You Find a Poem You Wrote Years Ago

It’s like seeing old pictures of yourself

long after the camera’s cold click. You

have a sense of familiarity,

a recognition that you were once there

in that moment, but not of the moment

before, or after. The lines have taken

on depth as their specificity blurred,

the colors clarity fading through time

into generalized gestures, and

you stop short, stunned at your oblivious youth,

the clear lack of fear, the unacknowledged

audacity that spoke with more wisdom

then, than you ever knew you had, and have

since lost like someone waking from a dream.

(October 21, 2021)

Always a Model Nearby

“Props and other disinherited

paraphernalia are never enough.”

—Susan Howe

My hands cradle my face,

covering my dead eyes. 

Worn thin like ragged cloth,

I am tired of my life:

Before sunrise I wake,

slowly move down the stairs,

and start again. Morning 

rituals of coffee

keep the old dramas near,

private. I want to wail,

long howls into the dark.

Instead, I feed the dog,

whose tail wags happily

as she eats her kibble.

(August 9, 2021)

The Fire Consumes Us All

Yes, poetry burns in feral anger—

a knife flash fast at the shadowed church door

cuts through a dank cassock’s folded black cloth,

twisting quickly below the priest’s fat rib.

Yet, the mundane’s slow-etched eddy of truth

leaves its testament in the margins

of the more violent rush and tumble

relevance churning in the crowed streets.

My life is easily enough dismissed

with the trivialities of the day

dropping their dead petals across my path

like roses in ecstatic agony.


Yes, poetry burns in feral anger—

and burns and burns throughout the dullest day.

(July 26, 2021)

Acceptance

(after J. Ruth Gendler)

Acceptance makes hot tea

for you on cold blustery days.

Acceptance waits for you 

to decide who you are—

She makes no judgement

based on arbitrary rules.

Acceptance knows she is stronger,

because she knows the difference

between herself and Acquiescence,

who is too afraid to be different.

Acceptance sits near an open chair

knowing you will find a way home.

She likes to listen to your voice

as you take delight in new ideas.

She does not care they are not hers.

With the gentle reassurance of love,

Acceptance takes your hands

as if they were fresh cut flowers.

(July 1, 2021)

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)

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)

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

there lies the rub (106)

she said you said he said but shouldn’t have

said what you said she said quiet angrily

because what he said dared to disagree

with what she said you said were simply lies

(January 19, 2021)

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)

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)