Self-Portrait with Mandolin

almond

Self-Portrait with Mandolin

Being
the afterthought

of wood and
steel, I accept

the phrases
allowed me.

Limitations
frame our days;

working within,
we grow.

Almond to tree,
sound in time.

Chords
by implication.

I root among
the falling

leaves,
gathering

their tunes.
When I cannot

see, my hands
find the way.

mando

Mushrooms I Have Known

 

 

Mushrooms I Have Known

Reticent and tired, withdrawn,
dejected, I return.

Emerging overnight from nothing,
then withering back to zero.

Does light incite you?
The shade?

I walk by and say hello.
You do not speak.

This first appeared on the blog in April 2017.

Recording of “The Draft”

 

The Draft

All memories ignite, he says, recalling
the odor of accelerants and charred

friends. Yesterday I walked to the sea
and looking into its deep crush

sensed something unseen washing
out, between tides and a shell-cut foot,

sand and the gull’s drift, or the early names
I assign to faces. This is not sadness.

Somewhere the called numbers meet.

“The Draft” first appeared in Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art.

Not Blame Your Pleasure

bike

Not Blame Your Pleasure

Because vision limits options, I close my eyes.

Becoming urges patience.

The morning after I didn’t die, I took breakfast in bed.

Arrival stamps the difference between waiting and choice.

Expectation, too, extends its squeeze, rendering sleep impossible.

I ride the bike and go nowhere, or walk steadily, covering the same ground.

Which will claim me first? An occlusion, gravity or unchecked growth?

Anticipation replaces one sigh with another: I have three falls from two roofs.

A friend has named me executor of his estate, and now the race is on.

The path to the void seems straight only near its end.

My ashes will one day soil someone’s morning.

ladder

“Not Blame Your Pleasure” first appeared here in November 2015.

Poem Nominated for a Pushcart

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My poem, “Year’s End,” which is included in my micro-chapbook Only This, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Only This is available via free download from Origami Poems Project. Thank you to Jan and Kevin Keough for this honor!

Year’s End

If I lose myself in breathing,
will the air forgive my forgetfulness?

This oak, too, will stand long after
the last train exits the tunnel.

I worry that my friend may never
clamber past his lowest ambition.

Different and unabated, our words
now stumble over themselves.

Every night forms a morning somewhere:
each year, combined in our shared darkness.

* * *

night

Scarecrow Believes

Scarecrow Believes
 

What is a ghost if not misplaced energy,
an apprehension or the sum of invisible integers
and the properties they possess? I preside over
this sea of maize, tracking clouds, noting patterns
up high and among the flowing stalks, absorbing
minutiae, assigning connections, piecing together bits,
moment to thought, soil to trickle, flutter to gain.
Energy. Inertia. Waves, converted. If I had a bed
I would not neglect to look under it. The closet door
would remain open, a nightlight positioned nearby
with perhaps a mirror or two angled to offer clarity,
and the radio tuned always to jazz, providing little
purchase to any ill-intentioned spirit. The power of
beauty transfixes, even as it carries me far from my
station, from hilltop to plains to glowering moon.
If neither place nor reason, what consumes
our spiritual remnants, what directs our currents
to the next, and each successive, landing? Crows
have long been considered conduits to the afterlife,
but they exist here, in the now. I do not perspire but
fix my gaze on numbers and their tales, on zero and
the history of nothing, on unseen fingers walking up
my spine, shedding a residue of snow, of mercury
and latent images and dormant seeds in the world
underfoot, acknowledging the wonders of what
can’t be proven, what won’t be held or seen. Still, I
add and subtract, unclench my fingers and accept the
quiet, caught forever within the limits of the boundless,
under the sky, in space, within the improbable.

“Scarecrow Believes” was published in May 2017 in GFT Presents: One in Four, a semiannual, print literary journal published by GFT Press.

 

 

 

And All Around, the Withered

And All Around, the Withered

I total the numbers printed
on passing boxcars,

multiply by seven, then add two,
subtracting every third odd number,

only to find, in the end, myself
tethered to this empty platform,

spelling hapless with integers,
acknowledging Zahlen and

the infinite. Sometimes gravel, too,
calls to me and I observe space

in the path’s patterns, constellation
stacked upon constellation,

multi-dimensional galaxies
expanding in one swooping arc,

heroic eagles and exploding stars
complicit in their deeds and forever

locked in sequence, yet when I explain
my vision, the words emerge

as convex polyhedrons or inverted,
drooled gasps, and people turn aside.

That boy’s two bricks shy a full load, they
say. The lights are on but nobody’s home.

“And All Around, the Withered” was published in Steel Toe Review in January 2017.