Wednesday, December 30, 2020



I went searching in the forest of red pines,
And soon strayed off the bridle trail,
All wet, muddied, horse-worn.
I veered off into the frozen matting
Of quilted ferns and leaves.
My boots made a sound of a fist clenching in leather gloves
As my mind conjured its own path through the leaning trees.

Along the way I came upon a lone conifer seedling
Frail and wobbly in the undergrowth.
Who am I? I asked it.
I’ll never see the day when
This little guy joins the canopy.
As my grandparents missed my degrees,
My marriages, my fatherhood, my now.
I am this little tree
In all its fragile immediacy.
I am its regal swaying pine
That I won’t survive to ever see.

The paths I envision always lead to the river.
I pick my way carefully to the very edge
Of a craggy cliff overlooking the rushing water
Swollen with snow melt and recent rain;
A roar of jailhouse escape,
Trench war slaughter.
I sink my boots into the earth
Slippery with pine needles and ice
And then lean out, stanchioned against a thick belly of bark.

Desire must be like the river
That wends its way downhill,
Careening over rocky declivities,
Metamorphosing into an icy waterfall
Which reveals a sudden extraordinary beauty,
A terrifying thunderous violence
That punishes the sharp stone smooth
And leaves behind a treacherous slide
Before the churn and froth coalesces into a river again.
All so the water can get where it thinks it needs to go.

But that’s not exactly my path.
I've gone as far as I can, for I lose my way
When faced with a looming void.
I back away from the edge and return again to the forest,
Scanning the matrix of trees, patiently waiting
For the winding lanes to reappear
So I can begin the slow, dogged,
Always ad-libbed, return back home.


Thursday, December 17, 2020



Some days I want to make time slow down

Like the time you beat me in ping pong

Or the night the amber light of the hotel bar

Filtered through your wind swept hair

And caught the completeness of your essence

As we held hands and laughed

And listened to old jazz songs.

Time is relative like everything else,

Contingent on one’s perspective.

Blast into space and hit the hyperdrive

Or spiral around the outer cone of a black hole

And, from someone else’s vantage point,

Time seems to slow to a crawl.

I’ll never approach the speed of light

So I’ve been looking for something heavy,

An object of infinite mass

That we can circle at our leisure.

Each step will seem to take a thousand years

Each kiss will last a hundred kalpas.

But for us, it will be as before:

After maybe a minute has elapsed

Our lungs will burn and ache

And our lips will have to break

And we’ll return to a world that has long since passed:

The extinguished sun, this frozen dead earth.

Alas, the obstinate constancy of relativity.


Tuesday, December 15, 2020



The best parts of the Bible are the ones unwritten

Like the time Christ was cutting his nails

By the quivering light of dying candles.

Or the divine piss that pooled

Around the roots of trees

While the dawn birds chirped

And the crickets sifted in the grass.

The sweat, the spit, the holy shit,

The rhythmic reverberation of His snore.

I saw Christ Himself today on the surgical floor.

This sunken chested old lady,

Skin like closeted leather,

Colostomy for an obstructive cancer

Bulging with gray sludge and foul gas.

She shook her spindly finger at me

And pursed her cracked lips.

Her yellowed eyes caught 

A glint of the morning sunrise.

Why so early young man?

I’ve just begun to freshen up.

For the first time in my life

I knew exactly what to say

But she’d already fallen back to sleep

And the words became too sacred to speak.



 Poem #18

This poem can’t figure out
Whether it's a distracted daydream
Or the proof of one who pays attention.
It’s both, one cannot doubt.
How can you conjure visions
Without the careful quilting
Of a lifetime of caught quickenings?
My son, my daughter,
Carbon, iron, oxygen.
Even the flights of imagination:
Gryphon, unicorn, fire breathing dragon.
There’s nothing new under the sun,
Just ever more interesting combinations.


Sunday, December 13, 2020



Leave yourself behind.
Be the swirled indigo sunset
No one ever quite forgets.

Don’t wait for your skin to bronze

On the beach while the arching waves

Are accelerating in to shore.

Strike fast, strike now.

Seize not the day

But the thin wisp of what is.

When it’s over you can sleep in,

Eat hot cereal doused in brown sugar

And then meticulously wash all your bowls.

Let your gravestone be not 

A staid resting place for flowers

But a graffitied slab some drunk once kicked over.


Saturday, December 5, 2020



Sometimes you get tired of having to defend

Yourself from a ceaseless onslaught of attack.

Get the puck and chuck it to the other end;

Catch your breath, clear the slate,

A momentary reprieve before the pressure comes back.

I want to find a lake with ice ten feet thick

Surrounded by hills studded with pines,

Away from all the things I hate:

Creases, cross checks, red lines, blue lines.

Give me a frozen void where I can just skate.


Friday, December 4, 2020


 Poem #17

My poems have too many trees without leaves

Like I live in a suspended place

Where it’s always autumn,

Not completely dead but never in bloom.

These poems are too much 

Like day after blizzard slush.

No longer a powdery snow

And the last thing to slake my thirst

Here’s a meal when you already ate.

Here’s a warm coat when the fire’s been lit.

My halfway love is an incomplete verse;

A dollar short and half a day too late.


Tuesday, December 1, 2020


Tension Pneumothorax

Last thing to do before leaving.
You don’t have time for his shit.
A pile of undictated notes,
An appendix waiting at the hospital ten miles away.

You remember striking the jugular flush
On the first stick with a harpoon needle,
A nice blush of fine Merlot in the hub.
Then: guidewire, dilator, catheter sliding into place.
Stitch it to the skin, order the x-ray.

Half an hour later she’s crashing.
Code blue over the PA.
Is that my lady?
She’s intubated, hypotensive,
Absent breath sounds.
You push through the crowd
And ram an angiocath between her ribs
To release a whoosh of air.

Every time you breathe everything gets worse.
You’re injured inside,
A tiny rent in a one cell membrane,
A small gash to the sense of self
Even though you’ve done everything right.
You can’t just walk it off;
Carrying on is an ancient art.
Someone will need a line next week.
Someone will need you, once again,
While you silently fill up
With an unrelenting pressure,
An unobservable, escalating strain
That quickly crushes your heart.