One Day I’ll Market Your Death


One Day I’ll Market Your Death

Do not mistake this phrase for one contiguous with threat.

Even its flower knows the theory of attractive quality.

An ideal medium for cochineal production, the prickly pear
shelters a host of creatures we seldom caress.

Which displays greater motility, the cactus or the cochineal?

Life-cycle of attributes, packaging, excitement, the unknown.

In the Aztec language, the word meant prickly pear blood.
The insects’ bodies and eggs yield carminic acid, which mixed with

aluminum or calcium salts yields the red dye.

Reachingfor substance is neither metaphor nor effect. Sessile

parasite: carmine. The product of Dactylopius coccus
became the second most valued resource in Mexico, behind silver.

Opportunism unveiling itself, revealed, or, layered greed.

What appears to be fungus is wealth.

One-dimensional / attractive / indifferent. We look together
through the window and observe our separate selves.


This poem originally appeared in a slightly different form in Otoliths, and was included in my chapbook length work, The Circumference of Other, published in IDES: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks, by Silver Birch Press.

The Ecstatics


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

“The Ecstatics” first appeared here in January 2016. It’s an odd piece, part of a larger sequence that I put on hold several years ago. Perhaps I’ll return to it someday.




Withdrawn, it unfolds
to another
voice, like that

of a child lost in the wind.
Or, lonely, it rises from its place

and sings, only
to return and start again.
The pleasure we accept derives from

the knowledge that we are not alone.
Each morning we walk out and sit
by the stones, hoping to observe some

new patterns in his life. What we
see is an answer. What we hear is no song.

* * *


“Mockingbird” made its first appearance here in January 2015. It was written
in the 1980s, probably around 1987-1989.

Nocturne (Blue Grosbeak)


Nocturne (Blue Grosbeak)

Why tremble
when nothing
arrives to be seen?

The architecture
of the day
comes and goes

in the same
a disturbance

more felt than heard.
But listen.
The grosbeak sings

his presence
and departs,
leaving behind

the echo
of a motion
blending with night.

The air is cool.
A leaf utters
its own message

and falls
Nothing awaits it.

* * *

This last appeared in November  2016.


Self-Portrait with Knife



Self-Portrait with Knife

Lacking benefit of prayer or belief,
it slips through flesh,

praising its temerity. Or,
parting the onion’s core, reclaims
the right to weep.

How many nights have we shared
these pleasures? I smooth the blade

with steel, listening to the fine hum.




“Self-Portrait with Knife” first appeared here in January 2015.

Glass with Memory



Glass with Memory

When I remember you
glass comes to mind,
but nothing so transparent
as an unclothed thought

or warmth trickling in
through the pipes or
under the haze of
the second night’s sheet,

no two alike except
in appearance, but under
the lamp’s unconscious glare
I find warmth spreading

across the hard surface,
telling me all is
not lost, that smoothness
persists beyond our reflection.




“Glass with Memory” made its first appearance on the blog in February 2017, and was published in September in the anthology Texas’s Best Emerging Poets.


Originally published in 1987 in a short-lived publication called The Balcones Review, this is the opening of a longer work. Today, as I look out my window at that same tree, I hear the birds, no longer silent.




the wind is what
the stillness
desires to say
each instant
collapsing into itself
like a bud
to the seed

the birds in my tree
are silent
as echoes
before their brief
lives are

something thrashes
in the leaves
the feather
is not only what
it is

as the candle
is more
than flame
or a moment

to darkness

the question
is of clarity

I built a frame
but placed
nothing in it

the wind
blows through
quietly as if
between silences
there exists
only silence or

the familiar embrace