daddy traced along the lines
a paper cut out

his first born

a daughter
a crimson fleck in the wind
a handful of sad notes

she would become

a cymbal crash
a spark thumping rim
glass full of near empty
gray day chime and flicker

she would fly

all those words from mouth
onto his good ear
the one he turns
just north of shoulder
to listen
to her

call his name



On ordinary day
pain sounds like
an ache
snap    stiff
in neck and shoulders
than any breaking news report
unfolding bloom
like monotone and high-pitch
like scraps of paper
voices   silent





laughter  squeal  and scream
slither under the sheets
wrap our slow tucked bodies
with hurry  huff  and  sigh
hold on to our backs and throats
strangle us with wants and needs
we promise the dark with plenty



Persistent Flame

If only sky spray had prophecy,
had pleasant answers in the clouds,
I would listen with light and nerve,
unravel as coiled hem. I would open
my mouth to breathe not speak,
stand under slow gray recession, sweep
misgivings inside the lines of buildings,
behind shadows, truths of dark and day.
If only the sky made room for both of us,
for all of us, I would rely on sunrise
as a matter of forgiveness;
worry less about persistent flame.



For the first day of spring and every day thereafter

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The petals wind stitched,
gather as clouds, split blades
of grass like slivers of paper.
The rest of us, fray like ribbon
like wing among branch and bloom.
We do not hold our rose-colored
tongues in these cool spring days.
We too need bearing and new.

he sees the sky



he asked to borrow my camera
a tool he knew could stop time
he walked into the other room
leaned his head against the glass
his index finger found the spot
the circle and click captured
what he saw   rose and plum
and streak and magic   the sky
a chromatic fountain a measure
of shifting day   of dim and sweep



photo credit: my seven year old


Honor the ache. Are those too strong a words, honor, ache? Present, sounds sweep and tidy. Notice the rotting panels, peeling paint, unsettling tangle in throat and belly. With wound and tremble tongue, time unravels, scatters dandelion white. After spiraled knots, moth holes swell and fray, what will you do with freedom?





Crawl out of the corner and wander the room.


And then there was chocolate and heartburn, point of sharp fold and precious space, grief, a fine sweet grain.




If you don’t mind, I will let that bewildered stare, that hard gaze at the concrete, that inability to move about this narrow sidewalk beside another human being without word or wise or eye contact, crinkle in the air like ember, like the dark rush over cooling ash, like an ounce of midnight between us.

Revision is like a well-made bed

You just keep tucking and sweeping crumbs to the floor, folding and pulling, until the lovely wrinkles lie flat, taut in the folds.



What if light drew out the nonsense…



…peeled skin and noisy flesh to reveal some sort of golden? What if the crowd of blood and vein of breath the color of change stood still, to inhabit the nonsense, break up the gutter trouble and set the days on fire.

Tidy Up Blue Sky

I find lone blue marker lying on brand new bathroom floor; pick it up before floor imitates sky.



And still I write…

If you have nothing else, call on story, on what you remember, layers of a complicated life, straight and crooked lines, loose and messy things, so that it sounds against the walls of the room, does not get stuck in throat, or swept away, a stream of sponge and crumbs, scraps of time.



‘The Thing Around Your Neck’


Nobody knew where you were, because you told no one. Sometimes you felt invisible and tried to walk through your room into the hallway, and when you bumped into the wall, it left bruises on your arms… At night, something would wrap itself around your neck, something that very nearly choked you before you fell asleep.

-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Smoke and Ghosts

We will wake up and wonder
about smoke and ghosts, time
mapped with crust, sticky crumbs,
the color of play, brown and able,
blurry prints on flat paint.
Dry fingers stretch like lie
and insistent weed. Sharp words
bound in the pink of our cheeks,
sore and split, cracks in concrete
full of treasure, sweat or blood.
They will outgrow our sentiment,
morning blister across
their sleeping faces. The bright
of their dreams climb marble ledge,
the rise and fall of warm breath,
evidence we ever existed.


