What happens when you mix 200 pounds of crazy
with 100 pounds of unhinged?
Potent fruitcake. 8 pounds 7 ounces
of multifaceted melancholy.
A boy with eyes so dark he can’t see out of them,
and you can’t see into them. A stranger stranger.
My love hasn’t gone away,
it’s just a little squashed from hiding under my heart.
The black-eyed boy’s father used to say,
You know what happens when an irresistible force
meets an immovable object? What, I’d ask,
and he’d say, I don’t know baby, but that’s us.
*Originally appeared in Origami Condom (see links for more info)
“I like your shirt,” smiles the girl behind the counter,
“shirts with snaps are sexy.” I stare down at myself
and wonder, is she referring to the snaps themselves?
They are miniature moons, milky and full,
and who can resist the pull of the moon...
Or does she mean the placement of the snaps:
one over each nipple, two atop each pulsing wrist,
a line of them leading into my jeans.
Maybe it’s the element of danger
inherent in snaps, the knowledge that in a single motion
an entire article of clothing might be firmly grasped
and ripped from its wearer. Hmm.
It could even be the sound of the word itself, snap,
like the slap of a whip upon skin, snap,
the percussive strike of finger against palm
meaning, Hey you, snap out of it,
your coffee is ready and you’re holding up the line.
*Originally appeared in Nerve Cowboy (see links for more info)
In this video the aging skateboarder
with unbearably sad eyes
is the one our boy likes best.
We think he doesn’t know the man is sad.
We don’t want to be the ones to tell him.
Hey bud, we say, let’s watch something else,
but our child is under a spell.
The sad man has scars inside and out.
They crawl to the surface from a faraway place
where a million years ago boys popped
wheelies to show off for girls.
Things to look at instead of the sad man:
soaring birds, sunlight through your rainbow lashes,
your giant plush polar bear named Poley!
Poley falls off the couch
and stares at us from the floor.
Now they show the man when he was just a kid
with long blond hair and a Rolling Stones t-shirt.
He’s catching some air on a stickered skateboard.
Hey! He looks like me! shouts our boy,
and in his mind they are almost brothers.
*Originally appeared in Nerve Cowboy (see links for more info)
His soprano drifts from the backseat.
Ghosts come from up there,
or they might come from down there...
I’m not sure there’s a down there,
he frowns, but I know there’s heaven.
His song morphs into blasting battle noises,
with great contortion of lips and tongue
spit is flying as the combat rages. Action
figures hurtle past in the rearview mirror.
There is a pause in the hubbub. You know,
he muses, in my next life I might be a tree,
and that tree would have my same soul.
The toys resume their death-grapple
as he asks, Do you think Indy (our new cat)
could be Luca (a friend’s dead dog)?
Anything is possible, I say.
And what do you think Mom
about if there’s heaven or hell?
I say I suppose heaven is when one
is merged with God and feels complete,
and maybe hell is when one is separated
from God and feels lonely and sad.
There is deep silence behind me—
I wonder if I’ve bored him to sleep.
I look in the mirror and he’s
stroking his chin like a little man
during a lull in the warfare.
*Originally appeared in Manzanita Quarterly (see links for more info)
Fawn-colored coin just below the left breast,
just above the seventh rib
is the mark of our tribe, descended
from wolves and witches.
It’s a third eye through which to see
the doe’s heartbeat moments before she steps
into a clearing,
a button we press to translate
bird tracks on snow into memory of flight.
Rose-brown o is an ancient cell
dreaming us back onto ocean floor,
sunlight through a hole in the ice above us,
the passage we swam from water to land.
It’s a nest or the door to a den or a mouth;
the first note of a howl
if one of us should leave the other.
*Originally appeared in BestPoem (see links for more info)
It’s a malady in itself, a glitch in the brain
where a litany loops ad nauseum: Borrelia
burgdorferi, Staphylococcus aureus, Swine Flu.
You name it, I’ve got it. One disease du jour
turned out to be “migratory glossitis”, which,
though formidable in name, simply means
alas, eggplant sets my tongue on fire.
Palpitations paddled my heart when an ob-gyn
suggested I suffered from micromastia,
but his observation did not imply any
of the myriad dangers in my mental file;
rather that I was a member of the unpopular
albeit uncontagious Itty-Bitty Titty Committee.
Last month after an ultrasound, liver panel,
and several grueling sessions of Chi Nei Tsang,
I learned I have what experts refer to as “gas”,
and it’s trapped in my hepatic flexure.
Thank God. In my zealous online research
I’d settled on advanced pancreatic cancer
and had begun putting my affairs in order.
I know something’s got to kill me, but it seems
it won’t be my latest affliction, discovered
when I Googled the lone alarming symptom:
waking from deepest sleep to a deafening
boom from inside one’s head. Here I struck
hypochondriacal gold with the surprisingly
innocuous “Exploding Head Syndrome”.
It sure seemed like a brain tumor to me.
*Originally appeared in The Mas Tequila Review (see links for more info)
Nine years as a total slacker
and our paunchy cat careens
into mid-life like a Maserati.
At dawn he staggers through the dog-door
dazed and disheveled, ears ripped,
ragged slashes raked over one glazed eye.
He sleeps all day, dragging to his bowl
long enough to eat every scrap
of his Senior Formula
and a good portion of the dog’s.
After several days of this we suspect
he is packing on pounds
to throw some extra weight around.
Indeed, with each midnight brawl
he returns with less injury, begins to look
more attractive than he has in years.
He slinks home with a new rodent in tow
every night. Cultivates an expression
of surprised innocence when we gasp
at each ravished conquest
sprawled obscenely on the floor.
*Originally appeared in the Santa Fe Literary Review (see links for more info)
Mid-dream you knock,
your small silhouette in the doorway.
You tell me your mother has shattered
into a thousand pieces, offer cupped hands
for me to see. Porcelain slivers transform
into fluttering birds. Swift, sparrow,
starling, we watch them fly.
Some mornings you sift
through the cool sand, gritty world
of peaks and valleys. Afternoons we climb
Piñon Ridge to study the shifting clouds:
a feather, a wing, a bird. You search
with one eye over mountains and mesas,
the other is afraid to look.
There’s a juniper tree on the ridge.
When you climb her, many birds come,
so close you whisper secrets. The birds
leave abruptly, the pull of their wings
making music out of air. We walk home
at dusk, feather twirling in your fingers,
green eyes on the sky.
*Originally appeared on Miriam's Well (see links for more info)
The Carter Family had a hit that summer
with “I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes”.
The ranch hands sang it to their pretty cook,
her eyes blue as Colorado sky. At the chorus
they’d change the lyrics to “she”—
and I wonder if she ever thinks of me...
The cook is eighteen, sporting dungarees
and a western shirt. No sidesaddle ride
for this girl. She’s in the meadow above
Aunt Laura’s Cripple Creek Ranch, clasping
an armful of wildflowers that will sweeten
the table of twenty men come suppertime.
To her right stands one of them, the wrangler
named Jimmy. Hat in hand, he’s gazing at her
with that big bundle of flowers, pollen dusting
her jeans, and you can see his thoughts—
No man’s going to tame this gal, though they’ll
try. She’s smart and free as a filly, good for her.
On her left is fifteen-year-old Louise,
smiling for the camera. Louise is half in awe
of her sister and half jealous enough to spit.
She’ll have to wait eight years for Fiddlin’
Arthur Smith to sing, Beautiful, beautiful
brown eyes, I’ll never love blue eyes again.
*Originally appeared in Adobe Walls (See links for more info)