Revenant

The wind was strong enough. The stars were right.
Pine needles whisk angrily in the night,
Brushing and raking together.
A carriage passes in the darkness,
A madcap casket on wheels rocking.
The old inn, an island solitary in the yawning black,
Marked by a broken sign slapping against its post.
Two thin dogs awaken inside with a start
Near a chipped hearth filled with smoldering cinders.
Beneath the roughhewn planks, a shoulder
Presses up from under the cellar.
Sherry and cider loosed from upturned barrels
Swirl together on the stone floor, dripping down
Onto the figure pulling itself from the pit.
It shambles, moist and unsteady, like some
Cosmic toddler, seven or eight steps to the stair.
The dogs bark weakly, then whine and retreat.
They wet themselves, one against the other, as
Something which was forgotten passes to the larder,
Then the parlor, come to reckon with civilization,
Bearing greenflame eyes.

Originally written 9/26/21

Published in: on September 27, 2021 at 2:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Guest Spotlight: My 6yo Son’s First Poem

There is much.
There is much.
A bowl filled with rain.
Death is a mansion.

Published in: on September 27, 2021 at 2:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Milk Art

I lay there in the dark, staring like a peeled banana on the counter,
The fruit flies of REMless sleep floating idly above me
In the uncaring moonlight.

Illness wracks my child, robbing him senseless of sleep
And in turn shackling me to open-eyed malaise,
A bedfellow I had no desire to entertain.

Motrin and whole milk.
Whole milk and Motrin.
A half-effective balm in the artificial glowing of the thrumming nighlight.

The hangover haze of almost-nodding off
Presses around my temples and down around my gut,
Staring up at nothing, hoping to succomb,
Shot bolt-action, half-cocked back to attention
As another round of crying blares from the monitor.

He’s too young to understand pain. My wife laments
Our shared fugue state, feebly pressing the flat of her foot
To my thigh, hefted half-out from under the sheet
As our room spins both too hot and too cold.

4:25 AM and my eyes shutter closed.

Lights gleam in the studio where she works.
Her hands their own masters, manipulating tacky clay.
A new expression: shredded cheddar pressed into the urn,
Then glazed, fired, and polished.
She will win awards for this.
Dairy suspended in time on the face of it,
Filled with Motrin and whole milk and set on display.

I lay quietly insane with the fading of the wee hours.

Originally written 9/19/21

Published in: on September 27, 2021 at 1:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Just Another Pipe Dream

Langley was only ever in it for the money,
The dream of the aeronaut made for sale.

Lonely dunes and tall grasses don’t make
For a gilded portrait of vogue prestige.

Call in the grants, the thousands of francs.
Put them up in New York and Philadelphia.

Well-funded nonsense is still a sham stunt,
And no overseas support can buy novelty.

They flew–glided, really, if that–under sun,
Beset by bad winds and worse oysters.

A monolith stands today, entry fee modest.
You can see where they did it. Imagine.

The barons and brokers didn’t believe it,
But two guys from Dayton pulled it off.

We take the lot of it for granted, of course.
A bag of nuts, a can of tomato juice.

Ironically, you can’t fly to the dunes now.
The men are long dead. The model retired.

A quiet legacy, set back behind a highway,
Surrounded by fat vacationers and mini-golf.

Written 8/22/21

Published in: on August 22, 2021 at 7:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Love to Watch Her Go

That ass swayed… full, smooth, proportioned.
The clop-clapping sound beating a hot rhythm,
Coy, without apology, beneath the dappled light.

Up, down, up, down, the subtle movement shifting.
I could watch all day, following with hungry eyes.
Amazed, really, that such a thing exists in nature.

Hazy daydreams, teasing around the edge of view,
Leering after that ass in motion. Perfect. Supple.
Has anyone enjoyed this as much as I do now?

Paint me a picture, hold a thick brush to capture it.
You can almost see where the valley runs, deep,
Deep between that firm, subtle curvature.

