The Draft (with recording)

 

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.

Vesuvius

 

Vesuvius

When the earth shrugs,
some warnings are better
heeded. A little

smoke, some ash.
A knife point held to the chin.

Why listen at all?
The man in the big house hides in its vastness.
Surrounded, he walks alone.
People speak, but he hears only himself.

Meanwhile,
the mountain
belches

and the birds fly north
seeking firm ground
upon which to land.

 

* * *

“Vesuvius” was first published in The Big Windows Review in December 2017. I’m grateful to editor Thomas Zimmerman for accepting this piece.

 

Love in the Time of Untruth

 

Love in the Time of Untruth

They look through us,
fingers scrabbling
through the soil
of a neighbor’s lush garden,

saying “we do this for you.”

Uprooting plants, desecrating
history, palms out, demanding more

they exchange trowel
for shovel,
hoe for explosives,

concentrating on their return
on investment.

Bewildered, we hold hands and watch.

 

 

“Love in the Time of Untruth” made its first appearance at Clementine Unbound. Many thanks and much admiration for editor G.F. Boyer for taking this piece and for being so kind during a difficult time.

 

 

Heroes

splash

 

Heroes

And the rain, again, takes up our day,
folds it into threes, and watches
as the world wraps up its gift,
first at the edges, then centered,
with more confidence and force
than justified. Who will forget
the hollow horse and its stifled
coughs, the stench of men too
long unbathed and drenched
in fear. Or the small girl running
naked, arms outstretched, skin
peeling, her life become a litany
of pain embroidered across
the unfeeling sky. Do not thank me
for your freedom, the mortgage
and its tax breaks, your designer
shoes. We didn’t bleed for you.

 

“Heroes” first appeared in Blue Fifth Review. Many thanks to editor Sam Rasnake for accepting this piece.

 

Confession to Montgomery, Asleep on the Church Steps

bagels and cream cheese MGD©

 

Confession to Montgomery, Asleep on the Church Steps

If I walk quietly by
it is not to avoid disturbing you,

but rather myself. What
could I give you

but another bagel, the
boiled dough of nothingness

rising in cloudy water,
delaying, perhaps, another

guilty twinge. You have no
answers but when you

speak to the air, sometimes
a smile creaks through

the broken words, and I
think even in this cloistered

darkness we may close
the circle between halves

and might-have-beens,
an understanding, if only

in the language of bread
and coffee and the

disregarded. But today I stride
on, without pause, counting

on nothing that can’t be
pocketed or spoken aloud,

my steps echoing down
the alley and its secrets,

along the crosswalk’s painted
guides, under the sagging

power lines and through
your streetlight’s dim halo.

 

Homeless

 

This first appeared on the blog in January 2016, and was published in Compassion Anthology in March 2019. I have not seen the man who inspired this poem in over three years. I hope he has found shelter and kindness.

 

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.

 

 

In Response to Nadia’s Misdirected Email, I State Exactly What I Am Looking For


tulip

 

In Response to Nadia’s Misdirected Email, I State Exactly What I Am Looking For

Balance. The ability to stand on one foot, on a tightrope, and juggle AR-15s,
ethics and dollar bills, while chanting the U.S. Constitution, in tongues.

Or good health.

Unweighted dreams.

A mechanism for disagreeing without needing to annihilate the opposition.

Doorways without doors, truth without fear.

A simple tulip.

One word to describe that instant between thought and pulled trigger,
intent and wish, the elevated pulse and sense of diminished space and time.

Sanctuary. Regret. Apology. Respect.

A tonic to the bitterness, a foil to the sweet.

Fitted sheets that fold. Uncommon sense.

Love in the abstract. More bacon. Smiles.

A closet that embraces everything you place in it. Everything.

The means of unfiring guns, of reversing wounds to undamaged flesh,
and rounds to their magazines, full and never used.

Self-organizing drawers. Due process.

Mothers who know only tears of joy.

One peaceful day.

Just one.

 

lights n sirens

 

This first appeared on the blog in July 2016. The poem was a response to an email asking a question intended for someone else: “What exactly are you looking for?”

 

Two Poems Up at Lamplit Underground

 

My poems “The End of Something” and “Poem Ending with a Whimper” have been published 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!

 

Letter to Schwaner from the Toad-Swallowed Moon

 

Letter to Schwaner from the Toad-Swallowed Moon

 

Dear Jeff: The glow here betrays our fantasies,

and between day and night and that uncertain

moment when neither holds sway, I have gained

a toehold on consequence. Who knew darkness

could shine so? Last November the surgeon

incised my belly six times but no light oozed

out and little crept in. I say little, but feel

a peculiar radiance emanating from my middle

which I can only attribute to the moon, although

the medical professionals would say it’s just

gas. But what do they know of Sheng-Yu or

Li Ho, of jade wheels and spilled cups? Last

night, to honor our marching sisters, I looked

to the cloud-filled sky and toasted them and

our ancestors, the poets and scapegoats, friends,

allies, compatriots, Five White and Jackboy,

shedding a solitary tear of joy in the process.

We won’t label the other tears, but I shudder

at our country’s current course and how the

bulging wallets of the rich continue swelling

at the expense of the poor and unhealthy,

the elderly, the unacknowledged, and those

living on the fringes, in colored shadows.

If we meet in person on some desolate, moon-

free road in a country that could never be,

how will I know you but from the ghosts and

smiles sparkling in the surrounding fog,

and the little voices singing their sad tune

of happiness into the night. This is where

we stand today, but tomorrow? Look for me

on that bench. I’ll be the full-bellied fellow,

the one with an eclipse leaking from his shirt

in a six-point pattern, two glasses in hand,

wine uncorked, ready for reptiles and politicians,

mirth and causation and good conversation

in brightness or tenebrous calm, whichever

needs replenishing more. But bring another

bottle. Or two. Talking makes me thirsty. Bob.

 

 

* * *

My poem “Letter to Schwaner from the Toad-Swallowed Moon” was first published at The Hamilton Stone Review in October 2017. Much gratitude to editor Roger Mitchell for taking this piece.