Friday, December 26, 2014

Weekly Worded

       Among the Many Arms My Father Wore

I remember hiding,
though my brother had better things to do,
until my sister just quit looking,
until the house grew still
and all I could hear was my heart.
The closet held the darkness,
it surrounded me like a cloak.
In a crowd of shoes I sat untrodden,
my finger tracing the blued length
of my father’s shotgun. 
The closet played the movie of my history
on a hundred glossy photographs,
and when I placed the album back
on its high shelf I knew that I too
contained multitudes. 
I remember how his closet
embraced me until the sound
of my name grew soft, and the moon
came out from behind a cloud.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Weekly Worded

       Snow Prayer

How softly snow arrives in the night
to cover the darkness with light.
By morning the world is uniform white
and because it’s still snowing

the sun’s inevitable rising
will be anything but bright.
You see, I’ve got to get going
but visibility is poor.

I can barely open the door
with all of my might.
Oh snow, my lovely
and treacherous angel,

if nothing I say here will do,
I pray, please, at least close the school.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Weekly Worded

       Partial Eclipse

If you wait any longer
the moon will have slipped
like a shiny quarter

beneath the earth's velvet upholstery.
Try as you might to retrieve what’s lost,
there will only be popcorn husks, cookie crumbs,

a nest of shredded tissue, at least one paper clip,
a dried up ink pen and a tough little nugget
composed of either meteor fragments

or the desiccated remains of distaste.
The fullness of each moment
held tight, then tighter.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Weekly Worded

       Writing Like a Radio

I’ll hold the pen like a microphone,
lean over the poem repeating test, test, test
until I can hear my own voice
bouncing back off the paper.

Later, after I’ve rambled
about weather, time, and the usual sponsors
I’ll turn to the day’s calendar
and write a line like, “This just in…”
so what often goes unnoticed
glitters with worthiness, as if my life
was breaking news.

I’ll imagine readers calling, asking
that I use a favorite word,
that I dedicate some portion of my time
to their loneliness, and really
what can I say, I’ll try to work it in,

and maybe
if after an interview
and a few anecdotes
designed to keep the poem upbeat
and family-oriented, maybe
I’ll go to a prerecorded commercial,
lean back in my chair
and ponder for thirty seconds
what’s next before the dead air’s back
and all I can think to say is
“This one’s for you.”

Friday, November 28, 2014

Weekly Worded

        Record Breakers

Wind chill contains no predator scent.
It threatens with double negatives,
passes through walls like a ghost,
cracks glass without a sound.

It whistles a dirge,
not a melody that’s sweet,
accompanied by a rhythm
with the chatter of teeth.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Weekly Worded

        At the Pitt River Museum

Peering into the display,
my reflection floats between
the flightless lines of a last
feathered specimen behind glass.

The Dodo stares back at me,
its awkward beak and best foot
forward, all that remains of
the original shipped to Britain.

The rest is fabrication,
a depiction of what explorers
found more than 350 years ago
on Mauritius, an island 

500 miles east of Madagascar.
Unchallenged by predators,
they say, it stood three feet tall,
weighed forty fearless pounds.

On any given day the exhibit hall
bristles with visitors, cacophony
enough to shatter glass, but it's me,
not the Dodo, that flinches.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Weekly Worded

       A History of Luminosity

Sun, moon, and stars,
then coals, oils, and wicks,
tapers coated in wax, all this
before any wires hummed.

Still, the boy lies awake
in the near-dark after his mom
turns off the switch, his tiny nightlight
illuminating a 13.8 billion-year-old promise

that nothing could go wrong.
The blanket tight to his chin --
a backup plan should his brain
start glowing like a filament

after he’s plugged his thumb
into the old fetal socket.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Weekly Worded

        Election Blues

“You know what’s wrong with our political parties?”
“Not enough alcohol?”
“I mean the party system, the way citizens are vetted as voters.”
“I’m not sure, but if you’re going to tell me, I probably could use a drink.”
“Candidates are forced to align with one side or the other.”
“The other what?”
“The other party.  Pay attention.”
“Oh sure, two parties, I see.  Gotta go to one of them, probably should go to both.”
“Be serious, the integrity and future of Democracy is being unwritten by the party, not the candidate.”
“That sounds serious.”
“It is.  What a candidate believes is unintelligible and negligible.  The voter only hears the party line.”
“I hate party lines.”
“They’re the most generic, insipid, dishonest approaches to information that a voter can be exposed to.”
“I was at a party one winter and got exposure.”
“Don’t be stupid, I’m not talking about keggers.”
“Me neither.  I was talking about an art opening.”
“What does that have to do with politics?”
“One of the paintings was a flag done with ketchup, marshmallows, and eggplant.”
“Eggplant isn’t blue.”
“Yeah, I know, but it got me thinking.”

