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)

how much self-denigration must occur (96)

if i gnaw out my fragile heart

canines slavering through flesh

the way wolves trapped

will desperately gnaw off 

a leg to escape the hunter

will I be free with only a blood 

limped trace dropped like roses

through freshly fallen snow

to mark my passage like stale crumbs

scattered across the frozen forest floor

a vaguely cogent sentence fragment

to parse a meaning into salvation

will I see in time the breach

open wide enough to squeeze

rock against chest between

tightly held breaths balanced

on a desperate fear that I have

lost the best bits of myself

(December 1, 2020)

only mine (94)

I cannot see much of life

beyond the ragged hedgerow

I’ve grown from broken thorns

scattered like blood

across still water

unless the walls fall

and all the little boxes

open like rain misting

the tightly trimmed

topiary with ice

and the cold parenthesis

cracks like cicadas’ wings 

as i slip from myself 

a worm through earth’s minutia

feeding on the remains

and fragments that were mine

(November 13, 2020)

mirror mirror

the well offers no echo

for the truth to rise upon


to allow her to step screaming

from the water’s cold depths


to shatter the infinite mirrors

where we live out our lives

(November 1. 2020)

And Then Not Here

On the floor

in a closet

curled tight

like an egg,

he dismantles

what’s left

of what remains;

he shaves  away

thin layers

until nothing

like memory

is left,

just a space

where he had stood

filled with air,

and the laughter

of distant children.

(October 1 2020)

It’s a Familiar Enough Lie

With a headful of sighs,

I move from room to room,

stand in the doorway, then turn,

followed by dark regrets

which waited to slither back 

from all the obvious corners.

I promise myself again

as I slip further away: 

it will only be a moment;

then days, then years vanish

before the wait will stop,

before I walk out the door.

(September 19, 2020)