Monday, December 15, 2014

Leaves Are Too Easy a Metaphor

Glaciers, too. Blue scouring
into an eventual exposing
of the ages. I won’t even bother
to mention the way the heart beats,
the habitual squinting of the eyes,
or one phone call after another
going straight into voice-mail.
Instead, I will only mention this –
I stopped the other day at the park
and stood in the middle of the gazebo
where you wore white once,
where your mother took snap shots
and your father shook my hand,
where my youngest son showed up
at the last minute and agreed
to join us afterward for Mexican food.

Bruised

The air today is bruised by wood smoke
and paper mill stink socked-in and left
too long on the line.
          It’s like hope turned
hollow-black green by a cynicism
that yellows into the muddy blood
of ten sweaty boys playing tackle
football in the ankle-deep muck
of a Saturday afternoon.
          Everything’s slipping
into a septic, sprinkling wet that melts
the coat off your back and the skin
from your very last bone.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Unremembering

You are drifting into the black-and-white blur
that divides reality from imagination. How long

did my hand linger in the delicate small
of your back? How deep was the green

in your eyes the first time you let me
see them all the way through? Is everything

as soft as I remember everything being?
Did the cinnamon of your breath really mix

with the hunger of my mouth upon yours? You are
a haunt to me, a fading gray of unremembering.




Eunoia Review - November 2014

She Went Too Damned Blonde for Anybody's Good

Her walk wiggled its way into a sashay;
her hugs got tighter, took longer,
stopped including the shoulders;
her tan-lines crept down on top,
shimmied up down below
and more men met the edges of them.
Even her laugh took a turn –
going from a guffaw
of throwing the head back with a snort,
to a bouncing giggle and a lean.
Before long, she could not remember
the meaning of certain big words.



Eunoia Review - November 2014

X's and O's

Would you watch it
with the X’s and O’s?

Please.
I’m a guy.

X’s and O’s
are sophisticated
formations
of you go here,
then go there,
pay attention to this,
respond to that.

X’s and O’s
are the Kama Sutra,
baby.

They ain’t no
“Ta Ta, see you soon.
Say, ‘hi,’ to the Mrs.
Hugs and kisses.”

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tease

Her flirting flicks
the sharp wet edge
of his imagination
the way his tongue
longs to tease the silky
tip of her understanding.
He closes his eyes, lets
her shape curve
everything.




Profane Journal - Winter 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Grace

I lay your head in graveyard grass
beneath where stone-gray mountains grow.
Grace, feel the insects wriggle past

the way our hands and bodies mesh.
And as our blood begins to flow
I lay you down in graveyard grass

to breathe-in sweet decay’s morass
of blackened earth and what’s below.
Grace, feel the insects wriggle past

our muffled sighs until, at last,
a shaded scythe seems apropos.
I thrust inside the graveyard grass

for both the first time and the last,
then kiss you twice before I go.
Grace, feel the insects wriggle past

the way you slowly lose your grasp
and smile now because you know
I’ll rest your head in graveyard grass.



Thursday, October 2, 2014

The First Snow Since Newtown

December 18, 2012

It's fat and splashes on my head,
melts one way down the back of my neck,
which explains the shivering,

then the other way off the tip of my nose,
which explains the handkerchief –
the same one I used to clean my son's
nose when he was six years old.

Everything’s just gone gray and the red
in the clouds means the sky is thawing.




Naugatuck River Review - Summer 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Goodbye Hug

It was just a little goodbye hug
that didn’t want to say goodbye.
So it braved becoming a quick peck
on the cheek before dragging its lip
into a very light nibble that slid
all the way down as a hungry nuzzle
in the tender crook of her neck. There
is where it turned mutual and sultry,
making its way through firmly pressed
and fully responsive bodies, hushed
moans, heavy breaths, and indiscreet
caresses at the outskirts of public propriety.
A few seconds later, it turned into a rush
of holding hands searching for the closest
private place to become hard wet kissing
and never really saying goodbye again.