Friday, October 31, 2014

Weekly Worded

       Zombie Poets

Maybe Ovid begins this day of the
unread, reciting Latin eulogies,
his waxy white skin luminous as the
moon, followed by blind Milton bemoaning
the paradise he lost, his eye sockets
sunken, his daughter thin as the wisp of

his tattered sleeve, tangled like a serpent
at his feet.  Wordsworth grey as the ash
in his fireplace, stirred by his sister
with the tip of her walking stick.
A graveyard of stanzas stumbling,
unstoppable, iambic pentameters

like the shuffling of weary feet.  Plath
with her gas, Hart Crane stepping off a ship's
deck into unfathomable ocean.
So many poets only half-gone, poems
crawling like ivy over a grimace
of tombstones crooked as yellow teeth.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Weekly Worded


All summer I’ve hiked through groves of aspens,
listened to leaves rattle, rested in their shade.
Heat and drought shaped the trail wide
enough for one, and maybe one more
chasing a softer sun.  Now that fall
has turned the trees to cold fire,
lit by frost, the entire hill is
blaze.  If you follow me,
friend, remember
the fuel is light
and winter

Friday, October 17, 2014

Weekly Worded

        Garden Gnome

Maybe it's a fox
in his pristine flower garden,
the landlord tells me,
ripping up the turf,
digging for worms.

And I know how ludicrous
it would sound if I told him
it could as easily be me
after the traffic has fallen asleep,
at a subconscious level

where a man duped
by his REM dreams
like a child again
of claws under the bed
or closets tangled in arms

that squirm to get out
but he shakes his head,
a full-bodied self-assurance,
and repeats his earnest prayer:
It must be a fox.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Weekly Worded

        On Leaving Oxford

Before I go
let me acknowledge all the dead,
leaving the churchyards littered
with illegible stones.

May the Alzheimer's of time
mistake you for loved ones
from a century of incalculable loss.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Weekly Worded

         Oxford Botanic Compost

The soil in the rose garden is dark, rich in memory's deterioration.
Hedged with boxwood, trimmed to a linear maze, a canopy of
eucalyptus shelters its entrance.

Below the soil are bones from a Jewish graveyard, a plot of earth
given by a medieval English king so their displaced dead might be
buried. The site must contain good drainage for roses, heaps of stones
mounded by hundreds of mourners.  And flowers too.  Who doesn't
leave flowers?

The layer beneath must be Roman.  Their ruins show up like weeds
all over England, an occupational hazard.  The difference?  Their
stones are grander, and like ambition they're difficult to obliterate,
unlike the bones, or the graves, or the roses which are clenched like
fists made of petals.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Weekly Worded

       Pegasus Earthbound
As an astronomy lesson from the Iron Age, early Brits dug deep trenches along the face of a high Berkshire hill and filled them with chalk. Thick lines shining white against the soft green earth, shaping a stylized outline of an enormous horse in full racing stride.  Three-thousand years it still gallops across the turf, so long a part of the earth, so intent on lifting like a constellation into the sky. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Weekly Worded

       Higher Ground

When rain falls in the desert
the fragrance flash floods the senses,
unbraids itself like a garland
compelled to become a garden.

Rigid sandstone softens
and flows, as if stirred by the water.
The old lightning-scared piƱon
smells of black licorice,

and sage so full of sunlight
smolders yellow.
Against a ceiling of dark clouds
a kettle drum thunders.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Weekly Worded

The arrow points to where Anthony "Tony Z" Zerilli says Jimmy Hoffa was buried in Oakland 
Township, Michigan (Oakland Press, June 17, 2013). Other reports claim Hoffa was "garroted 
by Anthony 'Tony Pro' Provenzano, a notorious New York mobster" in Inkster, Mich., and fed 
into a wood chipper (Huffington Post, June 21, 2013).

