Monday, November 18, 2019

Maze of Light

Against the mirrored grid of buildings there stands
a labyrinth of hay bales erected for the harvest festival
a ruined fortress of shaggy bricks
with low walls so the kids don't get lost

Long ago we used to navigate
the network of alleyways,
past dilapidated garages and dogs barking
behind the fences of the backyards
on our way to the diner
where there was a Ms. Pac Man machine
in the foyer solely for us to scream at.
At night we'd get snagged on the thorns
of our arguments, tangled in the blankets
and the brambles.

I'm not sure if there's a way out
or if I'm just following the twists and turns,
hitting one dead end after another
in this memory palace.
I envy the creek, that watery path
that never gets lost
as it trickles single-mindedly
between the trees,
pushing through the leaves
that try to clog it

I hope you find your way,
ping-ponging between the stars,
weaving through the clouds
of celestial dust.
I take the thread you used to sew
your dolls, to bind your little books
and unroll it behind me
until it runs out and I'm left holding
a bare wooden spool
which I slip into my pocket
and continue on

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

1st Drink of the Light

An eyelash
on your fingertip

The eye never scabs over
never heals
Just keeps leaking

A wound in time
that never closes
A black hole
A spinning drain
I squint
hold my palm over
the cut

tip the bottle
of hydrogen peroxide
though they say
that it does nothing
That it's not good for you
I still want to feel the fizz
to watch
the bubbling

 Trying to smooth
the ragged edges
Trying to lay a plank
across the creek
The birdbath does not
ice over
The sky is still raw
and gaping

the corners of my mouth
are still catching
face down in the cool grass
on the hottest day
of the year
I will catch you twitching
I have not yet begun
to swallow the dew

Thursday, October 24, 2019


It changed
not at all
it changed

No longer able to see.
The eyes are gone.
Not even sockets
left. Just a few
fistfuls of grit
Crumbs of bone
on my lips

I press myself against the earth
just like you did that night
your dog Arlie got hit by a car
you called me screaming
high on mushrooms
clawing this same mud, crying why

And later your mother

A sapling planted in the spot
Not full grown yet

And now, you there as well
Lapped up by roots, or so
it's comforting to think

You as bark and leaves
texture and shade
near the creek

It changed
not me
I don't know why
it changed

I press my dirty palms
to my face

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

A Woman

The last car
in the employee lot
is blasting Patsy Cline
on a Wednesday night
as the cold rain
turns to snow

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Idle Moments

Sky the cover of lint between the mustard curtains.
Cat curled up beside me on the sofa. Grant Green strumming
like he has all the time in the world to get there.
The crossword's sitting there, patiently waiting.
I'm out of coffee, but I can smell it brewing
and a few minutes later
a dead girl steps out of the kitchen
holding a steaming mug. I don't know how
she can hold the cup in her spectral hands
but I take it anyways. It's hot and the steam rises up
in twisting ribbons that disappear before
I can touch them. I gingerly sip it
as she shakes her ghostly ass to the music
and smiles and asks if I want breakfast.
The Book of the Dead has a special chapter
devoted to Sunday mornings. It mostly focuses
on moving slowly and breathing evenly
and keeping one's pajamas on for as long as possible
but it also includes a recipe for eggs Benedict
which is out of this world.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Dry Spot Under the Trees

After dropping him off she drove downtown
where they shaved her forearm and tattooed a sticky sunflower
in commemoration of watching the hungry pines prepare to grind
her Freshman son into splinters and scatter them through the woods.
Orange oily globs had floated on the pale milk of the lake 
during their last meal together at the student cafeteria. 
Her eyes brimmed with bongwater. Bits of gristle 
drifted toward the surface and she held them under
with the bamboo spork until the bubbles stopped.
Arm swaddled in Saran Wrap, she drove back
past the evergreen fence with its mesh of compass needles
to the Motel 8 on the outskirts of Oly and flopped onto the bed 
basted in sweat, simmering in a broth of worry.
Half a bottle of merlot later, she put the news on mute
and yanked the ripcord and the emergency life raft in her chest inflated
She let the current drag he down the carpeted hall
past the housekeeping closet crammed with cans of Pledge
and extra washrags and lozenge soaps
Past the rack bristling with tourist magazines
begging her to visit Raingutter Falls, the Roadkill Museum,
the Cave of the Electric Hairdryers
Past the front desk clerk watching the playoffs
with the sound off, the numbers nine and one 
always cued up on his phone,
until she ended up, as everyone does
in every one of my poems,
out at the edge of the parking lot,
looking up at the stars,
trying not to imagine too hard.

Friday, October 11, 2019


An old man in a cowboy hat
is juggling bowling pins
while balancing on a big red ball
in the middle of the square.
He slowly starts to shuffle forward,
the ball moving beneath him.
Everyone on the train
is staring at their phones.
I think of nudging
the guy beside me
to get him to look.
But I don't.