Think of the legacy here. How many have spied it?
How many years spent following after that ass,
Rising and falling like the swell of a hot ocean?

A timeless subject, puzzled over across all years.
Put me up in the marble room, in Rockefeller’s vault,
Built, as it were, on the power of that trafficked ass.

We all know the stories, the passioniate accounts.
The erection of monuments, hard as stone… yes
We know what it’s like to feast our unblinking eyes.

The wealth of nations, the filthy desire of men’s gain.
Every generation rolling over and again to see it.
Nothing new, but delicious. An enormous load spent.

I could reach out (as one must) with a fast smack.
Just one touch, just one is all I need. An hour, tops.
Think of it, put yourself behind it, you’re almost there.

A shudder, a trembling, all but braying. Stepped on,
Hauling, leaning in, putting in the time to work it.
You could get lost on that long, sweaty road.

Any so many men have done it. They got in there.
One switch against that ass with a cat-call whistle,
As it hauled by rope the canal barge to Cleveland.

Written 8/22/21




Published in: on August 22, 2021 at 7:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ten Years and Three Weeks

With a wet thwack, the axehead buries itself into the maple.
The blade, slick with the clear, semi-sweet blood of the tree,
Offers a wan glimmer in the morning sunlight through boughs.
The self-enclosed biome will keep flourishing satisfactorily,
Now that this old, rotting trunk is hefted down and cordoned off.

It was more than ten years ago, now, when time spent with
Vespas and the lamentable, insular insistence on principle
Drove me to clip the string between tin cans while along the coast,
Buried alternatively in an abstract on wasps in pear cores
And the refraction point of aromatic coals and hospital corners.

There were dozens of letters. Some mine. Some hers.
All of them were postponed. Not all of them intentionally so.
That period of my life was so easily hemmed in by personal rules.
This tree is a bit too broad, and these limbs are rather reaching.
Another thwack, and three dozen letters sit unread for a month.

It was for the effect, you must understand. The effect of gravitas.
One cannot appreciate the je ne sais quoi of lived experience–
That sort of experience which really, truly, defines a person–
If they receive it as an axe in hand, still coddled up tightly behind
The leather cuff, snapped and safe without evidence of use.

But it was more than ten years ago, and more than three weeks
When the letters presented themselves to me anxiously and
No longer laid in a quiet pile, reticent and patiently waiting.
The understory crowded, I sweated, looking for the laupers or axe,
But they do no good to open letters delicately sealed by lips.

Moreso, it was not only the stack of ordered, sweet-smelling papers,
But the bearer, herself. No service, a lack of bars in a row, a dead tone–
That’s what I knew for those weeks, ten or more years back again.
But that stack of letters, each filled with a day’s pensive thoughts
And the dutiful affectation of medium, were held out by real hands.

Pachysandra is two-edged as a sharpened trowel, wild and ruled.
You can bite into the soil with a weed whip, smacking up clods,
Just as you can make a wide berth respecting the natural growth.
So I opened those letters despite my protestation, and grew up,
Just as the maple grows best with a light hand and no pretext.

Written 8/16/21

Published in: on August 22, 2021 at 6:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wasem

Right from Pitman and Willis is Judd Road, yawning toward the horizon
In a path ongoing and laid with gravel in the rough approximation of
A straight line.


After the boys were stowed in the car seats, already sleepy despite their
Fidgeting, we lolled in fatigued Saturday-afternoon traffic onto Judd,
The farm in sight.


The sky was a shade of drowsy gray, and we all stretched absently as
The toilet-seat turquoise warehouse lurched into view across the street,
Kids dodging our vans.


Old women in CPOs sipping cider and eyeing gallon jugs of popping corn
Passively grabbed onto the hoods of wandering children, while young moms
Fretted over loose shoelaces.


I walked around the perimeter, away from the crowds, taking note of the lazy
Exhaust fans (only one actually spinning) which made the old building smack
Of some post-apocalyptic watering hole.


It seemed fitting to me: an older man in a worn Michigan sweatshirt, head
Laid down on a dirty table next to a shotgun and a glass of murky water, two
Cats playing useless games in the shaded corner.


