The blocked-off stairs
to my grandparents’ rented second floor
when I was five
was a closet with levels I could climb.
The light was gold
and dusty, and it smelled warm there
as wax and women’s work.

Love Poem

There is a line of young bald-cypress trees
across the front yard before you get to the ditch.
One moment they were bare as toothpicks
studded with birds. Now it is the next.

But this is a love poem. From somewhere
I can hear a laboring engine–lawn mower,
tractor, or small plane–I do not believe
it is a mockingbird, but anything’s possible.

It did stop raining, and last night the stars
were like bluebirds. The dew is thick as honey
tinged with green and the yellow cat
next door is preening on the garden shed.
But in a love poem I would be remiss
not to mention you, a book, a freight train.

Love Poem, Too

If you must manipulate me,
don’t let me see the strings. Or be
endearingly brazen. You’ve heard
how much I love the mockingbird.

I can’t abide snake oil, hollow
flattery, braggadocio,
any wanton abuse of words,
but I do love the mockingbird.

As I love sweet, surprising blues,
melting hot doughnuts, twofer Tues-
days, a pun so good it’s absurd–
so I love that damned mockingbird.
If you must manipulate me,
again, I love the mockingbird.




For NaPo 21: Overheard


Today’s suggestion from NaPoWriMo.net is one I’ve been waiting for.

About three weeks ago I passed a couple in the grocery. What caught my ear tickled–and fascinated–me enough to send me into my bag for a pen and something to write on.


On Not Teaching History As Cause And Effect

(Man on cell phone:
We’re gonna go fight now. Talk to you later.)

Discord down the cereal aisle
matures between Vidalias and boneless,
skinless breasts. We’re going to need eggs.
You said brown? What follows the caesura
isn’t eggs, or butter, but tricolor koi.




(Images from the Met Museum, thanks to The Public Domain Review )


for PA 18

Knock-Turn #2: Life

Science just heralded a new dwarf star
not so very far away, as the crow flies.
It has seven almost life-size planets,
some might seem a little like ours.

In the vastness of a Seven Flags parking
lot or Canada, another Frodo Lives! decal.
Seeing a photo of Mom, looking impossibly
sexy, scarily like last evening’s mirror.

A dwarf with seven princesses. A twist made
for the Disney brand. Pastels in each others’
hip pockets. Their weights will be matters
of public record, and who hogs the shower.

There’s an old joke about that crow: What if
he’s walking and lugging a flat tire? How far
can you get in a year of waiting room nights?
How fast can he forget/you forget his name?

Of course, the stars are like old movies: our
Starlets have lives before their discovery, Dad
has always known her, and so has Fred. But
now this little star’s a part of the Anthropocene.


for Twiglet #20

Knock-Turn #1

Sour and dank I crawl
into the old bus
as I crawled out. A bar
towel. This woman
spilled Coke, knocked
over her glass
and crushed ice, into her
scrambled eggs.
After they all left, brown
and sticky ran
slowly down the leg. We
use vinegar-water;
some will have Clorox;
some, ammonia.
There are nights we are
like a family band.
And some divorced nights
when it is easy
to crawl back in, sticky,
and forget it all.


Wordle: listen. Plus Poetic Asides #16


Sound System

A scrape on the sidewalk, a taste
for bottles pequeños of Mexican Coke.
Young trunk bending to a breeze of sound,
it’s gender-neutral, encrypted, distilled
to silence and sighs. Pierced stone armor
filters it free of you-listen-to-me.
Out of reach, out of touch. Song
follows song from its nail-gun bandolier.
The whole world should turn vegan.