Boston Literary Magazine - Fall 2014

Crying for Three Straight Hours

Gives you one hell of a headache
and all different kinds of wet soak your shirt.

The sounds you make move across the mournful spectrum
from wails and moans to curses and howls.

You sit up, lie down, hunch, go completely fetal,
even try kneeling.

It starts shortly after twilight turns deep-cave black,
when you’d normally be surrounded by people

you’d always assumed would always surround you.
At somewhere between knife-to-your-wrist and gun-to-your-head,

when your throat is so sore it sounds like rug burn,
you stand, turn off the over-and-over-again of that one song,

stagger into the bathroom, splash water onto your puffy red face

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Shortest Distance Between the Water and the Bridge

Technicolor premonitions
of losing all your breath
in the echo of a hollow cell
that startles you awake panting
to one sweaty dawn after another.

Watching brown spots multiply
every time you piss vinegar
at the speed of gravity as if
you can’t remember ever feeling
the fuzzy crush of a peach
against your lips or the juice of it
leaking from the corners of your mouth.

Taking bites from a bologna sandwich
you slapped together four hours ago
in the Wonder-bread darkness
that hugs you goodbye
every morning.

Fading with the shade
of a few tall trees. Hearing children
screaming from swings. Turning your back
against all that noise.



San Pedro River Review - Fall 2014

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Independence Day

It was all girl-power
and hauling furniture
from Dependence to Liberation,

right up until the sky began sprinkling
and all three of them hit the mirror
asking, “Is my hair starting to frizz?”




The Homestead Review - Fall 2014

Fear

kissed her whiskey-wet
along the tingling bend
of her neck, wrapped
around her narrow waist
as she arched her back
against her better judgment,
slipped inside her shirt, felt
her nipples confess to wanting
his whiskey mouth and chaser tongue
to take the long way around
the tasting of her trembling body.



The Homestead Review - Fall 2014

No One's Going to Freeze to Death Inside This Man's Cave

After an hour or so of crumpling newspaper,
teepeeing kindling with plumb-bob precision,
and gently breathing coals into a near-sensual
glow, the house turns hot as a Norwegian sauna.

Forced to open every door and window wide
to the frostbitten world beyond our threshold
just so we can inhale again, we eventually find
relief from the curative effects of a moist-heat sweat.

My country-born wife can keep the woodstove
mellow and lightly-stoked all week long until fire
reverts to its natural owner (man) on Saturday.
Truth be told, I suspect it was actually a woman

who discovered how to make fire (on purpose).
Probably trying to figure out how to do something
different with leftover mammoth. I don't know.
Here's what I do know: it's 25 outside, 92 inside.

And, although I've knelt before my wife and begged
her sweet indulgence for this ridiculous swelter,
secretly I am beating my fists against my hairy chest,
grunting at the gods after my rising up to conquer cold.




The Homesteady Review - Fall 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hope Triolet

Hope is the hardest love we carry - Jane Hirshfield

It's a five-gallon bucket of six-penny nails,
left out in the weather to fill up with rain
and rust ‘til you wonder, "Just what in the hell?
It's a five-gallon bucket of six-penny nails?"

Another worthless red weight, an all-else that fails,
another shove in your back in front of the train,
it's a five-gallon bucket of six-penny nails.
Left out in the weather, it fills up with rain.




Eclectica Magazine - Summer 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Testosterone

I could

easily change
my train of thought
anytime I wanted to.
I could

stop closing my eyes
so I wouldn't see you
nursing at her breast
or reading the funnies or
running around the coffee table
in your big red fireman hat
shooting every imagined thing.
I could

close the tap on the drip
of my relentless regret
(Goddamit!)
when, in your teens,
I got beat by
fear,
     fatigue,
          frustration,
               anger,
                    more fear.
I could.
I could.

But, what about
that flat leather football,
this tangled green fishing pole,
your Catcher in the Rye?




Avatar Review - Summer 2014

Life Is Doubled-Over Coughing and Waiting for the Next Swift Kick

It’s the ache and the blear
of coming-to after chloroform.

