Featured Work Archive
When we were 18
we had an abortion.
A few years back she
called me on her friend's
phone to arrange
a private conversation.
She said he monitored her
email and phone calls.
I offered to send her copies
of our love letters.
She said no,
he will find them.
It's not a good idea
for me to dwell in the
past, if you get my drift.
Yesterday I found her
on Facebook. I saw a
picture of the two of them
riding a tourist bus
in some faraway city
with the caption, I met my
true love in 1976.
When we were 18
we lived together
in a small box with pink
walls and no windows
and all I know about her today
is what she eats.
All night, I climb you,
hook leg on your shoulder,
you make me shudder,
I vine my other
leg through your thighs.
You pin me apart, lunge for me,
plunge arrow into bull’s eye,
where I lock like a leash around you,
I sought you, and I found you,
bow before you, twist around you.
Conquer me—you’re such a man.
You balance my sanity,
focus me where we come together.
You untether my chains
and let me wander
till you drag me back in
and spread me out.
Your mouth turns delicate lips into petals—
you’re sucking on my blushing skin.
And then you flip me, stomach into bed,
slicing my skin to let you in.
The mirror shows you arch and slide
across our sweat that oils my thighs.
By the early hours of dawn,
repetition becomes meditation,
and the stoned world starts to rhyme.
So we doze at the foot of the bed,
wrapped together, paused in the bond
of years of time.
But too soon, the speed of day overtakes us,
so we pack up our lust and our need
and stash them inside each...
Presenter's greasy chin shines
like a full English breakfast.
Muted, I guess his words
from accented eyebrows.
Blow on a hot espresso and
soundlessly watch a feature
on a baby sloth,
headlines spool underneath-
'Terror threat raised to critical'.
Make-up touch-up in ad break;
everything is matte again.
Text loops beneath weather map-
'22 confirmed dead'.
In the middle of a Wall Street crash,
Honey, my daughter's German Shepard,
vomits on the kitchen floor.
My granddaughter screams
"I'm not cleaning that up!"
I scream back, "I'm not either!"
and we die laughing.
So we sit around for an hour,
avoiding the dog vomit
which looks like slimy pizza,
and discuss what we should do.
Then we discuss at length
who should do it.
Finally she grabs a roll of paper towels,
unravels all of it on top of the mess
and with one broad sweep
scoops it up.
My granddaughter is a hero.
And it's a damn good thing.
Long days, back when the sun was beneficial,
my sister and I lay on our stomachs
reading Agatha Christie mysteries.
We couldn’t imagine being anything but
seventeen and slender, but just in case,
as a hedge against age and thickening,
we drank Tab, ate salads, smoked Marlboro Lights,
smeared Bain de Soleil on each other's backs.
The days were endless.
The days were exactly the same.
We lay in our fenced back yard,
desperate for something violent, interesting.
Neither of us knew how sunlight
can disappear, that we might spend years,
decades, trying to find another place
that would hold us, would say, now,
you can turn your backs, safely.
first in Blast Furnace Press.
Being elderly is a pre-existing condition.
Yes, being middle-aged and young
were pre-existing even earlier.
Thus, sorry: youth is part
of this whole aging illness,
so it’s time to start to pay the piper now.
We’re sorry, sir, but if you buy a policy
that doesn’t cover pregnancy,
the discount doesn’t count.
If you were female, of a fertile age,
there’d be a discount then,
when it might be a claim we could deny.
You’re poor? You work a full-time job—two—
but you’re struggling?
I don’t think we can help your girl at all.
A broken leg, okay. Or mumps.
But poverty’s a state of mind,
a moral failure, as Ben Carson says.
full series so far @ https://docs.google.com/document/d/1U5t4KTFyZtpYsyJNgwg3UMeRUkbsVbQ4LNNhqODP-k4/edit#
poised with a few friends at a table
across the bar it seems casual
glance but then a few
it happens again
her lapis blues lock
with mine as a rifle shot shatters
the panes of time I stumble across
eternity 9 steps arrive
in the afterlife haunted
by the everlasting con
sequences of rising
to the occasion
Hemp, Haiku & Social Lies
He toured Kansas, then Greenwich
where he lived as a postulant, later
described as the happiest time of
his life. With a face resembling
Vonnegut, or a plump pumpkin
going flat, he aged quickly along
with American innocence, if ever
there was such a thing. The hippies
thought him a god-like blend of
hemp, haiku and hitchhiking, a
view he never admitted to liking.
Authorities long considered him
a poet in times of war, a lector
at the City Lights Bookstore,
and of that they could not abide.
He went to the camps, went to
shore, and finally went to ground.