   Hoffa, After Labor Day

The ground is hard,
not worth turning,
and of the mystery
the air has cleared.
We gather at the lake,
park, or every backyard
we ever mowed,
all our sorrow at the passing
of summer served up cold.
The celebration lasts
three days, but Tuesday comes
and we take our places
in a line of expectations,
the ones we formulated
for the future against those
imposed by the bosses.

“How was your weekend?”
Fine, great, stupendous,
we claim, but the truth,
like Hoffa is that the time,
it just disappeared.

*Thanks to New Verse News, 
where this first appeared.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Weekly Worded

      A Woodcutter’s Fantasy

Naturally, firewood grows on trees
but what if it fell from the trees too,
sectioned, split, and stacked itself
in readiness beside the door?

Then carried itself inside and jumped into
the fireplace, is that too much to ask? 
Wouldn’t autumn feel more like summer,
and could winter ever be so cold?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Weekly Worded

         The Landscaper’s Lament

All afternoon the deer bed down
in the willow thicket, invisible to me.

Long after I stretch out for the evening
they rise like herbivorous wraiths

snipping every bud off the rosebushes
with teeth groomed for pruning,

stripping bark from the youngest trees
until pith shines like the moon’s marrow.

If I pause at the bathroom window
silhouetted by the light, they are statues

sculpted on the lawn, or the shadows
of shadows congruous as the grass. 

In the morning I find their IOU,
a signature of hooves on soft earth. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Weekly Worded

           At the Un-Navajo National Monument

Betatakin, a Navajo word,
but in the glossary of time
it means 75 to 100 people
lived here, families
or clans, 135 rooms, most
the size of a closet, some
smaller, sealed, full of grain.
Soot thick on stone walls.
A kiva round as a jacuzzi
to soothe the ever-present
existential ache about a future. 
As caretakers the Navajo
invite us to look,
photograph, crush
the light into pixels.
365 thousand sunrises.
Wall-to-wall carpet of dust. 
A makeshift ladder 
leaning like a shadow
toward a door no larger
than a window.  A view
without an address.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Weekly Worded

      Reality Is Inside
           (In Memoriam)

It must have been quieter than usual
or noisier, depending on which
part of you was listening. 

Either way, you were alone
in that space called home, a full cast
of insecurities waiting for cues. 

On good days the commotion inside
must have sounded like applause
that turned into a furious scratching,

dozens of fingernails shredding
hundreds of scripts.  There.  Just enough
room to improvise, jokes

catching like barbs in the throat. 
So focused on what you'd say next,
we never heard how the air

from your lungs hissed
as it erased your tongue, your lips,
every part of you that we loved.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Weekly Worded


The forecasters say
there’s a chance of rain
so I sit on my porch,

watching a dark cloud
shape itself
into a promise.

It’s a long way off
and my glass
is only half full.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Weekly Worded

                  A Mooving Picture Show

Friday, July 25, 2014

Weekly Worded


Watch how the light folds into the earth
at a seam called the horizon, a bright thread
pulled taut but not broken, woven like a tapestry
between a latticework of tree limbs and the cold
stone distant mountains.  Knowing the same light
lit the morning, tugged at the sunflowers
until they turned east, steeped all afternoon
like a cup of tea, and still stitched the day
shut is what it means to believe.  Stand
with your hands on your hips and tell me
this sunset is not the reason you were born. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Weekly Worded

       Swallow Archaeology

Wet dirt from beside my irrigation pond rises
to the barn’s eaves, up where the roof peaks,
so far out of reach the swallows simply stare

down at me with a bird’s disinclination,
their yellow-tufted heads bobbing like hardhats
in a construction zone, workers plastering

fresh adobe nests to the barn’s red boards. 
How ancient the labor, older than our ancestors
coiling clay, studying this architecture of mud.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Weekly Worded

                  1981:Yei : Pauline Allen.  Chinle Area 21″x 28″
      Tour de Sheep

From the checkerboard highway
I watch two women leading four sheep,
one tethered to each hand.