It’s never blasting-off
over smoky thunder
and finding yourself
an easy hum.

It’s skipping gears
on its way to fifth
and passing in the median
until red lights flash.

Life is rubbing fuzz
from your eyes, staying put,
pulling the covers all the way
over your head.

It’s pressing your index finger
against her lips for as long as it takes.




Avatar Review - Summer 2014

Words Love Her

Words love her the way a soft bottom lip
loves to be tugged
by kisses less about goodbye than about confession.

They glide around her hips like brand new skinny jeans
sliding all the way down
into soft leather boots with a heel so high her walk turns

into a red-hot double-take as wicked as the smolder of her gaze.
Words turn her cheeks pink
as the passion of missing someone even one second too long,

and they tease her into giggles of pretending
she doesn’t understand
hidden implications or all the words best left unsaid.




Avatar Review - Summer 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

On the Twentieth Straight Midnight of Rain

I stare out our window to the rhythm
of your not knowing I’m awake again.
I press my cheek against the damp

glass and watch my breath turn nimbus.
Raindrops fall through the white fuzz
of the streetlight as I squint to remember

there was a time when I did not know you,
did not spend every sleepless night
comforted by the sound of your dreams.



Blue Earth Review - Spring 2014

Monday, May 19, 2014

I Can't Spell Poetry with a Capital P

Because when a body’s worth of coagulated blood is scooped
off a kitchen floor, it jiggles in the shovel. Because my parents

fed nine children on all the overtime Dad could get and an ad
in the yellow pages calling themselves a cleaning service. Because

when the phone rang at 4 a.m. that Saturday morning, they answered it,
filled a thermos with coffee, and drove off in the station wagon.

Because sometimes people use shotguns in their kitchens at midnight
against their own worst enemies. Because when my parents returned

home that afternoon, they smelled of bleach and sweat and needed
new shoes. Because somehow they had known to take a shovel.



Prism Review - Issue 16

There's No Quiet in Her Silence

unless you consider the wail
of a glacier as it splits down
the middle under the shimmer
of Aurora Borealis, the crack
of lightning striking the crook
of a branch so thick it creaks
and crackles on its slow fall
to the ground it immediately
begins to burn, or the groan
of ice crystals as they shove
a pebble from a mountainside
and the stampede of boulders
that roar against its absence
as sounds so soft they fade
like the hush of exhausted lovers –
lingering and panting in the dark.

 

Quicksand Is a Melodrama

Unless it’s up to your neck
and you’re reaching
for a vine in vain
as your hand slowly
sinks from view
like a half-assed
search and rescue.

At that point,
it becomes a real-life
son of a bitch.

Same with bleeding.
It’s all, “Great,
another overblown
characterization
of having your guts
ripped all the way out
by some bare-handed
beauty who clich├ęs,
‘I love you, Danny, but
I’m not in love with you.’”
Totally mockable,

until you’re at the bottom
of another long bottle
so afraid of seeing straight
that you stumble into the tub
fully clothed with a sweaty grip

on the sharpest thing in the drawer.



Writing Through Your Divorce - May 19, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

One New Thing

The afternoon is quiet despite a fullness of birdsong. I am tempted
to shush them with a slow finger to the lips and a whisper.

Before long, I hear an airplane and the birds hush,
as if to notice God, and I remember how it feels to be amazed.

There is one thing new under the sun this afternoon and he is learning
how to run in the grass of this green, green park between chirps

and caws and the buzz of the far away plane. He looks just like his mother
as he lifts a pinecone, says its name, brings it to me. He smiles against my kiss

on his cheek the way his mother always does and I give thanks for the blue
of their blue, blue eyes. I told his mother once that I could not be her friend.

That was a while ago, now, on a bench, in a different park (the one by the river),
on a different afternoon. Now, this afternoon, we sit atop the green dew

and share a blanket, familiarity, the watching of two blue crows in a curse-filled
aerial battle, and this one new thing under today’s yellow, yellow sun.



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What I Can Give you

I am gnarled and weathered gray
shedding autumn after autumn
toward winter howling for spring.

