Take Away

 

 

Take Away

Take away the blackness,
what does night become?

Remove arugula’s bitterness,
the reddened prints on a slapped
cheek, or yeast from leavened bread.

The coroner’s mask denies emotion.

We possess no less now than we did then.
One hand holds the root, the other, a trowel.
Soil, compost. Ash. Water, dreams. Renewal.

The economy of dying continues.

One mother stands alone, cradling pain in
both arms. The second shares her shadow.

 

 

 

“Take Away” is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, available for order now via Amazon.com and Finishing Line Press.

 

 

Prescribed

 

Prescribed 

Some seeds are buried, others scattered.

April’s wildflower reflects October’s rain.
Bluebonnet, fragrant gaillardia. Texas paintbrush.

Cause and effect is seldom so clear with people.

Left hand offers money, right strikes a match
and the voice sings praise without conviction.

Perhaps we are guileless,
and true motive lies in the completed deed,
underground or above,

blossoming or charred after the burn.

 

* * *

My poem “Prescribed” was featured in December 2017 at The Clearing, a British online magazine focusing on landscape.

Thanks to editor Michael Malay for taking this one.

 

How to Do Nothing

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How to Do Nothing

First you must wash the window to observe more clearly
the dandelion seed heads bobbing in the wind. Next,

announce on Facebook and Twitter that you will be offline
for the next two days, if not forever. Heat water for tea.

Remember the bill you forgot to pay, and then cleanse
your mind of all regret. Consider industrial solvents

and the smoothness of sand-scoured stone, the miracle
of erasure. Eliminate all thought, but remember

the water. Hitch a ride on a Miles Davis solo and float
away on a raft of bluesy notes and lions’ teeth,

and wonder how to sabotage your neighbor’s leaf blower,
but nicely, of course. She’s a widow with a gun.

Now it is time to empty yourself. Close your eyes.
Become a single drop of dew on a constellation of petals.

Evaporate, share the bliss. Stuff that dog’s bark
into a lock box alongside the tapping at the door,

the phone’s vibration, the neighbor’s rumbling bass,
and the nagging, forgotten something that won’t

solidify until three in the morning, keeping you awake.
But don’t ignore the whistling. You must steep the tea.

 

* * *

“How to Do Nothing” was published in Volume 4 of Steel Toe Review.

steel toe

 

White Mules and a Column of Smoke

vinyl

 

White Mules and a Column of Smoke

I am thinking of a place I’ve never seen or visited,
much like Heaven or Jot ‘Em Down, Texas, but with better
beverages and the advantage of hindsight and seasoning,
a glance back or to the peripheral, with a side of memory
and sliced, pickled jalapeños topping a pile of imagination.

And how do we so clearly remember what never occurred?
That book I read in 1970 was first published three years
later. A drowned childhood acquaintance ordered a beer
and sat next to me at a party in college. The open fields
I recall from the garden walls in France, where homes stood.

If only we carried with us slide shows or grooved vinyl
to trace back our lives – photos and recordings of those daily
remembrances – detailed notes indexed on cards, or data
embedded in our palms and accessed by eye twitches.
Would such evidence improve our lives?

Which filters shutter moments and thoughts, twist them
into balloon animals we no longer recognize? False
accusations and convictions aside, can we trust what we
know to be true? That oak stands where it has for four
decades. I bleed when cut. The sky still leers above us.

 

 

“White Mules and a Column of Smoke” was drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge. I am grateful to Natalie Butler, who sponsored the poem and whose photo inspired me.

 

PLEASURE IN ABSENCE OF ENDING (ENSŌ)

 

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.

No One Knows

 

No One Knows

There, the dream of flying
cars, and the next,

tumbling through soft
glass, inconsiderate and

hopeful as a child
on his birthday,

hands outstretched, waiting.
Unsmiling. You might ask

where this story turns,
whether the glass reconstitutes

or the car crashes,
reminders of a childhood

reconsidered and the simplest
truth, which is no one knows.

 

“No One Knows” was first published in The Pangolin Review in March 2018.

 

Windows: A Theology

 

 Windows: A Theology

They capture no light, but allow admittance.
Nor is darkness their prisoner.

Opened or closed, their purposes change,
like water trickling downhill, gathering,
absorbing, dwindling, pretending.

Looking at them, you see past, into.

I have taken glass from its source; I have
fallen through the hard edges and emerged

unscathed. Smooth to the touch,
yet transparent. The words mean nothing
or all, and exist only within structure.

So little to believe, everything to defy.

 

 

 

“Windows: A Theology” was first published in the online anthology Igxante: An Ontology. I am grateful to editor Kate Morgan for taking this piece.

My Mother’s Ghost Knits a Scarf of Chain

 

My Mother’s Ghost Knits a Scarf of Chain

When I look up rust scabs flutter from your clicking
needles, subsuming even the brightest link in this
moon-drenched room. Communion’s possibility

perished in that wicker basket, and we hold close our
secrets, looped within circles, joined in these most hidden
stitches. Will you ever detach? I recall losing myself,

stepping from darkness into the white afternoon beyond the movie,
finding only strange faces on a street unraveling from
a wound I’d not yet felt. Now you pull apart the gatherings.

Yesterday’s scarf lies incomplete on the invisible shelf,
and tomorrow’s tightens uncomfortably around my throat,
even as I read aloud, proposing family life on a scale

we cannot duplicate, in a house lost long ago in a city
I’ve not yet seen, in a decade before my birth and a pearled
atmosphere of cleansing air into which my body longs to rise

but can’t, tethered in place by love, this terrible, beautiful love.

 

 

My Mother’s Ghost Knits a Scarf of Chain,” was first published in Issue 14 of Panoply in January 202

Still Life with Silence

 

stump 


Still Life with Silence

Not two, but one,
invisible

and stretched between
stump and fence,

filled with
time, defining

implication. Empty
the pitcher. Accept

its limitations.
Listen to what is not.

 

pitcher

“Still Life with Silence” first appeared here in October 2016.