Another Light Has Flickered Out

Another light has flickered out,
flashing for a moment incandescent,
then hissing to extinction without us.
Only later would the darkness find us,
falling on our tear-blinded hearts
with fangs of sorrow,
harrowing our minds with memories.

In the night we curled into one another
under covers against the cold,
raising a wall in our silence,
with incense of our pheromones
as mortar, and the living flesh
we’re clinging to as stone.
    ~ Toho Journal


The Four Horsemen ride abroad,
at home in pain,
bloated, famished,
on our suffering besotted,
their needs never sated,
splashing through our blood
heedless of all good,
skeletal, sore afflicted,
to cries and swords addicted,
slicing the horizon of outrunning time
till screams flow in a stream,
a river, a flood of anguish
and despair and blood,
hatred and greed devouring
all Earth’s handiwork
toward some coming hour
of darkness, an ocean
of heartless power,
and Death
laughing in the lead.
    ~ Tatterhood Review


I calibrate the road conditions
by the strength of Brooksy’s clutch.
He fears the sheets of ice—
his one good hand grips my forearm,
his one good leg leads
with short, quick, anxious steps.
He is unself
conscious by now,
accepting his needs along with the weather.
In his stumbling, dignified grace,
he gets by.

He always leaves a tip
rolled up inside the bills,
small, but how much does he make
as the high school stadium watchman?
He couldn’t run a vandal down,
but he knows the teenage faces.
Has he ever danced with a woman,
Benny Goodman searing
undamaged neural pathways
with passions schooled in jazz?
Has he ever hit a solid single
and then turned the double,
sliding into second laughing
through his running feat?

His cane is made of ash,
his eyes are made of pain,
his mouth is made of smiles,
with jokes about the dispatcher,
even though he’s roamed for years
the same empty stands
echoing with young people’s cheers
and the ghost of lost athleticism;
gone home each night
to the same dull street
in a taxi with Alice or me.
The full-timers won’t take him.
He takes too long.
And maybe he knows their faces.
    ~ The Journal of Undiscovered Poets, 2021

Deaf Poet Inn

An Anti-Manifesto
The wind chimes lie shattered and tangled in the mud.
Nearby, a nightingale lies mangled in her blood;
a free-verse shotgun shell rolls empty on the floor.
Outside, a shingle swings above the guarded door.
For a logo: a silhouette with earmuffs on its head.
For a motto: “Preference is given to non-rhyming poetry.”
(Now that anti-metric sentence is senseless—literally.)
We prefer poetry that’s—sound-wise—ordinary.
Remember, all ye enter here: your readers
have no bodies; they have no ears. Who cares?
Abandon their flesh; all that matters is their dread
of feeling old-fashioned. So, attend to their minds.
Ditch that nightingale and all her warbling kind—
your Keatses and Yeatses and St. Vincent Milays.
All that rhyming and timing will surely drive away
the modern subscriber, who’s muse-ic averse;
for whom a poem should be prose—no matter that it’s verse;
for whom the words the poet chooses should fall like fine turds
upon the page, brown and soundless, cooked feelings on display.
Oh, the inn is fully booked, but we might find a room.
Just pay your submission fees and do not assume
that your readers can hear what you say.
    ~ Spank the Carp, 2021 Anthology

In Darkmoon Time

In darkmoon time
the shadows eat shadows
and every thing
is thin and wailing.
    ~ Tatterhood Review

Fire in the Earth

I remember myself as fire in the earth,

as deep and seething ancient sunfire
        cooled now and closed within
        the global body crucible,
        with molten core and source
        of magnet waves that course
        through space to touch another’s
        only pull and answer;

as everstone swirling in on plasma,
as spiritmind and flesh and bone
        in ontologue chiasma;

as spirit-pulsive home-bound gyre
        toward fire in the earth.
    ~ The Earth Journal, Issue 1, 2022

He’s Tall

He’s tall,
He’s tall,  dark,
He’s tall, dark  well,
he might be handsome if
        his hair were more—
        or his mouth weren’t so—
He’s settling in
He’s settling in  one chair
He’s settling in one chair  over . . .
The guy behind the bar
lights my Fantasy Lucky.
I take a deep breath.
Smoke curls up through our reflections.
The jazz moves my elbows and
I nudge into his must
        be made of light and honey,
        so sweet his eyes . . .
                and, yes, I think I
                could just float and sink and—
How far?
How long?
Would you
        be gentle as sighs and so strong,
        be sure as time and so good,
        be suave and slow and—
        So long?
        Be kind (be mine)
        and don’t go
    ~ Maximum Tilt, 2020

Raising the Ridge Beam

We make a yoke: three two-by-fours
face-to-face, the middle one the shorter,
a post with empty lifted hands to hold the ridge.
We toenail it to the cap-plate at the far side
of the addition: I hold it steady against your blows,
then you do the same for me. We nail the braces,
check the plumb. We move the ladders,
get ready to lift the ridge-beam into place.

The two-by-ten is so true we both remark.
It singled itself out in the lumber yard
from its nest inside the newly opened stack.
You takes the gable end. We climb.
On the way up its weight surprises me—
we lurch to catch its slipping tilt.
But the moment is soon inconsequential.

The slot between the two set rafters
provides a press as full and trim
as two brothers’ lives intent on good work.
I rest the beam onto the ledger,
hammer the ready nails home.
You tap the beam into the yoke
until the rings become a thud,
the fit as flush as eyelid to eye.

Plumb, the yoke and ridge are joined.
The outboard rafters, left and right,
are nailed into place, then one by one,
the rest, though we stop for lunch.

