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)

Night Terror (a reading)

Night Terror

“When are we not in a dream?

…when are we not skeletons?”

—Sy. Hoahwah

I don’t remember 

the dream before,

I cracked my head hard

against the wooden night stand;  

the fine grained ephemera, 

which held the dream together, 

burned like flash paper into the air.

A lightning ball exploded 

my darker vision, as the dream,

too agile to cradle, threw me 

deftly from sleep onto the floor.

Not existing fully in the fluidity

of sleep, nor the concrete warmth

of the morning window’s light,

I held my head in my hands,

eyes shut, as the lightning flash

faded, leaving only the muscles

in my neck to burn like trees

broken during the night’s storm.

(July 16, 2021)

Metaphor’s Comfort

Flying free

through the blind night,

bats,

with their high lyric cries,

justify

the walls around them.


(July 19, 2021)

Night Terror

“When are we not in a dream?

…when are we not skeletons?”

—Sy. Hoahwah

I don’t remember 

the dream before

I cracked my head hard

against the wooden night stand;  

the fine grained ephemera, 

which held the dream together, 

burned like flash paper into the air.

A lightning ball exploded 

my darker vision, as the dream,

too agile to cradle, threw me 

deftly from sleep onto the floor.

Not existing fully in the fluidity

of sleep, nor the concrete warmth

of the morning window’s light,

I held my head in my hands,

eyes shut, as the lightning flash

faded, leaving only the muscles

in my neck to burn like trees

broken during the night’s storm.

(July 16, 2021)

ways of knowing (138)

certainty’s a razor’s edge

pressed lightly across skin


i draw a line along

the length of my arm


tracing a blue vein

a way in a way out

(May 4, 2021)

I am not You (126)

“a border is never neutral”

—Jaques Derrida

on a map it is a line drawn

in color across the landscape


it’s arbitrary except for words

which no longer make sense


when placed abstractly on trees

and through creek beds


no one sees them except 

the ones who kill ones


who speak their vowels

elongated or shortened

(March 11, 2021)

each moment a threat (120)

surreptitiously 

he squats beneath 

his stone bridge 

alone in the dark 

like a hungry troll 

who waits on a lost traveler 

to stop momentarily  

between her lies and his 

as she peers into the mist 

that waits below for her 

in the ever-widening crevasse 

(February 10, 2021)

Four poems from a series (115-118)

each breath (115)

a butterfly turns

from the chrysalis’s shell

then flutters away like breath

(February 4, 2021)

problematic poetics (116)

each image resists

the metaphor’s

transformation

(February 4, 2021)

each tongue a border (117)

i struggle to translate

my language to words

i may speak with others

who are closest to me

and who are said

to share my tongue

(February 4, 2021)

vocabulary impediments (118)

talk normal 

there boy

(February 4, 2021)

to divine the past (102)

from any chance moment

wherever you happen to be

like light and dark dancing

across the forest floor

memory without warning

will step out from a phrase

to raise the ancient dead 

the way dust devils 

on cool autumn afternoons 

will twirl lifeless leaves into the air 

like moon-pale bacchants 

arms twisting above their heads

then within your next thought

let fall still trembling to the ground

leaving you ashamed for some act 

of cowardice or petty remorse 

at best remembered less if at all 

and then only as a trace of flame 

flickering shadows upon a wall

(December 21, 2020)

chronic cough (98)

when mom died

we scattered her ashes

near the New Sweden cemetery


the chill wind swirled

like a witch’s spell

I inhaled then spat her out


today a cold wind dances

fall leaves down the street

I cough slightly then spit

(December 2, 2020)