Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Go with God

She says it under her breath
as I walk out the door

every day, as if 
she thinks I cannot hear her—

half wanting
half not wanting me

to hear her—
because she knows

I am atheist
and she is afraid

I may try to force 
my beliefs on her.

She says it under her breath
as I walk out the door,

always in a whisper
to try to save my soul,

a directive,
whether I like it or not. 

Go with God, she says. 
I will go without.


"Go with God" is published in the Fall 2023 issue of The Bayou Review.


Sunday, December 3, 2023

Dreams and Nightmares

    False Hope 

I had a dream about you,
and it was like eating leftovers 
of the veal piccata you made 
that spring eve in 2004
before you went vegan,

save for the few times a year
you crave fish
or when mussels are the special
at one of the Michelin-starred restaurants
to which you are drawn, 

because, to you, life
is all about flavor, or should be,
and you want life to taste rich 
and melt in your mouth
twenty-four seven.

That recollection has left me
peckish and standing in the rain
for eight hours straight
with false hope of getting a seat
at The French Laundry.


    It’s Not Me

Waking from a dream, you roll away from me, 
toward the wall. I can hear you mumbling something
about “cheating bastard.” I know

it’s not about me specifically,
but your therapist says that you carry
residual PTSD and trust issues

from your mother, your father,
and every past relationship you’ve had.
I know it’s not me. 

Still, you shrug me off, when I try to touch you.
You give me the silent treatment all day,
and I walk on eggshells.

Tonight, I sleep on the sofa in the den,
and, at almost midnight exactly, I stir to the sound 
of you sobbing on the floor by my side.

You say you had a nightmare and you’re scared.
I tell you that you’re safe, and I hold you tightly.
You whisper, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”


    Remembering the Dream 

I am sleeping tonight
on an overstuffed mattress.
It is lumpy but soft.
I roll into the basin
my body has spent 
nearly a decade perfecting.
It cradles me in the dark,
comfortable and familiar.
I am letting the wind
outside my window
rock me, as I slumber, my 
snoring shaking the rafters.
I am letting the clamor
of my rapid eye movement
act as my exercise 
for the week, and I am
warm for a moment.
I am letting the song
of my digital alarm clock
represent the end of time. 
I am remembering the dream
I had almost forgotten.


"False Hope," "It's Not Me," and "Remembering the Dream" are included in Dreams + Nightmares, a 2023 anthology of work by the poets of Poets Northwest in Houston, Texas.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Two Stepping In Texas


The fallacy of snowflakes
is that no two are alike, 
because . . . chances are,
given the hundreds of millions  
of billions that fall, maybe two 
are identical, 

just as there are
doppelgangers for all of us, 
and just like, odds are,
given dozens of dice rolls, sometimes craps
is a winner. 

Perhaps planets grow life forms
just like snowflakes 
duplicate themselves, 
casually, as if almost undetectable. 

as has been proclaimed 
by countless philosophers
and in “the Good Book” (at Ecclesiastes 1:9),
there is nothing new under the sun 
or above, or beyond it. 

And, even if the universe implodes,
it will recycle itself,
again and again,
with a bang.



O Romeo, Romeo, 
you are my David,

my fair-skinned masterpiece—
my beautiful love-boy.

Romeo, you are 
what is left of my heart, my

misguided youth, faded 
(and fading) memories,

my once-golden rainbow,
my final hope.

O yesterday! My Romeo,
you are my raison d'ĂȘtre,

my last requiem,
my grand opus. 

My faux pas. Romeo, 
you are my greatest loss,

all my hopes and dreams
save dying Juliet,

an adolescent sigh.
My best, Wm. 


"Snowflakes" and "Romeo" were winners of their respective contests in the Poetry Society of Texas's 2022 Annual Contests and were published in the 2023 Book of the Year.


Acorn Collection

   The Apocalypse

They roam the streets,
brain dead, scorching Mother Earth,
leaving a wide wake of waste.
All sentient things
recoil from their tactile touch
or die.
The atmosphere hangs acrid;
the water, metallic in taste
and texture.
Toxic. And they consume
and abandon, discard and disseminate
sans regulation.
Darwin’s theoretical specter shrugs.
This species has made
the idea of natural selection
wholly unnatural.
Tides churn into tsunamis.
Fracked earth trembles and quakes.
Weather rages. The wind storms.
If they were zombies,
we could end those brain-dead


    Buyer’s Market
That house in the middle of the block
is empty in the suburbs.
The house is empty,
and it is not the only one—
the grass is long. There are
cracks in the sidewalk.
Junk mail overflows
the mailbox.
There are no curtains
on any window. It’s quiet;
there is no laughter.
There is no streetlight
on the far-right corner,
where the neighbors sleep.
The news stacks up daily
on the curb in the suburbs. 


