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)

Chagrin

Outside, a butterfly flits

across the sun-dipped tips

of black-eyed Susans

swaying in the wind:

While inside, I struggle

with what to write.

(May 21, 2021)

Metaphor’s Threat

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (74)

It is hard to hear 

what must be said

easy to fall 

into cliche

a pair of shoes 

softly worn old

they know the way 

to take you home

as cows wear down

 a simple path

between one place

 and another

no difference

 really matters

our thoughts carve out

 the same channels

and run like rats

 trapped in a maze

never pausing

 to look for more

than what was there

 the last time here

repetition 

a common thread

comforts us all

 with old ideas

and traps us too

with such fools as I

(July 11, 2020)

Sunday Morning

In downtown Baltimore

Years after he died

Lou Reed sings from the sound system

Of this corporate hotel lobby.

This is funnier

Than it should be.

I am almost sixty years old,

Attending an English teacher convention.

Back in Austin, hours later,

I casually toss herbs into the mortar,

And without thought, begin to grind:

“I don’t want to know…

All the streets you’ve crossed

Not so long ago”

(November 24, 2019)

Ars Poetica: The Fiction of Truth


Since I do understand the importance

Of narrative, I tell stories without

Telling stories, like now, as I write this

Poem. I’ve created a fiction of me,

Truthfully, yet still a grounded fiction,

Who is speaking to you, someone absent,

As if we were strangers ordered to share

A rough table in a pub. But instead 

of talking about the local football 

team, or rudely about the government,

I talk to you as if you are in love,

Listening, as I speak, rather than write,

These simplistic thoughts upon this blank page,

And pretend you did not leave years ago.

(January 11, 2019)

We Walk to the Witch’s House in the Wood

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It was a place to go.

It promised us more.

The past had nothing,

but anger and fear.

 

The witch smiled,

because we knew

she was a witch,

but entered freely.

 

Compliance, not cages,

held us to her.

It was easier to

submit, than not.

 

We live in fear

of a better world.

 

(June 2, 2018)

the unknown’s always vast

 

 

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I take off my glasses

and cannot see

with any clarity

more than a little way

 

my vision’s weak

but sufficient

to navigate within

these blurred horizons

 

as with any truth

only what’s near

coheres enough

to provide shape

 

even so few know

the heart close by

 

(February 13, 2018)

 

Nothing Beyond

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No words tonight to push back

Against the dark lurking close,

Nor books, with their comforting

Runes, to solidify the chaos

Which prowls about the house

Like wolves on the edge of a fire.

 

I desire affirmation—

A coherence to believe

Beyond the tremors which buck

And warp my life’s lassitude.

Yet, there is nothing beyond

My own shallow thoughts

To assuage the vacuous

Profundity of my days.

 

(January 10, 2018)

 

after silence, no echo

he’s simply a tool
a means to her ends
as he was each moment
he couldn’t comprehend
it was enough to be noticed
to be of some interest
so he danced on her string
a sad distraction at best
he has said he’s slow
to decipher such nuance
he hears an entreaty
and is newly entranced
he knows nothing’s there
yet he dances with air

(September 17, 2017)

To Resist the Moment

I sat on the floor
near a wall
thinking
about now
and then
while
trying to stop
thinking
about the moment
I’m in
and failing

for to resist
the moment demands
the time to attend

(September 14, 2017)