Returns

baby birds

 

Returns

What good is a rock
if the people fall, if truth

remains but no one
hears the long grass

rattle, and words
burst into flame

and gas, and life
poisons itself with

greed and the deficit
of compassion.

No body exists to bury.
I am trying to return

to a place of open
mouths, of nests and

groves left standing
despite their value

to the market. Which
pocket do I empty,

what song do I leave
unsung. Tomorrow

always becomes
yesterday, and today

flakes away into chilled
ash, carried over

rooftops and clouds,
never to be seen again.

 

gargoyle

“Returns” first appeared here in September 2017.

Palinode (egg, politics, pathology)

 

Palinode (egg, politics, pathology)

Who determines completion if not the morning’s best
layer? The answer is what comes first, not the
question, which replenishes the old deviltry: I am not
whole: I am partial: I am absent: you. Please define
node. Taking exception, rules mediate the norm. Fried,
poached, scrambled, radiated, coddled, baked, raw,
boiled, I serve myself, and in turn am served, when,
truth be told, I’d rather serve you. Twice.

I’d rather serve you twice than be pushed aside, a
thimbleful of nectar fermented and forgotten in
someone’s late pantry. Or worse, cast into the Pacific,
swallowed by a Fukushima-fed tuna, caught and
auctioned to an Alaskan sushi chef and left to molder
at week’s crossing. The point at which a wave has an
amplitude of zero, or a pathological swelling. That one
moment of clarity before night’s fall.

That one moment of clarity before night’s fall at
Juneau’s 716 Calhoun Avenue, which posits the
ability to see beyond sight: the blind hen produces
more, never pausing to consider repercussive issues.
Progeny, pathological swellings, statements of the
incurious. Do we use squirmish? I take, or am given,
offense. Without you, I am the silence preceding the
letter, an untoward growth, the silence remaining.

Without you, I am the silence preceding the letter
terminating at vision’s end: a fence, the Phoenician
form which birthed H, or two posts joined at
midsection and later, abandoned. Breach. Enough.
One’s last egg brought to fruition, a terminus in
thought or language carelessly placed. A bruising
point between vanishing waves or carted through
our long nights. Denial. The pathology revealed.

 

 

 

“Palinode (eggs, politics, pathology) first appeared at ISACOUSTIC* in October 2019. Many thanks to editor Barton Smock for his tireless efforts to promote poetry and poets.

 

 

On Air Conditioning

 

 On Air Conditioning

The man who owns everything wants more.

Another offers his sandwich,
accepting grace with a smile.

Like vapor condensing in a coil
to remove heat from the air.
Difficult to comprehend.

Harder to live.

 

 

Two Anthologies

 

In the past few months I’ve been fortunate to have work included in two anthologies. The first, Indie Blu(e) Publishing’s As the World Burns: Writers and Artists Reflect on a World Gone Mad, is a 348-page “anthology of poetry, prose, essay, and art inspired by the unprecedented events of the year 2020.” Featuring 114 writers and artists from ten countries, As the World Burns chronicles the madness and horrors of the past year. The voices are diverse — raw and polished, young and old, experienced and new — and they reflect a populace whose needs have been unmet and ignored all too long. In time this volume will stand as one of the most powerful literary artifacts of this mad year.

Edited by Kindra M. Austin, Candice Louisa Daquin, Rachel Finch, and Christine E. Ray.

Available through Amazon in paperback and via Kindle.

Unlike As the World BurnsNo More Can Fit Into the Evening: An Anthology of Diverse Voices is not a collection of themed pieces. Rather, its purpose is to offer a substantial grouping of poems (5-10) by each contributor, allowing readers to obtain a more nuanced flavoring of the poets’ work. Thus the 350+ page anthology presents only 39 poets. The anthology includes well known writers like Terence Winch, Kimberly Blaeser, James Janko and John Looker, as well as lesser knowns like, well, me. This is a perfect winter’s evening read. Dip into it and perhaps you’ll find a new favorite poet. At the very least you’ll find hours of entertainment, and much food for thought.

Edited by Thomas Davis and Standing Feather

The book is being distributed by Ingram, and should be available (if not in stock, through special order) through bookstores in the U.S., Great Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It’s also available through Amazon.

 

 

 

 

If Ahead I See

 

 

 If Ahead I See

Gray skies filtered through light,
eyes adapting space,
the possibilities of the

horizon or a foot
lashing out in reflex,
what do I learn?

The house finch sings as if
all air will expire at song’s end.

Falling, I release this misplaced trust.
The path, muddied and crowded with fools.

