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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)

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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)

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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)

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As in the Last Days of Pompeii

In these next darker days,

Shadows walk in laughter

upright and self-righteous,

and we have no where to hide.

Ash floods the bitter sky

filling the streets, the rooftops,

our lungs with thick death.

With no time to cast bones,

our glazed eyes watch

the portents unfold into heaven.

Panicked, we rage in the street,

or cower next to a wall,

 a silent witness to the fall.

(September 17, 2020)

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there is no life outside of this

this body holds no answers

other than its own


I listen to its stories

all the iterations

the looped variations


as if razors inscribe each word

labyrinths within labyrinths

a slow-cut scratch through skin

to bleed heal and cut again


until what is true

what is believed

what is said

intermingle


their incestuous scars

like runes carved

across cave walls


and I have nowhere to go

and nothing left to say

(September 9, 2020)

Lines Written in a Pandemic a Few Days After the Summer Solstice

from a work in progress: “Process, Not a Journey” (67)

our earth wobbles its way

about the sun like a drunk

unsure of her footing

moves again

toward the bar

*

day by day minute by minute

plods toward darkness

for the next six months

each day grows darker

by one minute

*

not quite disturbing

the dullard doves

who coo complacently

on the fence

cardinals and jays

fussing constantly

slip after each other

between tree branches

I watch and listen

to this dance

for hours

and can do nothing

*

as it was in the beginning

world without end

(June 23, 2020)