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?”

If We Burn

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If We Burn

What flares instead to replace our
privileged nights? And which

assemblage of words could reorder these
deaths into comprehension,

change I can’t breathe from epitaph
to actuated plea for help?

Are words ever enough?
Can we stack our indifference and fear

into a mile-high pyre, and torching it
watch them rise to nothingness,

disappearing through the clouds
into the streaming light of cold, dark stars?

Raise your hands and sing. Blow softly
upon the ember. Inhale and recall.

Do you still feel? Will you breathe?
Every fire needs oxygen.

* * *

“If We Burn” first appeared on this blog in December, 2014. It’s also included in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform.

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Forced to Eat Soft Food, I Consider Options

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Forced to Eat Soft Food, I Consider Options

What good is pizza to one who can’t eat it? I’m thinking of a rolled crust
stuffed with prosciutto and parmesan, with onion strands and whole

basil leaves nestled among them, accompanied by a frothy pale ale,
bitter yet smooth and tuned so finely as to flit comfortably between the

notes of a liquid arpeggio. Or if not pizza, perhaps a red chili of braised
and shredded beef seasoned with ancho and chipotle and a smidgeon

of chocolate and beer, simmered slowly and served on the year’s
coldest day in front of the fireplace. I have so much and am grateful

for so little. My clothes are warm and dry, and the eggs I’ve poached
offer me sustenance and flavor and textures wrought of memories

of childhood and comfort, family and treasured books at hand. Then
I think of water and protectors, of standing rocks and centuries of

abuse and neglect and lies bred to fill coffers, and I wonder if we
could pile stones ten horses high around the cowards who spray,

bludgeon and strip search, who fire water cannons in sub-freezing
temperatures, and throw concussion grenades directly at pacifists, all

for the cause of holy oil. What good is pizza to those who can’t swallow?
I fork a bite of egg to my mouth, and choke, but only for a moment.

 

pizza

 

Written while recovering from abdominal surgery, this appeared on the blog in December 2016 just a day or two after the first draft spilled out. Unusual for me, to say the least, but it was a topical piece. Let us not forget those who stand for us and others.

Recording of “Listening to Cicadas, I See Charlottesville (Ghazal)”

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.

Listening to Cicadas, I See Charlottesville (Ghazal)

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.