


It is the exact same gravity
that mercilessly drags
the Niagara into a rumbling
sockdolager of a natural wonder
as puckishly pulls the pacifier
from my baby boy’s drowsy lips
the second we drift into sleep.

I liked gravity better on the honeymoon.

Eunoia Review - April 9, 2013

Duck a l'Orange

I’d never cooked it before,
but it was our first Valentine’s
since the baby
and I could not stop imagining
her taking the first bite, closing her eyes,
sultry moans.

The problem is
I have a one-track imagination.

I might have been able to imagine
the kitchen filling with smoke.

I might have been able to imagine
turning the mashed potatoes into smoggy clouds
of too much fat mingled with the hard bits and milk.

I might even have been able to imagine
her slow-chewing the first bite,
closing her eyes to the greasy sweetness
of the overly crisp skin, eagerly reaching
for more wine.

Eunoia Review - April 10, 2013

Saturday, April 6, 2013

After the Rain

They hardly spoke
to each other afterwards.
He gave himself over
to drink and patriarchy
and writing things down.
She moved through the hours
busy with the usual things.
But, the hours weren’t the problem
for her. It was the minutes
of remembering and knowing
exactly what had happened.
So, she’d hum.

Otherwise, her mind flashed
with tree trunks and boulders
riding waves into skulls and abdomens
and babies whose final babbles
were drowned by the tardy pleas
of their now believing parents.
She used to wonder
how the fine young man
they’d hired to help tar the ark
ended up feeling God’s love.
Was it as quick as God’s wrath?
Or did his smile fade slowly
in a crush of mud against his chest
or after a final deep breath
right before his lungs made room
for the wet holy cleansing
of disobedience from earth?

At the beginning, her husband mistook
the gentle buzz from her chest
as the acceptance of grace,
asked her to read his sheepskin account.
She read and insisted upon one revision,
“You take my name out of there.”

Verse Wisconsin - April 2013
Audio of "After the Rain"

Elephant String

They say an elephant
can be controlled
with a piece of string
tied around one leg –
just start early
with hard enough steel.

Before long, it’s all about
eating peanuts,
walking in circles
with strangers on your back
and getting hosed down
for the next day’s show.

Deep in my brain
where I cannot reach,
I hear her whispering
and there is no need for string.

Verse Wisconsin - April 2013
Audio of "Elephant String"

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Don’t Even Talk to Me About Loneliness

Why would a middle-aged divorced man
with more new wrinkles around his eyes
than phone calls from his sons, roll out of bed
without hitting snooze every Monday through
Friday, brush his teeth, slap on the Old Spice,
squirm into clothes that are never more than three days
beyond fresh, bend all the way over his portly middle
to lace-up his boots, zip his jacket to the very top,
scrape the windshield of his primer-gray Pinto,
shiver during the defrosting of its inside, curse
every red light as he squints his way through town,
and wait his turn behind two pickup trucks and a mini-van
just so he can order a 20-ounce coffee with one Splenda
from the curvy young barista who twists her blonde curls
and smiles whenever he drives up to the window? Because
it beats the hell out of waiting all day long for the junk mail.

Grey Sparrow - Spring 2013