They hurry along a footpath,
not talking, not even to their sheep. 
The older woman stays ahead,

the younger close behind. 
It’s a beautiful evening, a few patches
of wool with mostly clear skies.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Weekly Worded

        Short Form Taxidermy

“How much will it cost to mount this moose head?”
“It’s kinda small, it won’t cost that much.”
“What do you mean, ‘It’s kinda small?’”
“Oh, it’s nice looking and all, good rack, full lips.”
“But it’s not worth mounting?”
“I’ll mount the entire animal if you like.”
“You’ve been spoiled by big trophies.”
“A few.”
“At least mine’s respectable.”
“You could say that.”
“I did.”
“I’ll engrave it on the antlers.”
“Maybe I’ll go to another taxidermist.”
“It makes no difference to me.”
“Why not?”
“Someone will eventually tell you to stuff it.”

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Weekly Worded

         New  Mexico Monastery
            (For Brother Scribe)

He never saw the sign instructing him
to turn.  His friend warned it would be white,
barely discernible from the blossoming

Sego Lily. For twelve misdirected miles,
dust billowed behind him before he
doubled back to a steeper road, the soft

sand whispering like a prayer. 
This time he took the road anyway,
promised himself a dozen more

before giving up his god-forsaken search.
When a bell tolled from behind a curtain
of pines, he stopped to listen. Yes,

it sounded like it came from up ahead,
and when it ceased an echo remained,
as if it might be a calling.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Weekly Worded

       A Buffet of Flies

Against the north side of the house
an interstate of spider webs
stretching from Duluth to Tijuana. 
Spray the siding with a garden hose
and tiny windshields glisten, headlights
flicker like candles on a birthday cake. 
Commerce 24/7, spiders in transit
on a network of silk roads, spiders
bedded down, sleeping off the bottle buzz,
spiders with their cell phones set to vibrate
in the corners of murky truck stops
smoking cigarettes, fattening up for the long haul
across a winged and reckless continent.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Weekly Worded

        The Gallery Walk

       The reviews were lavish.  Gallery owners
swooned at the thought of hanging just one of her
paintings.  She was Picasso without the blues, Van
Gogh with both ears.  She was Frieda flat on her
back without the dark shadow of Rivera looming
over her bed. 
       Her art sold so well she began to suspect
something was wrong.  Maybe she hadn’t suffered
sufficiently.  Maybe she’d rushed through her
experimental phase and produced no embarrassing
body of early work. 
       Sadly, as an artist she was just too good. 
       While picking up a paintbrush with her
left hand and holding a cup of coffee in her right,
a dollop of hot coffee splashed onto her wrist.  She
winced, but at the same instant a glob of cool, blue
paint pooled on the back of her other hand. 
       The school of Un-naturalism was born.  Its
main tenet held that any idiot could be trained to
paint with the hand that felt natural.  Discipline,
knowledge, order, and technique rule through that
hand.  But the opposite hand is more powerful,
for it contains everything that’s hidden and
       By duct-taping her paintbrush to her left wrist
(the hand, she claimed, wasn’t strong enough to grip
the brush on its own), the school’s founding mother
produced work that only vaguely reminded critics
of her former paintings, as if her masterpieces had
been copied by a six-year-old.     
       Un-naturalism attracted immediate followers.
A few artists faked awkwardness by painting badly
with their good hands, but their talent showed
through.  One ambidextrous watercolorist had
almost given up trying to be a part of the new
school when he discovered the practice of duct-
taping his brush to one – really, either -- of his feet. 
       A reviewer whimsically mused that “the boy
had finally managed to get his foot in the door.” 
       Not until a lecherous old fart who dabbled in
acrylics decided that sexual energy could be better
expressed by taping a brush to his erect penis did
the movement of Un-naturalism lose purchase
with critics.  The public was actually afraid to
show up at his openings.   
       The movement had come full circle in just
one year.  But art is like that, a passionate attempt
to hold a vision perfectly still and to render it
faithfully without arousing suspicion.
*Thanks to Arts Perspective, where a version of this first appeared

Friday, May 23, 2014

Weekly Worded

           Ten Again

These hands, I say, and hold them out
before me like two slabs of meat
reduced for quick sale.  Did I forget
how marbled, how gray, how like
old shingles nailed to a roof?