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Myth watched over this river.
She heard the stars saved
troubled souls from drowning.

She tries her hand at crossing.
Her bare heels stir a blur
of sea and sky. Along the bank

waves rush the backs of stones,
leave them as bruised eyes.
The water, like death, cold and still.


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Do not mistake the space between our voices for listening. Do not interrupt or ask questions until the single sound in this room is wide and full and pressed against eardrum and eyelid. Pay no attention to objects cluttered in the corner of the room, time spent collecting things that web, settle with dust.



“There is balm in the telling…”

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…and in the hearing too. These words, these truths, will ride on air like a ragged scrap of song.” -Tayari Jones, The Untelling

Hard Rain

What is this pouring fire, spewing rounds of spark and metal like confetti, riddling bodies like hard rain? When will we see ourselves as human, our bodies as full with blood and organ and heartbeat? We rip and tear inside of fire as paper. This world wants us to raise ourselves as machines, as if we drill our way through life without cause or regard, without wind gust and tear. We are pain and injury and trauma and death. What will we do with all of this death?

Daybreak brings about joy and still breath as often as birdsong and speckle of light. What is this hole we leave for ourselves, a gaping depth of wind and echo, a massive thorn? What is this numb pattern rippling through us? What is this fire bursting with names, where even in silence sits full on our tongues, heavy in our hands?

The work of our breath is in every word and interaction, every human space we reside. Fire and ash, this gold and glaze fill the air with deafening sound, a hardened slate with all of our names. Somewhere blood traces concrete, cotton, polyester, skin, where a new wound bursts open for all of us to grieve. How many more wounds before we recognize ourselves as rivers, as rhythms of flesh and beat and blood.



Blue Spot and Waiting

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Somewhere between the grocery store and gunfire, injustice, news of another mother who must bury her son. I keep my own sons in perspective; gather their temporary small, humor, and smiles in my pocket. I stand in the checkout line, buying a half-gallon of milk, thinking about wounds. What does it matter if we run out of milk? What do we tell the mother who runs out of time?

Near the register, the few of us wait patient. The headlines align our waists like woven belts, fine mists of ink spray small versions of truth and speculation. So much is lost in the theater of imagination, in the hazy gaze, just a few people before me, behind me. We are all waiting and shifting.

I keep my sunglasses on between walking from the car and waiting in line. I usually take them off while at the register. I like greetings: to look the clerk in the eye, smile, and say thank you. Today I cover my eyes as if the small plastic frames, tortoise-shell, might swallow me whole; hide me from radiant summer and another blue spot of gunshot.

The thought of wounds grow louder, my mind grips at composure. I swallow hard, hold my breath, and wait. The fine lines beneath my eyes twitch, the weight of trauma fills my lower lids with wet and grief. Every word of each news report, each question, the sight and sound of death and assumption, heavy on my cheeks.

I swipe and bag and breathe, feel some sort of relief and guilt, buying this expensive milk, raising bits of complicated sweet and wonder, while our world, our streets, our lives, gather a tangle of welts and fear and rage. What do I say to these boys; don’t worry, we have more time? Their bright brown eyes say show me the light. And while I know I can not promise them the sun, today I can offer love and this half-gallon of milk.



730 Days

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Here, gathered in the final days,
four of us at the dining room table,
you at your desk, the workload
in three piles, two parking lots,
inside short commute
between first and second shift.
The slow and watery dusk,
rust and blue, fill in the stretch of time.
We wait, mark the days with laughter
and tears and long pause. Listen for the phone
to ring, for foot and air clearing the front door.


Turn over in this dry light, a brittle thicket, congested and full of nonsense. The days are full of nonsense. The papers, thin with run-on lines of battle, bruise, battery and bright sky. This life is full of nonsense. The back and forth of rubber on road, of door to door to desk to door to dream. What if dream drew out the nonsense, peeled skin and noisy flesh to reveal some sort of golden? What if the crowd of blood and vein of breath the color of change, stood still, to inhabit the nonsense, break up the gutter trouble and set the days on fire.




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