Thursday, November 26, 2015


                                                   The Sound of the Cars on the Bridge

Overhead, vehicles cross the great bridge at astonishing speeds, race car fast.  Their collective echo shrieks like audible horror trapped in a jar, the noise bouncing between girders.  The concrete joists shudder as if the bridge itself is suffering a seizure, convulsing weak-kneed.
He’s late but not really.  He’s been watching her for half an hour from the west end while his conscience battles a flight impulse, a survivor reflex.
He’s not a brave man and he knows it.
She’s as pretty as in newspaper photographs.  Her hair is wavy, marmalade-orange, same as her brother’s.  She’s been sitting near the river’s edge, oblivious to the sound of the cars on the bridge.  She’s hunched over, clutching her knees like a shivering child, a nervous date.  She stares at the pockets of light hitting the green water and wafting away.  He can imagine some of the things she’s thinking but not all of them, of course.
He stumbles down the slope of the riverbank.  Stumbles, not staggers.  There is a difference.
The ground is filled with tall scratchy weeds.  They’re brittle and toast-colored and the earth is uneven and soft from recent rains and his shoes get sucked down and he thinks of quicksand and rescue scenes from old Tarzan movies he’d watched when he was a boy and not yet a murderer.
She hears the soupy sound his shoes make and turns, using a hand to shield her eyes from the glare breaking across his shoulders.
“You came.”
He nods.  There’s a fist stuck in his throat and it’s knuckles ram his neck bones and he gags and swallows with a combustive cough.
They shake hands and exchange names, his fictitious.
She pats the ground.  “Sit.” 
She has her brother’s heart-shaped face, his eyes.
“This is where his car landed after he swerved,” she says.
That night is a blur.  He’s tried to recall details but he can only get as far as the edge of a memory.
“The other driver was going a hundred in the wrong lane, Sean’s lane.”
He nods again.  It’s easier this way but he realizes he’ll have to come clean soon and he wonders what that will feel like.
“Our parents were killed by drunk drivers, too,” she says.
He tries to steady his eyes.  His mouth tastes like bleach.  “I know,” he says.  “There was a story on the news.”
Again he recalls being a boy: his first drink at age thirteen, Uncle Roy egging him on, claiming it would free him, make him a man, and so he drank and when it didn’t deliver he took another and another, but all these years later he’s still searching for that release, the freedom Uncle Roy had promised, only what he feels now is ensnared and shackled, taken to the same damp cell, night after night, even when it’s day, the cave barren of sun, void of any tactile reference save for the gassy fumes of whiskey and sound of the cars on the bridge screaming hostilities.
She tosses a twig.  It wobbles in the air, landing shoreline.  Together they watch it swivel and sway against the foamy skirt of a jutting boulder before it sinks and disappears.
“Anyone you know ever get killed?”
He shakes his head.
“Good for you.”
When she begins to study his face and take in his features, he turns away.
“It was impossible after Mom and Dad died, so I don’t know how I’m going to be able to survive this.”
He wants to say, “You will.”  It seems appropriate and necessary, but he can’t.
“Sean wasn’t just my brother, he was my best friend.”
He feels his mouth shaping a supportive smile, showing no teeth, his lips on fire.
“I never dated.  Sean did--now and then anyway--but he was moody and sucked as a conversationalist.”  Her laugh is frail, breathy and without lilt.  “Whenever one of his dates would find out about our parents and the accident, she’d split.  It was as if they thought death could be, you know, contagious.  Does that make any sense?”
Nod of the head again.
“Not that it mattered terribly, because I was always there for him.  We had each other.  And the cool thing was, lately Sean seemed to be making progress, as if he’d found a way to put some of the sadness behind him.”
She uses the tip of her worn boot to loosen a stone from the soil, and once it’s freed she bats it back and forth soccer style.  She watches him watching her and stops.
“So, you said you had some information about the accident.”
He reads her mind.  She’s thinking: stalker, maybe psycho. 
His conscience falters for a moment.  He thinks: I have options.  I can lie.  I can run.  She doesn’t know my name, doesn’t have my number.
As he stands and pats the back of his pants, a shredded ghost-pattern of dust slides into a slanted breeze and dissipates.  He takes the stone from between her boots and rubs it clean.  It’s as flat as a cookie, so he side-arms hard and the rock skips one…two…three…four…
“Hey,” she says.  “I don’t want to be rude or anything, but this meeting was your idea.  If you don’t have any information, then stop screwing around and say so.”
He listens to the final plops of the skipping stone.  It takes a second for him to realize that—however briefly—he has successfully drowned out the sound of the cars on the bridge.
He turns to the girl, facing her sorrow flush.  “I do,” he says.“  I do have something to tell you.”
In the distance the sun is a flame of infinity.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015


     Rainbow Poems

Hope In Rainbows

I found him hanging onto to the end of a rainbow
outside a bus terminal
where trash and insect husks had gathered at his feet.
No one else was watching,
not the saints or hecklers,
not even the sulking winter sun.
Gusting winds kept threatening to break his hold but
this one was a fighter,
cackling as he battled back.
And when I asked why he wouldn’t let go,
he turned and gave me a toothless grin, saying,
“I still believe.”

