What makes the coyote yip
at three in the afternoon,
after the rain
but before the hunt?
I am alone.
Arriving from nowhere,
its mouth opens
but what escapes
comes not from within
and is never complete.
Words, too, falter
in this space,
struggling to remain
aloft, challenged yet free,
between air and wing,
of sound and thought,
occurring as it must
or desire, simply
there, then gone,
a presence one notices
in its absence.
* * *
“Hummingbird (3) made its first appearance on the blog in December 2014.
And to Sleep
and what we
sense if not
of our selves
or within this
space we contain
may be of
no thing touched
by one’s fluttering
eye as if
awake we see
even less the
dreams of course
real though we
hold them only
in our sleep
Another poem from the 80s. “And to Sleep” first appeared here in February 2015.
Ghazal of the Half
Singing virtues, she swings to the east, claims half,
accepts what’s given, smiles, nods, names half.
What stone lies unturned in this bluest of graves?
Where love’s darkest lancet intrudes, inflames half.
The beauty of intercession and the divided become
one. Pushing them into two piles, she blames half.
Incomplete, I ride the lost memory’s pale vein,
as the motion of capture, of trickling, maims half.
You read the history of driftwood in its scars.
“Never whole. Always,” she exclaims, “half.”
My other name is a hill in a windstorm of sleep.
Forever apart and uneven, just the surname’s half.
“Ghazal of the Half” first appeared in Manzano Mountain Review in November, 2018. Many thanks to editors Justin Bendell and Kristian Macaron for taking this piece.
My poem “The Gift” was published in Brave Voices in January 2019. I somehow missed it…
Many thanks to Audrey Bowers and her editorial staff for taking this piece.
The Shadow Behind You
That moment, spent. And another.
This goes on for hours,
days, metal pails filled with condensate,
emptied onto the parched soil
and sucked away within minutes.
What stares back at that precise second?
A void forms flesh, becomes a vessel
tumbled into the darkest rectangle,
leaving no evidence behind.
Our natures, revealed in absentia.
The dog barks at his reflection,
never thinking to examine himself,
while you stoop under the weight
of the tethered black, adjusting
your conscience, killing time.
* * *
“The Shadow Behind You” first appeared in Issue 125 of Right Hand Pointing. Thank you to editors Dale Wisely, Laura M. Kaminski, F. John Sharp and José Angel Araguz for taking this piece.
That year we learned the true language of fear.
I baked boule and you haunted medical sites.
You said to arrive I must first depart
or be willing to suffer self-awareness. Let’s not
mention our pact just yet. My basic boule requires a
Dutch oven, 20 ounces of flour, water, yeast and salt.
At twenty I learned the finer points
of sausage-making, how to butcher chicken, and
that your hair smelled like dawn’s last flower.
Back then we owned the night. Now I harvest
wild yeast and sharpen pencils, make to-do lists,
pour Chianti, run numbers. I agreed
to your proposal. It would be a kindness, you said.
The pancreas produces hormones
and aids digestion. I chopped off my left thumbtip
and a year later the abscission point
still felt numb. After rolling the dough
into a ball, let it proof for an hour in an oiled bowl.
We shared a taste for sharp cheese
but never agreed on pillows. You loved
down comforters and found vultures fascinating.
Years together honed our lives
but we never considered what that meant. Score
the dough, bake it for 30 minutes with the lid on,
remove the lid and bake for another 15.
Kneading resembles breathing: in,
out. Rise, fall. Bright lights made your eyes water,
so I kept them dimmed. You swallowed
and said “Tell me how to knead bread.”
With the heel of your right hand, push down
and forward, applying steady pressure.
The dough should move under your hand.
Within minutes it will transform.
* * *
“Bread” was first published in Extract(s) in April 2015.