But, when the air turns thick,
heavy against every breath,
lean your head against me.

I can give you shade.



Full of Crow Poetry - April 2014

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Innuendos

The way the steeple juts
from the church top
like somebody’s zealous
overcompensation.

The way the woodstove creaks
in expansion as the fire builds inside;
the way it readies itself for stoking
and the lingering afterglow.

The way the wind presses
its finger to the lips of a dandelion bloom
just before hushing it into gentle spasms
of letting everything go.



Stoneboat Literary Journal - Spring 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Flipping-Off God

The first time
was with a bottle
of Jamaican rum
and a big bowl of spaghetti
while watching an R-rated
movie – nude scenes and all –
that one weekend
I got the house to myself.

I woke up staggerblind
and learned that God
flips back better,
that spaghetti puke
looks like a leaky jugular
with fishbone sprinkles,
that some things stink
for the rest of your life.

The second time
was a decade-and-a-half later
at a bar with a green-eyed girl
I still miss sometimes. It was after
three Long Islands and a sloppy,
I really, really care for you.



Grey Sparrow - Spring 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

Here Comes the Sun

Margaret, do you know
who this is on the radio?

That’s the Beatles, Daddy.

Very good! You know what, Margaret?
As long as you have music in your life,
you’ll be happy.

Yep. And you know what else, Daddy?
You should never stare at the sun. If you do,
you’ll go blind.




Boston Literary Magazine - Spring 2014

Stars Are Tiny

as the overlooked grain of rice
left on the burner to smoke
beneath the half-full copper kettle;

as the gnat caught on the wing
and slapped between palms
a thousand-times harder than necessary;

as the dry red spots
along my collar that beg me
to just go double-bladed;

as the thinning of her smile
between that day and now –
a reduction that resembles

the just-this-much-more-slowly
I walk from my truck to our house
in the twilight of each long day.



Boston Literary Magazine - Spring 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Brimstone

Sometimes I wonder if hell is less fire than brimstone.
Maybe it’s like taking your phone into the shower with you.

Her perfume is right where she left it, infused into her pillow
where it insists on bringing up old worn-out conversations.

Is there air enough in hell for the moaning of dirges
or is it more like staying up late for a little peace and quiet?

She was at the grocery store the other day picking out avocados.
I smile at the memory of guacamole and that she wasn’t really there.

I hope hell has horses for carrying lost souls through the thick black
to the pretty yellow bonfires and the warming of hands with old friends.

I wish she would have just slapped me hard and told me to go to hell.
Instead, all I have is this ugly red stain and the moldering of day after day.




Burningword - Featured Author, January 2014

Drama Queen

One hand goes directly to his chest,
clutching. The other hand is outstretched,
beseeching something unknowable. He wobbles,
staggers backwards, collapses in a heap.

He listens for shouts of 9-1-1 and sirens,
hears none, begins to moan and pant.
He winces, glances sideways hoping
for a rescue and a little mouth-to-mouth.

Still alone, he struggles loudly to one knee
before allowing gravity to grab him
by the collar and introduce his face
to the cold reality of the hard gray ground.

The red of his life begins to pool,
rutilant beneath the ache in his head,
as a dizzy contentment warms
his drifting away into sleep.

He awakens gagging, squinting
against a blurry brightness, confused
by the high-pitched din of urgency
and his being unable to swallow,

then smiles around the hard plastic tube.




Burningword - Featured Author, January 2014

Like a Grasshopper in a May Meadow

So much life,
   so much green,
      so much dew on my feet,
         so much eye-squinting sunshine

and hot wafty
   late morning melancholy
      that keeps me from sailing
         the effervescent puffs of white.

So much wanting
   to leap and never
        come down. So
             much lush. So much

thick. So much rain.
   So much not knowing
        how brief a spring can be
             and how little there is to be

gained by bouncing
   from here to there
        and, in no time at all,
             becoming a wingless,

dry, empty thing
   lifted by a mockery
        of wind and so much

insignificance.




Burningword - Featured Author, January 2014