Friday, October 23, 2020

Three Places in Ohio Poetry Day


    Wild Rabbits

I just cannot resist

the rush of sunlight bouncing off ink lines 

scratched onto a page 

as though a hen 

was scratching for grub 

in the yard. 

Or the evening shadows 

cast along the tree line

by the distinctive ears of wild rabbits 

out near the burn pit, 

just past the tool shed,

under the swing.

I just cannot resist 

jotting the scene down into ink lines,

before it disappears,

as if it were all very real,

as if the grief was in the distant


out back, near the burn pit,

under the swing.



    American Roulette

Pick a color.

Turn the tumbler. 

Go for broke. Do not 


a bullet. 

Add an AR-15.


the stakes. Raise 

the flag.

Put more lives

on the line.

Add another

caliber, another

eight hundred rounds 

per minute,


Raise the flag.

Add religion. 

Add gender. Add gender ID.

Turn the tumbler.

Add TNT.

Add megatons. 


for broke. 

Stand your ground.

All lives 


    Expulsion Figure

after a cast bronze sculpture of the same name 

by Michael O’Keefe, 2009 

As if she were caught

in transition, half fading away,

almost wispy in the mist.

Her ancestors were Catholic—

perhaps “papists,” as they say, 

and disfavored.

As a people, they faced exile,

stripped of their livelihood and land.

Many fought the Crown and died.

Some were imprisoned at Halifax 

and Fort Edward, as if cast 

in irons or bronze. 

The remaining escaped to Quebec

or Louisiana (a so-called “free state”)

by way of what is now called Haiti.

She wears Acadian scars,

half fading away, perhaps as though

teleporting through time. 


Okay . . . a win, a place & a show: "Wild Rabbits" earned a 1st place, "American Roulette" garnered a 3rd place, and "Expulsion Figure" was awarded 2nd place in their respective categories in the 2020 Ohio Poetry Day contests, and were published in the contest compilation chapbook, Ohio Poetry Day: Best of 2020.


Thursday, January 9, 2020

Inspiration, Planning My Road Trip


A blank page is inspiration—

the silent beckoning
in a mind’s ears. 

It is just like the ocean’s coy whisper
in a conch shell, 
A toddler scampers across it,
leaving word-like footprints.
Lacking social concerns,
he builds sandcastles 

of random syllables.

the waves grow toward 

wash away innocence,

replace it with complex
tortured syntax

and scamper away.


Planning My Road Trip

            This will be epic!

I am planning my road trip.
(Who am I kidding? I am daydreaming.)
Really, I will have to be frugal
and pack light,

but for an extended adventure—
bring only essentials. Roll my bedroll
tightly, strap it
tightly to the luggage rack.

The saddlebags are filled
with necessities: road flares, inner tube,
a selective assortment of tools.

A duffel of clothes fit for all seasons
sits on the passenger pillion (rides bitch,
            if you will),
which would otherwise be empty.

My route has been mapped out,
with various alternatives tossed about,
like a maverick or nomad.

I will visit forty-eight states
(and at least one foreign country) alone.
Of course, many things,

like consumables, I can gather
            on the road;
beg, borrow, steal the rest. I will need
a pup tent and a Coleman stove

for the road-side campsites
where I will sleep to save money
on occasion, weather permitting.

It will be bare-bones and dirt-cheap.
(Yes, even in my dreams.)  Now,
if only I still had my hog. . . . It won’t
be the same in an RV.


"Inspiration" and "Planning My Road Trip" are published in Issue 93 (January 2020) of Burningword Literary Journal.


Thursday, January 2, 2020

I Feel Naked—, There Is Fire

I feel naked—

sitting at Starbucks alone
with my lost thoughts
down around my ankles,

and my dangling
participles, my split 
infinitives, and every Oxford
comma twerking away
in my margins
to the dystopic rhythm
of a missing meter.
I've got absolutely nothing on,
nothing going on, save this 
run-on composition

pretending to be
a stream of streaming consciousness,
set free from free association,

or another meditation on
virtues and vices—
a series of self-righteous, 
random, rambling rants,

mere diatribe and gibberish—
more drivel—than 
mental gymnastics. 


There Is Fire

When the world around us
is exploding

with disbelief
and willful ignorance

while the truth
is on TV

for all the world to see,
smoke rises.

Smoke rises
from the classrooms—

our social media

Smoke rises
from sidewalk cafés

and picket lines,
engulfs a righteous nation.

Smoke lingers
until there is blood

in the streets.
            And, as we know,

where there is smoke. . . .

"I feel naked—" and "There Is Fire" are included in the Winter issue (Vol. XIII, No. 1) of Third Wednesday Magazine, a quarterly journal of literary and visual arts. 


Sunday, October 20, 2019

Sonnets After Midnight

With all of these poets hooked on form,
one’s apt to believe it’s like opiates or porn.
And though this path is now rarely worn,
I will torture syntax to start a swarm.

At first, I stumble over every line,
trying to juggle couplets that rhyme.
I start, but I stumble a dozen times
to twist a phrase, to make it mine.

Of meager skills I have no trust.
This formal structure has me beat.
But wait!  I have hobbled to my feet.
I have finally found some metered lust

and learned that writing sonnets after midnight
entails staying awake and artificial light.


