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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The West is Burning

My poem, The West is Burning, was just published on New Verse News. It is not an optimistic poem. Here it is:

On the rise above
Route 80, by a trickle
that was once
a river

I watch a line
of traffic
a thousand miles long
going nowhere.

The road has
buckled and a semi
sits on its side
steam still boiling.

One by one
the cars and trucks
run out of gas—
dream irony

I suppose,
and people stand
beside their behemoths—
afraid at last.

The pine
and hemlock forest
that lined the road
has turned

a sickly brown
and trees light up
like candlesticks
one by one.

Children fight
the fire
with blankets
and spit.

And the dust
and smoke
and ash
make breathing

an occupation.
The west is burning
and few if any
will make it out.

I wake with a gasp—
heart escaping.
Smoke colors the moon
the west is burning.

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Promise

My poem, Promise is up at the Drabble. Here is the poem:

Promise

When I was 10
my dad gave me
a number 2 pencil—
brand new,

with a finely
chiseled point.
“Promise,”
he said

is like this
pencil.
“The eraser
is always

the first
to go—
worn out
or broken off.

After that,
you can only
chew
on your mistakes.

And that dime store
sharpener is,
like father time,
a false friend.”

But I was 10.
what would
you have me know
of nubs

and time’s unappeasable
appetite?
I took the pencil—
another gift.

At ten,
the whole
world
is a gift.

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Hey Mom

My poem, Hey Mom, was just published by the Santa Clara Review. Many thanks to editor Jaden Fong who helped to change the poem to a prose poem format. Here is the poem:

Hey Mom,

I started to clear the cobwebbed attic—what’s it been, five years since you passed— and the first box I dragged to the light was labeled Billy. Inside, as I expected, were his drawings of ships crayoned on grocery bags—a poor child’s canvas. I told Billy Dad had gone to sea, rather than “Dad ran off with the girl from the lunch counter.” And my little brother watched Navy shows—from Victory at Sea to Run Silent, Run Deep and drew warships with guns blazing. Billy searched every episode for a man he’d never met. I can’t believe you saved the pictures, Mom. Steeled against the spidery things I go looking for the box with my name.

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