Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Turnpike PA

Turnpike claustrophobic:
Narrowed lanes, hemmed in
By orange cones and
Rumble strips.
Soft shoulders,
Long trips through a
Ceaseless night.
Can't breathe, anaerobic,
Smoke rising up from leaning trees,
Closing in,
White lines smeared,
Boundaries between road and wild obscured
Forest on fire
Or maybe it’s always just been fog.
Addled minds
Blurred west-bound headlights.
Mile and then mile,
I count the tenths of miles,
Endless white knuckled slog

Kittatinny Mountain tunnel
Opens up in the darkness
Like a gaping mouth,
Semi-circle of reprieve.
Gash in the base of rock.
Arched walls lined with blocks of yellowed tiles
Like old teeth
In jaundiced gums.
Swallowed up in
Curved calming solidity.
Stay in your lane,
No passing allowed.
Our places are all defined;
Rectangles, squares, well lit lines,
Sound dulled to dying reverberation,
The regular thrumming of tires over seams.
Everything is just what it seems.
Too soon, we emerge on the other side,
The darkness at the end of the tunnel.
Try to resume previous speed.


Monday, July 23, 2018



If this plane should crash
Know that I never lived fast,
Concorde supersonic boom.
I wandered a life
From room to empty room
Dropping coins on hardwood floors,
Steady splash-down plinking
Of nickels and dimes
Echoing through empty halls,
Jangling through pockets of time.
Rain lashes your face
But you can still see
If you keep on blinking.
Don’t wipe the water away,
Hands at your sides,
Remain in your seat,
Keep your lap belt buckled
For the turbulence ahead.
Face pressed against
A tiny oval window
Miles above the ground,
I wondered a life.
In the lightning flash
You can see the wings


Sunday, July 8, 2018



I like to press
My thumb into a
Swollen leg

Moist spring soil
Clumps of molding clay

Order some lasix
Cap the IV
Watch my thumb print fade

In five years
This woman will not
Remember me.

So many pots and plates,
Shaped the best I could
With artless hands;
Pressed and dented.

Baked hard in kilns of time.
Sanded smooth.
Shelves upon shelves of
Brittle bones.


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Weekend Poem

Body Blue

They place the body in a quiet room
Behind curtains
For the family to mourn
In privacy; to weep, to clutch
At the warmth fading
From her hands,
To caress her lifelike face.
We are all so sorry for their loss
(I am so sorry for your loss)
I am so sorry

Brown bodies, black bodies, white.
Yellowed, bruised, bodies become blue.
We live within arms and legs,
Torsos, minds within skulls
Conjuring visions beyond body,
When a body goes cold.

Black bodies, pale bodies
Lined up like piano keys.
Let us turn to hymn number 533.
Let us turn the page.
It’s time to mumble along
To the next lachrymal song.

We open our eyes,
And lose the concept of color.
We breathe deep
And lose the sense of smell.
We reach to touch
And lose the ability to feel.
Flesh stiffens, gathers pallor,
The skin grows turgid as the insides bloat.

(This seems like exploitation
But I’m just trying not
To die inside---
Cold corpse-like
Where I’ve drawn my own curtains
Around a flickering flame.
Lonesome inner shivering
When the engine keeps on running,
Wasting ambient heat,
Saps strength, a will
To keep striving.
You’re just beat)

My body is soft and hard and angled and curved,
Defined by numbers; pounds, inches and feet.
But these fingers are the limits of my reach.
This heel is the depth of my step.
This skull is the extent of my knowing.

Bodies at their best are bio-machines
That take up space,
Heat up, cool down
Eat, drink, get tired.
When the body expires
It just gets in the way.
(Can’t be stashed in attics or closets)
Elegies and wakes elapse
In a whirlwind of lost time.

We bury the ones that accept their decay.
But about the bodies
That can’t yet go in the ground----
With hearts that doggedly beat,
Lungs that respire
Eyes that open to morning light,
Minds that wake to a chilled dawn
And must brush their teeth,
Get dressed,
Tie their shoes,
Comb their hair,
Check their lists
Get ready to make rounds---
We have nothing more to say.

There are always forms to be completed,
To document the recent cold dead.
The county sends them out after a few days:
Time of death, immediate causes
Check here for autopsy
Time and date of passing
Sign here.  
Sign here.
It sits on my desk like an anvil
Strapped to my waist
But I’m landlocked
Wishing someone would toss it
Into a frigid sea,
Drag me down into the depths;
A silencing final mercy.

(This here is my own form,
The one that gets filled out next,
To make sure a fire still burns,
Before the embers all die,
Before I forget I’m still alive.)

The ones we lose,
Once laid in the ground,
Never go alone;
They take a piece of us with them,
Exchanged for a dusting of ashes.
The sun sets, the smoke rises
And we gradually cool