"Sonnets After Midnight" won 1st place in the Ohio Poetry Day 2019 poetry contest #5, The Sonnet Award, and was published in the contest compilation chapbook, Ohio Poetry Day: Best of 2019.


Sunday, December 9, 2018

You Are Welcome

Existing begins with being
born of intent or circumstance.

Established, produced, conjured
from the infinite vacuum
of nonexistence. To be
or not

has been decided
for you, without your knowledge
or consent.

Now, hop to it.

The responsibility
is yours. And

what you do with it
is your responsibility.


"You Are Welcome" is published in the 2018 Winter Issue (#9of Light, an independent, reader-supported, quarterly journal of fine art photography and poetry. The theme of Issue 9 is "Begin." 

In the winter of 2018, my poem, "Fifteen Seconds," was included in Light's fifth issue, which bore the theme "Reflection."


Friday, January 5, 2018

Identity Crisis, Not the Dregs

Identity Crisis

I’m growing my hair long again,
because I’m a beatnik.
I’m a hippie.

I’m going to be late for work.
I have a meeting.

I’m smoking pot
and playing jazz
on my roller-disco boom box.

I am writing poetry,
instead of brushing my teeth.

I’m wearing all black.
I have a soul patch
and dark sunglasses.

My coffee is getting cold.
My dress socks don’t match.

I am wearing tie-dye
and twisting daisies into dreadlocks.
I wear bell-bottom blue jeans.

I have lost my monkey suit.
I have lost my monkey.

I’m a steampunk unicorn.
I’m a hipster butterfly.


Not the Dregs

I scrape the bottom of the barrel,

after the top-shelf choices are gone,

to get to the sweet stuff—

            not the dregs, the molasses.


And umami—

            the oh-so savory leftovers

scavenged from midlife’s

3 a.m. breakfast buffet.


Even the salty crumbs

at the bottom of the potato chip bag

set saliva aflutter,

            à la Pavlov’s K9.


The good stuff separates

and falls like flakes of pure gold

in an old San Francisco saloon—

the debris, the essence.


I am pleased that "Identity Crisis" and "Not the Dregs" are published in the Fall 2017 Issue (#31) of Poetry QuarterlyThis is my second sojourn with PQ. My poem "No Longer" was in the 2012 Prize Winner Issue (#11).


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Fifteen Seconds

is all I can spare
to smell the wilted rose petals

now drying in a bowl
in the foyer
on a shelf

as I pass on my way to the door.

The petals
were swept from the bed
in the morning

after adhering
to the sweat on our bodies
last night

as we said our last goodbye.

I don’t have time
for coffee,

and I didn't want
to wake you.


"Fifteen Seconds" is published in the 2017 Winter Issue (#5of Light, an independent, reader-supported, quarterly journal of fine art photography and poetry in its second year of publication. The theme of Issue 5 is "Reflection."


Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Bay is Crisp

An open window lets the air in,
lets in the brackish air. It is early,
just before dawn.

Boats, still moored,
bob languidly.

And those departing
are loath to make wake,
nary a ripple.
Fishermen (and fisher
women too) seek out a living,

eke out a life,
dredging from the deep
to furnish a feast for someone.

The nip in the air
wakes one faster than coffee.

Profit by the pound,
but only on good days, only
if the weather behaves—

a day just like today,
we both hope and pray.


"The Bay is Crisp" won 3rd place in the Ohio Poetry Day 2017 poetry contest #3, Evelyn Barker Award: “In Praise of Traditional Values,” and was published in the contest compilation chapbook, Ohio Poetry Day: Best of 2017


Friday, March 3, 2017

Poem in My Pocket

The poem in my pocket is a little gray mouse.
I found it early this morning, wandering 
casually around the house.

It jumped into my pocket sans warning
and whispered in my ear,
Take me with you.

I did not know it was “poem-in-your-pocket”
or “take-your-mouse-to-work” day.

Of course, it may have just looked like a mouse.
It might have been a miniature 
miniature Chihuahua 
code-named Brutus, or Cesar Romero, 
or Spot.

Out, damned spot! Out, I say!
It does not heed my Shakespearean plea—
the mousy Chihuahua stays.


An early version of  "Poem in My Pocket," as well as my poem "Ars Domestica" (which is included in my chapbook The Good Parts (Finishing Line Press, January 2020)), was published in Poems From the Far Hills, the second collection of work by the Wright Library Poets, compiled and edited by Elizabeth C. Schmidt, made possible by the Wright Memorial Public Library in Dayton, Ohio.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Another Bartender Love Affair

Maybe, it is simply because
            they provide all necessities of life,
smiling and calling us “honey”—
            whatever’s on tap.

Mere presence is life affirming,
            a semblance of social construct we all need
as we drink ourselves to death—
            a look in the mirror.

Tomorrow, we re-belly up,
            another round of affirmation,
a double whiskey back—
            one more . . . and the check.


My poem, "Another Bartender Love Affair," is included in Issue 21 (January 2017) of Shot Glass Journalan on-line journal devoted to short poetry published by Muse-Pie Press. You should treat yourself to the jewels contained in the entire issue, but here is a direct link to my poem.