New Acquaintance

[published in Clever Fox Literary Magazine]

O passerby, glance upward. You wander alone

no more, as I wave from an elevated porch

and invite you via flesh and bone

to be my acquaintance at a distance. 

Pandemic be damned, only one

hope remains before the final scorch,

as generations grind and moan, 

for deaths trespass every fence. 

In these moments, we live as stone,

rockfall from mountain, or scree from church,

we roll and roll, no longer known,

like active verbs without a tense. 

A Prayer for Tax Season

O Lord, we pray for rest, a gracious break 

from the annual repetition and doldrum 

of figures, salary, and calculation — the dreadful ache

we feel within our bones while entering digits into forms.

Should numbers lessen, hold, or rise,

we ask for grace to restrain the rebellious voice

from complaint, for you sustain yet again — your eyes

still upon the restless, not forsaking but helping us rejoice.

Whatever we owe, to state or federal authority,

reminds of this year’s blessing, a sign we are not alone —

a simple metaphor, these papers in the wind — a foretaste of eternity,

when every valley and highway will lead to you, our forever home.


another / another

“leaves drift as you and i, as words from yesteryear.” – w.b. 

blush, another season

sweeps over us, expected

yet unexpected — rush /

rush / a rushing wind //

and days vanish like exes

too hurried to wave back,

leaving us fewer than before —

my my, november feels warmer

than i remember // around us,

the screen glows, an orb,

another lie, electric blue

flashing off walls, but don’t believe,

please don’t believe. you and i

will dream forever.





Tied for the anchored,
Lassoed by the cowherd,
Wrapped for the captives,
Sliced by the artist,
Lowered for the fallen.

The mountaineer ascends,
knowing his life depends
upon unknown happenstance –
the endurance of fiber within his hands –
while I remain on the ground, land bound,
contemplating biography & its end.





Like the Plover: A Prayer

Blessed Creator, Sustainer of Earth,

make my wings more like the plover’s,
as grey as the pebbles and filthy sand
that edge the shore, that blend to grainy
patterns beside the lulling surf…

and form my body just as the plover’s,
shrinking my life into a shallow hollow
of four measly inches, my mark in the sand
as a tiny portion in the long, endless beach…

and direct my future more like the plover’s,
speckling my eggs with brown and crème
and covering my nest with shells and debris,
as i wait through nights of coastal winds

for life to break from mud and sand,
your promise to crack despite the waves.





From a Room

i have held photos and heard rumors
of the mud hills of montana,
the fire falls of yellowstone,
and the patient rain of seattle.
a decade has passed by now, and i am here,
waiting in a room, writing poems
about faraway places.

with time, the room changes from a living room
to a coffee shop to a doctor’s vestibule,
but my hand remains constant on the pen.
my pen digging deeper into pulp,
into paper harvested from the wild,
i wait for nature to claim its own,
for life to lead me to new life.






Today in the land of pharaohs,
where sands swirl and stones fly,
revolution rises from the pavement —
men become men, women reclaim voices,
and youth initiate the future.
The massive choir chants its song
in unison, preparing to face night,
but no one can predict the end
when fire descends from sky
like demons angered by the fall.

On the other side of the world,
snow arrives without invitation.
Citizens bunker down, melting wax
and hiding under blankets,
as white winds shut the city
and move men and women
to appease their opposition.
Fires have already burned here,
hearts now cool from passion,
and the drifting lulls the eyes to sleep.





Belated Elegy (for Jeremiah Gabriel)

His fragile body waits beneath the snow –
this snow that blusters without human agenda,
without awareness of how much is too much.

How easily we forget what is beneath the ground,
that ancient hope of a buried seed.  It is tragic on a day like this
when nature surprises some of us and covers others.

Somehow the red berries of the Hawthorne tree remain,
and the clumps of berry collect snow.
They testify that life is beneath it all.

The wind shakes the branches, and I am waking
to another day.  From one life to another, I remember life
that should never be forgotten.





after reading classifieds

more lights than normal are turned off
in this subdivision, half-covered by clouds.
i walk my dog, the streets are silent.

in huge houses, men and women are eating
late dinners in deepening twilight. lights off,
tvs on. winter is coming quickly.

we have little energy to flip the switches.

some of my friends have stopped calling
the numbers printed in the papers, and some,
have put down their pens altogether.

skepticism grows, then rolls over and over,
wearing down the same weary sections
of our young, beating hearts.





Looking Out

Hope is the opening of a window.
Though the view may change,
something out there is perfect.

Maybe it is a cardinal who ascends to a tree,
just as you part the drapes. Who, really,
could have planned that, you ask.
Or maybe it is a boy, in hat and mittens,
who sticks out his tongue for a snowflake.

Hope can even be that last leaf on a tree,
if you think about it – or the spring rain
that brings up flowers, well after the worms.
It can seem hidden at times.

So look. No matter the season.
Something is perfectly timed and perfectly placed —
like a tiny gift in a trembling lover’s hand.






