You Shiver Coming To Terms


Your next trick could be your next poem,

could change those hands from lobster claws

into five-fingered line breaks with syntax legs

kick-boxing words at a cobalt sky

content with a dull shade of pretty.


If memory watching the page close its eyes

to the flame’s red ink demanding revision,

is why you shiver coming to terms, say

warm me Sir with a wilderness song,

storm my mouth with meteor bliss.

Published in RAW Journal Of Arts





Waxing The Dents



Waxing the car with my father

always made me dream of a Hollywood prize

I would get for performing my role with such brilliance;

a script totally void of spirit,

with lots of stares and buckets of sweat.

But obviously, the prize never came.

No one outside the neighborhood knew

how he rubbed it on, and I rubbed it off,

creating the delusion that father and son

found mutual joy refurbishing steel

that men in Detroit made in sweltering rooms

with masks on their tired, weary faces.

He thought the fact that we’d gathered there,

under a blazing, burnt August sky,

proved we had passed that place on the road

where father and son kill each other for fun,

rather than spending a long, silent day

waxing the dents in what men made to carry

them both far away from each other.

Published in The Spoon River Poetry Review












The first bulb of light is slowly being turned

into a hole in the sky, and like anything

waking up from sleep, rubbing its tired little eyes,

heaven smears its gray mascara,

down the mountains rough scarred face,

unconcerned with the wintering caused

by its preference to gaze away from the prairie

made sad by the light’s abandon.


This is dawn’s dangerous descent

of UV rays through the lighthouse fog,

oblivious to how it will feel in an hour

to watch its glory set the world on fire,

and find me waiting for the flowers to bend

kissing the ground with ashen lips,

at this home, this urn, this morning.

Published in The Flint Hills Review








Gospel Interrupted


Interrupting the mind can be sweet deliverance

                                              every navy seal in me tells me this is real,   

this is how little drummer boy gets to be front page news.


I want to be front page news. The best and worst of me

                                            splattered in red on the faces of America,

the chosen accessory of the morally confused who need  


to hurt others to make sharp things shine. Does everyone

                                    want to be shiny and sharp, like a pedophile Baptist

choir director, or is that the way a nursery rhyme sounds


when children feel sad in their tummy? I want to feel sad

                                        in my tummy, a thousand miles from a preacher

with a boner, someplace safer than a church selling god


on tables of wood glowing with hammers and nails.



 Published in Scalawag Magazine



Elegy For Better


Most folks knew him as Better, son of Never Enough.

Born and wrapped in a denim shroud, a broken down

blue-collar babe in the world of masculine monkeys with

piranha minds who raised their boys to excel at the game

of shame for their first birth and death for their second.


Enter Jesus the backwoods son: his body a book

on religious repair studied in a kingdom of dirty garages

with tools that wailed like weeping mothers. And so

the boy learned to change tires like worlds with crosses

of cold, black steel, what others would hurt him with later.

Published in Badlands Poetry Journal





The Architect’s Son


Every boy is an architect’s son.

Every son’s neck is a skyscraper burning

a hole in the heaven of fathers. In time

the rain will come, but tears will only

extinguish the rage for maybe a day

that feels like a year, or until

the skin grows numb to the light

and darkness puts on a baseball glove

catching everything his mouth throws at you,

one hard word after another.


Leather is the love, you thought was a hand,

she said was a dragon’s tail.

No mother in her own right mind

would dare break the architect’s pencil.

Lead poisoning, God poisoning,

a rattlesnake’s song humming loud in my foot.

If only the grass would have told me,

that earth is a refuge for pain,

I could have used the venom in me,

instead of the ink in my pen.


Publshed in Assaracus Review



Gone Blue, Gone Gray, Gone Away



At the heart of Appalachia, near the Ohio River,

in the back of my Father’s throat,

a combine strips the past from the present.


Inhaling “No,” exhaling “Yes,”

everything green and gold in between

becomes rows of what can’t be forgotten.


Never have I listened so closely

to the stethoscope swinging from my soul,

or been so devoted to one man’s words


beating like a snare drum in both our wrists

at the end of a battle,

gone blue, gone gray, gone away.


Made as I am of rough southern straw,

broken and bundled in muddy brown fields,

the near fatal choice of not being chosen,


is a memory none of us have. There were no crows

to scare with hands that did not hold my own.

There were no crows at all.

Published in Compose Literary Journal












Rolling DNA Dice At The Adoption Sock Hop



How I got here at all,

                after no invitation and no directions,

                       after one long night of Can’t Stop the blood


as the DNA dice on the rearview mirror

                       of mamma’s Alabama 57’ Chevy,

                                      danced to a violent pot hole beat


over 17 years of hot tar skin,

                      making her more black than

                                Methodist white, making me grayer


then a storm over Selma, the last

                    southern lightning this boy’s eyes would see.

                                          How we got there at all, with me


in the center, her hungry little crow,

                   pecking the future off the faded yellow line

                                  as the engine of creation met the craving


of collision with the world bearing down

                       on us both was a game we both

                                played and won, after the toss was over.

Published in William and Mary Review