Category
Poem

Roll Call

Society requires us, on a normal day,
to flux between several roles:

driver maid cook
model influencer
reporter journalist publisher and pundit
a comedian and artist reader writer
parent spouse sibling child
historian therapist banker
grocery clerk epidemiologist
archivist teacher student activist thinker
worker doer fixer…

I’m just touching the iceberg’s tip–
grateful for this one space
where we can be almost anything.

Category
Poem

Eclipse

Bound fast in love 
parted by ordered heaven
to keep apart two lover’s hearts,
 is another’s undertaking. 

True love iseternal. 
Infinite. 
And always.
A fire in you that can not die. 

The Sun is he. 
A strong man 
who captures hope in strings of starlight 
and smiles ever so gently. 
The moon is she 
a fair woman 
who dances with the stars carelessly, breathlessly. 

On the darkest days
with fading rays, 
she beams in his sight, but dies. 
 May the heart contain that little spark of love’s fire. 

We always long for the forbidden things,
 and desire what is denied to us.
 But love knows no barriers. 
No walls.
 No mould. 

And maybe it was meant to be.
 The moment their eyes met it was war.

 A fleeting moment when 
colors erupt into the atmosphere. 
The absolute lightest darkness. 
Like two falling stars, 
an explosion. 

As they kiss
 the world stares in awe 
of their eclipse. 

The moon is she. 
She beams in his sight, but dies. 
The blot of night’s ink from times passed has been removed. 
The light of which may contain the secret of the truth.

 The star crossed lovers are not always star crossed because of the fault in their stars, 
Mostly, 
it’s the fault in society. 

Category
Poem

johnny at the bonfire

before the pastor ran off with the new blonde congregant
before his wife tried to see him through his ensuing
nervous breakdown
before Michael was dead from a drug overdose and before
we all moved away from the backroads
i threw my johnny cash cd case in the fire during youth group

we were burning away the things of this world
cleansing our hearts and minds, amen,
to make ourselves as pure as gold
i knew johnny would understand
but i took the CD out first and hid it in my bible
i knew the good lord would understand too

Category
Poem

ping pong

sun yellow walls
more sad than
Happy
Pharrell Williams quick tempo
clashing with the rhythm of the bouncing ball
back and forth
across the net
held by duct tape
the scent of dog piss
and cigarette smoke
still lingers in the carpet
we picked up from the trash bin
down the road

the orange ball slams into
Peter Rabbit’s face
and the gold frame topples
revealing
electrical wires beneath
we hide our mess
in this house

this room lives in extreme
temperatures
unattached
broken off from the home
a heater or AC unit
is all that stands in the way of too
much
he yells “shit”
as he misses for the umpteenth time
we giggle
like the children
we used to be.

Category
Poem

Solitary Confinement Ain’t So Bad (aka Some Guys Have All of the Luck)

He used to laugh

about the time he spent locked up

alone

all alone

and he really did mean

alone.

 

Solitary

is what they called it

but what he called it was

cushy.

“I mean it’s cushy by comparison”

was exactly the phrase he used.

 

If you asked him straight up

“Cushy compared with what?”

it’d make him laugh.

Sometimes he’d laugh and just let it go,

and sometimes he’d tell you the story.

 

See,

they feared him, I guess,

thought he’d jeopardize

their mission.

I mean he’d already publicly declared it

bunkum

and he’d called it a flat out lie to boot.

Hell, he even sent himself AWOL to say so louder

and then, they said, had –

and this is the actual phrase that they used –

“he had the audacity” –

yep, that’s what they said –

“to try to return on his own”

just so he could keep on talking.

 

And that’s when they sent him to solitary

in the best way they knew how.

See,

he was in the Army

on a Naval base

and the Army didn’t have a brig there.

Turned out

the Navy didn’t want him in their brig

because guys in the Navy,

except for the SEALs,

tend to be pretty damn liberal

and this was a time

in the war

and the world

when he might make his brig-mates his converts.

 

So the brig-less Army

emptied a whole wing of a barracks

and locked him in there alone.

And that’s where he got the word “cushy”.

I mean, he was on the top floor

with a view of the water

and all of his meals

were delivered.