How is it then, that as I cradle one 
with the other, caress an ache 
running the length of a thumb,
I start counting my fingers once again
as if they were supple and I was young?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Weekly Worded

            Night River
                 (for Bruce:)

When I fall asleep
spring runoff churns
my blood, so much
sediment I can’t help
dreaming of dirt,
my mountains of duty
reduced to mud,
washed by currents,
braided between rocks,
spilling over banks
that were meant
to contain me.
I am one moment
passed to the next,
a rapid, an eddy,
a relentless tug
where all that’s unseen
roils, boils to the surface
for the sake of one
deep breath I hold
until morning.    

Friday, May 2, 2014

Weekly Worded

        Privacy, Please

From the ridge where I stand
a canyon rushes out of sight,
a drain where the light twists
like a ribbon tangled in rock.

Whatever tugs it along
conspires with the sun,
this cord on a blind
as a hand pulls it down.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Weekly Worded

       Coroner’s Inquest

Do you think you’ll get elected?
I’m the only one running.
Scared the competition away?
Nope, buried him.
What about write-ins?
His name was difficult to spell.
So what’s the most important quality for a county coroner?
Like in mortis?
No, as in thoroughness, accuracy, diligence.
How difficult can it be to tell if a corpse is dead?
The coroner is where bodies are sent to determine cause of death.
Oh, so you mean like the possibility of murder?
It’s rare, but it’s possible.
Have you much experience with murder victims?
I’ve seen a few suspicious circumstances in my time.
Have you caught any of the culprits?
Detectives catch culprits, coroners provide postmortem evidence.
But wouldn’t you like to nab one once, say, if he’s lurking at the graveyard?
I only attend funerals when I know the deceased.
You know dead people?
I know many people, and some of them have died.
Most of them.
Most of them what?
Have died naturally.
I have work to finish.  Do you have any more silly questions? 
Nothing I’m dying to ask. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Weekly Worded

            Laundry, a Litany

In the basement, beside the stationary tubs,
my mother’s Maytag wringer washer. 
Children didn’t touch.  Saturday mornings
she’d dump our dirty clothes in,

fill the vat with detergent and water,
then set the agitator churning. 
I’d peek into its frothy maw
but sit back down if she glanced my way.

As the tubs filled with hot rinse water
steam clung to her glasses like sweat,
sweat clung to her forehead like steam. 
On the stool, I never asked to help. 

As she fed the clothes through the wringer
they’d flatten like noodles, soapy sauce
running back into the wash machine. 
Her eyes on the work, she’d talk to me. 

After the second rinse, drains open,
she’d lift leaden baskets outside
to hang the wash.  Then I could help. 
I pulled a shirt sleeve loose

from the tangled load, saw the arm
my mother had described, the girl
whose fingers caught in the rollers
all the way to her shoulder

before the wringer could be turned off.  
And here was her arm again,
hanging limp from my hands,
wrinkled and wet. 

I fixed her with clothespins to the line,
both arms outstretched like a cross,
this little girl suffering every week
so that I might be saved.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Weekly Worded


Daffodil burns like
a votive beside the sidewalk,
forsythia rises

like an old gold faithful,
and this incandescent
flame of feather,

bluebird on a wire
flickers like
the pilot light of spring.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Weekly Worded

       The Last Act of March

Like a lion
wild with teeth
and claws, the wind
brings dust in gusts
fifty miles per hour. 
Garbage cans clatter
in the street, entire
fields lift like stage scrim
reminiscent of the dry
Serengeti, filmed in sepia
as a blood red sun
goes down.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Weekly Worded

            The Gullivers’ Backyard

    I was a naive giant when the first platoon mounted an assault on my leg.  It was like Iwo Jima from the ants’ perspective, a contingency of antfantry had been commanded to stick something sharp in the bulge of my kneecap, which is how I first became aware of the attack.  I slapped at the stinging sensation so suddenly I must have knocked the little heroes from here to eternity. 
    After I moved my feet out of their territory, brushing the first wave from my skin, I took a closer look at their fortifications, poked at the sand pile with a sturdy branch, and the earth seemed to gush, a virtual cauldron boiling with ants just beyond my feet.  I was impressed.  I was horrified.  I stepped back to let them vent.
    “Honey” I shouted, “come look at this.”
    We both stood and stared at the ground, backing up as their ranks swelled.
    “They sure look pissed.   What did you do to upset them?”
    “I stepped on their city.”
    “Is that all?”
    “Then I excavated their earth dome with this stick.”
    We stood so quietly the ants must have thought we’d left.  Then we were no more than two trees shading the ruins, two pillars of salt, a couple of eddies in an ocean of subterranean tides.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Weekly Worded

