Friday, December 15, 2017


photo by author

this quiet
with an edge,
a vibration,
an echo still
in air and ear,
an energy,

an electricity,
a current,
a nerve stretched like cat gut across a fret
the way I hold my breath
and wait
for the slap
the words
the threat 
to be sent back,
as if back is a place,
wherever the fuck the damaged come from

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

To count all the stars in the night sky*

Based on Our Little Roses, an all-girl orphanage in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

The priest envisions his arms splay wide open,

the children welcome him; he hugs them,

lifts them toward heaven for god's blessings.

But these girls stand back, they hesitate,

their trust broken, unprotected,

they bond with one another, sisters, 

not by blood, but by survival.

Fearful their feelings may slip

beneath smiles and laughter,

they hold them close, 

fistfuls of pain--

abuse, abandonment and lies.

Father Reece brings them poetry, 

believing in transformation,

he pushes, they pull, see-sawing.

He shares poems from his memory,

they listen, they repeat,

they recite in a Latin rhythm,

they write lines, 

own their words,

stronger than weapons,

entwining anger, hurt, hope.

Father Reece readies to leave,

secrets spoken, acceptance hard-won.

Serendipity, a higher power 

leads them to one another,

the hands of the girls opening

to count all the stars in the night sky.

*Title inspired by
Aylin, “Counting”, from Counting Time like People Count Stars, edited by Spencer Reece,
 Tia Chucha Press, 2017.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

present tense

A minor fender-bender,
scrapes and scratches,
but something is off,
something else,
days slipping away,
like motion propelling
my car into another’s bumper,
despite brakes, not stopping.

The river’s surface unbroken,
not a breath,
the voice of the current speaks,
“I will take you,
every stroke, every muscle,
every sip of air,
breaking you across my rocks,
depositing what’s left
far from the bank.”

Tragedy arrives

in bundles, stacks,
the sound of the word
wearing out,
the meaning thinning, 
again, again,
once crisp, 
we need less tragedy,
needless tragedy
needless tragedy

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hollows of Hollywood

At Hollywood today, cars pass by,
carrying the looking-lost,
grave stones designed for two, 
hold one, waiting for the other.
No poetry to soothe,
no liquor to lull,
no angel to guard,
no dog to protect,
living and dead seeking

Solitude is breaking me,
as pieces fall,
baring inner hollows.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sometimes a roof is more than just a roof*

Mortality is packaged in blocks of twenty,

the average age of a well-laid roof.

Time for a new one, my husband says with a smile,

our last.

I panic at this structural truth,

it cues cold flesh, cold earth, cold stone,



Sleep not to be trusted,

with its disturbing dreamery,

ceaseless cauchemars*,


Reality leaching into my bones,

an expiration date, an endgame

to become vagueries

in the memories of a few,

and as they pass,

no longer.

Like the shell of a butter-bean,


*From the French, cauchemar, nightmare.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Fog of War*

The transport dropped him in Vietnam,

holding an M-16 and ammo,

his crisp idealism and best intentions.

But the wash of rice paddies,

sweat, curls of chemical smoke

released machine-pressed creases,

wilted fabric, olive dulled to brown.

And the line,

the line not to cross

into shades of camouflage,

colors of humanity among the bodies.

War on the edge

of senseless,

blades whirred,

dust kicked up

like clouds of doubt in his mind.

Victories ash-gray grit between his teeth,

mud the color of blood sucked at his boots;

elephant grass so tall, so thick, so sharp

cut his hands, his arms,

criss-crossed his face,

his mortality marked with “X”s.

Fifty years have passed,

the puzzle pieces, the same,

the numbers, the same.

Veterans hold their stories close.

There’s time 


for what cannot be measured,



to speak their words.

*From the German, 1896, Nebel des Kreiges. Term used to capture the ambiguities of the battlefield.

Friday, September 1, 2017

when the tree guy says six more years

We stare at the pine tree in our yard,

its height and breadth,

from Christmas years ago,

hung with ornaments of love&hope.

They say summer is passing,

so we have it trimmed and shaped,

as if we cannot brave the lost, the never to be,

our time shaved down so close.

Cicadas' sound eases afternoons,

white noise soothes into sleep,

we remember the smell of sweet sap,

how it stuck to our fingers, close to each other.