You Are the Wind That Trusted

cave painting

You Are the Wind That Trusted

The barriers I could not place, the incomplete lines and unmouthed
verbs registered in stone, saying I am here,

as if taw were born in evil, and not the fruit of the need to mark.

At what velocity must sand scour these walls to obliterate the hand’s
intent? How may we gauge design? Galileo’s thermoscope

crudely measured temperature variation, but in 1612 Santorio added a numerical scale.

For centuries, T did not produce a miniscule and stood tall in its singular representation.

Hydrated iron oxide, mixed with bone marrow and charcoal, yields
ochre, a formula that predates writing.

Development, not invention.

T’s varying structure may be one of sequence and slippage.

Thermoscopes were open ended tubes dependent upon air pressure.
Celsius originally proposed a scale with 0 at the boiling point.

A cruciform. The capped spike. Blended tongues.

Complexity intrudes with every step: smoke-darkened ceiling.


This appeared on the blog in February 2016. A slightly different version appeared in Otolith in fall 2013.


What Are You Going To Do?


What Are You Going To Do (Cento)

Not everything can be set to music,
you have to understand that.

If I went to the end of the street,
would I be at the center of myself?

Now ends. Now begins.
Still, we sing the same songs;

we live in the sound – no love
of miracle or numbers helps.

I wonder if my body
is outline. A far point rendezvous.

A smoke plume taken, but not
into a hot, dark mouth.

Or perhaps it never had a name.
Bruising’s not the end of it.

* * *

Credits: Maggie Smith, Michael Chitwood, Carol Frost, CM Burroughs, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Dan Beachy-Quick, Willis Barnstone, Lauren Camp, Ruth Ellen Kocher, Maggie Smith, Lawrence Raab, Natasha Saje.

“What Are You Going To Do” was drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo 30-30 challenge, and was published in the February 2017 issue of Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art.

Landscape with Jar


Landscape with Jar
(after Wallace Stevens)

What vanishes more readily than the breakable
and transparent? Not here, not now, it says,

never voluble in the morning. I have work.
The horizon exists simply in perception.

Try to touch it – the hill meets the sky
only from afar, offering discordance

up close, no measurement possible.
And among the trees and vines, a glimmer

of spite, twisted open. Moving closer, we see
through. We see rocks, a bird. We see air.

“Landscape with Jar” was first published in Birch Gang Review in July 2017.

The Simplest Coercion



The Simplest Coercion

Each portrait betrays a similar
attraction: faces

swallowed by the artist’s
eye, his sight being

beyond optic, that assumption
inherent in every expression

but one. Yet this, the self-
portrait, reveals a hint

of secrets – an unwillingness
to confront,

the simplest coercion.




This first appeared on the blog in May 2015.

Countdown: #4, My Writing Space

My last five posts of 2017 are reruns of the five most viewed posts on this site during the year. This one appeared in July.

I am fortunate to have a writing space of any sort, much less a comfortable one.

Shack X

This is the shack that launched a thousand rejections…or something like that. It’s small, with a 10 x 12 footprint, and is getting crowded inside.  The photo was taken in August 2013, a few weeks before the interior was finished out. Note the inspector, Jackboy, with his ball.

Shack 1

The most important feature of the shack is the air conditioner. The bookcases are nice, too, but the heat would be unbearable without the a/c unit.

Shack 2

Books keep migrating here. I wonder why. The cattle dog spent many hours in the dog bed, but the Chihuahuas prefer the house.

Shack 3

I try to use the available space as efficiently as possible, hence the skinny book cases. The painting is by Stuckist painter Ron Throop, whose art and words inspire me.

Shack 4

The desk is usually messier than this…

Shack 5

Birds often smacked into the righthand window, until I added the little mobile fabricated from a piece of cedar and wooden bird ornaments.

Shack 6

Yes, that’s a stationary bike. The good thing about having such a small space is that I can ride the bike and reach over for a sip of beer without having to pause.

Shack last

I’ve been banging on that guitar for forty years. It’s a little worn, but then so am I. The broadside is a Galway Kinnel poem, “Little Children’s Prayer,” which joins a small group of signed broadsides in the shack, featuring poems by Jane Hirshfield, Arthur Sze and Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge. Alas, I’m running low on wall space.

Even the Light


Even the Light

You look out and the sunbeam blinks –
a difference in brightness
on the drooping seeds.

Some days nothing gets done.
We live with the unwashed,
with stacks of mail, the unfolded,

the incomplete. Phrases pop out
only to crawl away, and later,
reincarnated in other forms,

embed themselves just under
the skin, calcifying. Scratch
as you might, no relief appears.

Your tongue grows heavy
from shaping these words.
Even the light subtracts.

* * *


“Even the Light” was published in the May 2017 issue of La Presa.