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,
even a ripple.
Fishermen (and fisher
women too) seek out a living,

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

The nip in the air
wakes one faster than coffee.

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

a day just like today,
we 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. Two of my other poems received Honorable Mentions in Ohio Poetry Day contests this year. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

From the Far Hills

Ars Poetica

I should be making pesto,
because you will be home soon,
and you will want to get started.

I have been alone
in the house (for a change),
and all I have done

is wash the morning dishes,
sweep the floor,
and do laundry.

I took all three dogs for a walk,
one at a time,
because . . .

(well . . . you know),

and I managed to shower and shave.
I changed the sheets on the bed.
Now, I am writing a poem.


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 could have been a miniature
miniature Chihuahua
named Brutus, or Cesar Romero,
or Spot.

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


"Ars Poetica" and "Poem in My Pocket" are published in Poems From the Far Hills, the second chapbook of work by the Wright Library Poets, compiled and edited by Elizabeth C. Schmidt, made possible by the Wright Memorial Public Library in Oakwood, Ohio.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Another Bartender Love Affair

Maybe, it’s 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.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Needle and Spoon

            for Buster

This is how we . . .
envelop in our arms, smother
with smooches and nuzzle.

Pull loose skin from endoskeleton,
stick the steel spike in.
Stay still
while the saline bag

Watch darting eyes
succumb to numbness, until
the slow

Throw a ball. He
jumps and growls. We
laugh and smile

for as long as he has energy
or until it’s time to feed him.

Fickle, like an infant,
he must be coaxed with airplane noises,

plying tiny spoonful
after hopeful tiny spoonful,
until he
will no longer eat.

This is how we cope, our
addiction, since cancer has claimed
appetite and vigor.


I am honored to have "Needle and Spoon" included in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue (#19) of Touch: The Journal of Healing. Touch is publish semiannually with a lot of love and care by The Lives You Touch PublicationsYou should treat yourself to the entire issue, but here is a direct link to my poem.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Garden Economics

            The beautiful landscape as we know it
            belongs to those who are like it.
                        —Muso Soseki

Capitalism is    a beautiful weed.
It grows most striking sans constraint
and prospers    for a while
            in fertile soil,
until it chokes
on coiled roots and unrestrained vines,
laissez faire foliage.

A mindful gardener
prunes flora     held so fair
with care,
            with incisiveness,
lest compelled to axe
and spade.

Don’t be all      Edward Scissorhands,
but snip, snip,
manipulate,      cultivate.

Capitalism is    a beautiful weed,
a living, growing thing,
not a delicate thing.

Trim, tend, cultivate
axe, spade.


"Garden Economics" was included in Issue 13 (Spring 2016) of local Dayton journal Mock Turtle Zine. 

Past issues of Mock Turtle can be viewed online.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lost Pepper, Roots of Evil

Lost Pepper

While clawing at the ground,
I think I uncovered history. As others

were digging up bones,
I discovered a miniature bottle

of Tabasco sauce
and a rusty blade.

My brother, the expert, says it’s a piece of crap,
but it cuts. The tiny bottle

makes his mouth water.
He covets the burn—lost pepper, vinegar,

salt in a wound—
sustained in sediment.

I wonder how long it has aged,
savor the burn.


Roots of Evil

Picking out parsnips and turnips,
I decide to surprise you with extra beets.
I know how their sweet blood pleases you.

When it drips from your lips,
I realize how ironic it is for a vampire
to be vegan.

You wipe the juice away,
and I pretend to not notice.

You suffered through two root
canals so your hallowed fangs would
not show.

This is how you erase your past.

            But if I
discover a coffin in the cellar,
or find you sleeping while
hanging upside down from the ceiling,

I will regret not buying
rainbow carrots or a rib-eye 
steak instead.


"Lost Pepper" and "Roots of Evilwere published in Issue 12 (Fall 2015) of local Dayton journal Mock Turtle Zine. 

Past issues of Mock Turtle can be viewed online.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Overdue Poems

Poor Folk

The book on her nightstand
is by Dostoevsky, one of
his early novels. She
studied him in college,
wrote a master’s thesis on
The Brothers Karamazov, his final.

The main character works as a copyist,
frequently belittled and picked on
by colleagues. His clothes
are worn and dirty. His
cousin is from the country.
He is in love.

