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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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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)

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doorway (113)

formed out of these walls to shape

the air to separate here from there


beneath the dark winter quilts

my skin presses to your warmth


longs to be more than my limits

more than what’s contained inside


more an opening to other spaces

other ways with different lines


to cross with a limping accent

a creole to hone words into an edge


I know only what I know

my cell wall’s textures memorized


through the season’s slow change

the light and shadow through the bars


play their fingers in the silent air

like puppets alive to the string’s pull

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which simple metaphor shapes my day (104)

a different time with new shadows

wraps the light in different patterns

more random more abstract less fragile

less likely to crack like a beetle’s

carapace beneath my careless boots


I roam between my vacant days

then disappear easier than I thought

between quick ire and old resentments

like broken branches slip easily

with the river’s froth across smooth rocks


despite all the engrained justifications

despite the comprised and contradictory

narratives despite the feral rage

I am who I am stripped of language

laid down since birth like shrouds

(January 15, 2021)

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continuous balm (101)

“but little thought”

—W. Wordsworth

today as I drive past sorghum fields

on my way to work I recall

a train in the Netherlands

decades ago moving through tulip fields

long strides of red and yellow

that stepped toward the horizon

(December 8, 2020)

Afternoon Light

from a work in progress, “process, not a journey”(69)

the grey cat sits

on the table by the window

and watches the mockingbird

on the elm outside

.

I watch her patience

today and yesterday

and last week

and think she’s oblivious

to sit so stoically

day after day

without hope

of any desires’

consummation

.

I lose my way each day

throughout the day

thinking of this

then distracted by that

as if the unspecified contains 

some mysterious truth

more than a cat

sitting in the sun

(June 28, 2020)

past imperfect tense

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey: (68)

“I cannot keep my dreams straight.”

-Franz Kafka

some nights most nights

after a whiskey or more

years if not decades

swirl like blue smoke

at my feet

and I forget

where I am as time

falls away like an old drunk

stumbling on my way home

the familiar story

the soft path alters

and strangers step out

of the dark laughing

vaguely  and I have forgotten

why I’m laughing

then laugh again

(June 23, 2020)

Infinite Watched Pot

“That is, if you write it has it happened twice”

—Michael Palmer, Notes for Echo Lake

I woke and now it is now; the sun’s setting.

Was the writing the thing that happened?

Would today happen without being written?

Are they two events or one?

I see something—

like a car crash,

or water boiling on the stove.

One’s disconnected,

one’s intentional, possibly

even a causation; for example;

I’m hungry, so

I hop in the car for a burger.

She was in a hurry. It was

raining. She slams through a yellow light.

The driver in front of me dies

on the wet street. Or,

I’m still hungry. I hold dry

pasta knowingly, and watch

as the tiny bubbles form

on the bottom of the pan.

Did anything happen?

I am hungry, and will be

each time you read this,

even if I was the driver

who died, or I just wrote

it down; even if something

more than this

was in my thoughts

as I waited for water

to boil.

(May 3, 2020)