Poems

Here are a few samples of my published work.

Three poems in the Summer 2016 issue of Illya’s Honey.

“Letter to a Fugitive” was selected for publication in Blue Hole, the anthology of the Georgetown Poetry Festival (2015). It has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Letter to a Fugitive

Today, I saw your face, or only just the edge of it, really—
peeking out from behind a bookcase, then scurrying
to shadow. From between the stacks I hear
your voice, quicksilver with ideas, impossible
to contain as they spill from the broken glass
bulb. But you keep hiding.

Fear is the engine that spurs you on,
a rubber band twisting and twisting,
and you a balsa wood plane,
about to take flight.

Come out, I want to say, come out
and sit with me an hour. Show me the face
I long to remember.


 

“Harvest” was published in the 2016 Texas Poetry Calendar (Dos Gatos Press), and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Harvest

Our hands open, bare
branches in supplication.
Our feet, creatures
scurrying.
Month by month
green dreaming of seedpods,
the sagging weight of fruit.
Seed case wooden as heel stack
or plank, a habit of petals.

Seed husks clamor
over cluttered clay, recall
shells so dearly spent. We want
and wanted them; they hush
themselves, casings crack
beneath our boots. We bend
beneath branches, feel litter
stutter our fingers, see the sagging
weight lifted. We gather shells
we will break our teeth opening,
so hungry for their fruit.


“Lament for the Unknown” was written July 11, 2015 as part of a community project to commemorate the deaths of each person killed by police during the summer of 2015, and each police office who loses their life in the course of duty. See lamentforthedead.org .

The story that informs the poem comes from the Los Angeles Times: www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-man-wounded-lapd-dies-20150710-story.html

Lament for the Unknown

Whose limbs have grown quiet
as cordwood, whose voice
replaced by dirge
and the scraping of spades?

I saw a man hating
reflections in windows.
I saw a man entranced
with shimmering shards.

The skater’s sentences
were shattered storefronts,
the dictions of drugs
and diagnosis.

The officers’ commands
for obedience were ignored.
I heard the languages of fear
and enforcement.

Then the skater fired the Taser,
grabbed from the hand
that had fired the Taser,
natural as Newton’s Third Law.

The officer’s gun spoke
its terrible reply.
In the street fight roil,
could there have been
a different ending?


The title poem from  Burning Number Five: Power Plant Poems first appeared in San Pedro River Review (Volume 6 No. 1, Spring 2014).

Burning Number Five

At seventeen degrees, the oil will spill
as slow as cold molasses. Both back tanks
gauge out at eighteen feet. We climb to fill
the donkey boiler, boots on wobbling planks,
then trudge out to the pump house. Down its stairs
stinks thick, black oil, trapped in symmetric sumps.
We bang valves into place, and back upstairs
purge steam lines free of water. Start the pumps.

Inside the furnace, one by one, we slide
each slender metal gun and latch its port.
Two turns of steam, then oil; ignitor’s flare.
We peer through cobalt at the brilliant light.
We’ll need asbestos gloves to take them out.
My breath blows white into the brittle air.


The Evening His Master Died first appeared in Di-Verse-City 2014, the anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival, where it took 2nd Place in the Christina Sergeyevna Awards.

The Evening His Master Died

An erasure on Edward P. Jones’ “The Known World”

Moses, finally freed,
ancient, brittle, closed his eyes,
bent down and took a pinch of soil
and ate it, leaned back,
the strip of sun dark blue
then nothing. He ate it
for some incomprehensible need,
ate it to discover the only thing
that meant almost as much as his own life.

Moses smelled the coming of rain.
He was alone, he stood
and turned away.
He could see the smoke rising
from the world, he could hear
the last bird.
He went to the farthest edge
of the cornfields, he undressed
down to his nakedness and lay down.

He was an old man.
Rheumatism chained up his body.
He lost himself completely and fell asleep
and didn’t come to until morning.
All about his body was mud and leaves
and debris. He had been seized
by a dance, a hard story.
He had been someone’s slave.


Punishment Fit For a Queen first appeared in The Fairest Of Them All: An Anthology of Very Short Stories, Essays, and Poems Inspired by Snow White (Daniel & Daniel, 2003). Each of the pieces in this anthology is exactly 99 words long.

Punishment Fit for a Queen

What punishment befits a vain and
wicked queen, cunning and cruel?

She sent her huntsman to bring
Snow White’s lungs and liver.

“It is done, My Queen,” he said,
and she supped, grinning.

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall,
who’s the fairest of them all?

‘Twas still Snow White. The irate queen,
disguised, then poisoned her.

Inside her glass casket, she didn’t rot;
was by happenstance revived

To marry a prince,
who asked the queen to their wedding.

The prince’s workmen fashioned iron shoes,
and heated them cherry red,

Made the queen wear them,
and dance ‘til she was dead

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