But a rich man
proposes. She slowly
becomes accustomed to money
and leaves the copyist
alone. His plea goes

The book goes
unfinished. She has lost momentum.
Life happens too quickly. Two
full-time jobs leave no time
for Russian novels, only
Russian vodka.


It Speaks

A book begins to speak,
tells me how lonely it is
in dusty stacks,
for a book of poems.

Only poets
read poetry,
for academic assessment
or love inspires a search for clich├ęs.

I take the poor thing home,
prove the truth it speaks,
            a poet
granting poetry
its only wish.


"Poor Folks" and "It Speaks" were published in Overdue Poems, a chapbook of work by members of the Wright Library Poets in Celebration of Libraries, Reading and Books, compiled and edited by Grace Curtis and Elizabeth Schmidt and made possible by a grant from the Wright Memorial Public Library Foundation.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Two More in Mock Turtle

Not Quite Emo

Death wears a camo jacket
and combat boots,
not much else. Her hair
is pitch over pale
eyes sharply lined and shining,
pout painted red.

She casts a grim gothic
shadow, reaping
prolonged glances,

            And when
she cuts,
it’s not herself
the scythe slashes.

Death does not bleed.


Educational Services, East Campus, Room 6

A shark with a broken tail
hangs from the ceiling
next to the crab with only one claw.

The students are also broken—
some have twisted bodies
and shuffle sideways

through life's narrow hallways;
others are like the shark
that will bite but cannot swim.

Teachers are torn
like chum in the open sea,
so children can feed.

Some are food for others,
bones discarded, unwanted.
Few survive unscarred.


"Not Quite Emo" and "Educational Services, East Campus, Room 6" are included in Issue 9 (Spring 2014) of Mock Turtle Zine. These constitute my fifth contribution to this local Dayton journal.

My poem "The Little Nun that Could" is in Issue 8 (Fall 2013) and "All of a Sudden, but Not" was published in the Spring 2013 issue (#7).  In addition, "Beware of Poet" and "An Ubi Sunt for the Bees" appeared in the Fall 2012 issue (#6) of Mock TurtleIn addition, "An Ubi Sunt . . ." was originally included in issue #5.

Issues of Mock Turtle (including issues #5, #6, #7, #8, and #9) can be viewed online.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Little Nun that Could

            for Jill

            When lift plus thrust is greater than
            load plus drag, anything can fly.

There is a moment when
the wind drifts at just the right
angle, rustling leaves, teasing
my habit. I have just the right
song in my heart, producing
lift. The aerodynamics of the
soul is unknown, the purity
of my body, the naivety of my
mind. Nothing tells me I can
not fly, so I try.


"The Little Nun that Could" is included in Issue 8 (Fall 2013) of Mock Turtle Zine, my forth contribution to this local Dayton journal.

My poem "All of a Sudden, but Notis included in the Spring 2013 issue (#7) and "Beware of Poet" and "An Ubi Sunt for the Bees" appeared in the Fall 2012 issue (#6) of Mock TurtleIn addition, "An Ubi Sunt . . ." was originally included in issue #5.

Issues of Mock Turtle (including issues #5, #6, #7 and #8) can be viewed online.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Second-Hand . . . , to a Sidewalk

Second-Hand Trickster

Coyote the icon, the master. Coyote the student. Coyote the retired horse thief, dropping breadcrumbs and scabs to guide his way home. Coyote the second-hand trickster, finding a lump of coal under his pillow.

Coyote the widower, caressing a dead woman’s hair, remembering the scent of her breasts, the tang of her thighs. Coyote crying into open palms after midnight. Coyote waking in the morning, taking a shower, going to work in an office selling insurance. Coyote the master. Coyote the slave.


Ode to a Sidewalk

Steam rises in wisps
after the afternoon sun shower.
The Ginkgo stains you
with its stench.

Dogs sniff and piss on you.
Your cracks kill mothers
by breaking backs, if
children stumble.

Colored chalk tattoos,
hopscotch boxes.

or shaggy around the edges,
it does not matter.

You take us
where we are going,
even when we wander
for hours.


"Second-Hand Trickster" and "Ode to a Sidewalk" are included in Issue 61 of Pudding Magazine.

This is my third contribution to "The Journal of Applied Poetry." My poems "Frost on the Ocean," "Old No. 2," and "This Poem" were published in the Summer 2012 issue, and "And God . . ." and "Peter Pan Must Die" were included in the Summer 2011 issue.  

Pudding Magazine is a hard-copy press. To get a copy of the any single issue or subscribe to the magazine, please go here