Taking Infield

The sound of rain on a metal roof
like childhood in a good dream
where he still—  with chocolate and coffee—
the splatters of rain—  I imagine you alive,
emerging from your house

as we wait for the bus to take us to school—
your red hair—   It’s raining harder now
a distant flash and then a grumbling
from the old gods—  We once kneeled
to them, sang to them, burned offerings—

The last time I saw you, I was playing baseball,
he says.  If you saw me, you hid it well—
sitting in the back seat of a car parked on the road
beside the park.  We are taking infield—
A child wakes in an adjoining room. Whimpers—

then faint voices behind a door—  You were ten,
and Jack who taught us more than allowed
was already packing to move, as would we in a week—
to Oklahoma.  You emerge from your house
in January—  the mountains in the distance.


from Dust



John and Leopold share Henrys in a way,
both naughty, though one is quite willing
to jump your bones if only your husband
weren’t present in the room, while the other
is content with a letter, knowing he will
never see you, never touch—

There are laws against both—  of decency,
written on parchment with a feathered pen.
How to begin— you and I as we make our way
down corridors crowded with paintings,
Degas and his dancers.  Manet— we are both
in love with Morisot.

Beauty flickers— the battery runs down,
and you look for an outlet somewhere.
I try to explain that one summer we laid
Mexican brick in straight lines, trowelling
the mortar liberally and tapping into place
each piece, the sun unmercifully hot.

You dip your finger in cold water
and touch it to my lips.  We drink beer
at a café on 24th street between the wars,
before the weddings, before the children
were born, before decorating the Christmas
tree—  the beer numbing our teeth.

You try to explain the afternoon you met
me in the park to tell me—  we are both
in love with Morisot, but it isn’t enough.


from Dust


The myth of glass melting, slowly sliding
down the pane, is not true—wait a thousand years,
if you must, but glass will hold its form.
We know this, yet the myth persists.
Something about glass being liquid appeals
to our notion that everything is mutable.

A change of heart perhaps—the forming and melting
of glaciers.  A chunk breaks off the size of Manhattan.
But is it ice or glass—this thing we call heart.
Not the pump, but whatever that loves—
or hates.  Glass cracks, shatters, is splattered
with mud and bugs, but it does not melt.


First published in Enigmatist


Soffit is a builder’s word, a carpenter’s word—
like fascia and header and stud.  Top plate
and joist.  Soffit though has a mantra quality.
Whisper it over and over as you slip into deep
meditation.  soffit, soffit, soffit…

 As if to quietly call the angels to your side,
whispering low so they have to move in close
to hear.  What is it you want, they ask—nothing.
What is it you want—nothing.
Want being deceiver’s word, a labyrinth.

The soffit seals the attic, keeping out squirrels
and raccoons, though a determined creature
may find its way in.  You set out a trap.
Raccoon may be a mantra word as well,
though you hesitate to use it.

It’s raining.  You check for leaks,
an old habit.  You listen to the rain
as if the patterns were code one deciphers,
rain being a sacred gift—like air.
What is it you want—nothing.

You are dry and warm inside your house.
Puddles form on the driveway.

From an Upstairs Window


Each to Each

The center of the world is here—he pins the spot
in a straw grass field—declares it for queen
and country, will gladly shed what is required,
blood if asked, sweat and grind—the air smelling
of saw dust.  He grips the handle of a tool—
shovel, hoe, sword, spear—the real of it is lost
in the glaze.
I find you in an empty room— you look up
from your book, not all that pleased to see me.
He drives to a desert mountain town to drink tequila
with an old war buddy.  They sink into the pine wood
floor while the bartender pours another shot.  Shares
an old tale without speaking.  He leaves and makes
his way down an alley in the darkness, his feet dancing
on the edge of the solar system.
Finds the old house, abandoned now—a shattered
window.  Shimmies the door lock and enters—
the rooms bare.  Moonlight.
You look up from your book.
                        From an Upstairs Window

I Shall Pick the Flowers Myself

September, and I am already pushing spring
in my mind, though winter is pleasant enough—
no mosquitos.  Late August showers, spindly rain
lilies—don’t remember seeing them before—
showing themselves for a few days.

I saw you working your garden, bent over a row
of beans—driving by last week, last month
it may have been—wishing I could paint
the impression, but am more than a hundred
years too late.

Too late to celebrate the feelings one once had,
Virginia says, before the light of shell fire
revealed the world—puffed and stuffed
with straw—still I saw you working your garden,
wanted to paint you there—

Mixing colors on a palette, white cotton trousers—
as in wearing them cuffed—greens and browns
wildflowers on the side of the road, lazy susans
and daisies—brushed yellows.  Summer gives
way to September—then October.

Pumpkins and cranberries, whipped cream
and whiskey in your coffee, a twinge of regret—


From an Upstairs Window

Fault Lines

I live on the edge of black gumbo farm land
to the east and fractured limestone mesas
that defined west for me.  From the dam,
I see both vistas.  One stretches toward the gulf
with red snapper, shrimp, and words like bayou.
The other seems like another planet—I expect
to see a different sun, maybe a second moon.

Before the dam, on a back road now under
the deep blue green waters of a lake, I kissed
a girl one sparkling afternoon after bathing
in the river.  We lay in the grass and laughed.
How simple and easy—the music on the car radio
as we drove back to town.  It must have been

Kennedy and Diem were months dead—the FBI
fumbling to decipher The Kingsmen—every night at ten
what were the words—all kinds of ways
We stop for hamburgers and fries.  We lie to each
other, knowing but somehow still believing
the possibility of a different world, of an extra moon.
The god damn moon.

I look east and south and wonder how long
it would take to float the river to its mouth.


First published in Boston Literary Magazine