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January 12 2017

It is strange
Tracing a memory like a melody on sheet music
I can't pretend to understand or predict
the way it twists me up inside
the way it rips
I've grown out of illusioning myself
I say
But when it comes down to it
There's just no damn way
Not when what I want
Is within such close grasp

January 05 2017

I had dreams man
They didn't make sense
They were sewn together
OF tattered cloth, multicolored and stained
They spoke in metaphors
That fell down
With the slightest provocation

A rococo of shames and desires
And sledding. And the feeling
Of exhilarating happiness
Running up a hill in snow.

We are not children anymore
But we have not changed
I do not understand myself

We are puzzles glued together
Gap-filled where the pieces broke
We look nothing like
The picture on the box

My voice sounds strange to me
Hearing it on tape
But the embarrassment is so familiar

I had dreams man
They were shreds of myself
They were the strangled triumphant shouts
Of some corrupted leanings deep down
They were so human
And I see that now
Art makes me pout
I can't craft the kind of magic
That impresses such astute witches

My child's scrawl
is pitied
Patted on the head
Sent to recess

Time is not the great amplifier
But the great revealer
And it does not
Show anything of me

That is colorful
Or strange
Or snakes like kudzu
around everything

more like a choked garden
parched and dying
from mangled seeds
such small sprouts

They lied when they said
You can be anything you want.
What they meant was
You can mold your anguish
to form a unique bouquet of desires
throw them on the kick wheel
to make misshapen pottery
of what lies in your mind's eye.

And even your handprint
Of such human struggle
Will not make you an artist.
Tags: poetry

May 30 2016

Tags: poetry

March 12 2016



cocoa skin, red dress knotted at the hip
long powerful legs wrapped in fishnet stockings
stuffed into little black flats
a black scarf wrapped 'round the head
and dark brown lips pursed slightly
thrown across a row of train seats like a limp discarded doll
fallen from the hand of a five year old
entranced with a newer toy.
Yet i see only the slightest signs of tarnish
small rips in the coat and the purse
only noticeable by the time i've had
to examine every inch,
tall and languorous and mysterious
my boyfriend and i see you
mumbling to yourself, eyes drunk
as they flicker open briefly
change position and sleep again
he says simply "drag queen"
not with shame or derision but observation
but i see
luxurious clay shaped into a woman
each toe on each foot lovingly crafted
not by God but by each step
and we when we left you at the last stop
still asleep on the hard plastic
something beautiful lay there, crystallized in tragedy
something beautiful lay there unfinished
Tags: poetry

January 08 2016


pale fire, a mockery revised edition

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By varieties, colors, and shapes of pain
I was the smudge of ashen fluff - and I
Saw in the horizon a passerby
Climbing the hill and averting his gaze
From the monotonous maze of his days
Shining as they were in an empty head
All coruscating, ending in him dead.

He lifts his head while traversing the trail
Triumphs forgotten, they have since set sail
For brighter suns and the greener grasses
Of the younger men gathered in classes
Vivacious and hearty they blaze like fire
They burn out so soon, become husks of wire
Limping along lamely on puppet strings
Huddled like Icarus, with their burnt wings.

He drags himself, this lonely carapace
A Gregor Samsa aged, a gasp, a hiss
Compelled to move forward, drive of instinct
A journey for some more glorious drink
Perhaps from the Grail, with Jesus right there
Forgiving his sins, dissolving in air
Freeing him to enter heavenly gates
Assuring that it was not too late.

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
Seeing him approach, I cry out in pain.
Through a glass darkly my eyes answer back
He raises his shoulders as if to ask
Why the path continues into an abyss
Try as I might, I cannot answer this
I see only blackness ending the lane
I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
Tags: poetry nabokov

October 15 2015


- dreamt that i dreamt

I dreamt that I dreamt

a cascading folly

through the disconnected stairway

of ethereal space

particles (of what?) tangled in air

I drift through silently helplessly

no handrails are heard,

no destination seen

a movie screened in front of me

that I must watch I cannot flinch away

laugh smile cry scream

each emotion tinged with outerspace

I clap I cringe bite my nails or weep

silently now in the theater of sleep

awake with a buzz a heartbeat a thought

a memory confusion with the film shot

across the landscape of brain

asleep in the rain

awake in the dark

a walk in the park -




Tags: poetry

August 15 2015


a violin playing as a girl runs down the street

a violin playing as a girl runs down the street,
all parts of her lanky and holding her flipflops
clenched in one hand.
a backpack, a haircut, the subtle smell of summer
fading into fall, the instrument singing
zealously and robustly, unafraid.

