Confession to Montgomery, Asleep on the Church Steps

bagels and cream cheese MGD©

Confession to Montgomery, Asleep on the Church Steps

If I walk quietly by
it is not to avoid disturbing you,

but rather myself. What
could I give you

but another bagel, the
boiled dough of nothingness

rising in cloudy water,
delaying, perhaps, another

guilty twinge. You have no
answers but when you

speak to the air, sometimes
a smile creaks through

the broken words, and I
think even in this cloistered

darkness we may close
the circle between halves

and might-have-beens,
an understanding, if only

in the language of bread
and coffee and the

disregarded. But today I stride
on, without pause, counting

on nothing that can’t be
pocketed or spoken aloud,

my steps echoing down
the alley and its secrets,

along the crosswalk’s painted
guides, under the sagging

power lines and through
your streetlight’s dim halo.

Homeless

Poem to Appear in Eclectica’s 20th-Anniversary Poetry Anthology

fireworks

I’m thrilled that my poem “Memorial Day” has been selected to appear in Eclectica Magazine’s 20th-anniversary “best-of” poetry anthology, scheduled to appear in spring 2017. If you are at all inclined, please consider donating to their Kickstarter Campaign to make this possible. The campaign ends, I believe, on January 31.

Memorial Day

Arriving at this point
without knowledge of the journey,

the slow collapse and internal
dampening – the shutting down, the closing in – lost

in the shadowed veil, my eyes flutter open to find
everything in its place, yet

altered, as if viewed from a single step
closer at a different height, offering a disturbing

clarity. Looking up, I wonder that she wakes me
from a dream of dogs on this, of all days,

only to detect under me linoleum in place of the bed,
my glasses skewed from the impact,

the floor and left side of my head wet. You looked
like you were reaching for something, she says,

and perhaps I was, though with hand outstretched
I found nothing to hold but the darkness.

Here’s what they say about the campaign:

“Eclectica Magazine has been online for two decades, publishing work by authors from around the world. We’re taking our 20th anniversary as an opportunity to share the work of 250 of those authors in four “best of” anthologies, including volumes for poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and speculative literature.

This Kickstarter campaign is designed to raise, at minimum, $6,500, which is just enough funding to publish all four volumes through Amazon’s CreateSpace program, covering the rewards and providing a contributor copy for each of the authors, artists, and editors involved. However, the campaign is also designed to exceed that minimum goal.

If we can raise our “stretch” goal of $21,750, we will be able to pay a competitive (for small, independent presses) rate of $20 per poem and $50 per short story or nonfiction piece. Over twenty thousand dollars sounds like a lot of money, but if the more than 250 people involved with the project are able to recruit three $25 donors each, we will meet that goal.

This is an exciting project. The quality of the work we’ve selected for inclusion is exceptional, and many of our authors have enjoyed major publishing successes since appearing in Eclectica. If we can raise our “ultimate” goal of $58,000, we will do offset print runs through Lightning Source, which will enable us to distribute the books to brick and mortar stores. And if we sell out the first run of any of the four volumes, we will double the payments made to the authors appearing in those sold out volumes.

We have pursued a single-minded goal all these years to publish the best, most unique work we could find in a clean, easy to access format available for free to everyone on the planet. We still believe in that goal. We also love books, and above all we want to do something to honor the authors appearing in these anthologies and the over two thousand others who have helped Eclectica thrive over the years. That is what this campaign is about for us, but we’re also hoping our efforts will help shine a positive light on online literature in general. We’d like to demonstrate what can be accomplished without corporate or academic sponsorship, banner ads or $23 submission fees.

One measure of what can be accomplished is our performance over the years in the storySouth Million Writers Award. In the twelve years the award has been active, Eclectica has scored twice as many notable (54) and top ten (11) stories as any other online publication, beating out such luminous competitors as Narrative, Carve, Blackbird, Clarkesworld, Agni, Barrelhouse, and Anderbo. Those are some great venues for online literature, and there are many others deserving of recognition. We want to draw attention to Eclectica’s amazing body of work, and then we want to say, look at all the other amazing things to read on the Web.

Whether you are a friend or relative of one of the authors in question, or you’re a reader and supporter of online literature, or you just love literature–online or not–we ask you to help make these anthologies a reality, and the best reality they can be. Help us make our goal of getting these books made, or if we’ve done that, our stretch goal of paying our authors, or beyond that, our ultimate goal of seeing these volumes in your local bookstores.”

 

Resurrection (Cento)

rocks and fog


Resurrection (Cento) 

Everything we love
returns to the ground.

Each syllable is the work of sabotage,
a breeze seeping from the heart of the rocks.

They are my last words
or what I intend my last words to be.

I think just how my shape will rise,
a miracle, anywhere light moves.

*****

A cento is composed of lines borrowed from other poets. “Resurrection” owes its existence to the poetry of Tishani Doshi, Paul Auster, Antonella Anedda, Sean Hill,
Emily Dickinson, and Ruth Ellen Kocher. I urge you to seek out their work. It astounds!

 
ladybug

The Ecstatics

chimney


The Ecstatics

Divisions and separations, a summing of consequences,
the brother whose ashes remained forever lost. Two cities
and their survivors’ shame. The loud, kind young man
whose words fell to the restaurant’s floor, unbidden.
What came next in the drift, untoward and misspent,
in the grammar of between? Darkness, suppressed.
Smoke. Pleasure and fear, unclothed.


sorrow bw

Katharsis

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Katharsis” was among my offerings for the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project last August. Many thanks to Plain Jane who sponsored and provided the title.

KATHARSIS

The questions, as always: which rocks to ignore, who will
place them, and how to defy the laws of mathematics.

Note: you will create two separate walls to build one.
You will measure length and depth. You will weigh consequence.

Dig a shallow trench, and set your first two foundation stones
at a slight angle, high points on the outside, low ends meeting

in the middle. Count your failures and multiply them by 100.
Let gravity share the burden, then discard every one. Take

care in selecting your stones. Scorpions lurk in the dark,
underneath. Wear heavy gloves. Use leverage. Seek balance.

Avoid the smooth and rounded, as they too readily relinquish
their footing. Select hard-angled, rough pieces. Accept

faults, and work with them. Stack carefully — the two walls
should lean inward, touching, each bearing the other’s

weight. Work alone, but think to the future, with strength in
mind. Be deliberate. One stone, followed by another. Repeat.

pen

Nocturne with Flame

Closeup of campfire.

Nocturne with Flame

Not imposition, but welcome.

Another’s stirred embers, banked
and forming the kindling’s base.

Thus the licked paper curling with smoke,
stars shooting into the blackness,
and finally, exploding light
transformed to heat.

From one’s loss, another’s gain.

The flickering on my cheek.
Inhaled bitterness and memory.
The wait, the period before.

Like the owl in the live oak,
or the mice under our floor
returning, I celebrate the cycle,
and grow warm.

mouse

Ghost

dictionary

Ghost 

You keep returning and I can’t say why.
I wake in the shrouded room and lie still for hours.

Sometimes you speak through the siding’s wind rattle,
in the rasping shingles or the gutter’s drain.

But who interprets these phrases?
No friend. No dictionary.

The dog barks at nothing and chases his tail
to exhaustion. Unlike sound,

light cannot penetrate these windows.
Perhaps the answer lies in the page’s hollow, between

words, or at the free end of a kite’s anchor,
wedged within clouds, echoing

like a cough in a decade’s breath
hammering down after a long illness.

I question afterlife, but dying continues.

 

This first appeared in Shadowtrain.

shingles