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


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Three Little Orphans

God Holds Grudges

The one of us who grew too quickly
makes jokes at the rest of our expense.
He laughs at the empathy we share.
He sees nothing clearly, being blind
since birth, both stubborn and angry
at a god who gave him bulk and brawn
but never listens to the prayers he offers,
asking for sunlight—a hint of color,
asking for what other people have.
And still he dances at the altar
and preaches from a raging pulpit
about the sacrament of life and the need
for obedience, unquestioning faith,
and piety. Then he drinks himself stupid
and slaps the whore who lies beside him
across her red lips because she says
she loves him and that her unborn child
is his. He does not preach forgiveness.
He does not forgive. God holds grudges,
he says. And this is how he worships.
This is how he lives his sorry life.

Opening the Mind
Now this
is the key to passing
one piece of knowledge
to another person’s
mind: Take one
tiny microdot
of truth—one
fact plucked
from emotion—
and place it
on your tongue.
Do not savor it
for long. Do
not swallow.
Share it
with the world
one whisper
at a time.
lightning flashes,
sparks fly across synapses,
and sometimes
there is thunder
in the distance.

The Good Parts

The dead rabbits seem so sad
as Grandpa’s knife separates fur
from flesh. We are so glad
to have nourishment packed with protein
and luck. We suck marrow
from the bones.

My brother is partial to the brains,
simmered still in the skull
with what’s left of a rich stew.
Grandma stitches the skins together
to make a blanket
for the baby’s new bed.

                                    And I
read to him stories of Br’er Rabbit,
of southern post-war reconstruction,
leaving out the good parts—
the jolly poverty and zip-
a-dee-doo-dah endings.


"God Holds Grudges," "Opening the Mind," and "The Good Parts" were published in Issue 9: The Originator (Bo Diddley) of Literary Orphans.  This is my second contribution to this stylistically beautiful online journal. My prose poem "The Meeting Ran Long" was included in Issue 5: Satchmo.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Momma Dwarf . . . , Tracing Snowflakes

Momma Dwarf Has Another Child

As if being slapped around and
downgraded wasn’t enough, the “fat asteroid,”
Pluto, has another moon—
barely big enough to spin, yet
pulling weight around her momma’s
midriff. They’ve named her

S/2011 P1, but call her P4 for short.
(All good family names are taken.) Caught
on spy camera playing
between her two closest siblings,
nary a squeak.
She makes it a quartet.

Portraits courtesy
of Hubble Studios.


Tracing Snowflakes

My wife is pregnant again,
and I am watching her

as she irons the coarse weaves of my cloak.
I am trying to write, feverishly.

I am Doctor Yuri Zhivago,
and I am in self-imposed exile,

tracing snowflakes on the window.
I am dreaming of Lara.

The Bolsheviks have raided the city
and have purged the souls of the people.

The personal life is dead in Russia.
History has killed it.

I have had my fill of bloodshed.
I have looked at death with wild eyes.

I am coming home to Tonya,
to Lara—
I am coming home. The key
is still where she left it.


"Momma Dwarf Has Another Child" and "Tracing Snowflakes" were included in Issue #2 of Vector Press, a hard-copy poetry journal in its first year of publication.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Everyday Strangers

I walk the same street every morning,
and every morning, the dogs in one yard
bark at me and my dog, as though
they had never seen us before.

And the pot-bellied pig grunts.
He is as big as the two German Shepherds—
one docile and friendly, the other
always angry.

Then two tiny mutts, constant
in their yap yap yapping, begging
to be stepped on. And Buster, walking beside me,
growls his displeasure once we've passed.

The pig thinks he's a dog. I know;
I've watched him. We are everyday strangers—
our paths habitually crossing, like walking in circles,
like clockwork.


"Everyday Strangers" was picked up for publication by The Rusty Nail Magazine.  It appears on the literary magazine's website and in the June-July 2013 issue of The Rusty Nail.

On August 30, 2013, "Everyday Strangers" was read by Conrad Balliet on Conrad's CornerWYSO 91.3 FM as part of his local poets project.


(Featured Post 02/18)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

No Longer

I had to update my status today.
I am no longer tied, in the social media,
to your picture or timeline. The news
was sudden again but not a surprise—
a disappearing act I've grown used to.
I do not assume some wicked intent.
I am no longer paranoid. We still
have each other in real time, in bed
in the morning and before the light
goes out at night, in the kitchen
where we almost always cook dinner
together, and lunch is still worth
eating late or early (or even quickly,
if need be) so we can be face to face.
I am not alone in some forest of
falling trees with no one here to hear,
no one to see me. I am no longer
clinging only to tangible evidence
of our relationship—the PDAs and
risqué trysts in dark alleys. I have to
believe that the bruises will fade, and
we will remain “in a relationship,”
even if “it is complicated.” I mean, really,
what is a “domestic partnership” between
a man and a woman anyway?


"No Longer" is included in the 2012 Prize Winner Issue of Poetry Quarterly.  An on-line preview of the issue can be viewed here.

