Mother’s Day (with recording)

Mother’s Day

The dog is my shadow and I fear his loss. My loss.
I cook for him daily, in hope of retaining him.

Each regret is a thread woven around the oak’s branches.
Each day lived is one less to live.

Soon the rabbits will be safe, and the squirrels.
As if they were not. One morning

I’ll greet an empty space and walk alone,
toss the ball into the yard, where it will remain.

It is Mother’s Day.
Why did I not weep at my mother’s grave?

I unravel the threads and place them around the dog.
The wind carries them aloft.

“Mother’s Day” was published in The Lake in July 2016, and last appeared here in May 2020. It is included in my recently published chapbook, My Mother’s Ghost Scrubs the Floor at 2 a.m., available now from Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

To Sing the Ever Present Farewell

 

To Sing the Ever Present Farewell

The way your breast rises,
small pillows,
two doves in autumn,
so, too, the song escapes.

I admit my part,
warbled promise, uncombed
and shivering,
free to worry
under its pull.

Still it comes,
inexorable tide
lowing a sorrow
through filtered light
till dawn.

 

 

Love Song for the Dandelion

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Song for the Dandelion

When you scatter
I gasp

aware that the windborne
carry truths

too powerful to breathe
too perfect

to bear

What is your name
I ask

knowing the answer
all along

 

* * *

“Love Song for the Dandelion” first appeared in Rue Scribe in September 2018. Many thanks to Eric Luthi and the editors at Rue Scribe for accepting this piece and several others.

I’ll Turn But Clouds Appear

spaghetti

 

I’ll Turn But Clouds Appear

You gather and disperse and nothing I do salves my hunger.
Where are you, if not here among the roots of dead flowers

or inches below the window’s opening
in the leaf-filtered light. Or spread across

the ceiling, caught in filaments of expelled
hope. Savoring motion, I look up and address the Dog Stars,

longing to catch your attention. But clouds muffle
my words, and instead I turn

to the fragrance of tomato and garlic and spice
wafting into the night. What could bring you back?

Not love. Not wine. Not solitude, nor the sound of my voice.
I spoon out the sauce, cautiously, and wait.

 

* * *

“I’ll Turn but Clouds Appear” first appeared in Bindlestiff.

 

treecloud

 

Painting

spiral

Painting

But completion
arrives in the most

limited sense,
outlines enriched and

filled with lush
darkness, the red of

an accumulated passion
for texture, for subtlety in

shade, the tactile being
one facet shared with

odor and the black hand
on the wall, the

staircase spiraling
upward, resultant desire,

body of lust, this wall, our
doing, the gathered home.

black hand

“Painting” first appeared here in December 2015.

Genealogy Dream


 

Genealogy Dream

To recall but not recall: family, the swift curve
of evolution’s arc. One moment your knuckles
scrape the earth’s surface, and the next you’re
pinpointing mortar fire by satellite phone. Or,
having plowed the field by hand, you fertilize
with human dung (no swords in this hovel),
only to wake into a dream of high rises and
coffee served steaming by a blushing ingenue
who morphs into an uncle, killed in China
on the wrong side of the war, leaving his
sister still mired in grief six decades later
under the Texas sun. On this end of memory’s
ocean, we know poverty and its engendered
disrespect, neighbors’ children warned not
to play with you, for fear that the family’s
lack of nickels would rub off and contaminate,
that your belly’s empty shadow might spread
down the unpaved streets and envelop even
those who don’t need to share a single egg
for dinner. Years later the son will celebrate
his tenth year by suffering the indignity of
a bloody nose and a visit to the principal’s
office, a gift of the sixth grader who would
never again employ “Nip” to disparage
someone, at least not without looking over
his shoulder in fear of small fists and quiet
rage. Which half measures harder? In one
hand, steel. In the other, water. I pour green
tea on rice and recall days I’ve never lived.

 

“Genealogy Dream” was first published in August 2018  in Issue 4 of Lost River literary magazine. Many thanks to editor Leigh Cheak for taking this piece.

 

Ghost

dictionary

Ghost 

You keep returning and I can’t say why.
I wake in the shrouded room and lie still for hours.

Sometimes you speak through the siding’s wind rattle,
in the rasping shingles or the gutter’s drain.

But who interprets these phrases?
No friend. No dictionary.

The dog barks at nothing and chases his tail
to exhaustion. Unlike sound,

light cannot penetrate these windows.
Perhaps the answer lies in the page’s hollow, between

words, or at the free end of a kite’s anchor,
wedged within clouds, echoing

like a cough in a decade’s breath
hammering down after a long illness.

I question afterlife, but dying continues.

* * *

This first appeared in Shadowtrain.

shingles

Reticent as Ever, I Follow the Map (with recording)

 

Reticent as Ever, I Follow the Map

This old bed, knowing our secrets, our love
for the spiders of the world and their guilty

pleasures, wraps its history around us, says
“go easy, my friends,” and leaves us to our

research. I find the scar on your lower
back, that sacred heart of fusion,

trace the line on the map to the freckle
of grace and its inequities, then up to the left

ear, which requires attention. Speech
can only intrude upon my navigations,

yet I can’t refrain from murmuring the words
again, those never-tiring, never-depleting

syllables which always demand repetition,
wave after wave, an ocean of truth,

mingling and dispersing, accepting, giving,
swelling larger and more complex each day.

 

 

 

 

“Reticent as Ever I Follow the Map” was published in July 2019 at OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters. Thank you, Jeff Streeby, for taking this piece.

 

Down and Away

 

Down and Away

How soon we lose the scent
of our first love’s

body, that odor of perfume
over sweat and uncertainty

and the overwhelming surge
into what will never again

be new. You shake yourself
back, wondering

if falling stars could choose
to rise again, whether

they would rejoin the firmament
or simply retreat deeper into the

ocean’s black, cooling, sliding
down and away, slipping

free of regret, evading forever
the sun’s long fingers.

 

 

“Down and Away” was first published in August 2019 at Trestle Ties. Many thanks to Juleen Eun Sun Johnson and Aaron Schuman for taking this piece.