Parting from Wang Wei (after Meng Haoran)

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Parting from Wang Wei (after Meng Haoran)

These quiet days are ending
and now I must leave.

I miss my home’s fragrant grasses
but will grieve at parting – we’ve

eased each other’s burdens on this road.
True friends are scarce in life.

I should just stay there alone, forever
behind the closed gate.

 

* * *

“Parting from Wang Wei” is included in my micro-chapbook, No Eye But The Moon’s, available via free download at Origami Poems Project.

The transliteration on Chinese-poems.com reads:

Quiet end what wait
Day day must go return
Wish seek fragrant grass go
Grieve with old friend separated
On road who mutual help
Understanding friend life this scarce
Only should observe solitude
Again close native area door

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Letter to a Ghost

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Letter to a Ghost

Had I not dreamed your death, I would have praised this day.
Your name rests in a wooden box on a desk

in a room far away and twice as old as we were then.
My penance in this phase: to continue.

I gather words close and refrain from admissions.
The clock on the wall seldom chimes,

like one whose vows circumvent convenience, or
a shade allowing the barest sliver of light

through the window. That tock preceding
a long silence. Snow blanketing the mounded earth.

Your scent never lingers past sleep, where you remain.
At last I no longer covet those sheets you’ve shared.

Your name rests in a box. I gather words and refrain.

 

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“Letter to a Ghost” last appeared herein 2017.

Poem Swallowing Itself

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Poem Swallowing Itself

Reading aloud—
people turn their heads
and step back, never

imagining what lies behind,
expecting neither snakes
nor bear traps nor other ambush.

Beginning where one ends, or
continuing a conversation
over decades, the truth

rises then subsides,
like soaring vultures or
cubes in scotch whiskey.

Measuring volume by
glance, the poem shivers,
opens its mouth wide.

vulture

“Poem Swallowing Itself” first appeared here in April 2016.

Never Drink Anything Blue

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Never Drink Anything Blue

But always keep your options unzipped and
available to whatever slips in; the snake

lives in the attic for the rodents,
but occasionally takes a fledgling peewee

from a nest near its exit, while the scorpion
generally avoids light except for those nights

when moths seem too delectable to pass up.
Our governor whistles Beethoven but switches to

the hymnal when campaigning, and I’ve announced
a need for organic zucchini when craving a craft

beer. Confession is good for the soul, except
when it’s bad for the body. “Think with words,

not with ideas,” Sontag wrote, and Williams said
“no idea but in things.” Of course he was just writing

a poem. Baking is chemistry – measure carefully –
but cook with abandon! Whoever said “keep your

friends close but your enemies closer,” slept
alone most nights, or not at all. Born in Louisiana,

I am the product of an illegal union, but which
half should be interred where? Both sun and

moon rise and set. Is anything incorruptible?
Drink everything blue. Everything.

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“Never Drink Anything Blue” was drafted during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30/30 Project, and appeared here in March 2016. Many thanks to Stop Dragging the Panda, who sponsored and provided the title.

Night

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Night

Which particular wind curls through this dream of mountains
and books left opened? One that flicks pages or shreds
leaves while caressing your cheek? Or another, damp
and limp from envy, barely ruffling the night’s
curtain? In your sleep I am none of these,
relegated instead to unseen tremors or
the chill rasp of sparked surprise, a
tune laid across an unmade bed
in spring, its notes cluttering
the score. Or might I be the
stilled motion, eyes closed
and held taut, creased as
if worn by a pocket’s
rub and frequent
unfolding? This
is your clock.
Continue
the lie.

 

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Acceptance Charm

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Acceptance Charm

She’ll take the river’s trace
over curl      and leaf

and the street’s
dead end,

riveting eyes
even as they blink.

The narcotic’s       benediction.

Renewal. Sleep.

That bed      remains unmade,
stripped of purpose: no

caress     a thigh would
recognize

dark fingers      writing in air

 

dead-end

“Acceptance Charm” last appeared here in April 2018.

 

 

In Praise of Darkness

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In Praise of Darkness

Night falls, but day
breaks. A raw deal,

no doubt, but fairness
applies itself unevenly. Who

chooses weeds over
lies, flowers over truth?

Last night’s rain fell, too,
but didn’t crack the drought.

Again, we think injustice!
Again, we consider falls.

 

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“In Praise of Darkness” last appeared here in March, 2016, and is included in my chapbook If Your Matter Could Reform. 

 

Another Goodbye

 

Another Goodbye

Look: my windblown self, laid open,
or, another insolent word
like the wing of that crested bird
rephrased and tossed aside, broken.

This hill is a rocky ocean
of thorn and desire, absurd
in winter’s glaze, another slurred
and curtained morning forgotten.

Now lost habitats surround me.
Dead brush and loose skin drape my nights.
Remember, what is past, has passed.

The kettle whistles. I pour tea,
think of who I was. Oh, the delights
of leaving: nothing ever lasts.

 

* * *

“Another Goodbye” first appeared  in Grand Little Things, a publication that “embraces versification, lyricism, and formal poetry,” in July 2020.

Thank you, editor Patrick Key, for taking this piece.

Ode to Bacon (with recording)

Ode to Bacon

How you lend
yourself
to others,

enhancing even
the sweetest fig
in your embrace
over coals,

or consider
your rendered
self, how it

deepens flavor
with piggish
essence, coating

or absorbed,
blended or
sopped. O belly
of delight, o wonder
of tongues,

how could I not
love you
and your infinite
charms, even

when you resist
my efforts and
shoot sizzling bits

of yourself
onto my naked
hands? I pay

this toll
gladly,
today and

next year
and all those
days to follow,

till the last piece
is swallowed
and our sun
goes dark.

Hyperbole
becomes you,
smoked beauty,
salted love,

and I shall never
put you down
or leave you
behind

on a plate
to be discarded
or forgotten,

unloved.

“Ode to Bacon” first appeared here in July 2017, thanks to T.S. Wright’s challenge.

Poem Ending with a Whimper

 

Poem Ending with a Whimper

The best liar wins.

You can’t stop talking
and the truth embedded in strands
frays with each word slipping
from your cruel mouth.

If I tilt my head just so, I see God.

Or what passes for God at the periphery:
a fly stain on the window, the redness
at the eye’s corner, the shrike’s beak.

Silence fills me daily

and trickles out in utterances and sighs
meant only for you.

Who lies best?

I look to the ground for answers.

What replies is a tail between its legs,
a headless shrug,            a whimper.

 

 

“Poem Ending with a Whimper” was published in Volume 3 of Lamplit Underground. Thank you, Janna Grace, for taking these pieces.

Lamplit Underground is a beautifully illustrated publication. Please take a look!