Thursday, December 29, 2022



We’re like electrons—

Clouds of probability

Until improbably seen

Somehow we collide—

Call it love, call it connection

Then it’s very Rutherfordian

Discrete little balls of energy

Scything around the same sun

In precisely defined orbits

As long as you 

Don't veer too far

From me and I don’t hide 

I’ll remain myself—

Distinct mind, a charged body 

Woven into your strobing sphere

But the second you look away—

The lights go out 

I’m gone 




The fragmentary nature of life

Doesn't mean that it’s broken

All you need is a narrative

That wends it all together

Everyone is writing a story

We hope will hold forever  


Thursday, December 22, 2022


 Dream State

My dreams are never particularly seductive

Not much is happening, really

But they draw me in all the same

Maybe I enjoy them more than I let on

Maybe I’m just engrossed in an interesting new system

Every so often I’m in an MC Escher structure 

That resembles my third grade homeroom 

A moment always comes, though, when I get this hunch

That everything here is just a dream

A whisper from my waking state

Perhaps, but I ignore it

I just want it all to keep going

I put a lot of effort into having it make sense 

I’ve grown comfortable here

I want to see how it all ends

Part of me knows that waking up 

Is an assassin that leaves behind a vanishing

All this marvelous intricacy gone in a flash 

I mourn for that place I never seem to get to

All that desire for a terminus I’ll never know 

I have a hard time letting go

Even when I know it’s not real



 Poem #44

This is a workmanlike poem

It doesn’t have time for love

It’s all been chiseled from stone

It seeks physical endurance 

While ceding emotional resonance

To aspiring sonnets and odes 

It lacks beautiful imagery

Due to disciplined editing

It settles for being a series of small words

That convey a simple meaning

It’s the stagnant waters dulled to opacity

Desperately clinging to all the colors 

In the sky before the clouds come 

It’s closing your eyes and counting to ten

While all the angels are falling 

You pay it no mind but these 

Are the ones that get inside 

Prosody is fine and dandy

But I’ve always taken to tenacity


Monday, December 19, 2022



I began to think of the hospital as home. Not a second home. Home, home. Hacienda. La maison ancienne.  The espresso machine in the break room. The couch in the doctor’s lounge while waiting for a case to start.  Extra pairs of socks in my locker. A clean shirt hanging from a hook.  Old New Yorkers I’ve left all over the recovery room. Moments of contemplation in the meditation room. That one place where I really like to sit. The extra toothbrush. I know where everything is. The saltines, the ginger ales, the mini-bags of pretzels. I just need a shelf with all my favorite books. A fluffy white towel pulled fresh from the dryer. A drawer that no one can open but me. I’m someone worth knowing here. It’s nice. It’s nice to feel essential. Code blue code white hot gallbladder in the ER. Initiate massive transfusion protocol. It all changes on a dime. Everyone running toward it.  Everyone looking at me.  Expecting me to know what to do. Like the latchkey around my neck. Opening heavy doors to empty homes. Calling strangers for rides to practice. Fixing my own teeth. I like when everything depends on me. Then there’s no one to have to thank. I like when I get to decide. There’s a woman in the waiting room looking at me with anxious eyes when I approach to tell her that her dad is going to be ok which reminds me of my own kids, which reminds me of the long grass, the laundry to do, the leaky faucet, that there is another place where there is work to be done. The alarms on the patient’s monitors are going off all around me. The noise is incessant, maddening, cacophonous. I begin to wake up. I’ve become too comfortable here. It’s lonely always confusing indebtedness with gratitude. Some dreams are actually long nightmares without being the least bit scary. The nightmare part is realizing it isn’t just a dream, it's your actual life. Disturbing, to be sure, but without a whiff of fear. Fear is for when you start to believe your real life might all be just a dream. These kinds of dreams never end. Like a puzzle without a solution. You always wake up before anything ever gets solved. Some lives are these kinds of nightmares and some nightmares are just certain kinds of lives. So easy to lose track of time in the places where one feels necessary. Even when it’s just a dream. Or a job. I know what to do here, at least.  I know my role. Even after it becomes clear nothing is absolutely necessary. We only imagine it to be so. Then we imagine ourselves imagining another world where only one thing is absolutely necessary and that is to become a mind that imagines that all things are both purposeful and necessary. It will be dark soon. I told my son I would play soccer with him in the backyard. He wants to talk about karmic reincarnation and Lionel Messi. (You know, the necessities.) My daughter needs help with her math. My wife will have dinner, as soon as I am ready to come home. At some point in the evening, everyone will agree it is time to go to sleep. In this dream of sleeping, we are all dreaming. This is the point where it’s easy to lose the thread. Dreams upon dreams, divinely woven into an infinite fractal. The only thing to do at this point is to imagine there exists a dream in which  you will wake up from the dream.  When you open your eyes you will know you are home.


