Wednesday, April 19, 2017


What Was Real, What Wasn’t

What Was

Ten kids
One trailer
Sex sounds
Parental nudity
Belts and hands on young skin
Fire, a universe of smoke
Runny chicken shit seeping down socks
Howling at the moon
Walking shirtless in the rain
Mayhem and murder
Birthdays that came and went
 Father’s Day card never sent
  discarded in the trash
Mother’s Day a regal event
 the biggest sham ever

What Wasn’t

False teeth
False eyelashes
Fake breasts
Assorted wigs
Monopoly money
Plastic silverware
Polyester blouses
Flocked Christmas tree
German Bible never touched
  white, big as wedding cake
Family portrait collecting dust
 on a vinyl shelf


Apothecary Jars

Sis learns the word apothecary
and becomes obsessed,
her cheeks glowing like a pair of fire stars.
“We’re trapped inside apothecary jars.
No one has them anymore.
They went out of style.”
The moon parts a seam
and leans in to eavesdrop
with its monocle eye.
Satan is close by, too,
waiting for inclusion.
“See, they think we’re the poison
in the apothecary jars.
Think about it. Think about it.
Think about it. Think…”
Sis rocks so hard
in the bunk below
that the four posters
moan and splinter.
“Shush,” I say. 
“They’ll bring the belt.”
“That’s what I’m saying,” Sis says.
“Think about it.  Think about
it. Think about it…”
I hop down and catch her shoulders
to stop the insane
back and forth motion.
Her eyes look like rotting berries
with a little bit of
leftover juice.
“You get it, right?”
Her smile is desperate,
the same one I’ll see tomorrow night,
the next night,
and the one after that
for all these years,
and each time I’ll
answer the same way:
“I do get it,”
though she’ll never
fully hear me,
rocking, just rocking
till a new dawn rises.


You See Him Dying

You see him dying,
naked for the first time,
hospital gown flapped
open like a broken swan,
then standing,
gown now looped
open in the back.
You wonder if that is
how your own ass looks,
scrawny, like a flat
bowl of skim milk
tricking gravity.
The penis you saw earlier--
a Swiss Army knife
with its blades tucked in--
resembles your cock at rest,
longish and two-toned,
no more than a bored
lizard when unaroused.
You wonder, too, if someday
you will beg a nurse
for help in order to “poop”
while your wordless son watches
without a clearly defined task,
confused as always
about what sharing the same
bloodline means,
if years of innocuous
estrangement can be
washed away so easily
when death raises
its fist to knock,
when there’s still
time for reconciliation
a brief talk,
the chance
to share misgivings.


  1. And yet some tiny spark inside you refused to be extinguished. Something sustained you. I'd love a glimpse of what that was.

  2. sweet, Jayne. I realized I spelled you name wrong in an earlier reply. so sorry! I remember at AWP how you specified the "y" and then I went and messed it up.
    thanks so much for reading. I'm never sure who does. the blog gets lots of views, but very few comments.
    childhood was dicey, yet it has made for some deep, if not dark, writing. I'm a lucky guy. I think about that every day. hope your writing is going terrific. if you ever want to send me some of it, please do. I'd love that.

  3. Thank you for the kind offer, my friend.

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