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 a 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 final 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,
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


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 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.


An early version of  "Poem in My Pocket," as well as my poem "Ars Domestica" (which is included in my chapbook The Good Parts (forthcoming from Finishing Line Press)), 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.


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 such a beautiful weed.
It grows most striking without constraint
and prospers for a while
                        in fertile soil,
until it chokes
on its own coiled roots and
                        unrestrained vines—

laissez faire foliage.

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

But don’t go all Edward Scissorhands on it,
            snip, snip,       
            manipulate,     cultivate.

For capitalism is a beautiful weed,
a living, growing thing,
                        not a delicate thing.

Trim, tend, and cultivate, or

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 not to notice.

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

This is how you erased 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, instead,

or some T-bone steaks
with which to defend myself.


"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.