POEMS

 

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A Ghost Minority

Some people come to this B-movie town for how intense simplicity feels, for what it’s like to be extras in a world, drunk on beauty, and sad they can’t be more. Down on Front Street, restaurants and stores border the Penn Cove shore, where not long ago baby whales screamed as their mothers were dragged away onto boats to live behind glass until death. But they died then, unknown to the world, in front of a camera’s glass eye.

Oh, Coupeville, I’m only one percent of eighteen hundred minds, a ghost minority telling the world what the majority won’t. Like why Pratt’s feet in his grave point north, to throw off the angels on judgment day when they come for the Saints of Sunnyside. And why he built a cabin for his boy to live in, shielding his ears from the flesh he loved through twenty five feet of silence.

Other unmarked historical scars are not important now, not as important as the words in my mind diving at me from a raptor’s height, like Alastair Reid’s, “Islands seem to take revenge on those who regard them as personal Eden’s.” I do not staff the Welcome Center to a world made famous by mussels and clams, where anyone’s likely to open and close and find something missing inside, something smaller than a whale.

Published in WA 129 Poetry Anthology

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At The Corner Of Heavy And Acquaintance

 

Somewhere, someone

                                    is so tired of you,

the sound of your name

                         makes them heavy with acquaintance.

 

Heavy as in a metal jock strap

                            protecting them from longing.

Heavy as in when hearing hello

                           their spine becomes a cobra.

 

Remind me, again, why my hand

                              cut a hole in your throat:

object removal, a flower vase,

                      a window your heart could

escape through at night

                             to teach the world a lesson?

 

Tenderness rarely occurs to me

                    at the hour you shame the moon,

turning it yellow as a caution light,

                       where you decide you can’t decide

if you have the power to shine.

 

I wish the end were different,

                        beauty blooming instead of rocks

in a grave beneath your chin,

                       words falling down the stem of your neck

in the window of a store on a street we loved

                                            where faces stopped to listen.

Published in Sheila-Na-Gig

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Different Degrees of Radiance

                                                                                      For Laura

A hawk hovers above the fields dying edge,

like a laying on of hands, like yours,

 

always, so steady, benevolent,

unlike claws fouled with flesh, more

 

like the calloused palms of a saint

praying the rosary of my spine.

 

The light’s decision to shine here too,

content with the radiance of different degrees

 

is why Fur trees agree with a frozen sky

to stand till the ice says kneel.

 

The luminous, calm, daily vow

of four muddy feet on the middle path,

 

brings an end to the power of hungry ghosts

fed from wings of delusion. Unlike yours,

 

so wild with deliverance, that force

me to worship the ground.

 

Published in the Birmingham Arts Journal

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Confessions Of A Pentecostal Buddhist

 

Baptized in the church of Pygmy rattler fangs

hanging from my foot like prayer bells in Tibet,

the water, I submit, was cold and confidential,

a lesson from the gospel of drown me Lord quick.

Obedient and skilled at the gestures of deliverance,

those hands knew how to shake and bring down fire.

 

Clouds of smoke crossed my eyes

from yards ablaze in Selma, then floated

to St. Petersburg where ash found a home.

Daddy’s letters from Saigon proved a man still loved me.

I sucked the envelopes of air and kissed him

on the stamps. Momma’s little boy became

 

a man with freckles, a buzz-cut adolescent

with apocalyptic leanings. Thinking Arsenic

must be sugar’s evil twin, I tried to poison her

with Sweet and Low, but only made her kinder.

Thus began my interest in pink bags with powder,

a way to live with lightning without the coming storm.

 

Walking on the wild side to a land of naked strangers,

this novice of the night mistook daylight for the devil.

Many years would pass before the cushion and my mind

had covert conversations about the here and now. 

 

I remember when they started, where I was,

and what we said.  It’s why a candle burns 

on the altar of my flesh, swaying back and forth

between the wounds and wonder.

Published in Permafrost Magazine

 

 

 

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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

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Honor

                                                              

The breath counter is watching.

The pulse police hate overtime

 

but love a reason to strike or reload.

Angels have no use for cameras.

 

Disobedience means, you weren’t

a match with Jehovah’s DNA.

 

Thus, your memories made of his failures,

your beauty, her addiction to shame.

 

Long live hope’s 10 billion stones

scattered down the hill of your body.

 

Long live fear’s craving for light

in the dark of your voiceless name.

 

Be cared for, and your mind

disappears. Kindness is control

 

with a chocolate heart

made by a diabetic god.

 

Published in Sweet Tree Review