The Visitor


On a night like tonight, Death looks like

a naked man holding one black tulip.

He offers it to me on one condition:

that I pose as a vase, a coffin,

a place where the sun can sleep on the water,

undisturbed by clouds. He feels

like the wings of a purple moth

wrapped around my body, submerging

me into night’s cocoon, where I wait

for a child to punch holes in the lid

and air to fill the jar. He sounds

like thunder slapping the sky,

like monks on their knees in the dead of winter

praying to a frozen god, or

the shrieking alarms on the cardiac screen,

the last numbers pushed on the heart’s jukebox.

He smells like oil on a city street

after a summer rain, technology’s clean

destructive scent drifting from every gland.

He tastes like a knife dipped in honey,

causing the lips to close very gently

on what can be swallowed but not given back.

Published in Mid-American Review








Negotiation if you will,

force if you won’t,

is how winter’s hand

glides in and out

with the soft, lovely gloves

of necessity and treason.


Felony or fashion?

Blossoms tell the bees,

it’s the brightness that loved you,

we never did. It’s the buzzing

you remember before the stinger stayed,

not the way you vanished in summer’s violation.

Published in Columbia Journal











The Past


Others were involved. It remains unclear how much they knew about their participation. Only a few stood out. Mainly the taller ego driven by beautiful inches above the waist and the ugly ones below. I remember playing charades. I remember passing out at the point the future thought it was me. Someone said he cared enough to ask me for my number. Someone said he kissed a tiger making love to a hunter’s gun after the trigger failed to do its one and only job. Unemployment was a consequence of no application besides the one for a bouncer on call in hell. There was turmoil on the tundra. Jungle fever was the only source of light we had for months. Amyl Nitrate took the place of father’s Old Spice skin. Others became less involved. Blood pressure soared on the dance room floor like climbers drunk on Everest. Snow became our weather choice for noses freezing in August. Columbian men wore suits of money bought with desperation. We were 20 going on 90 with no steering wheel or brakes, plastic men on birthday cakes protecting the sugar from burning. Cavity’s lingered in holes created by the tooth fairy’s promise of cash. Others were no longer involved. What the mouth surrendered, the mind accepted, silence ate the calendar whole like 31 days of cancer cells rolling the dice to win and lose and train the hand all over again to throw the world away.


Published in Anti-Heroin Chic










According To the Rule of Aphrodite




You, of all men,

should not think you know

how bold, erotic, vehement women

unravel the womb’s pink straw and


empty its basket of snakes.


When their radiant glance

on your jaundiced heart

finds you unworthy of light,


unworthy of serpents churning the blood

with what only beauty can change,

you, of all men, should know.


Look, Aphrodite, your blue-eyed boy

sees the world he was trying to save,

the one without you in it.


Look, Aphrodite, I tremble.

Published in Assaracus









The Catwalk


His job, he said, was to follow me closely

the way a cat in the frozen field


stalks the shadow of shivering breaths

measuring hunger in victim time


as fear changes contentment’s eyes

from a hue of blue to unspeakable black


and claws strip tomorrow’s fur

off yesterday’s brittle bones.

From a nest woven tight as a drag queen’s wig

the sky was seduced by a feminine hymn,


a raptor’s alleluia. The holy wet his pants, 

and still, I was followed closely.


In the stalker’s gospel of stumble and save 

he watched me fall then raised me up


from the tip of the world as the runway roared

and angels applauded me bloody.


 Published in Bluestem Magazine




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