Thursday, March 26, 2009


Parading precisely the ivory shines
spiraling coils and laid out in lines
deftly designed and exactly dispersed;
everyone itches to tap on the first

First you make your way alone
then you make a friend
you make a date for Friday
you make love all weekend.

First you love the candle light
then you love the waking
then you love the offering
then you love the taking.

With barely a breath, no more than a graze
the clatter begins and a roar starts to raise
tipping and falling and speeding past stopping;
everyone loves to hear dominoes dropping

First you take some photographs
then you take the cake
then you take for granted
then you take a break.

First you break some promises
then you break a heart
then you break some dishes
and then you break apart.

Like running the wheels off a Radio Flyer
fast and as far as a telephone wire
strung up on poles, heading right out of town;
everyone leaves when they’ve all fallen down

Thursday, March 19, 2009


In dew-strung webs the fall begins
in cardamom
cicada skins
in curling wisps
of apple air
deposing summer

let loose that fistful of balloons
to finger paint
strange afternoons
through distant color
hungry skies
in foreign wonder
hungry eyes

A certain sad September
I prefer to not
a letter came
(week to the day)
still can’t open
(but I may)

every diamond left uncut
keeps its hallowed
secrets but
given over
for the grinding
casts a brilliance
worth the finding

So let this glacial winter pass;
nothing dies
the summer grass
binds her roots
beneath the snow -
just give her spring
and watch her grow

Thursday, March 12, 2009


stone cold
on the ledge of a life

creased wings
empty eyes

a trace
of bright perfume
in an empty

an inflection
in a laugh
on a train
or someone
behind a door
off an alley
Charles Mingus

dark tresses tumbling down a bare shoulder
deserted payphone ringing merrily in the rain
La bohème rising wistfully
from a ragpicker
in a dumpster

a waitress drops a glass
a girl opens a button
a ten-dollar radio
spills Hank Williams
into black coffee

around the next
or one street
or just outside
and above
any window

i am gazing

creased wings
empty eyes


i got tagged by the moan man to come up with a list of 25 writers who i think have most influenced me. this is tricky– it’s a fine line between admiration and influence sometimes, and i usually only become acutely aware of a writer’s influence when what i’m writing starts to feel like a lame imitation of someone i really respect. that said, here’s a list, in no particular order, of my influential writers, with “influential writers” loosely defined as “those whose works consistently inspire/challenge/entertain/move me, whose works remind me how common words can be assembled into brilliant works of art, whose works i never get tired of.”

1. Ernest Hemmingway
2. e.e. cummings
3. James Baldwin
4. Edgar Allan Poe
5. William Blake
6. Bob Dylan
7. Shel Silverstein
8. Shane MacGowan
9. Walt Whitman
10. Sean “Slug” Daley
11. Gabriel García Márquez
12. Lawrence Ferlinghetti
13. Charles Bukowski
14. Arthur Miller
15. Lead Belly
16. Khalil Gibran
17. Christina Rossetti
18. Dalton Trumbo
19. Maya Angelou
20. O. Henry
21. Tom Waits
22. Gary Soto
23. Kenzaburo Oe
24. Paul of Tarsus

number 25 is blank because i’m sure i missed someone, and it’s probably more obvious to you than to me – so, let me ask you – who do you think influences my writing? please know i am genuinely interested, impossible to offend, and do, in fact, want to hear your opinion.

and (you know – tags - s'posed to have 3) i’d like to see such a list compiled by:

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder
K. Lawson Gilbert
Scott Ennis

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jesus, Larry

Jesus Jones and Larry Lee
lit out one night
from Kankakee
ridin’ hard and
ridin’ fast
like a gunshot
from their past

Larry drove while Jesus wept
and Jesus paced
while Larry slept
on the lam and
second guessin’
smokin’ like
that Smith & Wesson

Jesus Jones and Larry Lee
got tattooed
in Kissimmee;
Jesus with
the dry Euphrates
Larry with
some naked ladies

Larry took his bourbon straight
his bacon crisp
his chance with fate;
Jesus took
his bread with trout
the laundry in
the garbage out

Jesus Jones and Larry Lee
met her outside
table dancin’
at some bar
sniffin’ crystal
in her car

Larry made a couple deals
kept ‘em higher
than her heels
but that all went
to hell one day
and Jesus washed
the blood away

Jesus Jones and Larry Lee
laid low in
silent as
a hangman’s guilt
or bones beneath
the harbor silt

Larry’d had a couple larks
a while back
a guy in Sparks;
Jesus drew
the motel shade,
signed the bible
for the maid

Jesus Jones and Larry Lee
rode until they
hit Shawnee;
Larry felt
a load was liftin’
Jesus felt
his sway was shiftin’

Larry lost his Shovelhead
with a bet
on seven red;
Jesus won
the Harley back
with a run of
bets on black

Jesus Jones and Larry Lee
split up near
a coffee shop
a black and white
a parking lot
a firefight

That ended quick as it began -
Jesus knelt
and Larry ran -
Larry caught two
in the chest
(Jesus rose
and headed west)

[if you voted last week - thank you!]