Friday, December 20, 2013

razor blade

razor blade

she had hidden the razor blade
beneath her tongue or in her cheek

maybe that’s why the kisses were so rare
and the i love you’s so hard to understand

Monday, December 16, 2013

measured (this is what she learned)

measured (this is what she learned)

I have swallowed these words like bullets.

this is what she learned

there would be a certain amount of time
(and that would be forever)
when she would be watched

a circumspect gaze of judgment
that measured her against all other women
and left her in relief like a leaf in granite

this is how she held her head
this is how her knees touched
this is how shoes raised her heels

so that the arch of her back slightly turned
the smoothness of her skin in the light
and the fullness of her cleavage exposed

could all be dutifully captured in photographs
as the clock counted up and then spiraled down
and no one had ever once looked at her

this is what she knew

he would take her bare feet into his hands and lap
pressing his thumbs into the arch of each one

them together there alone he would close his eyes
while she read the words she wrote that were she

Sunday, December 15, 2013

a reasonable man

a reasonable man

Then I pace in circles, waiting for me to show up. I wait and I wait, you know.
I wait and I wait in the office, she said, but me never comes. (p. 188)
Violet, Feed, M. T. Anderson

one by one
and over many many years

they took him aside
guiding him by the elbow

leaning in close
before whispering through a smile

you’ve got to be reasonable, man”
they would say or something like it

only with reason are we able
one actually added once nodding

he developed no callouses
against such a relentless onslaught

and masking proved impossible
for him with his heart born on his sleeve

and he found he was able
to calmly pull his elbow free

by imaging he was buying her
a new pair of black boots with buckles

and he would hand her the box
while thinking of what she might wear

his heart certain that everything
matched perfectly her slipping into boots

of course his dreams were never reasonable

the dream began in the middle of everything
the day was gray both the sky and the ocean

he lived in a beachside condominium
with giant windows for all of the walls

a large and much older house stood nearby
its wooden deck on stilts reaching to the sea

and he knew as if someone were telling him
that the older house was soon to collapse

because the ocean was pulling away from the shore
no longer supporting the frail old house all alone

and then the deck collapsed and the house leaned
as he realized again as if someone were telling him

that the old house was some sort of library
filled in every room with books and books and books

how would he ever find anyone to help him save them
rushing into this house not on fire but about to fall

he woke to the anxiety of losing books in a dream house
heavy as black buckled boots walking across his heart

Saturday, December 7, 2013

the last straw (touching)

the last straw (touching)

“The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener
is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not
have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
—Granger to MontagFahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

“You were only waiting for this moment to be free”
“Blackbird,” The Beatles

it was only ever you
who really knew me
the exposed me and the true
and i suppose that was the final straw

i tried to take you
for sushi once
but the restaurant was closed
so we had Thai instead

then later at a bar nearby
i cried talking about my daughter
because i am the type of crier
who makes others turn away

and now some times
i pretend we are alone
listening to “Blackbird”
on The Beatles’ White Album

sharing a beer from a can
and talking about the novels
i have gathered
on a shelf only for you

i am sitting alone at a bar with friends gathered for a holiday party

adults hold babies and beers while children weave through the talking

one father stands in a small group his daughter close with her back to him

he reaches almost without looking tucking her exposed shirt tag under the collar

then he gently rubs the curve of her spine along her impervious child’s neck

and there in that touching and her still everyone else disappears and then silence

as i drift on that father’s love of a child once again back to you humming “Blackbird”

Tuesday, December 3, 2013



when i fell in love with you
birds dropped from the sky

in abeyance

when you walked away from me
the mountains refused to rise above

in deference

i cannot find all the crayons
to finish the picture we started

i dreamed you took them with you
i dreamed you took them with you

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

all the king’s horses (re-assembly required)

all the king’s horses (re-assembly required)

“…another jagged fragment in a nightmare.”
“All the King’s Horses,” Welcome to the Monkey House, Kurt Vonnegut


it seems there were at least two problems
with putting Humpty Dumpty together again

1. how were horses to help with their hooves?
2. there is no going back once a thing is broken


there was a soft moment
cold and blindingly bright

when he resigned himself to fragments
resigned himself to re-assembly required

but he was neither a king’s horse nor a king’s man
and he was completely loyal to gathering remnants

because he had learned the art of quilting in dreams
and believed we always own all the things we break

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

child of my child (exponential love)

child of my child (exponential love)

Here I am here I am in your life
It's a beautiful life
My life
It's a beautiful life
Your life
Hairshirt,” Green, R.E.M.

