no returns (84)

step left

step right

I’m here 

where else

(October 26 2020)

What I Imagine When Someone Explains my Poetry to Me

He stands on a small rock

in the middle of a river;

the water rushes past

an obvious metaphor.

He ignores the danger,

and leaps the gap to land

on the next wet stone

barely within his compass;

And there, as he teeters,

searching for his balance,

he hears the falls hunger,

then is neither here, nor there,

but lost in the churning froth

of some other’s creation.

(September 6, 2020)

In the Blood

The lie of my truth

visors the angle

of my descent.

I have no face,

but reflection,

a mirror

to lace assumption’s


My flesh contains

shattered selves—

a prismatic array,

where each shard

bends an image

of itself into another.

This truth lies

along an edge

of broken glass;

it slices the air

with ribbons of light,

like tall grass

cuts children’s legs

as they flee through

the last summer fields.

(August 15, 2019)

The Gentle (Penetrating, Wind)

from “Renditions of Change,” a work in progress

To be there. To bear witness:

one tells one’s story— That’s all!

That is how evil falls— Again

and again— tell one’s story.

(June 5, 2019)

Turning Point


advice to my 15-year-old self


Keep writing; it defines you.

you are about to meet your wife;

she is not your current crush.


Your dad is dying.

In a couple of months, he’ll know.

It will take two years.


Except for your wife,

who you do not know yet,

no one thinks like you.


Poetry will save you

now, and again forever:

so read more, write more.


You will become who you are.

Quit German, learn Spanish.

(September 17, 2018)

Prelude to a Kiss



I know nothing

of you other

than brief moments

I’ve observed,

as you of me.

Yet still, we must

come to trust

what we know

is enough.


(June 3, 2018)




My mouth is my wound,

a stigmata of broken teeth

and words. My tongue’s slashed

like ribbons flapping

in the mountain’s wind.

My prayers snap violently

into the icy air’s silence.


I don’t know what to do

now: swallow my own

blood, and drown; or spit

my life onto the ground

to call forth a bitter

beast which I fear

will devour me whole?


(May 11, 2018)




I’m not sure I do much,

but open doors, set up chairs,

provide a place to read,

talk, write; which is enough

and yet, is not enough

to beat back the belligerence

barking like a spittle-flecked

beast. I can’t save them

from what is to come,

nor always be there to speak

amiably into their distress,

and voiceless traumas.

But there is this room,

an open door, and a chair.


(March 27, 2018)

as I speak



let me define you

not as the fantasy

you think you know

as the one who listens

but the transcendent you

who listens vaguely

into silence

as the roiling dark

devours your edges

like slow kisses

traced across

your tense skin

until you vanish

beneath the words


(December 16, 2017)

regret’s fear

“into this image of himself he dives”
–Charles Baudelaire
it was safer to create you
alone hidden in shadows
where only I could find you
when I was tired and tense
and full of fear’s insecurities
safer than your living flesh
smooth beneath my slow hand
slipping like silk across your skin
fear of fulfillment far exceeded
any regret of might have beens
yet I fear now I have lost you
and regret all that went unsaid

(March 16, 2015)