His daughter, Mary, changed her
name to Mariana. His third wife
left him for a poet. No record remains
but for his words, and now this,
and only after tea and peyote.
A pipe plays slow and long. Low
thunder sloshes from the Rockies to
Brooklyn, Chicago to The City, where
streets on the hill tilt toward the sea.
Hand me that, will you? she asks
without turning around. My silence
A word is missing, the noun
on a fence post at the end
of the path, legs dangling,
trying to think what it had
for breakfast last Tuesday.
I’m trying to make a fire here
without any kindling, reach
charade-like, hither and fro:
Scissors? Remote? Newspaper?
She shakes her head,
she is the mime now,
and I try to follow her eyes.
I must have the will to do
what must be done—
imagine instead kissing her
neck, cupping her breast
in my hand, the hell
with the noun, the hell
with the fence post—
No… she smiles, finally nods
her pretty head. …the spoon,
I pass it to her, feel the warmth
of her hand from her fingers.
I have always walked away:
from the centre,
from the edge;
from vengeance, hatred, love;
“any club that would have me as a member.”
I’m limping now,
my shoes have holes,
my faithful dogs long gone.
Recently I thought I heard footsteps,
lighter than mine, close by.
Last night I dreamt of a wider path
and the hint of a goal that isn’t at my back.
The girl fed the crows.
In return they brought her gifts or
bribes, however you want
to look at it.
They brought marbles,
shiny things that
glinted in the matte
The girl thought she was
feeding the poor but
when they made her a
rich woman with
their lifted trinkets
she didn’t complain.
Art by Roger Doyle used with permission.
Architect in sheep's intestines
I wish I hadn't built
out of sausages
the wolves aren't
at the door -
through the walls
in the rafters
the knackwurst ends
and the eagles
in the basement
are going bald
A doctor wakes his wife in the night;
she lifts her head from her pillow and sighs:
her husband is holding a mechanical baby.
He exclaims, 'It's a boy!' It has freckles
and one porcelain tooth. It mewls.
The doctor's wife lays the baby
in a dressing table drawer.
There are mechanical babies
in every drawer
and every cupboard in the doctor's house.
He builds babies from tin cans and bicycle
parts and the innards of broken clocks.
He tinkers. Oils smudges and shiny metal
mark out each revision.
All his life
the doctor suffers labour pains.
A surgeon opens his body
but there is no womb.
I’m always missing the bus, the driver speeds up
when she sees me approach,
and why shouldn’t she?
My timetable isn’t hers.
The beautiful man I loved, who opened me like a map
hides from me now,
still I go on talking to him,
saying, there’s a project I didn’t finish,
a job I didn't show up for.
If this rain would stop.
if I could catch up with my bills,
if my sink would empty itself of dishes,
if I could stop trying to find my red sandals,
if I could rearrange cloud furniture I see lying on my back,
if I could ride my appaloosa mare again and feed her hay cake.
We won’t enter each other's houses again.
You won’t walk the sidewalk like a prisoner
going to his execution
When you lift the bird-shaped knocker,
it will not be me who greets you
My arms won’t open as if to say,
shed your coat, it’s warm in here
It won’t be these black shadows turning
their heads to hear bells pealing
in the inner rooms
One bell pull for each disappointment,
each fisted grudge
We’ll forget if we got lost coming here
the first time; if we had to consult maps
or ask if anyone had lived on that
dreary street before.
I'm speaking to that hollow core in you—
the empty shirt box
from the dry cleaners;
I know these words
have no effect on you,
no more than a vacant bus stop cares
about cars whizzing past it,
but if my plea is a series of empty phrases, so is yours—
torn bits of paper are meant to blow across streets,
unnoticed, aren’t they?
knowing this, I’m still trying.
how could I not throw a cold, unreturnable kiss?
I think the birch tree knew
as its leaves fell for the last time,
when sap ceased to complete its trek
and rot overwhelmed the trunk.
I think the birch tree knew
when it would surrender its place,
topple to the edge of the pond
and prod the world diagonal --
a white line cantilevered
to perfect angle with its own reflection,
a sight as breathtaking as God could make
or as nature could do on its own.
You would like birch trees -
this is the world they always choose.
Here's the secret about war.
It's such a bore--
rats and roaches,
if you can find it,
tuned to cooking tips, and
worst of all, the community clothesline
with mountains of shirts and sheets
ready to pin up beside a stranger’s underwear.
Worse even than that: sad-sack shirts and pants
abandoned on the line,
that shimmy and shake in rough winds
or hang in the rain, till the
chaplain's wife unpins them,
to send back home with a letter.
But once, his band played the island
and oh dear God,
we danced to String of Pearls.
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