In the Distance

My poem, In the Distance, is in the current issue of The Big Windows Review. Here is the poem:


In the Distance

We speak so
seldom now—
phone shy
since childhood

and the miles
between us
seem to multiply
with the years.

Remember
when
each new
day

greeted us
like
a garden gate
opening?

When did
the highway
become a gravel
path?

Last night.
I thought
of that day
we had to hide

your father’s
car keys.
His daily descent
into dementia.

I take the top
down
on the old
Triumph Spitfire,

kick the
tires for luck,
and head your way
on the open road

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What the Old Want

My poem, What the Old Want, is up on the Bluebird Word. Fun one to write.

Not much—
friends
and family
I suppose—
for short visits
involving meals
at restaurants
with tablecloths,
or something sumptuous
simmered for hours
over a low flame.

How about a week
without a visit
to a doctor
or a single
medical test.
No MRI or EKG
or CAT scan,
or even
a tube of blood
with my name
in magic marker.

Time
is in free fall.
Like riding
an elevator
held by a single
strand of steel
down from
the 93rd floor.
Bring kindness.

And, when all
else fails,
a recliner—
well worn
in all the right
spots.
A coffee
straight up
and the book
I loved best when
I was young.

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Brothers

I have two poems in the current issue of Evening Street Review, number 35, Autumn 2012. Here is the first:

Brothers

That was the summer
it wouldn’t stop raining.

The summer my brother
and I discovered

tropical fish
in a shop on Hegeman Avenue

behind the cats and dogs,
parakeets and gerbils.

The summer we watched
in black and white

as whole provinces
became watery graves

and forests
lost their footing

in countries with strange-
sounding names—

so far away
we had not yet gotten round

to bombing them.
It was the summer

we bought a fish tank
with pooled resources

and guppies, tetras, and angel fish,
and Congress passed

The Tonkin Gulf Resolution.
The summer we discovered Siamese

fighting fish and the war
between North and South

Vietnam was as certain
as the rain.

The summer the Bettas built bubble nests
and tore each other to pieces

and my brother packed
a duffel and went off in the rain.

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Remember

My poem, Remember, is in the current issue of Rat’s Ass Review. Here is the poem:

REMEMBER

Sky more brown than blue
like Kansas
before Dorothy was whisked away.

Remember when they
came for him
and you learned
the damage stones could do?

Air so heavy
it hits
you like a headline.

Remember when they
came for her
and you first heard
a whip snap?

The ground trembles
as if rehearsing
a disaster movie.

Remember when they
came for them
and you learned
a new word—noose?

Blue-black and brown
of dried blood
painful even to the eye.

Remember when they
came for you
fine people,
lock stepped,

tiki torches on high,
drum beat louder
than anger?

You will, you will.

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Street View

My poem, Street View, was just published by Red Weather (MinnSU Moorhead). Here is the poem:

Street View

I never thought
I’d make my way
back home—
like some cross
between a voyeur
and a homing pigeon.

It hasn’t changed
much— a few storefronts
are gone. Goodbye
hardware and barber shops—
though I swear
I can see a smudge
where the barber pole
once stood.

The tenement looks
no different,
and I wonder if they
ever fixed the heat?
Come winter, the four
of us would pile onto
one thin mattress for warmth.

My fingers take the tour—
the schoolyard where we
played ball,
and the school
where I filched a library book
in sixth grade.

And there, by the traffic light,
I hit Bobbie in the mouth
with a right cross.
I never expected his lip
to bleed and bleed.
Does he ever look
back on that one punch fight?

I learned the right cross from the book
I stole. It taught me
jabs and combinations, uppercuts.
It taught me it was easy
enough to steal.

I close the app
knowing I can
come back anytime—
my personal time
machine.

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Irish Exit

Just published on Panoply,

“The magnificent seven,”
George would proclaim
although I warned him
again and again

that crowing was
sure to jinx us.
We had been a crew
since early childhood—

back when crawling was more rewarding
then the two-step flop.
In our twenties,

we had our own
table at the local
and met every night
after school or work.