soon, leaves twisting into autumn,
variant shades reflecting
the complexities of human nature.
longarmed fiddler, skinny college girl
wizened old man, muscly new man.
thirty years the song on paper,
bold black notes holding a spell.
millions of years of leaves
falling, coalescing, piling up
to be crushed by winter.
hundreds of summers,
each one new,
this one holding this moment
but a song for the ages.
Tags: poetry

June 25 2015


researching a shooting

drawn to lethal catastrophes in the news
like moths to a porch light
smacking ourselves relentlessly
against something we cannot possibly
understand; if only a shred of this
light shined on the chaos in life
to offer us some sort of explanation

drawn to accidents on the road
like flies to rotten fruit
our curious thirst quashed
by destruction; regret pounding
in our ears when we see blood.

drawn to violent, mysterious television
like a dog being served dinner
the heart-racing eagerness and
strange fascination with the reasons
that crafted characters choose to kill

does it help us somehow cope
with the day-to-day battery
of injury and injustice?
does it make it easier to hold
our loved ones in death,
onto our minds in crisis?

does it desensitize us so we can
live each day, even under
insurmountable circumstances?
does it smooth over our suffering
and place it in perspective
so we can still face the world?

it must, musn't it? what else can we
hope to glean
Tags: poetry

May 24 2015


papa mcguiley

in 1977
papa mcguiley walked to the store
bought a carton of cigarettes
spat on the floor
walked outside to look
up at the sky
to stare at the sidewalk
and wonder why
god was so damn unfair
with all of his gifts
his blessings and curses
as his mood quickly shifts
to leave a man as he was
so desperate and broken
looking out in vain
for any old token
to show it made sense
to keep striving along
each morning and night
to sing the same song
in 1977
papa mcguiley walked to the store
and swore out at the wind
a man had faith no more.

February 26 2015


The Dress

(a raymond carver inspired short story after viewing birdman)

Mattie twirled around to face him, her delicate hands pinching the very bottom of dark-maroon fabric. "What do you think?" Her face was alive with color - her cheeks were flushed with a tint of red, her blue eyes sparkled, and her teeth shone visibly against her modest lipstick.

Martin bit his bottom lip. He blinked once, twice, as the initial thoughts swirled in his head. Of course, Mattie looked incredible, as she always did. He hated the tired cliche as soon as it tumbled through his mind. Honestly, the color was a bit drab for his liking. The lace on the sleeves seemed a little unnecessary.

"It's alright."

Some of the light faded from her face, but the smile receded only slightly. She turned, more slowly this time, to face herself in the mirror. "I like it," she said, speaking to herself. "I don't love it." Placing her hands on her hips, she continued to gaze at her expression and made a few faces with her eyebrows and lips in the mirror.

Martin shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He felt slightly nervous. He valued Mattie for her honesty; she was the one who had told him he tended to stare sometimes and it creeped her out. It crushed him at first, and he felt useless, but when she saw him again the next day it wasn't awkward. He was surprised, and relieved.

His father, a big boozy man twice his size, would be shaking his head right now. "Marty boy, you can't be honest with a woman," he'd say, chuckling. "Always tell 'em they're beautiful. Unless you don't wanna fuck 'er anymore." Martin thought briefly of his mother, with her pinched face and corralled gray hair, her eyes always wide and empty.

"I like the black one you have better," Martin volunteered. He could feel the uneasiness creeping over him slowly. He remembered Mattie just an hour earlier laughing about his awful parking job. He'd flushed bright red, and she had hit him lightly on the arm. "Just kidding, babe! Honestly, you're still a better driver than me."

Mattie pursed her lips in the mirror and nodded. "No need," she said, still to herself. "No need." Turning around sharply, she furrowed her brow and waved him out of the dressing room so she could change.

Martin sat on the bench outside, twisting his hands around each other.

Mattie flounced out a moment later, the maroon dress slung over one arm. "Okay, ready to go?" Martin looked up at her cautiously. She looked down at him and laughed again. "What, did you think I wanted to browse more? This one just caught my eye. Let's get something to eat."

Martin had a quick stab of regret - did she really not want to try anything else on? Forget it, he reminded himself, just let his friend John had told him. Stop complicating things, he'd said.

He smiled and stood up, taking her hand.

After they sat down at the food court, Mattie went to the restroom. Martin stared as his hand, wondering if she had gripped it just a little bit looser than last time.

