Posts for June 30, 2021


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


all alone

and he really did mean




is what they called it

but what he called it was


“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.



they feared him, I guess,

thought he’d jeopardize

their mission.

I mean he’d already publicly declared it


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.


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.


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.



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.


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 –


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.”



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.



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.



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 


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. 


i’m getting better (i think)

downtown shops
i spent too much money
but that seems to be great
not because it wasn’t wasted
or that the world seems to be normal
or even that i had fun
i bought clothes for myself
i used to hate doing that
trying on dresses, skirts, shirts
only to find that they never fit
the feeling was hopeless
so it seems to be a glimmer of hope
that maybe i’ll be better
no, i will be better


blue house

The first thing we found when we moved in:
a tiny plastic bone from
the game Operation
From then I think we couldn’t help
but leave traces of us, too

A hair in the gap between
the countertop and oven
A sprinkle of ground breakfast blend
beneath the microwave
A pyramid of used toilet paper rolls in
the corner of the bathroom
because the recycling bin is
all the way in the kitchen

There are pieces of us on these surfaces
on these floors
in the creases where the walls meet
We leave more
in the spaces between


I Resent the Person Who Said No Decision Is Still a Decision Because They Were Right

I’m waiting where the road meets the sun
We didn’t agree to meet there
But that’s the place all the songs that played your name sang about 

It wasn’t always an easy time
But then, there were stretches I forgot I was waiting at all
I grew up, ticked boxes off my list
And got used to it because I had to

Maybe there was room for someone else 
But I’m the girl who doesn’t know shit about love
and there is no lesson, there are no teachers here
I eat the heart out of homemade dinners
and float on my back, a queen
who will waste it all by just sitting there

But if I’m right
I’ll meet you here
and we’ll take that walk 
where the road meets the sun


I have been wanting to tell you

The crazy Rose of Sharon finally died.
It kept leaning to the East and got too tall to trim,
the last spray of flowers, purple and white mixed, were way at the top.
I think you would have told me it was a nuisance shrub
and to get rid of it, or at least make it behave.  

I noticed recently that it was truly bare- 
We started to cut it down a few times before,
but it was so brave to just keep growing and blooming
in its crooked, exuberant way-that we left it alone.  

We didn’t know this past Spring would be its last,
it leafed out as usual but is now kaput, as Pops would say.
It has dozens of offspring, even a few across the road-
we have potted them up and given them away,
but they just keep coming. I guess it isn’t really gone.


Tonight at the Open Mic

The post-COVID crowd was small,
regulars from fifteen months ago,
a random dude from Boulder, CO.

In spite of the small crowd, poets 
insisted on the f-word. Some open
mic tropes remain undefeated.

Praise to the bar tender who poured
my bourbon. Praise to the former
poet laureate who read undeterred.
Praise to the MC who encouraged
a diminished crowd. Praise to the
former host who showed up late
and read under duress. Praise poetry
and communion and old friends and
new friends and poetry months and
praise pens and pencils and paper.
Praise me and praise you and praise
and praise and praise praise praise.