featured in the poetry forum May 9, 2009  :: 0 comments

In nineteen-eighteen
the Spanish influenza
infected everyone in the world,
killing twenty-two million people,
while, at the same time,
World War One wound down
with a measly body count
of eight million.

Nature wins twenty-two to eight.

Authors and poets
spent millions of words
on thousands of pages
describing, reporting
and illustrating the war,
but not on line
mentioned the influenza,
no one published text
until the nineteen-nineties.

Looking back,
I see people marching
in victory parades
wearing white gauze masks
over their noses
and mouths
in the a futile attempt
to protect themselves
from something
they did not have words
to describe.


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March 11, 2009  :: 0 comments

Delphi burns parchment, spells,
written in red ink, maybe blood,
by the man who believes
he possesses arcane power.

A wisp of ash floats up from a tin,
then, kite-like, swirls through the wind,
tailless, uncoordinated.

Many miles away, the man coughs,
foams at the mouth, his eyes bulge,
before he spits out a pretzel
stuck in his windpipe.

Grains of damp salt fall off
the once crisp, baked biscuit
and sink deep into the carpet.


March 11, 2009  :: 0 comments

I googled Betty
and she showed up
in ten thousand
different locations—
picking up, sorting
and assembling pieces
bores me, so


featured in the poetry forum March 11, 2009  :: 0 comments

A bad dream pastes
a collage of magazine images
on the moon, backlit
designer names
from a stellar platform,
but dims all the romance
around the world.

A woman tries to wake
from the mind’s
imaginative subconscious,
clean the sable brush of light
painting the inside canvas
of her rapidly moving eyes.

There is nothing wet
about this rain
of designer labels,
the monochrome multitude
of Ford model faces,
the craters that cup
bare breasts.

A woman holds
her breath in sleep,
tosses off the covers,
crosses legs,
beats her pillow,
then smothers it
against her belly.


February 3, 2009  :: 0 comments

Where the dairy truck tipped
and spilled its contents
the desert hot highway
melted butter all over


February 3, 2009  :: 0 comments

Each morning the crows find
the animals whose journey
failed to cross the road completely.
They locate the tumbled carcasses
off to the side of the highway,
in the ditch where they rolled
or the splat still plastered
to the asphalt as blood congeals
with the oily, black surface.

The road-shoulder graveyard,
bone yard: antlers,
porcupine quills, wind driven
feathers. Flies navigate
the bands of heat lifting decay
to our noses and, soon,
maggots consume the red flesh,
the bacteria that swell a body
no more in motion.

Soon the coyotes will figure out
that they should herd their prey
to the road, let the big rigs
take down the moose, the elk
too large for the pack.


featured in the poetry forum February 3, 2009  :: 0 comments

The drive that powers Ellie’s imagination beyond the great expanse
is that of a victim who can neither rid herself of a memory
nor learn to sidle up next to it and hold its hand.

Sometimes six-packs channel this energy into song,
into a dance so wild she spills from her banks
like a river filled, simultaneously, with rain and snow melt.

Usually silence sends the energy to the canvas,
to sombre pigments that fill the shadows with a threat
or place some figure in the deeper part of an ocean.

Sometimes the walls of her house conduct the colors
of her anger, though her television provides an amnesia
to the larger futility of self-directed rage.

Ellie gathers opposites hoping they’ll cancel each other out,
but they don’t. No big bang starts things all over again—
only the little lights moving farther away in the expanding universe.


November 30, 2008  :: 0 comments

It is in the early hours awake,
where time times four
drifts before the alarm set,
that I ask Jesus why I am here
and what I’ve done, which is nothing,
to deserve the desperate way I feel
and how the pain still tears
the soul’s seams faster than I
sew them up and I see
the thin line of beans
fall from the rough, burlap sack
that is my fabric.

Jesus does not answer, because
he is not here—just a thought
a twinkling, a wish for someone
to blame.

Really, it is because the answer
does not reside in this room,
in laying on a bed’s firm mattress,
but in the walk I take through the dark
down to the river, to the large rock
by the railroad bridge, where the ducks
cozy in the tall grasses, the radio towers’
blinking lights flash in the water
and the only sounds are those of emergency
and air blown through vacant buildings.

I wish to dump this feeling off on “fate,”
on “God’s will,” on—

The rustle of the branches in the oaks,
centuries old, speaks of the wind,
the shift of shadows on the black gleam
that is the river’s tug upon the moon.

Yes. I admit that all this life of mine
derives itself from choice
and consequence assigned by physics,
gravity, from the dead beyond my touch
of whom still I can not quite let go.

How can a person still alive feel so empty,
like a torn coffee sack, beans spilled across the floor
before the workers place them in the roaster,
fire them, crush them add water until they are this river
in the dark, by the old rust falling
from the unpainted steel: rails
unused for years and wooden ties too corrupt
to support much weight.

I mean: first light brushes the sky
and a few cars start their engines,
the ducks emerge from the tall grasses
where their paddle feet counter
the river’s current
and the swallows poke their heads
out of muddy nests under the rusty trestles.

I mean: there is a piece of rose quartz
I tumble in my hand, keep in my pocket,
a talisman to remind me of a remote notion
some call love.


November 30, 2008  :: 0 comments

Spilled coffee and cat piss
fumes rise from the sofa.

An anonymous cock leaves a stain
on the inside of Peggy’s cheek.

The mop died years ago
and the floorboards suffer through neglect.

His grimy hands stroke her breasts,
squeeze, grease her nipples until she moans.

Rain attends the broken glass,
the ghost of a window.

He tells her to talk dirty to him.
She remains silent: doesn’t feel dirty at all.


October 29, 2008  :: 0 comments

In the rows of corn, back in seventy-nine,
in the split second before you lit your first cigarette,
you became conscious, for the first time
that you were making a choice.

It is the same now, but your body screams
for release from dry shudders,
that rack your back and tighten the skin on your neck
so that it feels like your skull is being crushed.
And the white line, you so carefully made straight
speaks seductions through the candle’s flame.

All your friends are there, laughing, joking, saying, Do-it! Do-it!
They line up with pom-poms, cheerleaders for your big play at their goal.

But they are in your blurred periphery.
xxxYou are focused.
xxxYou and the white powder.
xxxYou finger the rolled bill.
xxxYour nostrils flare like a horse’s
xxxat the scent of a mountain lion.

But, also, you are in that eternity,
that split second of choice.
All the cards laid out in your mind.
All the other voices are silent.
Your inner being stands on the head of a pin.
And your pounding heart threatens
to knock you over.

Then that moth flies in from the night,
to sear itself in the candle’s flame.

There it is.
xxxOn the table.


xxxWings evaporating
xxxxxxxxxxxinto smoke.

(originally posted at Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry’s “Under the Blue Umbrella”)