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
those 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 Spoon River Poetry Review
Farwell Paradise Empire
To the field’s black eye whose lashes of corn
flirted with me at dawn,
to Main Street’s murmuring eighteen wheels
pulsing to the Port Townsend Ferry,
to the dented cushion shaped like my ass
holding me silent as a tombstone,
to the hardened veins of Virginia Creeper
bloodless on the barn’s gray face,
to the frigid sea whipping castles at night as
I dreamt in the language of driftwood,
to the Olympic Mountains hypnotic call
to rise above the poor in spirit,
to the Pear tree’s brown arthritic hands
praying for morning’s red glove,
to the distant symphony of Trumpeter Swans
making music of mud for my ears,
to the coyote’s shrill of you could die now
on the prairie’s acres of hunger,
to my senses dazed and vulnerable state
that grew soft, tender and strong,
to letting go of a world that was born through me
and refused to return unnamed.
PUBLISHED IN GYROSCOPE REVIEW
At The Corner Of Heavy And Acquaintance
is so tired of you,
the sound of your name
makes them heavy with
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
During Death’s last visit to our house,
she was making jewelry out of sea glass.
One by one the necklaces came. Hanging
on clouds of ball chains and leather,
dangling above a valley of cleavage,
the road between hills shattered and shimmered
with what the sea could no longer hold
in its salty mouth of sorrow.
The lighter scraped my thumbprints raw
as the little glass bowl of dopamine clouds
became a place where nothing lived,
not even animals a child might see.
Maybe that’s what I feared the most,
that she would find a piece of me
breaking through the sand, then pull me out
of a hole in her foot, howling like an animal.
Published in Ground Fresh Thursday
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
Darkness is nothing
if not expectation
turning its back to the light.
Rarely does the spine agree
to the fingertip’s shadows,
so sheer and blue,
climbing the stairs
to your mind.
Which is why
when you rolled back
toward me with your hands
tied behind you, telling me
that the smoke in your eyes
meant the tunnels in flames,
I lingered there,
dropped the coal and
let the engine sing.
from Berlin to Paris
and nothing caught my eye,
Published in Dewpoint