July 18 2014



a kite
and five candles,
small tchotchkes
clustered together on a table -

a breath of nostalgia,
the scent of something green,
the wheel of seasons
spinning effortlessly in your head.

the cold metal bracelet
that now chafes your skin,
the eyeglasses with rims bent
and lenses loose,
the battered teddy bear
with half his stuffing
sprinkled amongst your childhood

to hold them,
cupped in a weary palm,
to cherish such tiny wonders -
to make them collectors
of dust, of wistfulness

possessing the power
to turn you back
to one emotion in time -
a most precise carousel
of meaning and expression.
Tags: poetry

eight tomes

eight tomes
of secrets,
drifting lazily
down the river;
fish nip at their
cracking spines
and paperthin pages -
a lifetime disseminated
into the roil
only memories left,0
echoing through seashells.
ravaged compilations
wash up on the beach,
sandcastles lovingly crafted
from their cold and
abandoned remnants.
Tags: poetry


a mere breath of suggestion
that breaks the fragile peace
so carefully constructed, piece by piece
glued together meticulously, painstakingly,
one-at-a-time with the utmost care

to hint at shattering it
with a clenched fist,
even a fist of benevolence
even a fist of possibility
is still too much to fathom,
to have to begin again
all the planning,
the weeks and weeks
for the cement to set

i hide like a turtle
in a ceramic shell,
on a dusty shelf
in a pottery shop
hoping I won't
be dropped.
Tags: poetry


a hot knife slid
between the ribs, tearing
the connective tissue, leaving
a scar - a skinny, red, raised
thing, flashing you back
to the stab, in slow-motion
as you nervously run
your fingers across it,
absent-mindedly considering
something else entirely
while the undercurrent
of memory pounds away
at your unconscious, unrelenting
in its barrage,
a tide that never goes out, a flicker
in the mirror -
spinning around to catch
it, you see only
the small sad figure
until you plunge your hands
in your pockets and
squinch your eyes shut, swimming
to shore like your life
depends on it, knowing
someday you must reach
the balmy warm sand, greeting
you in castles and dunes and
Tags: poetry

the waking mind

the waking mind
recoils at the floating dream-fragments
adrift in the skull upon waking;
on occasion
it delights in the fancies
new and freshly imagined
a welcome paint-streak
across consciousness-

but more often
it runs amok;
frantically rearranging itself
to make sense of
these strangely constructed images
and contextless statements,
wondering why emotions -
in the file folders of years ago -
would fall to the floor now

a form of time-travel
that is disconcerting
more than it is interesting
or exciting -
simply an unwelcome reminder
dissolving too slowly
at eight-thirty a.m.
Tags: poetry
you are an engine
of unimaginable brilliance:
gears clicking and shifting,
springs tightening and pushing
a well-oiled machine
so intricately complex,
these millions of processes
humming away, skirting notice

these systems we do not
and cannot think about,
for there are so many -
each quietly sustaining
our breath, our heartbeat,
the light filtering through our eyes
we only notice
when one nostril stuffs up,
when we choke on a bite,
when we can't remember
where we left our keys again

but as a small solace
for those overwhelmed existentialists
gazing at their palms
adrift in an ocean of confusion
you are an engine
of unimaginable brilliance.
Tags: poetry

summer day

to float effervesecently
across the trees:
a hot air balloon
unhinged from its strings

weaving through clouds
and other airborne things

sharing the sky
with mosquitoes and bees
birds and airplanes
skating on the breeze

the sun beaming down
on dirty hair and scraped knees
colorful chalky lines
forming flowers and seas

a summer day tied up neat
makes a nice present for me.
Tags: poetry

how to begin

how to begin to spin
the pressure building inside of my head
into something i can knead and shape,
something more meaningful
than hurried back-and-forth signals,
traffic lights constantly changing
cycling through green-yellow-red
suns rapidly rising and setting

how to begin to spin
the hateful spew of news,
the words of murder and mayhem
streaming in from all sides
fires eating up the landscape,
children hiding from bombs
in tattered tents of hopes and dreams
smothered and burnt
within an hour, within minutes

how to begin to spin
the day-by-day drawl
the hours tapping away
at keyboards and screens,
the hours laboring
to pour cement, to hammer nails
the hours inserting needles
and taping up casts

how to begin to spin
the whole world
so overwhelming in its entirety
into something one mind
can capture, can hold
can understand
how to begin?
Tags: poetry

our challenge

to pause a breath
to think of every second
a miniscule change
an unseen alteration
triggering a radical departure
from the usual next few events
or perhaps nothing,
just a slight rustle
of last season's leaves
rotting in the gutter
contemplating the multifaceted
tree we live in,
branches opened to the sky,
roots coiled around
some belief we hold hidden
in our hearts
from the poisonous fungus
of cause-effect and change

to uproot, to transplant
moving so drastically
without withering

is our challenge
Tags: poetry
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