Self-Portrait as Someone Else

Late at night when you cannot sleep

and you step silently through the house;

or lost in thought driving to work

and you do not notice your normal exit,

then the niggling whispers gain a clarity

that cannot be partitioned or pardoned.

No little boxes filled with secrets to be

placed locked in other larger boxes

appear to safely hide your face within. 

When all your variant stories disentangle,

and fall away like petals on a dying rose,

how do you begin to confess the lies

manifested through accidental negligence?

How do you begin to open the sarcophagus 

you have for so long hidden within? How do 

you even begin to begin to live again?

(July 23, 2022)

fall into grace

“the descent beckons”

——- William Carlos Williams

Despite, or maybe because of,

my meds, I can feel the fall

as it begins. A slow drift

like a leaf, or dandelion,

it lifts for a moment, twirls,

then stumbles, and falls again

into a dark silent lake without

a ripple to disturb the surface.


There is little to do, but wait.

Wait without despair,

for despair is a weight which

drags one deeper into the dark.

So, I wait for a new light to break 

across a horizon I cannot see.

Net Worth

Like raw clay upon a wheel,

I twist decades’ old regrets

to shape my truth with desire

to be some other than I am.

As if life’s embarrassment

could be stripped away, like skin

cut loose in great bloody skeins,

free from doubt’s infinite knots:

Tangled in old fishing lines,

I am trapped within myself.

The only recourse is guilt

inlaid along my arms’ veins

like intricate red nets flung

across a river’s slow wash.

(November 4, 2021)

Set and Setting

“till we turn to see 

who you were, who you are, everpresent, vivid 

luminous dust” 

            -Denise Levertov 

Like wolves feeding on a fresh kill 

steaming in the snow, each dead second 

is pulled apart. No matter the effort, 

time disallows the past to continue 

fully formed. The future devours us 

leaving little tufts of fur and bone bits 

to decorate our current troubled paths 

and explain away our broken sorrows. 

I am hungry for something I don’t know, 

a freedom from imposed obligations, 

an escape to a place I am not known. 

Yet, where I am, and who I’ve been tangle 

like the strings of old puppets in a crate, 

waiting for someone to haul them away. 

(September 28, 2021) 

Confessional

“what I lack is myself”

—Susan Howe

The door’s full like words

in an open mouth,

blotting out the space

it opened onto.


An entrance becomes a wall,

an allowed space disallowed,

as keys and locks

become ritual.


Such small sacrifice

the tongue becomes,

burning clear

any lost syllables.


Nothing’s left to say;

everything’s unsaid.

Negation

I’m lucky not to drown,

second by second, as I 

walk down the street—

what with all the lies

and recriminations

I mouth, then swallow,

like a gluttonous beast

devouring itself wholly.

Perhaps it’s fate not luck

which keeps me afloat? But that

requires some god to blame,

and explain the curses directed

daily over rosary beads, like 

mendicants to a self long lost.

(September 5, 2021)

side note

indecisive and insecure 

I am on an edge 

no cliff nor rooftop 

from which to leap 

more marginal  

more like myself 

a collection of questions 

laced down a ragged page 

I take a moment 

to pull myself close 

to gather myself 

into a tighter pile 

of misunderstandings 

to tie myself to a series 

of questionable knots 

strung across the night 

with a sense of frivolity 

like lights at a garden party 

or a noose in a lonesome room 

swinging beneath a bare bulb 


(March 25, 2021)

mill horse (124)

my myopic eyes fix

toward a horizon

I cannot see


as I plod through 

this viscous mud

which will be my grave

(February 26, 2021)