Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Eighth Grade

                                                                                                            
We were empty-eyed cinderblocks,
ringed keys unlocking the doorknobs.

Among junior high’s sleepy congregation, 
an audience of our class’s generation,
only some of us showed up praised and amen-ed.

School taught me typing for college essays 
and gave me chances to run away. 

We’d flood from the school at 3:05—
but only some return now for mid-life toasts.

Just listen up for the morning announcement:
we cannot know life while it lives so close.  


.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Fall Out of Line

The neighbors mind. To eye her, 
they alternate spiraling the lighthouse,
all their anchors moored at the coast,
more oars approaching from the river fork. 

They part the drapes when she passes, 
crucifixes pulling at their throats.  

And unchaining their frustrations,
they hold her crimes always in mind,             
then spit at her likeness they posted all over—
from their cellars to their inner eyes.

They dream of opening her with all their saws, 
lugging buckets to collect her flow to the sea. 
And lusting, they try to torch her with prayer,
their hair fire-blown like unholy tongues.

But she stands in truths that hold her safe,
and they turn on each other to lie in wait. 


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sworn



Your bones once oared an ocean, son,
then you were lured away and born.
I relinquished you, chose it, sworn and recorded.
There is joy for some, while others mourn.  

You are your parents’ orange orchard, 
their garden of corn, an ordained reward.
For though they birthed their first two kids,
they lost them before you were born.

We’re all fighting storms inside us.
I knew I couldn’t calm our waves,
so your parents brought you home to harbor.

It hurt me hard to let you go. Hurt got us here:
behind some front door, I was broken by four, 
a ward of the walls, begging breath from the floor. 

Still glory keeps gathering in the east. 
The mornings form as joy-birds soar. 

I left you alone to explore your own sea.
You sought instead the origin of ocean—
and grown now, you often row back to me.  




.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Barrens

Under lights strung taut across unthawed lots,
we brought our tragedies, ribboned in red.                             
It’s the happiest season, they said.
So we flooded the lines among aisles of pine.

But as funds dried up, we paid with our quilts.
Then lowering heads down fog-full streets,
we dragged home firs, trailing boughs at our feet.

Seeking heat we cooked trunks in barrels of rust
which turned ruby the throats of the lonely among us,
cheeks bursting blood in a fiery flush.

If our flesh were scalded raw,
if blood dripped thin along our fists, 

who would ash our decay once our souls flew away?




.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Clothespole


Mom used to spin around the stem of our old clothespole,
except as the paint dried at the first stirring of springtime. 

Grandpop strung rope from garage roof to porch hook
so grandmom could shake out the clouds of socks and towels.

He built our homestead which still stands after decades—
though he’s long-buried, a hero in our mirrors and frames.           

Grandmom used to pin me too to swing from her lines
in the cirrus shapes stretched with the wind flowing flags.   

Circling that clothespole in grass dark as pine,
Mother and I, both in our times, scaled the air to touch
the sunshine between us and abundant depths of sky.




Wednesday, May 17, 2017

You at the Gate

Should you ever decide
to stop by the house,
you’ll find me
where you left me
when you drove away.

Here on our porch
for much of the night,
I turn cigarettes into piles
of ash and sit
rocking,
rocking—
you’re
out there
somewhere.

Though the summer dust freezes
under snow globe glitter,                    
it will rise again when
the heat returns.

Maybe one day you’ll hang
that left through our gate
and rattle up the gravel
in your teal Toyota.

I’ll bow my head
in your neck
your gentle frame in
my tingling arms.
I never really
deserved you anyway.

I know I was the faithless one:
betraying our rings,
believing their lies,
raiding your drawers
with my distrust.

You collected your things,
but mine are still strewn.
I can’t seem to fix

what’s so thoroughly broken.





.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Shadow

The shadow of herself laid her down
but never woke her back up.  Then it
escaped like prayer through windows
into the night airs where fireflies hum
their nocturnes and lure each other in.
May punishment for sin never extend
to the faultless among us—youngsters
burying their mother should run freely
without her, flying like prayer, without
a burden, freed from all her complaints,
greed, a damned demand for resources.
But her shadow carries them when they 
fly like fireflies, to find their own peace.


Outsider Poetry, January 2017


.