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Dispersion

When we scattered mother,

the ash swirled about me

like a cape. I breathed her

in, then spit out what 

I could into the winter grass.

Metaphor’s bitter aftertaste

lingered between my teeth

for years. Now, left with

a handful of ash to toss

to the wind, I resist this

final gesture, and begin

again. Life’s easy without

thought, or a nearby pattern

to hold one together, despite

death’s constant push to contain 

the living who remain.

(December 12, 2019)

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Lightning Ignites the Core of a Tree

All around him, the forest burns,

uncontrolled, beautiful.

The warmth reassures him

with its certainty.

His fingers burn; the flesh

chars as on a spit.

He turns, searching;

but she is gone, if ever

she were truly there.

He stands alone,

arms outstretched.

Flames leap through the trees;

smoke swallows the sky.

(December 10, 2019)

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Simple Enchantments of the Young

The cracks proved the power

of words. Such spells cast

across the fissures formed

fears of a painful death.

Who would be willing to test

this hypothesis on one so dear?

Her survival, by correlation,

confirmed the childish chant.

She lived. Not writhing on

the floor, vertebrae shattered,

just oblivious to your heroic

leaping, like a hopscotch knight,

from slab to concrete slab

to save your one true love.

(December 5, 2019)

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Haunted

The ghosts have returned home

slipping between the day

to day conversations

holding our silences

in locked yellow boxes

without a trace of air

.

I would say I’m happy

to most circumstances

with my small discontents

not sad enough to search

for bits of joy scattered

across a field like grain

weeks after the harvest

was gleaned by dark sparrows.

(November 30, 2019)

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Sunday Morning

In downtown Baltimore

Years after he died

Lou Reed sings from the sound system

Of this corporate hotel lobby.

This is funnier

Than it should be.

I am almost sixty years old,

Attending an English teacher convention.

Back in Austin, hours later,

I casually toss herbs into the mortar,

And without thought, begin to grind:

“I don’t want to know…

All the streets you’ve crossed

Not so long ago”

(November 24, 2019)

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Preserve

Like remnant threads

lifted from the floor,

I collect shreds of shadows

from my heart. Then later,

when the room’s dark,

and the nights grow long,

I pack them tightly in a jar

and place them on a shelf.

Some nights, I’ll rise from

sleep into the dark, and sneak

a slice of one from a jar;

And in an ecstatic occlusion

to shroud what I’ve become,

I dance bodly beneath the moon.

(November 22, 2019)

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Lessen

I read with difficulty,

poets I once admired,

not seeing anymore

the simplicity I once saw.

I worry stones smooth

between my fingers,

as if patterns emerge

through a force of will.

There must be something

more than what is here.

Certainties tremble, then

fall like ash into dust.

I’ve come to know less

than I have ever known.

(November 8, 2019)

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I’m Not Looking for a Saint

When I read a poem, the voice

of another being is enough.

Someone extant in the world

who for this moment speaks,

resonant with each leaf,

with each burgeoning flower.

I do not expect epiphany

to fall from Spring’s mouth

for that would not be true;

truth grows in retrospect,

a mirror to distort the past

reshaped to an image more divine.

All gods are just us

without desire for more.

(November 7,2019)

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The FrogPrince Without Standing

He sat by his pond content

with the depth of his longing.

Then one day, she dropped in

laughing her way into his dream.

He thought he heard a splash,

and a glimmer near the bottom.

She played along the pond’s edge,

waiting for what he might bring.

When he returned to the surface,

the forest was dark and she was gone.

The castle was so far away—

and it was just a toy after all.

He sat by his pond discontented

with the depth of his longing.

(November 4, 2019)

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A Haiku a day for a Month

A little more than a month ago, one of my work mates proposed that she, a math teacher, and myself write a haiku a day for a month. After 37 haikus (I wrote more than one some days), I am going to stop the exercise. I think that my fellow English teacher proposed the undertaking in order to make her write everyday. I do this already, so it did not motivate me to write. I did find it a calming activity most days: a time to stop and think about what was in front of me either physically, mentally, or spiritually. However, it also deflected my attention away from other poems I had been working on. Usually I post about 15 or so poems a month (sometimes even pushing to 20). In October, because of the haiku event, I posted 38 new poems. I like haiku, and like writing them. Usually I make up parameters for my writing in an arbitrary and random manner. During the exercise, I used the traditional 5-7-5 syllable count, although I have in the past ignored that stricture focusing more on the brief flash of attention than on a numbers game. Figuring the syllable count is more of a guideline than a law. I don’t plan on giving haiku up; I’m just not going to sit down each day to write one. I have always written in small snatches of time, never having the leisure to write for extended lengths during the day. So, haiku, and imagism, lend themselves well to going from start to finish in the brief time I have to write. However, I also like spending time in my head as I go through the day, thinking about a longer piece. Therefore, as I stated at the beginning of this ramble, I am going to end my participation in the project. Thanks to all of you who read and liked the work I have posted over the last month.

(October 31, 2019)

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Hansel Grows Old

Bread crumbs were not enough—

insubstantial as memory 

flitting away like sparrows

through the trees. He was lost,

tangled in possibility’s inevitable

collapse; he could not pull past

the brush to a salient interpretation:

where he went, where he was going,

or what language he now spoke.

She had fled years ago,

escaped to the witches who

had forgiven her childhood

sins. She no longer believed

in the lies of her father,

the long walks in the woods

with her brother. She returned

now for some redemption,

only to find him not at home.

(October 25, 2019)

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always transitional

this is the moment

we find ourselves

ignorant and lost

hung upon a cusp

another idea

malformed and old

gnaws open bones

to lick our marrow

with trees being trees

we do not notice

the iron sentinels

stolid as chessman

they seem to say—

do not pass

we’re surrounded

yet we are in love

(October 25, 2019)

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Within a Dream

The sound of my last dream

will be silence: the silence

of fog, the silence of fear.

My last dream will echo

the clack of high heels

on wet London streets.

My last dream will be warm

like your bare skin beneath

my hands late at night.

My last dream will linger

over the thousand, thousand

kisses: your lips soft,

warm, hungry for more.

My last dream will be free

of doubt, secure in coherence

with all the lines blurred.

My last dream will not wake

to return me to a place

it can never know.

My last dream will be

a harbor, a sanctuary, 

a last whispered breeze.

(October 15, 2019)

A Disappointing Session at the English Teacher Conference

I am here

I am here abuzz on coffee

I am impatient with the speaker who is reading her power points to us

I am a reader, as is everyone in this room

this is an English teacher conference after all

the power point is structured like an academic research article

I only know this because once

I was, or wanted to be, an academic

I am a teacher

I understand research and its power

I want my students to feel this power

The presenter has stopped reading her power point

a student of the presenter has stood to witness

he was successful, he feels transformed

so he is transformed

another student stands to witness

she too was successful-

and transformed-

Bless Us Jesus-

which no one said, but they could have

or did say without being religious

or calling on Jesus

this presentation is a sales job

not just for the class on research

but for the presenter’s new book on research—

your students can feel this way too

BUY my BOOK

I’ve had too much coffee

and leave to find a restroom

(December 6, 2019)