child of my child
not yet here among us

we have not made this world
as we should have as we could have

you will be among us though
in a world a beautiful possibility still

a world a beautiful possibility still
just as you are and will always be

when you arrive we will all hold hands
reach for you and cry and smile and cry and smile

and then together we will all look skyward
because all above us is the limit the sky

the sky
the sky

nearly as wide and forever infinite
as the exponential love for you child of my child

13 November 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The 451 App (22 August 2022)

The 451 App (22 August 2022)

“So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it.”
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

everyone had electronic devices of course
when it began appearing harmlessly (it seemed)
a red fireman’s hat icon with 451 in yellow

no one could delete the 451 App (if anyone tried)
and no one could ever determine just what it did
until of course the date 22 August 2022 arrived

hindsight they said even then is 20/20 (foolishly)
but in the days that followed there was a certain clarity
about the words and ebooks forever wiped away

the 451 App turned from fireman’s hat to flame
that flickered and glowed on everyone’s device
as if waving good-bye to something no one could name

Friday, November 1, 2013

the proximity of entrances and exits (the only teenager i ever knew how to be)

the proximity of entrances and exits (the only teenager i ever knew how to be)

“If you think of someone enough, you’re sure to meet them again,” she said in parting.

“I won't need any help to be lonely when you leave me/It'll be easy to cover”

it is the day after Halloween as i leave for work
the black lab is sitting up anxiously in the dark garage
the chocolate lab lies just outside blocking the door and gate
he has always been drawn to the proximity of entrances and exits

the morning is unseasonably warm and wind chimes sing
in the breeze that is up well before the sun has risen
but there is enough light to see the blanket of clouds
covering the dawn as the promise of rain approaches

i am carrying a bag of comic books i bought the day before
a middle-aged man visiting a comic book store
like the only teenager i ever knew how to be
i pause before stepping into my car to listen to the chimes

i am six minutes later than usual for leaving
and my broken smallest toe throbs in the boots i wear
the interstate i know will be packed like a swarm of beetles
so i resign myself to a creeping trip alone in the car

i will turn on The National to sing along as i drive
i will change my mind from beetles to an infinite centipede
with thousands of red glowing dots on the segments
and then my mind will turn to you as it always does

foolishly as a teenager i thought i was as lonely as a human could be
gathering comic books to surround myself with the Marvel Universe
i could collect into neat plastic-bag rows and count on each month

and then each night alone in bed i would imagine you there
thinking of you over two decades before i would meet you
trapped then in the only teenager i ever knew how to be

what did i know of you what could i know of you i realize now
what did i know of being lonely what could i know of being lonely
it is a foolish and brave thing to imagine the one you love

it is Halloween when i feel compelled to buy comic books again
there is always long pauses of this adolescent compulsion
but The Sandman Overture series is published and my bones just know

i start reading a new Murakami short story before visiting the store
it is a story of Gregor Samsa falling in love in the wake of being a bug
his being human again for the first time and listening to the surge of his heart

i finish the story at home after buying several comic books and browsing
and it is there in the story that my mind turns to you as it always does
i am thinking of you as the woman Samsa loves talks of thinking of someone

she is assuring Samsa and then me who she does not know and cannot know
that people can and will meet again if the thinking of is true and warm
as i begin to imagine seeing you again for the first time as if that is possible

i will introduce the me who is not me but of course is the only me i can be
and i will hear wind chimes and think about my anxious black lab in darkness
while a warm day after Halloween blankets us with clouds and offers dreams

the truth

the truth

“When did you first fall in love with her?

sitting at a keyboard and computer monitor
the man asking the questions wore glasses
and a lab coat with assistants quietly on each side

the man being asked was sitting in a chair
cuffed at his wrists and ankles so tightly
that his hands and feet were essentially numb

he also had electrodes on his temples with wires
running to the computer where his questioner sat
and the two nearly identical assistants said nothing

“I walked out of my room.
I saw her sitting down the hall.”

Not when you first saw her.
When did you first fall in love?”

“When I walked out of my room.
I saw her sitting down the hall.”

“You had not spoken a word to her?’

“I hadn’t even seen her face.”

“What was it?
We just want the truth.
We just need the truth.”

the man being asked knew all about this searching for the truth
he knew that they could determine if he were telling the truth
and he knew that this particular truth sounded ridiculous

“It was the curve—it was the curve of the top of her foot.
Across her ankle and then up her shin.
She was wearing simple slip-ons and no socks.
And black leggings to just below her knees.”