Granted,

they confiscated the book he was reading

in case

The Letters of James Agee to Father Flye

turned out to be seditious.

But other than that they left him alone

“And it doesn’t get,” he liked to say,

“a whole lot more cushy than that.”

But then, in a weird way, it did.

 

See,

even when you’re in solitary

you still have to do forced labor

and the job they gave him was dandy.

He never knew why

but twice a week

all of the base’s dirty sheets

were hauled across 92,848 feet

of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

to wherever they did the laundry.

 

His job,

his solitary forced labor,

was to lie spread-eagle

across the tarp

that covered the laundry

to keep it from blowing away.

So

other guys who weren’t being punished

would load up the truck

and then spread the tarp

and he’d climb up and lie down.

The view was great –

sometimes

endless miles of sky and surf

and sometimes

just closeup tile and electric lights

maybe five feet overhead.

The breeze was cool on the days with no rain

and the only hard part

was at the northern end

where he’d climb down and sit under a tree

while other unpunished guys

did the unloading and loading.

 

“Like I said,” he’d say, “it was cushy,

provided, of course,

you learned not to mind

the weapons the MPs pointed at you

to keep you from running away.”

 

Category
Poem

It Wouldn’t Go Down

The cabinet in the kitchen is where I keep various pills
 
Heartache Relief says one.
 
I opened the lid, shook one out, put it to my lips, onto my tongue, but it wouldn’t go down,
it wouldn’t go down.  I take another, and another, drink water, glass after glass,  but they wouldn’t go down. The bottle falls out, the label so clearly marked Headache Relief.
Praise God, I spit them out.
Category
Poem

Captivated

And with it
the storm brings
hints of watermelon,
glimpses of cracked garage-door afternoons
daydreaming below cumulonimbus sheets,
of crackling voices 
carried through tinny speakers,
the pounding of rain
against gutters
against blacktop
against well-worn umbrellas
that never quite manage
to keep our feet dry,
peals of thunder 
that rattle every glass
we’ve ever purchased,
and for a perfectly preserved moment
in this sawdust-coated reverie
all the world’s a symphony.

Category
Poem

June

You smell like childhood wrapped in my arms
sunscreen summers with faded beer breath
and remnants of chlorine
still stinging tired eyes

The men in my life have a way of fading
like the days marked by sun kissed skin
And I’ve exhausted myself on half drank coffees,
iced bits left melting in the car

But this heat wave is different and it’s high tide
when your breath turns into mine and time travel has become
something more real than murmured words
and lost messages found hiding in the past 

Category
Poem

In the Rain

Our last morning there 
among the red rocks and soil, 
we made a final stop 
at Crescent Moon State Park. 
We sat in the car, we four, 
waiting for the rain to pass. 
Finally, one of my aunts
tied a grocery bag over her head
and stepped into the fading drizzle. 

The fog hung picture perfect over the rocks overhead
as we made our way down the path,
deserted other than us, 
everyone else chased away by the rain. 
Feeling our time grow short, 
we hurried toward the gush of water
I could hear in the distance. 

One by one, they appeared along the trail;
smooth stones stacked in piles, 
some pyramid-shaped, some inverted. 
I wondered who would take the time
to find such perfect rocks and balance them so.

Then we came upon our destination,
Buddha Beach,
where you could barely walk, 
the stacks of stones
so thick on the ground. 

Standing there, the rain speckling my glasses, 
I could understand wanting
to be a part, make a mark, 
create such aching beauty. 

And I smiled. 

Category
Poem

You Call It Picking

You call it picking. 

Like twisting 
in both directions 

the not-quite-ripe apple 
that refuses to be torn 

from the tree. 
Stem so stubborn 

I can’t help but ask 
are you sure everything’s okay? 

It’s just that your feet 
weigh heavier when you

come home. You didn’t
take out the trash when I asked. 

You told me to watch 
my romantic comedy alone.

And I think you’d rather 
do yoga at night with 

the woman on YouTube 
than me. It just seems like 

we’re not okay, but 
I so badly want 

to believe in 
a honey crisp love. 

Love, I know you want me 
to stop picking but the days 

are getting shorter so before 
you fall beneath someone

else’s feet, maybe I’ll ask
just one more time—

Are you sure?