The earth spins and revolves around the sun.
On its surface, mankind makes history
as if blindfolded, mostly unaware
of what is happening.  We are in flux,
our minds cursed, wandering in the universe
towards an unknown destination.


Today, numbers are falling from the sky
like meteors.  There were prophets long ago
who warned us of our excess.  They could see
fattened cows ravaging the hillside and
an army gathering in the distance.
Every empire loses its heroes, they said,
and entire civilizations are reduced to books.


Minute after minute, the news anchors repeat themselves,
blowing their black smoke into our television screens.
We are unsure, they say, of the origin of this fire.
In these conditions, those of us who venture outside
greet each other with blank faces and sparse words,
guarding our insecurities like porcelain.


Our doors are locked,
and it is getting quieter in our neighborhood.
The man next door has put his cello by the curb
and closed his window.  Fewer cars pass the house.
Petals are falling from the trees.





[published in Elysian]

As a child, you roam like an escaped bird —
or with friends, like a heard of wild rabbits —
wandering with no sense of magnetic poles
or knowledge of time at the end of hibernation.

Meanwhile, in a laboratory, men in white coats
slice thousands of beaks to find magic,
the hidden iron that orients wild things
without knowledge of a magician’s trick.

In a living room, with laundry slung over a couch,
a mother asks her son to stop the mess,
to which he replies, he is not making mess —
proof that truth lies hidden under all of this.

Evening Drive

Although the scenery changes with age,
whether forests, prairies, or glowing cities,
the end is still the same:   You and I are no longer alone.

We are traveling together, moving across this wild stage
of God’s domain.  We have seen thunderclouds, lilies
and broken windows; this world has become our own.

White dashes slip beside us in silence, like pages
of a history book, recording time with ease –
more and more of our story known.

Evening ages and the sun displays its rage,
but we park, lower a window, and enjoy the breeze.
Scenery fades into night.  We are taking the long way home.





The Reverse of Fly

The yellow apples in a basket sigh
from a wavering branch they crave—
accepting the fall, the reverse of fly.

Their farmer worked like any guy
unwrapping his windy orchard maze
so yellow apples in a basket sighed.

In a crispy flannel, he never once shied
from the wobbly ladder, then turned grave,
accepting the fall, the reverse of fly.

Weakly, he awoke with a wealthy supply
of bleeding organs & a swelling nave,
while yellow apples in a basket sighed.

He clenched a fist, but withheld a cry,
rehearsing the way that men behave,
accepting the fall, the reverse of fly.

Now he picks the branches on high,
up from the rungs that death supplies,
while yellow apples in a basket sigh,
accepting the fall, the reverse of fly.





Regretting Daylight

Tornadoes are worse at night,
when no one gives them credit —
this one a thief, inscribing his name on the ground.
We know that dawn will be honest with us,
revealing judgment that heaven had planned,
but until then, the radio speculates into darkness
with words that shake against my ribcage.
For now, no one knows for sure.

A hundred flashes have hidden the stars,
and I feel the sorrow of a window that wants to break.
It seems that thunder has invited itself, pounding on doors
and waking even old men and atheists from their sleep.
Fear is an apologist, but it is silence that scares us the most,
the seconds after the paper is torn, and we are alone.





Awakening at Dawn

I should empty a closet full of metaphors
to describe you awakening, but the depth
need be greater than reaching from shore to shore,
from east to west, or for heaven’s highest step.

Were all the constellations near enough
and dazzling flames within reach,
their display would merely be bluff,
no more convincing than a dreamer’s speech.
Or if all the earth’s diamonds were collected
and heaved onto a massive scale, even that weight
could never persuade my eyes to neglect
the simple splendor of you awakening late –

the corners of your mouth in the sunlight of morn’
and that familiar feeling of love being reborn.






a giraffe falls off the edge of the earth,
into abyss, somersaulting head first,
his legs running with no effect through the atmosphere.
o! how he curses himself for ever leaving his homeland!

like many animals near the end, he feels more like sand,
a handful of golden sand let into the wind,
released, separating further and furthermore,
abandoning that childish desire to elope.

but even the hopeless hope.
so he postpones himself with an oversized umbrella,
a multicolored phenomenon that he purchased a few hours earlier
at a dime store on the corner of fifth and fisk.

at the end of it all, he imagines his mother would tsk
for although he planned ahead, he hadn’t planned for this.






Driving to my own funeral in another
city, of course, I heard myself as fuzz,
a frantic release of electrons.  The stir
dazzled through my dashboard
like a stuttering thunderstorm—
first a few drops, then a sonic torrent,
as my hometown station flooded
with static.  Yet the loss became more
and more audible as I pressed
into the wheel and dropped the pedal,
hoping the voices would return
and offer a proper goodbye.  The black
rain continued, soaking the signal
with patter—over the voice of a child,
yelling in the deep end of a pool,
growing even louder than thunder
as he sunk.