Bottom Falling


Bottom, Falling

Through that window you see another bird
rising, unlabeled, unwanted, yet noticed.
A limb’s last leaf. The boy’s breath.
Like the morning after your father died,
when temperature didn’t register
and heat shallowed through the morning’s
end. Still you shivered. Glass. Wind.
Night’s body. How to calibrate nothing’s
grace? Take notes. Trace its echo. Try.

“Bottom Falling” was published in Into the Void in October 2016, and is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second.

John Ronan On Seamus Heaney’s “Digging”


A few days ago I read a glowing review of an Instagram poet, whose name I’ll not mention, which contrasted her writing to Seamus Heaney’s. In short, the reviewer complained that Heaney’s writing was too complicated, used too many words, and took too long to read. Yeah, I thought, but he never wasted one!

Needing an antidote to that vapid assessment, I found John Ronan’s essay on Heaney’s “Digging.” I feel much better now.

And here’s a recording of the poem.

From Alternative Fiction & Poetry (1987)


(This first appeared here in March 2014).

Quite the interesting mag back in the day. This particular issue saw the likes of Bukowski, Ivan Arguelles, Lyn Lifshin, Norm Moser, Sheila E. Murphy, and, well, me, among others. I was thinner back then, as was my poetry.

no more than
the slow grace
of light turning

the leaf so
patient in the
air and colder

now that sense
of permanence unfurled
it is not

long to wait
as Wang Wei
said in his

letter I listen
for a sound
but hear none


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.


Pleasure in Absence of Ending (Ensō)

Thoughtful, proposing not end, but process.

In this noon’s grayness I disclose my need.

Which is a lotus floating in your pond, a clutch of zeros
blooming in moonlight. Last night’s missing sleep.

An ending, by definition, concludes.

But what occurs in a circle’s body, or infinity’s border?

Imprecision acknowledged, I sip wine and gauge distance.

Take comfort in the disorderly.

Starting at the top, the brush moves down and right,
clockwise, then rising in opposition, halts.

Drifting, incomplete, I step back.

Some leave a gap; others do not.

* * *

This first appeared in Posit: A Journal of Literature and Art in September 2017.

This Island is a Stone


This Island Is a Stone

Raking the sand, I leave only the infinite
trickling behind; our first bed bore your

parents’ memories. This one grows weeds. The
heavenly bamboo (a shrub and not a grass)

issues white petals and inedible red fruit. My
fingertip callouses have softened from disuse;

coyotes no longer answer my yips and howls.
Who replies to liars anyway? A snail’s love

dart impales the object of its affection, but
often inconveniently. This is not a metaphor

for bad sex, but a means of transferring an
allohormone. Today the overburdened creeks

erode their banks and 492 seconds after
departing the sun a ray greets my lawn. I snap

the towel at the fly on the door, but miss
again. The once sacred now lies open and

emptied; a few months ago my father could not
remember my birthdate although he recognized

the season. Some totals may never satisfy.
If I collect my life’s accumulated wastings, will

that sum temper me or merely accentuate the
fool? Nothing is as it seems. We mark our

remaining days with unread books. These
waves are plotted creases, this island is a stone.

“This Island Is a Stone” was published in MockingHeart Review in September 2017. I am grateful to editor Clare L. Martin for publishing this piece.




How immemorable, he thinks,
drilling into the wall.
Another hole, another day.
Fill them, and still others
beg creation.

Say mouth. Say void,
followed by tongue and burden,
by orifice and bland. Say
invisible. Empty. Say forget.

That we plan is given.
But who writes the manual
to our lives? The hammer

does not shiver at the thought
of itself. Take this board
and remove only that portion
the screw will occupy.

Level the hook. Admire
the work. Adjust.
Do this twice.

“Overlooked” was published in Mantle in August 2017.