It was in mid-May—
one of those Mays
that was really still April,
it rained and it rained.

We all got
the same three word message
“be in touch,”
from Kevin,

our token Irishman,
although his Brooklyn
accent was so heavy,
we were sure

he couldn’t survive
ten miles outside the five boroughs.
But aside from those
three words

we heard nothing.
Days grew to weeks
and Kevin became
an endless topic

of conversation.
We expected any moment
to be questioned
by the FBI,

roughed up
by the local don,
or cut and left for dead
by the motorcycle gang

that sold smack
down the block on Saratoga.
George would say
“it must be a woman”

and we all
imagined a sweet young thing—
just showing and frantic
to know Kevin’s whereabouts.

Nowadays, those of us
who still have hair
have watched it turn
to gray.

The six of us
still share a table
once a week or so—
and we’d all admit,

that each time the pub
door opens,
we glance over
hoping it might be Kevin.

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Peace, Peace will Come/ Minor Losses

I have two poems on the Write Launch. Here they are:

Peace, Peace will Come

It is often
easier to write
the landscape
without the pollution

of people.
This hillside
was once
wild with color

Can you
imagine it?

Today, the violets
that took residence
in the shell casings
bloomed—

fashioning
flower pots
from the detritus
of war.

Can you
picture it?

This earth
will not pause
for our passing—
wind witnessing

that last
murder-suicide
with a sigh
of relief.

Minor Losses

I walk past his house
most days.
A pretty Cape
painted sky-blue.

He taught
at the college,
but was devoted
to his lawn.

Over the years
I watched
as he tried every
new remedy

for crabgrass.
I used to joke
that he only need
wait for winter.

We lost three
this month
in our aging
neighborhood.

Each got 200 words
and an unflattering
picture in the daily
no one gets delivered

anymore. Then
a few turns round
the sun for even
their echoes to vanish.

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Spoken Word Series

Some poetry and music up on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCN5xsYC2Z_E5yD506CfzZJQ

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Menagerie

My poem, Menagerie, is in the current issue of MacQueens Quinterly. It was a fun one to right. Here is the poem:

Menagerie

Right up to the day
he died

my brother could
make me laugh.

He was
my Wikipedia.

But even he could
not explain

how my dad—
content more often

than not—married
into a family

of prize-winning grumps.
He didn’t need to tell me

that Uncle Arthur’s smile
was the best way

to sour pickles
or that Medusa

couldn’t hold a candle
to Aunt Kate’s glare.

But a more serious
topic was

the puzzle of what
we might expect of life—

sad or happy
cheerful or dour.

He said perhaps
we’d grow to be

some odd crossed
creature

a mix of jackass
and baboon

which was the funniest
thing I’d ever heard

and had me laughing
so hard

that he began
to laugh too.

Right up to the day
he died

I could make
my brother laugh.

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Accidie and Poetry

I have two poems, Accidie and Poetry, up at the Lothlorien Poetry Journal. Here they are:

Accidie

These days
I take to
the river.

Isn’t that
what the wise
would have us do?
.
I bring
a pad and pen
although it’s

been months
since I’ve written
and longer still

since I’ve written
anything anyone
might want to read.

I lie back against
my favourite willow
let memory take me

where it will
as I half-listen
to the river,

the breeze
through the willows,
and the buzzes

and squeals
from tiny things
I can not name.

And the willow
stays a willow,
the river

a river,
and when I rise
at dusk,

I am the same
as I was
at dawn.

Poetry

Listen,
the house
by the lake

still stands.
Is that where
the body is buried?

And the grove
of trees
I planted

a lifetime ago
competes with the clouds
for the thin breeze.

It’s the one real thing
I’ve managed.
Might the trees discuss

their fostering?
In spring
the lake

is blue-green
and unmarred
by even a single ripple.

It tempts us
to walk across.
One end is

shallow
the other
deep,

though people
have drowned
in both.

Won’t you
step in
with me?

I think it’s
a risk
worth taking.

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