 

* * *

“If Ahead I see” is included in my 2017 chapbook, From Every Moment a Second.

Listening to Cicadas, I See Charlottesville (Ghazal, with recording)

 

 

Listening to Cicadas, I See Charlottesville (Ghazal)

Shedding one coat, you live in the red, apart
from the rest. Never together, forever apart.

In this sun-drenched field, the cracks drill deeper,
wider, dribbling soil and small lives, expanding, apart.

What falls truer than any words released from this man?
Once divided, never again to touch, always apart.

The electric shrill fluctuates pitch, in unison. Hundreds
of tymbals, shredding dusk, now together, then apart.

You narrow your eye to a slit, but still see the entire
spectrum. Wing clicks, stridulation. Whole yet apart.

Shearing syllables, I learn the language of half-truth.
What is my name? I reach for that fragment. It falls apart.

 

 

The Question is Never

 

The Question is Never

Who will lock the door
or leap in front of the jacketed

bullet. Nor is it four words
born in lust and camouflaged

with piety. No one cares
if you blink or continue

breathing. No one knows
what you think. Nothing

matters. Not the pen
in her hand or your finger

on the trigger. Not the crying
and the dead and the stains

in the hallway, the man
in the street hiding behind

himself. The question
is no question, but an answer

struggling to emerge. Never
formed, never truly complete.

 

“The Question is Never” first appeared on Vox Populi in June 2018.

 

 

 

Scarecrow Replies

 

Scarecrow Replies

 

This talk of destiny and exceptionalism and the incessant
push towards terror inflames my metaphorical innards.
Birds may kill, but they don’t practice genocide and never
erase history’s missteps with published falsities; their songs
remain true. Not so with man. What grows importance is
not what you hold but what another has in his grasp, no matter
how tenuous. I think of water and how some would charge
for the right to drink, or withhold it from those who cannot
pay. And air? Whose breath defines the dollar? Or the fear
that a distant neighbor might receive a benefit that you
neither need nor desire. Crows claim territory but roam
with the season, adapt as necessary. While they may provoke
curses in their wake, their damage is temporary and they
don’t poison for profit. If I could leave my post what station
would I accept? Having shared my days with sky-bound
friends, how could I choose another? They sing and swoop
and cooperate among the winds, taking only what they need.
They neither hoard nor covet. They steal but don’t swindle.
Their wings lift no grudges. Even gravity respects them.

 

 

“Scarecrow Replies” first appeared in MockingHeart Review in May 2018. Thank you to editor Clare Martin for her generosity and many kindnesses.

 

The End of Something

 

The End of Something

I would never pin this silence
to a board, but her anger tempers
sunset, and my response remains
contained. The paper stars
I nailed to the bookcase rustle
when the door opens. She
swallows wine, I sip tea
and offer no explanations.

 

 

“The End of Something”  first appeared in Volume 3 of Lamplit Underground. Thank you, Janna Grace, for taking these pieces.

Lamplit Underground is a beautifully illustrated publication. Please take a look!

 

Gulf

gulf

 

Gulf
for M.V.

Which looms wider, its sky or water? The birds, here, too,
reconvene in greater streaks. This morning I stomped around
Paisano, examining the grasses and soil, the rocks and various
configurations of clouds, and listened to experts discuss
prescribed burns and how the land’s contours can determine
sequence and efficacy. The mockingbird whose territory
we occupy has disappeared. Perhaps he’s just moved on.
I heard a red-bellied woodpecker yesterday, but never saw it,
and of course the rattlers at the ranch are still underfoot, just
less apparent this time of year. I looked closely, as always,
but never spied one. What else did I miss? The rich people
on the bluffs bulldoze habitat, poison creeks and erect their
Italianate villas, caring not a whit for the breeding warblers
or the landscape, although they might pony up a few bucks
for an environmental charity if sucked-up to properly. Given
a choice between the two, I’d pick the snakes every time;
they don’t smile or offer spiked drinks and stories of their
conquests, and usually warn before striking. Even a minor
deity might take offense and crack open a new fault in the
earth between this place and theirs, widening it by inches
with each presumption, every falsehood, whether shaded
in unrelated facts or illogic, until that shifting space could
be spanned solely by a bridge planked with truth and good
manners, and, yes, by mutual consent. Looking back, I
find many examples of these bridges collapsing in utero,
but we keep trying. Your story of the gulf coast storm
reminded me of weeks spent on calm water, and seeing,
no matter where I turned, blue meeting blue, from horizon
to horizon, the sky never broken by bird or cloud, born
anew each day, always looking between, never down.

 

 

“Gulf” was published in West Texas Literary Review in March 2017.