I saw a rumpled cardboard map displaying today’s available products:
Ida Red (crossed out), Jonagold (crossed out), Gold Delicious (crossed out),
And a distant set of two flagging lines only marked as “Grannys.”


We walked a half-mile to the far-flung grove. Dad (already tuckered) and mom
(with the trick hip) opted to drive through the sodden furrows rather than join us,
Carefully balancing donuts and beige coffee cups on the center console.


This was our annual junket to Wasem–hitting the tired Autumnal gloam head-on,
Green apples, wonky gourds, and corn held like trophies in my nephews’ hands.
It was cold. We went home to eat store-bought pie and drink seven and sevens.

Originally written Summer 2016

Published in: on July 21, 2021 at 8:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

It’s Been Five Years

I’ve found it so difficult to write about her.
My mental tongue going dry at the thought
Of putting a cage around a Bird of Paradise.


Catching larger quarry is easy: standing in the
Bed of the truck, racing through the dust with
A taut catch-pole and khaki pith helmet;


Or crouching behind the breadfruit leaves,
Tempting the Ocelot to come into the clearing,
Hands ready with the net to counter its guile;


With the right conditions, I’ve jotted down the
Snares and trip-wires for much of the big game
Roaming on the savannahs of my imagination.


But her? I can only sit in my hide in the brush,
Waiting with overtaxed patience for months,
Until she walks into view, knitting, or making tea.

Originally written in Summer 2016

Published in: on July 21, 2021 at 8:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Two Birds with Three Beers

Forty degrees at the end of August,
Labor Day came with a pop of heat
For which my corduroy and denim
Were tremendously unprepared.


Perhaps it was my sweaty legs that
Prompted him to offer me his hazy
Hefeweizen, swirling with redoubled
Bavarian vigor in my checkered glass.


With Germany on our minds, we turned
Our attention to the verdant balustrade
In the backyard, towering over the kale,
Heirlooms, and overshadowed tomatillos.


He was afraid it was an eyesore, and
While I did not agree, I humored his
Worries by assessing the twenty-odd
Feet of green flowers lazing in the sun.


They were already impressive to see
From our distance, but closer inspection
Revealed pregnant phalanges of dusty
Cones, dank with grapefruit and pine.


We didn’t set out to raise our hands against
The elegant bastion of Cascade that
Afternoon, but only a second beer was
Necessary to confirm the day’s agenda.


Quick twists of a wrench undermined the
Towers, and golden lupulin streamed down
Like the embers of a burning fortress.
We ripped the haughty structure to pieces.


Delicately undressing the vines, we heaped
Broad bins with sticky, fragrant sandpaper.
We dismantled the last of the vertical farm,
Resinous oils still clinging to our hands.


We held fistfulls of crisp, spongey petals lifted
To the sun, smelling of arcane mangoes plucked
From a tropical rift on the shores of Lake Erie.
We nodded, and opened another bottle.

Originally written in Summer 2014

Published in: on July 21, 2021 at 8:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Din

The muffled drone of a highway hangs
Just within earshot of every bucolic setting.
Chickadees sing "spring soon" even after it has come
While a rumbling eighteen-wheeler groans and backfires.
It is this way even when no road is nearby
Or if no pleasant pastoral haven hides the ear.

The gyre of our thoughts churns slowly
Like Charbydis spinning suction against our stern.
Or rapidly, sparking clacks of static on dentrites
As the rabble of our oft-ignored thinking clambers,
Demanding unionization, benefits, and respect
As we only wish to retreat for a moment's silence.

Children finally down for the night. The kettle stirs.
Eyes close for a spell of solitude and inward quiet.
The car battery is low. The laundry is unfolded.
A movement on the monitor shows all is not calm.
The whine of steam raps on the door for tea.
Even focused on focus itself, the highway roars.

Originally written 3.27.21

Published in: on March 31, 2021 at 2:17 pm  Leave a Comment