Thursday, December 15, 2022


 Cruelest Month

I get the argument that April is the cruelest month

Every spring it all comes storming back

Flaunting it in our faces 

Bloom after fucking bloom

But not for us.  

Just one blossoming for the likes of us 

And the bulk of our petals have already fallen 

December is a different kind of suffering 

Carved out of modern time as a marketing scam

Driven by quarterly Capitalist sales demands

Did I buy enough?

Was I too selfish?

Did I waste a year of life?

Will I ruin Christmas?

And how all that phony nostalgia and Auld Lang Syne 

Preys upon our sense of running out of time 

It’s just winter, I tell myself 

Next month will be even colder

So many things are dying 

Even the snow wants to melt 

The grass has given up on green 

I struggle just to stay warm

December tries to trick us into thinking 

A mere flip of the calendar 

Cleans the slate

A full factory reset, wherein,

By some miracle, we all get another chance 

In this brand new year 

But we ought not fall for that 

It’s just a long trek forward, unrefreshed

Only a year older, jankier, and wearier

At least April is honest

Showing how the world replenishes 

Itself when we’re gone,

How it carries on

Just fine without us 

December is the young vixen 

Whispering libidinous longings in your ear

When all she really wants is your money

The days now are so short

Late afternoon is darker than the cobwebbed crawlspace

In the abandoned barracks of the skeleton army 

You have to become broken enough

To write by the light that shines

Through your shattering of fissures, 

A glow that strengthens with a proper aging 

It requires a certain kind of courage 

To live as if you only get one life 

Blocked out in four week chunks

With December as the very last month

Pegged to a wall, interminably flapping 

In the breeze like an intractable curse

We’d be a lot happier if we listened to April

But we’d rather die

Than lose our sense of self 

And so here we are, maudlin fools

Checking off dates, working

Our way through hours and months 

Right up until the stroke

Of midnight, on December 31st.


Monday, December 12, 2022


 Dramatis Personae

The auditorium is packed and stuffy.

Everyone dressed to the nines

Fanning themselves with programs 

Perfume wafting in thick waves 

With deep baritone cologne

A rolling tide of lipsticked murmuring 

But we’re all watching an empty stage

Waiting, waiting for the show to begin

Men in masks bring out the props

Nothing but blank canvases

Looming over scattered brushes

And tubes of unlabeled oil paints

In the pit we find an orchestra of muted instruments:

Plugged horns and stuffed woodwinds 

Violas unstrung,

Waiting for us to unfurl  

The strings wrapped around our necks 

Impatient opera ladies keep jangling

Smuggled piano keys in their compact purses 

Actors begin to emerge from the audience

They speak in hues 

And lilting mellifluous cadences

Others start applying swaths 

Of color to blank spaces

With sweeping flourishes 

Of imaginary brushes  

Everyone left goes silent for a few hours

I drift into dreams 

When I come to I'm standing

In the middle of raucous applause. 

I don't even know what I did 

To warrant such a reception

I can’t draw or play a note

I never learned any lines

I usually miss my cues

If you offered me a microphone

I’d probably refuse 

My only talent is a hard science 

I don’t deserve any of this 

I remember to check the program

To find out my assignment.

Apparently I have played many roles—

Only briefly the lead protagonist

Mostly the villainous suitor 

who failed to rescue the damsel in distress. 

The poverty stricken child wise beyond his years

who became a rich man years ahead of his wisdom.

Son of Charles (in white shirt, red shoes) who arrives with apples

that everyone knows not to eat    

Cousin Hal from Alabama.

The clueless kid eating Spaghetti-O’s 

while parents scream at one another upstairs. 

The adjunct professor of human frailties. 

The nice driver who waved the red truck through. 

The unshaven man in a black hat

who wants to be seen

but never encountered 

The stern father who allowed it all to happen

The failed lover 

The brother to a stillborn son

The boy who said goodnight every night to a dozen stuffed 

animals arrayed around his head on a pillow,

with the implicit understanding that they would protect him

in exchange for such consistent rituals of love.

The boy who conjured autonomic forms for unseen noises 

The boy who listens in his sleep

while all the world is talking 

The man passing through market

on his way to his own sell off

The achiever of minor dreams 

The slayer of the asking to be dead 

The pre-Chorus

The post-Chorus

The dying notes of the dirge

sung by my anonymous elegist

I thought I was just here watching.

But no.

That was a role too.