    Cats and Dogs

It's pouring outside,
so my muscle memory
vacuums the living room floor
instead of mowing the lawn.

I don't have gills, so
instead of walking on water,
I moonwalk to “Billie Jean”
on my iPod.
All of a sudden,
I am Robin Williams
dressed as Mrs. Doubtfire. I am
letting the vacuum lead.
It's raining cats and canines,
so my muscle memory
sweeps the kitchen
instead of raking the yard.



There is nothing left
after a day of SAPCR petitions
and discovery. The divorce

he filed today was not his own,
and it was paid for in multiple ways;
money is always a figure.
Day after day,
he aids client after client
that which once made them whole,
divide community assets, fault.
Or no fault.
            If love was ever a factor,
a numerically critical part
of the equation,
it is now known as x
the one variable neither party can
solve for. Primary
possession is nine-tenths,
and the final tenth is unspent anger
and negative regret.

Sometimes, they add
subtraction of family names

out of spite.


    Ice Packs

I thought I was dead,
because the sidewalk under the overpass
is ice cold
and I huddle there alone
for warmth,
while the rain falls frozen
around me
and the frostbite on my fingers
packs the throbbing pain
in numbness.
Street dogs cozy up
around my cocooned body,
which I have tucked
against a concrete wall
to evade the wind.
If we wake in the morning,
I will share scraps

of gratitude.


Mostly Swamp

I am watching the trees sway
as the warm wind whips. It is
not yet hurricane season, 

but along the Gulf Coast,
where the terrain is mostly swamp
and delta,
                        storms swallow trees.
The soft terra firma gives way
when roots push to the surface
and trees lie down.
For a moment, perhaps,
its lumber becomes a dam,
rerouting city planning
                        and the water rises.
Boats launch from driveways
and tow trucks get to work
towing flooded cars.
This bayou city is mostly swamp,
and its civil engineers

are swamped with calls.


    Oh, My Stars

            Dear Urania
Give me the blue moon
to hang outside my window,
buxom and bright. Let it
linger until fingernail slight.
Consider. Yes, reconsider
the arbitrary eight orbs
of my youth.
Give me back my Pluto!
To hell with Haumea and Makemake.
Give no weight to Eris.
Don’t recognize Ceres.
Affirm the time-worn truths
of childhood dioramas. Styrofoam
spheroids never decay.
Let Orion and the two bears
battle for another millennia. Who cares?
Give me back my memories.
I ask this with all humility.
            And, please,
do not send a giant asteroid

to smite me.


   Second Chances 

The field glows emerald  
at dusk,
            and the sky is cool blue.
It is cloudless.
Yesterday was so warm.
We have been given a second chance
at springtime, and there is
a gentle breeze
from the west.
Crickets chirp
in the distance,

and the scent is jasmine.


    That je ne sais quoi 

I could tell that he was kin
before I saw him.
His blood rang clear in his voice,
as Cajun as it comes—
not broken English
or even patois français.
it was the washboard rhythm,
the jug beat,
or the way he said “sister”
and “Baton Rouge”—
mais, c’est le je ne sais quoi.
He looks like one of our cousins
from Shreveport
or one of the Abbeville twins,
            the angry son.
He did not order the mud bugs,
like his buddies did,
because this is H-Town,
and he knows better.


These nine (yes, 9) poems are published together in the 2021 issue of The Acorn Review, a publication of Grossmont College.


Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Grapes of Wrath

I am wine as it comes 
from a bottle or a box. I am nectar
of the gods, 

stomped under men’s feet, 
placed in a cask or casket,
in damp cellars. I am

sweet and slightly toxic.
I have legs. I will give you 
my warm body, my delicate, 

almost acrid nose. I will
knock you on your sweet ass.
I am fine wine. I am

the grapes God—
the one true god’s wrath.
As the day breaks, I am

another pressurized cranium,
a numb reminder of excess,
a subtle sense of regret,

stomped under men’s feet.
"Grapes of Wrath" received a 3rd-place award in Ohio Poetry Day 2022 poetry contest #12, Non-traditional Narrator. It is published in the contest's compilation book, Ohio Poetry Day: Best of 2022.


Saturday, June 18, 2022

Texas Trio

    Banging Cabinets

I had almost forgotten 
how quickly change can happen. 

