still trying

still trying to snare
that poem.

you know the one:

winces your eyes;
jackhammers your brain;
cartwheels your tongue.

can’t quite tame
the brute though.

won’t cower in the corner
won’t slink to submission,

let alone be trapped
the ^ alphabet cage.

it’s out t h e r e
s o m e w h e r e
mewling & slewing

catting me


bit of a worry, eh

in some skanky
suburban overgrowth
lies the n e x t
king of his realm –

a billy bunter clone
on a BIG mac
grokking its
apple namesake;

palpitating how
he will
this regnant
episteme [he googled that]

coup d’etat coup de grace,

instilling an age
of ‘electrostatic

where we’ll
all be fried.

Bridget’s Blanket

Despair – a shrinking, graying blanket with
a tear – I snuck away to school and there
it lay confined among sheets as I writhed
under a man – not fearing the affair
but disappointment from my blanket. Noth-
ing has changed – well, we’ve added bear. But still
I hug it when I swear I’ve seen a puff
of alien breath; afternoon naps chilled
by dreams of haunted homes and Dali skies.
It knows I still pretend I’m someone bet-
ter looking; loved by all the world. I cry
to it: Who’ll want to share our truth? Who’ll get
our make-believe? And will he sleep with me
in Paris, windows open, blanket free?

Smallwood’s Barbershop

Balding men with stogies
And Saturday morning papers
Draped across their laps,
Interrogate the teacher called Coach,
Who’s drowning in foam and inexperience.

A little boy shops for a comic book.
He puffs on a long pretzel stick
Before pointing into a collage of frames
Scattered on the wall. His father answers:
That’s Larry; he’s from around here,
Took the Trojans to Rose Bowls.
That’s Neil; he’s from around here,
Walked on the moon.

Saddle soap crust and black speckles
Eat the creases of Hack’s hands.
He spits on and buffs pointed wingtips
And faded loafers, while watching old war
Movies on a portable TV and compares
His rite of passage.

The little boy grabs a booster seat.
The barber pats on warm lather and shaves
With the backside of a straight razor
Before snipping the bangs. The barber
Hands a framed mirror to the little boy,
Who stares at his reflection –
Paying no attention to the haircut.

Bedroom Door

Forget I felt the slams.
One side of me saw her pain,
the other felt your fists,
pounding for another chance.
I prayed you’d both get it.
Did I delay forgiveness?
I wanted to get it right.

I felt her push me gingerly
one night, whispering good-bye.
I did my best, didn’t I?
I would shut the world out,
then open again.

When I creaked
you silenced me with oil.
Didn’t you know I was trying
to tell you something?
The sneaking in, the sneaking out.

The emptiness of space
before you carried her through:
something about that moment
when life changes.
I most enjoyed the times
you were both tucked in
and I was closed.

justified harmonies

the harp of holy temples in mourning
as lightning splits the shadows;
the stone honeycomb—a gesture of the heart
animating the longing for connection
in a full moon of enlightenment—
the transience of beauty and wisdom;
physical existence is required for life,
everywhere unique and the same—
the dragon floods of mountains
the battle of rampaging winds in the desert

a painting on a mirror forms
an image of an image when another
mirror is held up to the first;
in the cold reality of the heart,
often this will pass for love—
a great anchor in the dark seas
bound by oaths with chance bonds intermixed,
the hallowed point of justified harmonies

constructed wings

alcoves with slivers of silver light
a core without surface—a mirror
of sorts, a pendulum within all time

affirmation is called for—that not
everything will be mired in dissolution;
the essence gives form and definition
to the illusion with which existence contends

uncharted tomorrows pull us closer
as the carousel slows and the music
throbs out to dullness—
note by note, turn by turn;
where is the launching, the flight,
the temptation of pride that drowned
Icarus in miscalculations?

how simple not to have known
of wax melting—how tempting
to fly toward the sun on constructed wings,
knowing that real wings would never
carry the spirit far above the world we know
and claim as a foundation for true

how simple—no need for instruments or landscapes
no need for horizons or the tested world;
just the sum of the hourglass, the climate of the dream,
breaking like a wave against a rock when the falling begins