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
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.
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
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