At day’s end, the rafters all in place,
we sight the ridge again. Pleased,
amazed, even, you smile to see the line:
all these leaning forces rafting up against its grain,
the board still owns its perfect given shape,
now passing through our fashion hands
into the waiting shelter years.
    ~ Moonstone Press, May 2020
May Day: International Worker’s Day issue

Reading Edna St. Vincent Milay

I love reading Edna St. Vincent Millay,
especially the sonnets. Nothing there remains
of the innocent, the child that once at play
might have run through flowers in Maine’s
short summers—only clear-eyed truth
and all that sadness, sickness, and death.
So, why does her abandonment of youth,
of sunlight, of love’s early glory, and the breath
of life in the quiet rains of spring, now speak
to my own heart and soul? Have I, too,
so far beyond those colors and into bleak
now made my way, into grays and other hues
of living darkness, where all one should do
is raise one’s head and insist on what is true?
    ~ Gravitas, May 2020


In cooldim of greygreen a beenman
is grinseen, a newway to followfoot.
The woodsing a feeltune. The moonroots
of shoots an liveseed are wingloose
and bringhymn to yourside in loomlight
in mineseye. Tremblesure, our wesong
is heartlong, rises in treebreezes and leaves,
is strong and sowise, so . . .
    ~ Sixfold

Stalks the Forest Darkness

Yellow eyes—or were they red?—
stalk the forest darkness ‘round the camp.
They appear, blink, retire. They have not fled.
Instead, silence, the voice of stars,
hides the pad of paws, the scrape of claws,
the nature of the threat. The fire flickers.
Shadows lunge and retreat. Logs collapse,
douse flames, throw sparks into the night.
Creeps the hand of time around the face of wait.
Hours pass and cower close with the counting.
Embers dim to coals, promising the fall
of the wall of light, a breach that would draw
the seeming doom impending. But then—
the foray, the gathering, the safe return,
new logs on the bed. The blaze burns back
the dread, until the rays of golden morning
flood the wood with sound of songbirds waking.
A doe grazes, nonchalant, then saunters off.
Soon the heat dispels the damp, the flapjacks
flip, the bacon spatters, the wood smoke
sneaks into the tea. These and the laughter now
belie the fright unspoken.
    ~ Moonstone Arts Center, 25th Annual Poetry Ink 2021/em>

Starry Night

On the painting by Vincent van Gogh

The trees are aflame.
The stars are ablaze.
The moon swirls as
it dances through the night.
The Milky Way curls
in light waves breaking
on the shores of the far horizon.
The steeple, the people in their homes
alight with gold in the windows,
all peaceful nestle in the vale
beneath the night and the light
in the truth of the painter’s vision.
    ~ Helix Literary Magazine, 2021

Suddenly It Was Morning

Without any warning,
suddenly it was morning.
The sun came up just on time,
all unexpectedly. Well, not “all.”
The birds were not surprised.
So also the squirrels,
though they did not really care,
started the day all ordinarily,
heedless of the gunshots, the blare
of sirens, the hand cradled in hand
at the bedside, the long night wake,
the fears, the rage, the arguments,
the cry that tore everything apart
and named the stake in mama’s heart,
the timeless drowning sea of tears
that flooded reddened eyes
at sunrise, first of countless
empty years.
    ~ Maximum Tilt, Winter 2020

Thank You

So you,
in this little flurry of blurry life, are there.
In the wind’s surcease you offer me some beer
and for an evening before the rush begins again
you quip with me in your easy, self-reliant way,
giving me friendship. And I remember to say
thank you.
    ~ Maximum Tilt, Winter 2020

The Kiss

presses close
to the soft open face
of the lake
in the dark
in the chill
in the deep
the white nimbus
clings to lambency
longs against gravity
for the caress to last
until the moon spills
her revelation light

just so
this memory
haunts my lips
the moist imprint
the sensate moment
our mouths barely parted
hovering there – near – in
finitessimal quivers
vivid though hours
have passed – lost
in the mnemesis
of unvoiced promises
and luctance
o the kiss
a liquid fire
all elation night
    ~ Gravitas, Volume 19 Issue 2

The Silene

So you,
in this little flurry of blurry life, are there.
In the wind’s surcease you offer me some beer
and for an evening before the rush begins again
you quip with me in your easy, self-reliant way,
giving me friendship. And I remember to say
        thank you.
    ~ From Whispers to Roars, May 2020

Who Loves You Not

I sing a song for your clear gray eyes and wise ways,
for your touch and little gifts that lift the spirit,
for ears that really listen, kissing even my absurdities;
for words of ease to a father bothered by the cares
that wear so at your own motherhood; and other good traits
that time cultivates in such fine soil: toil with mirth,
its real worth valued, blending quips and labor,
and yet a saber ready for the fray against the bray of asses.
Passes quick the time when valentines are due,
and you do not fit in this little bit of poem—oh,
I’m not going to finish this thinnish ode
to all your graces. Some praises, though late,
perforce must wait till lips and eyes can meet,
then greet you strong with the truth immediate:
who loves you not is proved an idiot.
    ~ Comstock Review, Summer 2020

List of Journals, with links for purchase:

Sixfold has a unique editorial process: they crowdsource acceptance. The poet submits five poems and these are distributed to three other submitters, along with six other submissions, in three rounds. The submitter/readers then rank the three sets of six they receive. Finally, Sixfold generates a final rank mathematically based on the results and publishes those above a certain rank in the print journal. My submission ranked 14 of 315 submissions and all five poems were published in the August 2019 issue. Here are those poems:

  • A Sleepless Sense of Found.
  • Sowise.
  • You Are Leaving.
  • O My Heart.
  • Wordsmouth Harbor Founder.