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palimpsest (132)

tension slips between

skin and flesh

as skillful as a fishmonger’s

blade slices down

the length of an eel

with one stroke

a practiced motion

without thought

like a priest at prayer

each wooden bead rolled

over fingertips in sync

with the slow muttered vowels

one patterned moment

moving toward the next

with endless patience

as the next ritual waits

for the candle to be lit

the words to flow

less with meaning

than as a balm

to still disquiet

(April 14, 2021)

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Pentecostal Ash (130)

within a multitude of soft tongues

a flame whispers accusations

around the kindling at your feet

and with a puff from her lips

it flourishes like angelic trumpets

curling toward a blackening sky

then soon enough

the fire fades 

to a boredom

akin to sadness

it’s not there

in its absence

as sadness pervades

each need

with lackadaisical ease

(April 5, 2021)

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what’s to be done but misunderstand (129)

SONY DSC

with a thousand toes to step upon

scattered across the ballroom floor

he negotiates with a nonchalance

reserved for sinister seductions

each phrase she said like a rabbit 

testing the air for the slightest sound 

to announce the wolf’s ragged debut

yet the wolf is off in some other forest

tracking that red-caped girl and

the wind carries sounds 

from some other tale as 

everything we once knew

crumbles into sullen ash

(April 2, 2021)

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there again as if never there (127)

the rose belies death’s presence 

its slow decay into transcendence 

like words we almost knew 

but failed to say somehow 

only to be troubled for years 

rehashing conversations 

as if our world would change 

if we could only stay on script 

hearing each cue clearly without 

improvisation to distract 

from the offerings of love  

burning upon a broken stone 

as if some deity would take pity 

on creatures who could create 

no better god than themselves 

(March 25, 2021)

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I am not You (126)

“a border is never neutral”

—Jaques Derrida

on a map it is a line drawn

in color across the landscape


it’s arbitrary except for words

which no longer make sense


when placed abstractly on trees

and through creek beds


no one sees them except 

the ones who kill ones


who speak their vowels

elongated or shortened

(March 11, 2021)

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with each glance a horizon forms (125)

to form a new line

just out of reach


like desire

and all we remember

we fall away

from ourselves like rain


leaving clouds

to float on the horizon


too tired to speak

too heavy to hold the sky


we move down a road

always approaching a line


if we cross we’re freed

into a new chain


a new destruction

a new circle to close


like blood squeezed

along sclerotic veins


until the heart seizes

at what remains


a lost kiss a touch

one last word


(March 8, 2021)

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Each Moment Re-inscribes the Present (123)

like the good china handled

with delicate hands as if

the people pictured could be

shaken from the scene and lost

they are only brought out on holidays

or as we gather to bury the dead

who were the ones who knew them all

these photographs that stepped from context

as soon as the shutter snapped

the aunts uncles cousins friends pictured

within a tangled patchwork of memory

at their own holidays their own funerals

look back at us with our familiar eyes

wanting to know who we are what we’ve become

(February 25, 2021)

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Layers (122)

the cat slept all day

turned tightly into herself

a sublime wisdom


snow begins to fall

silencing the day’s hard sleet

the night grows colder


ice brightens the moon

along the bare branches’ backs

like a hot whip’s snap


by morning the snow

drapes the yard as if with light

the chimes slowly sound


a lone mockingbird chirrups

inside the house the cat waits

(February 18, 2021)

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a house without mirrors (121)

from what vantage point

can one see oneself

with a panoramic clarity

reserved

for history

and mountain ranges

in the spring


the answer of course lies

in one’s own myopic

vision blurred

with warm blankets

precise collars

and a dilettante’s 

book shelf

(February 13, 2021)