Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Volumetric Properties of an Asphalt Road

Va = Air Voids

The quick inhalation
after bending a peek
at two dealt aces –
a tell nobody sees
but the guy
with the kings
who folds
against your all in.
The worry between,
“Where did you go,”
“I needed a little space,”
and “Can I please have a kiss?”
The inability to respond
over the phone
after you’ve been asked
if you’re sitting down.

VMA = Voids in Mineral Aggregate

Postholes, a tilled vegetable patch,
an aerated lawn. Where that old tree
used to be before the roots went bad
and the stump got hauled away.
One rectangular space you’re hoping
all five will come to cry over.
A dry riverbed of things left unsaid.

VFA = Voids Filled with Asphalt

Old photos. Sharing a banana split.
The sound of “huggy, huggy, huggy”
coming from two feet off the ground
before you can even sit down
to take off your boots. Remembering
the taste of lemon on your fingers
as you picked translucent bones
from each bite of the mountain trout
you caught the summer after you discovered girls.
The way she tilts her head and smiles while waiting
for you to agree that you were wrong.

The Pedestal Magazine - December 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Tender Melancholy

More and more now, my chest seeps full
with the tender melancholy of satisfaction.

It feels like breathing hot apple cider
or the warm slide of honey through my veins.

It encapsulates me like the wispy amber haze
of being almost all the way glad.

There are times when I resist its soothing,
fearful of there someday being a last time

and a serrated opening of half-healed wounds
from long before we escaped the heat together

in lawn chairs along the Santiam and you let me
touch the soft skin of your thigh after letting me taste

the softer skin of your lips in the cold, cold water
that was not so cold. There was a wafting just then

of what I think is called happiness and I was not afraid.
There was nothing that did not change with those kisses,

those caresses, your pressing yourself into the realization
that my drawing you closer was me giving everything away.

IthacaLit - Winter 2014

Monday, December 16, 2013

When It Comes to War, I'm a Middle-Aged Man with More Opinions Than History

I speak of right and wrong with an ease unearned
by the stain of another man’s blood turned black
beneath cracked and yellow fingernails. I have no
marching through mud, no shielding my face
from sand and sun and the burden of dropping bodies

from my shoulder like one woven red sack of grain
after another. I even lack memories at the knee
of a salt-and-pepper man who stops to refill the smolder
in his pipe and hearing him turn quiet as the room fills
with the heavy scent of cherry tobacco.

I do have Dale, the codger who kept my rusty Valiant
running so I could burn rubber every afternoon.
I have his marble-mouthed stories of killing Japs
bare-handed and the shame he felt in his pride. I have
Brad, my ex-wife’s ex-husband, shot dead after Vietnam

and Agent Orange and taking the police chief hostage with a knife
for poisoning his daughters through the school’s drinking fountains.
I also have Rob, my youngest step-brother. I begged him
not to run off and join the Army the minute he finished high school.
But he so loved the uniform.

Boston Literary Magazine - Winter 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013


A dry kiss goodbye through the stale tobacco air
of an apartment no one visits and no one leaves.

The zero-gravity silence of somersaulting between
the blue-and-white what used to be and the salty dark
of floating alone, unable to catch even one more breath.

Walking in the shade of riverbank trees as the breeze
picks up the cool of the whitewater and reminds you
of that time you laughed together with so much abandon

you let yourself believe her skin would always feel
so warm. Voices inside your head that echo there
like a very long time ago – when you used to sweeten

your coffee each morning, cool it with heavy cream
and close your eyes after the first slow sip.

Southword - Issue 25 (December 2013)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dead Flies

We call them icky,
the dry flies that lie
at the base of the sliding glass door –
the same door marked
with the red and black splatter
of what can only be called
fair warning.

We call them icky,
my toddler and I,
these individual proofs
that his mother
(warm breasted
cooer of soft sounds)
draws certain lines
that should never be crossed,
lines that, when crossed, result in
deadly thwacks
of faster-than-the-eye-can-see fury.

We call them icky,
wrinkle our noses,
purse our lips, run back outside
onto the prickly brown grass
for more of the stuff that makes him laugh,
the rough stuff that requires brawn
and a pleasant familiarity with sweat.
But first, we close the screen door –
all the way.

Reunion: The Dallas Review - Volume 3


There’s an arrogance
to the word that ignores
the backs I’ve turned,
the walking-aways I’ve earned,
the empty straining of arms.

But here it is, surrounding
me in the way she kisses,
the easy tangle of our fingers,
her insisting upon getting up early
each morning to stir blueberries
into my cereal – berries she picked
behind the shade of thick green rows
that stretch into the inadequacy
of any other word.

Emerge Literary Journal - Winter 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

After Happiness

Fingernails found black
against blue flesh.
Last screams
as hoarse and unheard
as coffin sobs. Voices
ringing toward the Pacific
and one long swim
into the sun. The sound
of the other shoe sliding
all the way from foot to floor
as I kiss her goodbye
for what nobody could have known
would be the very last time.

Blue Lake Review - December 2013