After Before


After Before

A return to that
time when silence

reigned. The neighbor’s
guinea fowl have long

departed, but three cedars
drop needles in the driveway

even as reluctant growth
pushes out from the oaks’

limbs. Nothing circles
below the clouds, no

roosters crow. Feeders
hang still and empty.

The wrens remain
cloistered. You read

these events as separate
birdless chapters, all

hushed in the dappled
air, passages carried

yet confined by nearly
soundless threads

suspended from the
persimmon tree. You admit

a status as sentient
protein, one meal among

many, while you rest
and absorb

the soft ticking
of eighteen eager

juvenile mantises
on the porch screen.


“After Before” first appeared here in December 2015.

Vent Ahead, Read With Caution

Heather Curran, teacher extraordinaire, tells us why she’s not taking a gun to school.

Poetry, journals, vents, and musings of a distracted woman

I went into teaching because I am relatively non-confrontational.  Now, talk to my brother and he’ll tell  you that I started everything when we were children.  That’s probably correct.  I can’t remember.  Doesn’t matter.  I’m not a kid anymore.

I’m an almost 46 year-old woman with two biological children and at least a hundred adopted.  I believe in compassion and goodness.  I believe in random acts of kindness.  I believe in saying my mind when I see something or someone beautiful.  I know that this might be weird.  But if I see a beautiful person, I am going to say something.  We live in a world saturated with unkindess, or at least we could.  But not on my watch.  Not in my corner.

I just finished teaching the Holocaust.  I made a point of talking about people who chose compassion and goodness over atrocity and evil.  My biggest regret right…

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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.


In Praise of Darkness


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.


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

Memory and Closets


Memory and Closets


She came with the house.
A skull, spinal column, ribcage, tibia,

scapula – the list goes on, not quite to 206,
even including an extra lumbar vertebra.

Edna (long story) attended Halloween parties
and convivial gatherings, dressed in finery.

Silk suited her best, with linen falling just
behind. And hats! That green fedora,

like a parrot perched on a smiling egg,
never spoke, but stirred the conversation.


Old boots, worn left heel explaining the damaged meniscus.
Portable record player. Scratched vinyl.
Shopping bag of VHS tapes. Two empty scotch bottles.
The 30-year old suit that hasn’t been worn in 28 years.
Yellowed newspaper clippings of diet recipes.
The lost carton of wrapping paper.
A cheap guitar case, sans guitar.


If memory could speak, what would it not say?

Who else has rubbed this dust across his skin?

Only death is irrevocable.

In this darkness I find you.

Fearing withdrawal, we grow closer.

Things, and more things.

Everything we need travels with us.


* * *

This was originally drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, and subsequently published in Quiet Letter in April 2017. It’s original title, sponsored by Darryl Williams, was “Cleaning Out Closets in Anticipation of Moving Closer to Children.”