On December 18, 2013, "No Longer" was read by Conrad Balliet on Conrad's CornerWYSO 91.3 FM as part of his local poets project.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

All of a Sudden, but Not

The flat tire was a surprise (in a way),
since I thought it was merely low. Of course,
the screw sticking out between the treads
explained it.
                       But it was the windshield
that shocked me. Not only one crack, but two
or three (actually, it’s three) cracks weaving
their way from one edge to another.
“Yes, it’s still safe,” I told you
when I saw the worry in your eyes.
But what did I know? It was only today
that I looked closely at it from the outside.
The upper corner is smashed as if
someone took a brick to it or a baseball bat,
even the trim damaged. And you reminded me
of the day the storm came and stones rained down
as we passed under the railway tracks.
That is when it dawned on me: I should
be paying closer attention to things.


"All of a Sudden, but Notis included in the Spring 2013 issue (#7) of Mock Turtle Zine, a local print journal in Dayton, Ohio. This is my third contribution to the journal.

My poems "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, and #7) can be viewed online.


Friday, March 22, 2013

It is Spring

The day ends with rain falling on daffodils.
It is spring and has been for weeks. The flowers
are no longer thirsty. The sky
has cried on them and spat on them.
They have been drenched for days,
but the colors are bright and the petals
are large, threatening to bend stems over
and lie them gently on tall grass.

The day ends with rain falling. It has
been falling for days. The colors
are rainbowesque, only
without the crystal spectrum
of light from the hot sun.
A drenching like Noah’s flood,
almost half of the forty days down
and counting.

The day ends with daffodils drowning
two by two. The color of blood
and the color of the lost sun swirl
around a drain. And the ancient oarsmen
call desperately. The day ends
with rain and saturated flowers,
and colors blending into darkness,
and colors fading to black.


"It is Spring" was read on March 21, 2013 and again on June 5, 2013, by Conrad Balliet on his radio segment, Conrad's Corner, as part of his local Dayton poets project on WYSO 91.3 FM.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Two from across the pond

Lonely Spirit

While collecting souls,
I stumbled upon the bones
of an old friend. We

lost touch during the
hurricane, when the wind
was blowing and rain

beat against the window.
The lights flickered then failed.
I left to buy whiskey

and a blanket to keep us warm.
When I returned, it was dark.
The door on the porch

was ajar, and he was gone.
How his bones came to
lie in the desert, I do not

know. I may never know.
But I drank that bottle
alone, wet and tired.


Midwest Mud

The mud seems almost fresh,
but the footprints fossilized
over a frozen winter, exposed
by ebbing snow.
They were likely left
by settlers moving south, seeking
steady work somewhere in Texas,

where oil has yet to run dry, where
dreams have yet to die, where
mud is still soft and squishy.


"Lonely Spirit" and "Midwest Mud" are included in issue 13 of Turbulence Poetry, a British poetry magazine established in 2009 and based in Hull, East Yorkshire, England. To obtain a copy of issue 13 or a subscription to Turbulence, visit the "Buying Turbulence" page

This is my first overseas publishing credit!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Meeting Ran Long

Let me begin again. The day was cooler than I thought, and the meeting ran long. Afterward, I sat alone in the room at the conference table to reflect on life. I pretended I was a wealthy nobleman and the half-empty coffee cups and saucers were my subjects. The two dented coke cans where Deborah sat were the only servants in the room. I gloated in my gluttony.

I could have waved my hand, dismissing both subjects and servants, but I wanted to make an example of someone. I ordered the coke cans to bring me a saucer, but neither can moved. I raised my voice again, pounding the table. The cans revolted. The cups and saucers rallied around them. I was outnumbered, the only man in the room. I cursed my misfortune.


"The Meeting Ran Long" is included in Issue 5 of the stylistically beautiful online journal Literary Orphans. This is my first prose poem to be accepted for publication. The editors at Literary Orphans subsequently nominated "The Meeting Ran Long" for Sundress Publications’ yearly "Best of the Net" anthology.

On March 12, 2014, "The Meeting Ran Long" was read by Tom Stafford on Conrad's CornerWYSO 91.3 FM as part of Conrad Balliet's local poets project.

In early 2016, multi-media artist, Marie Craven, created this video using the images of Mono No Aware, experimental music by C.P. McDill, and the text of "The Meeting Ran Long."


(Featured Post 02/16, 07/16, 12/16, and 05/17)

Monday, February 4, 2013

I hate this feeling—

as if I’ve done something wrong.
I did not make the milk jugs leak.
It’s not my fault the dogs
rolled in the morning dew and
brought the dampness in.
I did not know you were
saving the pickles for Max.
Your taxes are due, and
you used your last check last night.
(I thought you were happy
you could now change your name.)
It’s not my fault you’re a woman.
I did not design your body.
I’m sorry you don’t have time
to practice, to run with Celeste,
to spend time with your son,
to sleep late, to be alone.
I was only trying to help.


"I hate this feeling—" was published in Volume 15, Issue 1, of  Amarillo Bay, an online literary magazine that has been produced quarterly since 1999. Here is a direct link to my poem.


(Featured Post 02/16 and 02/17)