On the Practice of Daylight Savings

The clocks, advanced one hour, save
no one, not the imaginations of oblivious children
exhausted by the dark while waiting for school buses,
still comatose from that lost hour of sleep.

Not the shadows lengthening into evening
like tails on a tuxedo, all dressed up without
the energy to dance. Like Sisyphus’s rock,
we know pushing the sun back up the hill

won’t keep it there, and the gods won’t change
the sand in our hourglasses, and this life,
as we know it, remains fixed like a nail in the wall
where we grab a hat on the way out.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Weekly Worded

        In Solidarity

The storm this morning at 4 a.m.
woke me from a deep sleep,
tossed me onto my back

so I couldn’t help staring at its dark belly.
It took me a full minute to understand
I was safe, but by then the wind

whipped up its own little nightmare,
stripping limbs from the trees
as if splitting a stump into kindling.

By the sound of it
the moon that had been packed away
behind a thick padding of clouds

shattered as it struck the side of the house.
I sat up, pulled my blanket closer
for the sake of all the fragile things.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Weekly Worded

        The Fashion of Older Men

    “May I help you find something?”
    “I’m looking for a pair of pants for my father-in-law.”
    “Follow me and I’ll show you our popular Fits-Like-a-Glove style.”
    “No, he hates pants that are too tight.”
    “How about our Ifs, Ends, and Butts designer slacks?”
    “Are they comfortable?”
    “Not terribly, but that’s not why our customers buy them.”
    “So why do they buy them?”
    “For the little beeper that goes off when they back up.”
    “No, that doesn’t sound right for him.”
    “We have a sale on our Get-Crackin’ blue jeans.”
    “He has enough trouble without his pants announcing it.”
    “How about Baggy-Saggies?”
    “Actually, he wears suspenders.”
    “You must be shopping for someone more traditional.”
    “Do you carry anything with a relaxed fit?”
    “I don’t like to show them, but we do carry a line called The Retired-Fit.”
    “What are they like?”
    “Basically, just a pair of sweatpants with a drawstring.”
    “Do they come in large sizes?”
    “Sorry, only one-size-fits-all, but we’ve had up to four clerks in a single pair.”
    “They must be comfortable.”
    “Only the woman complained.”

Friday, February 21, 2014

Weekly Worded


Between my fingers
everything I try to hold.
Between my ribs
each heartbeat that escapes.
Between my walls
the restless mice.
Between my ears
the sense my mother
hoped I'd use.
Between my days
the sleepless nights.
Between the nights
an unexpected nap.
Between my hips
an ache that rises.
Between my sorrows
a Cheshire moon.
Between my lips
unspoken breaths.
Between my eyes
a bridge I do not cross.
Between my teeth
this emptiness
where worry waits.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Weekly Worded

      The Reality of Love

"Do you know what I hate the most about Valentine’s Day?"
"The chocolate?"
"I mean the tradition of Valentine’s Day."
"The flowers?"
"I’m referring to its cultural mores."
"Oh, I get it.  Those little chalky candy hearts with messages on them."
"Will you stop with all the banalities and get down to its basic meaning!"
"I suppose, then, you are about to complain about love."
"You hit the bull's-eye, cupid."
"What on earth is wrong with love?"
"What I’m trying to say is that I love my grandmother, but..."
"Oh, I see."
"And I love my dog."
"I get the picture." 
"It’s so easy to confuse love with sex."
"So you're on your own again?"
"And you don’t have any plans for the evening?"
"Not exactly."
"And you’d like to know if I have any plans?"
"I’m going to dinner with a friend, we’ll exchange banalities, and then..."
"Yeah yeah."
"Would you like to come along?"
"I’m no pervert!"
"I mean just drive the car like a chauffeur." 
"Why on earth would I do that?"
"I’ll buy you a bag of those candy hearts."
"I hope your teeth rot."
"You’d rather be alone?"
"I’ll be walking my dog."
"Good.  Where are you two going?"
"To my grandmother’s house."