The day may appear almost
calm in the morning. But then, 

without warning,
a cabinet door in the kitchen

bangs shut,
just one, at first . . . just one.

Fight, flight, freeze.
Wait for the inevitable echo

to reach the den. 
Another door bangs shut. Then, 

in rapid succession,
three or four more

pop like popcorn,
a burst of gunfire.

Maybe, one last bang for luck. 
Morning songbirds 

turn to a murder of crows, 
an unkindness of raven, in a flip 

of a switch, without warning.
It might be too late.


    Naming My Friends 

when I die,
you will recognize me by my tattoo.
—Zeina Hashem Beck

I am listening to Pentatonix
and Walk Off the Earth on YouTube 
when a video of your
recitation of “Naming Things”
queues up next. And that poem

carries me like a refugee on its back, 
packed in a duffel bag, rucksack, kit bag
with all its worldly belongings.
We are on the lam,
running from our past.

I carry my home with me,
or it might be carelessly dragged
in the dirt behind me.
I have been naming my friends—
loneliness, darkness, regret.

And I fear I will never return 
to the city where I was born. The walls
have crumbled like Jenga,
and we are suddenly nomads again.
I have named myself “goodbye.”

And the bombs have fallen,
strafing our memories, our recollections,
our nostalgia. I survive because 
I carry my whole life with me
in this rucksack on my back. 


    Dear Poet

I want to ask you about technique
and your reasons for doing one thing one way
as opposed to some other. Should I 
do it that way too? Is there a method?

Could I borrow your mindset
or, maybe, some madness?

Where should one line break?
Should I combine multiple lines to make one very long line? Should I
chop them
into tiny phrases
or drop them 
on the page?

It is important to know these things:
technique and reason. 
But which 
is more important?

When should I indent?
Or should I?

Or should I
repeat the last line?


"Banging Cabinets," "Naming My Friends," and "Dear Poet" each won 1st place in their respective contest categories in the Poetry Society of Texas's 2021 Contests and are published in the Society's 2022 Book of the Year.


Monday, January 17, 2022

Two More from 3rd Wednesday

     Dances with Dogs

It is barely six a.m.,
and he dons his coat and boots
in silence. He tries, but
the dogs are not having
            the silence.

He’s a sidewalk rhythmic gymnast,
wielding leashes wildly.
Like computer-cable spaghetti,
they intertwine
            and twist and tango.

There is no open field,
where a pack can run free.
The lots are edged with curbs.
There are doggy-bag dispensers
            in the park.

He dances with dogs,
come rainy day or shine. 
Neighbors cross the street, 
but smile when they see him,
            hands indisposed.
They give hesitant waves
and, sometimes, a sympathetic 
greeting, knowing that 
he has himself a handful
            or two.


    Missing the Last Train
The last train came and went,
and I waited for you. I must have
missed your phone call
last night. I waited,
            and the human shadows
dispersed. I was sleeping
on the subway bench all night.
The morning air turned cool,
and the damp was like a kiss
            to wake me.
The first train came and went,
and your smile is like the sun.


"Dances with Dogs" and "Missing the Last Train" are published on at 3rd Wednesday online  and will be included in the Spring 2022 print issue of 3rd Wednesday. Thanks for reading!



Sunday, August 1, 2021

House of Music

Our house is alive 
with your classic piano pieces
and Maxwell's electric guitar.

So far, I find it 
entirely tolerable. To be honest, 
I cherish every chord.

I am not pulling my hair out
or shoving cotton in my ears,
as predicted, 

“Air on the G String” has more to offer
than calm perspective. And 

a house filled with music
has always helped to silence
my mind's buzzing hive.


"House of Music" is published in the Summer 2021 (Vol. 47, No. 2) issue of California Quarterly.


Sunday, July 4, 2021

The Myth of Mulberries

My mother is picking mulberries again.
Yes, the real thing. I know 

I always thought they were mythical
and that they grew on bushes only

in children’s books and nursery rhymes, 
exalted every May Day

and used to teach children
basic hygiene and household chores 
in melody.

The ripe ones are edible, you know,
and they grow in huge trees.

Who would have thought it? Not I. They are

baked into 4th-of-July firecracker pies
and used to add tartness to tea.  

But unripe mulberries are toxic
and can cause wild hallucinations—

a fairytale poison apple,
the big bad wolf and pixie dust.

Children’s books do not teach us that.
Yet, this is the truth about mulberries.


"The Myth of Mulberries" is published in the 2020 Winter Issue of Poetry Quarterly.


Friday, October 23, 2020

Ohio Poetry Day Trifecta

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.