Lessons from the black death

This breath
Is for always

This heart, too
Never ticks down
Like an unwinding watch

Until it does
Because everything stops


Immortality the lie
We whisper to ourselves
The moment before sleep
Posted in New Free Verse | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Why is it

to inspire
my poetry

someone is either a lover
or dead?

Thank the universe
I have no dead lovers.


Posted in New Free Verse | 13 Comments

murder hornets gotta eat & other fallacies

the world is flat
but round, a blue pizza
or green naan

if I fall

or you fall

from the edge,

as this planet has fallen
from full globe
to a communion wafer

would we meet
dragons? Or giants?
Or sleeping murder hornets,
all of them hungry?

how is this less ridiculous
than what’s real, this bright dot
suspended within nothing,
stable only through thin gravity

so lonely,
so easily broken

no wonder we imagined gods
to love it

Posted in New Free Verse | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

My dead (recast, for Jeffrey)

My poem, My Dead, needs another stanza. So, baby brother, you are now a new, very sharp stone in my pocket too. Thanks for walking with me.

I call them my dead,
not that they don’t still
belong to themselves
or to the universe now,
but they are mine
because when they lived
we walked together

& now I carry memories
from each of them
like small stones in my pocket
worn smooth by my fingers:

This stone is my father,
who died when I was on the cusp
of knowing him better.
Our eyes are identical;
neither brown nor green,
but happy shifting between the 2 colors.

This is my grandmother,
who taught  me herb-lore
& when to plant things
& how to write
an S.

This stone is hard
& still sharp on the edges,
and is my sister
who died too young:
we should still be arguing
& raising children together.

This stone,
deepest in my pocket
& warmed by body heat
represents my mother,
who we lost long before
her heart stopped beating,
& who I remember most
because at the end
I was her memory.

This stone,
newly cut
hard & bright as fresh loss
is my brother’s.
I have no words for him yet
beyond deep mourning–
murmuring his name under my breath
like a mantra
that brings no peace.

These are my dead
& I remember them
with joy, with tears;
with peace,
& with some anger.

If I could,
I would gather their bones
in 1 place
& pour wine
over the earth
that holds them;

not in worship
or fear, simply
in a gesture
of thanks-giving.

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this thing I need
where sad packs deep 
but neatly in its place
under a shiny brown shell

the way an acorn hides 
the potential of a tree
inside of it--a pain
200 years old, living, still growing 
and sometimes bitter
Posted in New Free Verse | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Pretty things

Across the street
From the cemetery
Is the house

We grew up in, its yard
Confettied with yellow leaves
We'd rake in piles to dive into
Scattering them again

Today, my loss
Is tied with a bright bow
Like a fruit basket
With perfect apples
Too sour to eat

Spiced pink carnations
Tickling the back of my nose

Flowers always made him sneeze

See?  That's progress.
Thinking of him 
Made my lips twitch up
In something very similar
To a smile.
Posted in New Free Verse | Tagged | 3 Comments

Everyday losses

My mouth is dry
from holding your name inside it
like a mantra
that brings no peace.

My heart too steady 
for what I carry
& my lungs
don't want the air 
they're given

They want last week's air
when I returned you call 
but didn't want to
having better things to do
than hear a voice

I would give anything to hear again.
Posted in free verse poetry | Tagged , , | 7 Comments