Friday, February 7, 2014

Weekly Worded

       An Old Leaf

How thrifty to think
all the words ever spoken
even beyond three generations
of relatives I might recognize,
all the way back
to the original family
that sat down at these planks
still gleaming with oils from a living tree
are somehow trapped within this old table,

or that the pattern of grain
etched within this oak might bare
an imprint or watermark
absorbed by its breathing pores --
timeless and permanently locked away
like the music of the spheres
inaudible to our ears if not for
the birds that light in the morning,
singing what the wood would say.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Weekly Worded

     The Maker’s Mark

The bottom is the usual place
to find the mark that says
who made you,
not obscured by the patina
I see each morning in the mirror, 
proof I’ve been handled by peasants,
the oils on their fingers
leaving whorls like the eddies
of country streams.
Like the moon
that waxes and wanes,
I barely shine long enough
to see my own worth.
Whoever knows who made me
must not care anymore,
but here I am all the same,
a vessel like a piece of pottery
thrown on a wheel
as wide as the universe
where the hands are not mine
but I feel them.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Weekly Worded

      The Loaner

“Is there anything perishable, flammable, or hazardous inside?”
“No, it’s just a book.”
“Would you like to purchase tracking with this package?”
“Will I have to wear a bracelet on my ankle?”
“No, but you’ll be able to follow the delivery.”
“Isn’t that like stalking?”
“Tracking is legal, it shows you when your shipment arrives.”
“Will I be able to see her expression when it shows up?”
“No, there’s no camera.”
“Just to hear her gasp as she unwraps the package will be enough.”
“Sorry, tracking doesn’t include a microphone.”
“How will I know when it gets there?”
“You’ll have to log into our website.”
“But I don’t own a computer.” 
“You can access our services with your cell phone.”
“But I ran out of minutes.”
“Why not check at the public library?”
“I can’t.” 
“No library card?”
“Of course I have a library card!”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“That’s where the book came from.”

Friday, January 17, 2014

Weekly Worded

      5 Ways to Write Better Poems

1.  Scratch out every beginning.

2.  Use your fingers to keep track of

4.  Go back if you have to.

3.  Don’t keep writing after the poem closes.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Weekly Worded

     Quote, Unquote

   “I’m calling for an auto insurance quote.”
   “I’d be happy to help you with that.  How did you hear about our company?”
   “My neighbor must have thrown your advertisement out and I found it in my yard.”
   “Well then, directed by providence.”
   “No, just a stiff wind out of the north.”
   “May I ask for your current insurance provider?”
   “I’m uninsured.” 
   “So your coverage just ended?”
   “About five years ago.”
   “You’ve been driving for five years without insurance!”
   “No, I’ve been driving under the umbrella of human kindness.”
   “I’ve never heard of that underwriter.”
   “You know, the one that offers insured drivers an additional premium for protection from uninsured motorists.”
   “That coverage doesn’t make your driving legal.”
   “Maybe not, but I used to feel safer knowing they’re reimbursed for the likes of me.”
   “What happened to change your mind?”
   “I got rear-ended by an uninsured motorist.”
   “You were in an accident?”
   “One in six motorists is uninsured, it was bound to happen.”
   “Insurance companies don’t like to insure high risk drivers like you.”
   “Tell me about it, that’s why I’m calling.”
   “What makes you think we’d be willing to offer you a policy?”
   “Your monthly premium would be outrageous.”
   “That’s not a problem.”
   “And we would reserve the right to cancel your policy at any time.”
   “That’s not a problem either, my checking account offers the same assurance.”

Friday, January 3, 2014

Weekly Worded

     Waxing and Waning

As the new moon rose
for the first time in 19 years
on the first morning

of the New Year,
positioned invisibly between
the earth and the sun,

so thin it practically
didn’t exist, the old
belief resurfaced

like tarnished silver,
the notion of resolving
to be bigger than we are.

    *  Thanks to