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.






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



Glass Animal


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


Eleven Hours



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.


Eleven hours

                   from Berlin to Paris

 and nothing caught my eye,

except the smoke in yours.

Published in Dewpoint