“It was the curve?”

the man asking the questions looked at his monitor typing
the assistants stared vacantly across the room as if alone
until the tapping stopped and both looked at the questioner

the questioner nodded so slightly it may not have even been a nod
but the assistants stood immediately and loosened the cuffs
setting free the man being asked who felt suddenly lighter than air

“OK, then.
All we wanted was the truth.”

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

child (you have you)

child (you have you)

“I wish everybody knew/What's so great about you”

you don’t owe anyone
anything, child
until you pay you

pay yourself well, often, & true
everyone else can wait
they all have other things to do

you have you
you have you


[and then the Southern version]

child (you have you)

you don’t owe nobody
nothing, child
until you pay you

pay yourself well, often, & true
everyone else can wait
they all have other things to do

you have you
you have you


Sunday, October 20, 2013



hindsight is not 20/20
although it makes a pithy saying

hindsight is not a microscope
although it focuses the mind’s eye

hindsight is a type of telescope
we use to pull back the past over our shoulder

hindsight is the narrow delusion of memory
that reconstructs as best as we are capable

if only i had known what i know now
or i would do everything differently this time

but we wouldn’t and we won’t and we can’t
because hindsight is not 20/20

and foresight is a fool’s paradise
and sight is elusive and fleeting

all shadows and cardboard like a photograph
or a novel or the film everyone watches instead

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

the absence of her

the absence of her

"This is the Book, these are the Pages, here is the Writing."
MaddAddam, Margaret Atwood

mostly it is true
that men wear their affections
their passions and longings
their carnal cravings

on their skin and in their hands
as well as their lips and tongues
because it is palpable and corporeal
like washing up on shore from a sunken ship

but just as he had learned (he thought)
to live (if it could be called “living”)
with the absence of her (like an anchor)
he found himself in tears on the couch

in the final chapters of the book
he had wanted to read with her
just to be able to talk about with her
he was reduced to sobbing uncontrollably

yes it was the book of course
but it was the book you see
in the absence of her that twisted
him inside out and left him that alone

wiping tears away from his contacts
and off the lenses of his reading glasses
his chest heaving and aching
and his skin a moon-lit desert (an empty hand)

Thursday, October 10, 2013



“Everywhere I am is just another thing without you in it.”
“Fashion Coat,” Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, The National

we are separated by 2 years and 300 miles
when you wake up there alone in your bed

you feel something on the back of your knee
and start to reach down or pull back the covers

but you don’t realizing what the sensation is
two lips on the back of the knee like a poem

and then you say to me without speaking aloud
that you have been talking with cats in your dreams

Nakata i whisper separated by 2 years and 300 miles
the taste of the back of your knee lingering on my lips

Thursday, October 3, 2013



"He sounds both anxious and supercharged, the way kids used to sound if it was a parade or a fireworks display—something brief and miraculous." Madd Addam, Margaret Atwood

when i look at any child
it is easy to believe in god

when i look at most adults
it is impossible to believe in god

and then there is you
god, yes, there is you

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

warning: writers (if)

warning: writers (if)

if you find your life
entangled with a writer
heed this warning

if you find yourself
a writer’s lover or spouse

if you find yourself
(god forbid) a writer’s child

if you need food shelter or clothing
or (god forbid) an affectionate hand

if you need even a trace of selfless intimacy
thisi mean, this is all you will get


stark and solitary across a page
and they will be as satisfying as

tearing a page from a novel
to slip into your dry mouth

Sunday, September 29, 2013

this is the reason i failed you (a polaroid)

this is the reason i failed you (a polaroid)

explanations and apologies are not excuses

i have never cared much for ceremonies and formal occasions
but a father giving away his daughter in marriage has a power

you daughter now married and moved into your own home
your mother has begun to clean up and out to face our new world

she has begun to sort our photographs and there they were among duplicates
two polaroids from your visits to the dentist—one marked 5 ½ and one 6

in that half year you had your hair cut short and in the second it is summer
you are smiling widely and from your shorts are the two thinnest legs ever

this is the reason i failed you

i broke under the dual weight of love and my obligation to keep you safe
the latter an ugly and impossible thing that cancels the first and most important

i cannot fathom now how those spindly legs of yours even held you upright
how you walked through the next 16 years under your own power and will

you my daughter are clearly too much for those legs or for my love and failures
and it there that i buckled time and again incapable of my duties and the force of you

explanations and apologies are not excuses

i am sorry
sorry i am the frail one

i saved those polaroids from the trash
placed them on my desk at work

i watch those twins of you past
and remind myself this is your world to walk

i watch those twins of you past
and remind myself your legs are magnificent and powerful

i have never cared much for ceremonies and formal occasions
but a father giving away his daughter in marriage has a power