It says so right here —

The man who was just watching .

After the show someone

will surely tell me 

the honest truth

of how I did 


Saturday, December 10, 2022


 Fruit Tree

I pick up an apple

And say this is a pear

You roll your eyes

You really don’t care

Anymore, whatever, call it whatever

It’s overripe and starting to smell

I cut it open and extract a few seeds

Here, stick one in the ground, if you dare

Then go on your way

Call it exile, call it anywhere 

I’ll be the one who waters it

Watches it 

Shelters it from winds 

By the time it starts to shed leaves 

You’ll neither distrust me

Nor remember to trust

That I'll do as I say 

Either way it becomes a tree

That dangles with succulent truth

Whoever wins

Gets to keep the shade

As for the fruit

I promise, I promise to share 


Wednesday, December 7, 2022



What is the purpose of a neutron 

Neither positive nor negative

Just along for the ride

Mindfucking the proton

Or so we say.

What about the neutrino

Chargeless, nearly massless

Billions, they say, slice through us every day

Leaving not a single scar

I never feel a thing, I say

A photon of light passes easily through this glass

If I were to try the same

Broken shards would slash my flesh

Is the light so bloodied?

What would you say?




I’ve always been a grinder

Scratching out brown dust

An inch or two at a time 

I am the sluice in the stone

When the river runs dry

All these people staring in awe

From the edge of what’s now a canyon

What was the point and why?

Look at those inscrutable geological ages

Layered in the crushed silence of looming walls

When the waters come again

They’ll come thundering through empty halls

The ancient dust now realizes the thing it's

Been feeling all this time is parched 

Everyone else trapped below drowns

I remember how even

A desert can get drenched

Geysers of pleasure

Erupting from the center of the earth

I remember being wet




I can get through this

I'm a spendthrift with time

Distilled it down to 

A means of transaction

Use it to buy blocks 

of distraction. Stay overworked. Stacks

of books. Stoned reveries.

Absurdist escapist. Quietly suppressed rage.

 I try not to think 

about it anymore. 

I don't have time

All I can spare is a few minutes

here in the white spaces

of this last page 


Tuesday, November 22, 2022


 Shelf Life

I feel bad for the autumn leaves that hang

Around too long, clinging to thin limbs

As the calendar flips to November

Desiccated like the cracked leather glove

Nailed to a wall in a closet 

In Chirico's Song of Love

Some of these shriveled leaves never fall at all

Cradled high up within witch’s claw branches 

Spend the winter clustered in browned banana bunches

Buffeted to a feeble chattering by paint stripping winds

It's a error to mistake this resistance to gravity

For a form of relative immortality

They know themselves they should have let go 

They know themselves the wind was a chariot

All that’s left is a wistful nostalgia for the glossy 

Foreign currency orange flourish

Of early October, glowing with colors

Before ever knowing they had once been green

Exultant from all the attention of

Everyone suddenly interested 

Taking pictures, pointing up at them in the sky—

Fluttering against the deep blue sky 

Feeling beautiful and worthy and whole

Without ever wondering why 


Sunday, November 20, 2022


 Phone Tree 

You have reached my voicemail

If this is an emergency please hang up and dial 911

If this is not an emergency please consider hanging up 

and not dialing 911. If this is about that time I ought

to have done the thing we both know,

in retrospect, I should have done please press “2”

If this is simply a butt dial know that I don’t believe in butt dials

and will go to my grave assuming you intentionally called

but panicked last minute when it came time to say the thing you meant to say 

If this is a solicitor wanting me to sell my soul for the chance

of re-purchasing that very same soul

sometime down the road at a huge discount please press “3”

If you are an uncle or old coach or Dad or the guy in line 

ahead of me at the Walgreens or Corey from Wilkes Barre PA please press “4”

If this is a person who is angry or distracted or murderous

or understandably sad or grinding their teeth

with a ravenous pescatarian hunger please press “5”

If you think you know me please hold on the line

while listening to a selection of noirish Japanese jazz

that has a strong likelihood of lasting all night

If you wish to query about my lack of availability

Please press “6” and, once transferred to that place,

when you are asked to press another button,

Please press “7”. If you would like to just talk

To me you are allowed to ask 10 questions

If you would like one word replies (yes/no, binary codes) please press “8”

If you would like me to ramble on all night

so soporifically that you fall asleep by your sixth inquiry

then please press “9”

If you are pressing buttons right now,

just pounding your long lovely index finger into the phone

driven by a justifiable impatience and frustration

please remember the numbers are also letters

and the numbers create a series of beeping and blooping sounds

and if you love me

you can spell it

you can compose a song 

You can wait for it