Monday, April 11, 2016


The Broken Delete Key

The day my mother died
should have felt like freedom or escape,
but there were stones in my throat
and a faulty latch holding back old horrors.
Years later, days after my father died,
it was so different,
different than Christ’s death—
no resurrection,
nothing at all finished—
different because I wept for hours
over the keyboard and blank pages,
looking for a Delete key which was broken.
I’m telling you this
because I want you to understand
that scars mean something.
They fade and camouflage
themselves among other skin
like a clever chameleon.
But a scab was there once,
and before that a wound,
and before that the outburst and scorn,
and before that a child with parents,
and before that an infant swaddled in soft cloth.


Look The Other Way

Bonanza was the show they watched,
Gun Smoke, too, but
the day I came home
from wrestling practice early,
ninth grade,
the lights were off,
laugh track from The Brady Bunch
cackling in the background.
Naked on the gold love seat,
Mom asked, “How was wrestling practice?”
I looked away, saying something like “What?
Why the hell are you naked?”
Mom demurred. “Oh, this,” she said,
sweeping a hand over her pelvis. 
“We’ve decided to become nudists.”
And so it went,
for weeks and months,
Mom and Dad stripped bare
in a trailer too cramped for spies,
pubic bushes everywhere,
replete with figs and crevices,
stalled erections and flat nipples.
It might have been tragically comical,
except that I still remember
those days all these years later,
when, out of the shower, I ask my wife
to hand me my robe
and to look the other way.


Brown Sugar Whiskey

Brother, what are you doing in there?
Are there enough unopened bottles
to pinch your cheeks red?
You and I both know how this is going to end.
Father was like us.
Mother was.
Brown sugar whiskey or beer,
it’s the end either way.
Look, and tell me if you don’t see it.


Lazarus Is Up

Lazarus is up.
He looks dehydrated,
but that’s to be expected from a corpse.
He asks who all cried, who all cared,
writing down every name I tell him.
What I don’t say is that I wish he’d stayed dead,
that sometimes what’s done is done,
no tricks allowed,
mortality making meaning out of death.


The Reluctant Misogynist

There is a moon somewhere out of reach,
tucked behind the skirt of a cloud
like all of my lofty, unreached goals.
Seated on the couch,
I flailed at it like a drunken polar bear.
When you left for work this morning,
you were smiling minty-green
and I could smell your lips from fifty paces away.
I know his name, his number and address.
I know precisely what he looks like.
Whoever thought I’d be jealous
that you have a job
and are finally happy?



I left Jupiter for you
but you didn’t even know it.
There were dusty stars out in the distance,
musty memories.
I left Tulsa, too, Boise and Baton Rouge, Boring, OR.
I left every single bad habit in a dumpster,
took out an old-fashioned Help Wanted ad
and found you on the internet,
splayed and looking
glad without me.


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