Anniversary Rainbow

She gives me her half of the rainbow.
“To borrow,” she says.
She’s loaned me other things—
false promises,
barbwire kisses,
a life in purgatory—
and I’ve been stung enough times to know
she aims low and never misses.

It’ll be three years tomorrow
but I don’t want another day,
so I tell her to keep her rainbow.
walking out of the house,
leaving without a plan,
happy to finally be free.

The Girl Who Once Loved Rainbows

My daughter paints rainbows on her fingernails,
thinly striped but bright as crayons.
While she waits for them to dry I ask about her new boyfriend,
the one named Axle with a silver hoop through his lip
and two big fists.
She says he’s fine, he’s good, he’s looking for work, why am I always asking about Axle?
My daughter doesn’t know I’ve seen her bruises,
that wearing a turtleneck in summer calls attention.
I look at her face, trying to find the little girl who once squealed over seeing a double rainbow.
I search and I search,
but her sky is clear.

Monday, November 23, 2015


…There’s a very large corkboard in my office with various portraits (mostly black and whites) pinned to it.  They’re tears from magazines and are the physical embodiments of characters from my last novel.
It’s time to take them down.  I’ve been living with them for the last two years.  I’m sad to see them go, but I’ve got new ones.
 …I had a few stories published in this really racy site:
 …And I had these things published as well:
 …Here are some things I like to start a new week:
 “We are being buried beneath a weight of information that is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness.” Tom Waitts
 “We have an obligation to read aloud to our children.  To read them things they enjoy.  To read them stories we are already tired of.  To do the voices, to make it interesting and not stop reading and not stop reading to them simply because they can learn to do it themselves.” Neil Gaiman
 “You think that your pain and heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.  It was books that taught me the things that the things that tormented me most were the things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” James Baldwin
“I don’t know I’d describe what I’m doing leading up to that song as ‘research’,” she says. “For me, it’s more having a hunch and following through on the hunch. Having an almost religious faith in the fact that certain things are connected and I have to lasso them all into the same place. Research: that word feels so cold to me in a way. Because it’s all very compulsive and very emotion-driven.” Joanna Newsome
“There are no perfect writers, just like there is no perfect despair.” Haruki Maurakama

Per aspera ad astra – a rough road leads to the stars.

Friday, November 20, 2015


…Today was a good day.
It started off with two rejections, but then I got three poems excepted.  As you know, it’s been a while since anyone’s taken my poems.
I got asked to do a podcast question and answer session which will take place December 9th.
And I had these pieces up:

Plus I wrote more poems.  (I always like the newest poems I’ve written better than the ones that came before):

Silence Is A Yes

Today I apprentice in a tunnel so dark
I can only feel the rats
Scurry across my feet
You told me silence is a yes
But I didn’t believe you
In Paris we counted blue cars
And pigeons liked your perfume
Your mother hated me
But she still called
To give me the news
So I apprentice in a sink hole
So quiet I can hear the tree roots whisper
“He must have really loved her.”

Baby I Missed You

You’ve been gone a while
So likely we’ll have sex tonight
Lots of extra body fluids spilled
Some good old fashioned bed shaking
It’s always the same after you’ve been away—
Your need for a naked toy
But all I really want is
Your mouth in my ear
Saying Baby I missed you
Just you not your body

Every Single Piece

I am giving away pieces of myself outside
A bus terminal when an old woman
Asks, Do you know how dangerous that is?
The birds peck out my eyes for free
A cabbie collects my baguette legs like a
Parisian baker on the run
No one wants my ears—too big!
A homeless man dips my fingers in a jar of hot mustard
Before nibbling on the knuckles
Last to go is—you guessed it—
My heart
Black as night
Blood pooling in your palms


