Saturday, January 30, 2021



The dog paws across the crusted snow

While two birds volley a two-note song 

Back and forth between two trees.

Everything is perfectly still and silent

Otherwise and I am afraid to move.

Sunrise has been reticent

Lately and this deep freeze

That frosts me to the bone

Is supposed to last until next week.

Yes, it’s nice to have been present 

While the world put on its two-act play

But it would have been better

If I hadn’t had to see it alone.


Monday, January 25, 2021



I was playing with matches

When the house burned down.

I was holding my breath

When I passed out cold.

I was saving for a necklace

That had already been sold.

I was talking some shit

When someone split my lip.

I was clutching you tight

When you slipped from my grip.

I was walking on thin ice

When my world cracked

And I nearly drowned to death.

But you can’t lock down and hide,

Watch TV all night, slowly die inside.

Life must be lived, a step at a time,

A forward flinging into the blind.

This is the element of risk.


Sunday, January 24, 2021



I gather laundry from the dryer

In one full-armed embracing bundle,

Eschewing the basket, and transfer

The clump of clothes to the bed for the folding.

This pile is your goddam life;

The ceaseless flattening, sorting,

Un-creasing represents your present.

Those stray dropped socks

And yellow collared shirts are the past.

You can always go back for them later.

The future is this warm cozy sweater

That smells like irises and lavender.

I want to wear it

Before it cools.

So I better finish the folding fast



Friday, January 22, 2021


The Malingerer

I am a malingerer,

The boy who cries wolf

When the sheep are already dead.

I eat with false teeth

Because my own were all pulled,

And now my smile cuts like knives.

I am shielding my cards

So no one else can see

It isn’t just cats that have nine lives.

I don't want to go to work.

I don't want to cook 

Or clean my hair

Or beat the dusty rugs with brooms.

My limp is a ruse

I use to excuse

A tendency to run late

I have a short fuse 

But always the first 

To back down from fate.

My anger is the thin patina 

Coating sensitive skin

That festers with raw wounds.

My stutter buys me time

To find the right words.

If I’m half deaf

I can’t be expected to hear

Your frustrated sighs.

If I claim cataracts or double vision

You can't expect me to see

All the beautiful shells

You collected from the beach.

This is a confession.

My fake cough is pure theater

For when I’ve forgotten my lines.

When I ought to say I love you

I can say lost my voice.

It’s not my fault.

You can’t get hurt

If you don't play the game,

If you can't be up on stage.

Let me show you drawers

Full of doctor's notes I've forged.

I say I am a hemophiliac

So even a small bruise

Signals an unwarranted risk

Of bleeding out

Even if your blade is dull.

I cry when I ought to laugh.

I scream when the house is empty.

I leave when the carafe is full.

You see right through me.

You know I’m not ill.

You know I am hale and hearty,

That these laments are a series of unserious jests.

Truth is, I am as hard as my unbroken bones,

As impregnable as Kevlar vests. 

When you break your heart

Or lose your mind no one can tell.

There are no visible scars.

Everyone is walking around so normal.

What do you want me to say?

Slide your hand between my ribs to feel the hole in my heart?

Run your fingers along the textured ridge of my despair?

Swaddle my loneliness with rolls of gauze?

Just walk normal you insist.

There’s nothing wrong,

Don't try to teeter and list.

We all do it.

Just walk

Without pretending to fall down.

I’m wanna be sick because I’m afraid to try and fail.

I’m an asshole because one kind act

Always leads to the expectation of another.

I’m a coward

Who can fake a headache,

Who can feign indifference.

The truth is I feel fine


Sunday, January 17, 2021


Farm House

We passed a farm house atop a browned hill

Driving home on the interstate.

I wanted to pull over, sear it into mind
But my daughter was having none of it.
It was cold, mid January,
Everything a dulled shade of sepia.

The best I could hope 
Was that it would someday 
Populate an unborn poem
Like a flash of once again love,
The soft sifting of chalkboards erased,
The smell of my mom’s beef and bean stew,
The hazy imprecision of memory,
A life that time has merely defaced.




Prayer is a child yelling for mom

In the middle of the night

To whisper the nightmares away.

Prayer is calling old dad

When your world falls apart

And there’s nowhere left to turn

But nightmares haunt

Once they sink their claws,
Even for a man in his own home.

And dad can only listen

While he does that weird Valsalva grunt.

Instead of finding the words to say.

But it’s good to kneel and pray.

To imagine your parents

Happy again, somewhere, far far away.


Thursday, January 14, 2021



I tapped into an aquifer and built a stone well

With a ratcheting windlass hoist

That lowered a dangling oaken bucket.

I liked to lean over the void

And listen to beaded drops

Plop into the black depths.

All day I wait in the blistering sun

Until I’m a dried out husk

Of flesh and leathery tongue.

I wave at the people who pass

But cannot speak. I exhale

Hot air like exhaust

That burns my blood caked lips.

It's not time to lower the bucket,

It’s not quite time yet,

I say and I say and I say,

Imagining the cold shock

Of brackish water coating

The back of my mummified throat.

Soon enough becomes my fate.

I don’t want to waste.

It’s enough to know 

I have it if I need it.

Even when it’s too late.


Thursday, January 7, 2021



For years I stood guard over myself
Like a taciturn Roman sentry.
You had to know the watchword to get past
And once in, you had to swear an oath of silence
Before I’d ever consider letting you out.

But the passage of time kindles doubt.
This armor and weaponry is heavy.
No one ever comes to give me relief.
My shoulders are starting to slump
And my legs are slabs of numb.

I don’t even remember what’s inside
Anymore.  I’ve forgotten what it is
I was supposed to be protecting. 
As the trees aren’t there to guard the forest
Nor the forest there to shelter the tree,
I am not here to watch over myself
Anymore. For nothing was there
From the very beginning
Nor is there nothing more to come.

Nature abhors a vacuum.
But everything rushing in
Will soon go rushing out.
Something new will fill the space
Of old things swiftly displaced.

Nothing is stable, all is in flux.
Everything is coming
And then it must go.
You let the things come
And you let the things go.
Sometimes it is empty
And sometimes it overflows.

The thing you've been guarding is already gone
Only to return when you stop paying attention.
It's the nullity that gets crowded out
When there isn't an inch to spare.
It's the enormous nothing that won't fit
Even when your house is stripped bare.

This is the cosmological constant,
The flow that fills an empty heart
That's always been full
In order to be empty.
        This is the thing called love