You were the snag
In my marriage
A wind gust taking down trees
A gaping hole in an already sinking boat
The walls had ears
Our friends and families
Lined up their blades biases
But nothing is seamless
Even eagles struggle in storms
A sleeping otter might let go of its mate’s paw
Tomorrow might rule out the sun entirely
Or hand you a new set of keys
In between the hot stones of indecision
You were the only thread to cling to
But the unraveling was all mine

Quiet Monsters

There is split in your lip that wasn’t there before
And you are trying to hide
Inside a bathrobe with the collar turned up
When breakfast wasn’t made I knew
It’s always the same signs
The nervous finger tap-tap-taping
The same far off staring
Maybe you’re thinking about regrets
Or when you were a little girl feeling happy for once
He’s a quiet monster
With knuckles that are always shiny and unmarked
When he comes to the table I look at the
Black and white wedding photo of you two
A couple of kids smiling, beaming really
You’ve been a good mother but I need a woman
Who can show me strength
Show me how to fall into the right arms
Or else fight back
Now you flinch
When Dad flicks the newspaper open
The cat has long ago left
And tonight, after school,
I’ll have done the same

Thursday, November 19, 2015


…I have this poem, “Hydrophobia,” up at Eunoia Review today:

…I’m back from Denver.  What a fun time with Robert Vaughan, Meg Tuite, Kathy Fish, Nancy Stohlman, Leah Rogin-Roper, Levi Noe, Katharyn Grant, Roseanna Frechette and many others.
I read better than I normally do.  Five pieces.  I had most of them memorized as they were quite short.
There was a lot of laughter and drinking and a bit of food here and there.  Sleep was dicey.  Over all it was an outstanding trip and I missed the power outage here at home, so there’s that.

…Here are some things I like on a Thursday:
-“I look at each experience talking to someone as a whole new world.”
-“Fear can be useful.”
-“Sometimes curiosity is akin to excitement.  Sometimes it’s just having an investigative mind.”
-“Maybe curiosity killed the cat, but the lack of curiosity will kill us.” – Patti Smith
-“To love is to buy mockery at the expense of moaning.” Shakespeare
 -"Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them." David Hume
-"Memory is a fist to the eye." The David Tomas Martinez
-"Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress." Nicholas Murray Butler
-"I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning."  J.B. Priestley
-"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late." Ralph Waldo Emerson
-"The more people have studied different methods of bringing up children the more they have come to the conclusion that what good mothers and fathers instinctively feel like doing for their babies is best after all." Benjamin Spock
-"Humor is an affirmation of dignity, a declaration of man's superiority to all that befalls him." Romain Gary

Saturday, November 14, 2015


…So tragic and unspeakable and confounding what happened in Paris yesterday.
A friend posted this on his Facebook page and I couldn’t agree more:
“He who contemplates the depths of Paris is seized with vertigo. Nothing is more fantastic. Nothing is more tragic. Nothing is more sublime.”  Victor Hugo

…I’m going to Denver tomorrow through Wednesday for a reading Tuesday where I’ll be with some of my best writer friends.  Oh, and it’s supposed to snow 32 inches Tuesday.  No lie.  Either way, it’ll be a blast, I’m sure.

…Here are some things I like for the weekend, and I hope yours is stellar:
“I wonder what chairs think about all day—‘Oh, here comes another asshole’.” Robin Williams
 “I love to discover the potential in people who aren’t thought to have any.” Oliver Sacks
“Doing what you love is always worth doing.” Barrett Baber
“I am not young enough to know everything.” Oscar Wilde
“She fell in love with her doctor's stethoscope, the way it listened to her heart.” Russell Edson
“Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter.” African Proverb

“This, above all else; to thine own self, be true.” Shakespeare

Thursday, November 12, 2015



The kid in line looks broken, bent at the hip like a less than mark, as if he’s missing ribs on that side. He walks with a looping gait, ratchety, and kicks a stanchion so that it whirls before bouncing off the wall of glass and hitting me in the knee.

He doesn’t look up. He finds his wallet and buys his movie ticket just like anyone.

In grade school I wore Army Surplus clothes. I kept my bangs so long they’d curl at the ends, any way to hide myself, to camouflage the rash of angry acne craters.

The only one who talked to me had a body like this boy, but her chest was set up high, a stack of too many hard back books, swallowing her neck until it seemed she was nothing more than head and ribs and bird legs.

She never said it, but she loved me.

When the new kid moved to our town he didn’t know any better. He wore puka shells and polo-shirts and cologne that smelled like forests. He took me as a friend before the others could warn him, and then they quickly fell in line, too, acquiescing, because that’s how staying popular works.

A week into summer, she moved away, proof to me of God’s existence, his mercy and his grace.