Friday, June 30, 2017


Frayed and Worn

But here we are
Ten breaths older
Bloated moon in the window
Sky black as onyx
Stars too shy to stare
As we raid the inventories
Of all our old wounds
And you sort through the album
Saying this one
This is the one that did it
Holding up a picture of two
Twenty-four year olds
The frayed and worn photo
Of us on our wedding day
A couple of cubs
Not yet turned into bears
Not having become cannibals


Somewhere In Senegal

We are running on broken glass
Past startled zebras and giraffes
Baobab trees shaking from mortar fire
Would-be assassins gaining on us
With their jeeps and armored cars
We only ever wanted clean water to drink
Shoes or shelter were luxuries we couldn’t afford
We have nothing to offer but bones and bodies
And still the marauders advance with weapons firing
As the yellow parrot flies by like a hoax
Saying This way
Go this way


Of My Father

The hands of my father could crush things
His stare lit forest fires and raised whole buildings
If he laughed you felt safe the way hunted deer do in the brush
I remember his breath smelling of motor oil and Old Milwaukee
His mouth a trapdoor or chimney
The heavy footfalls that meant emergency and danger
Being flung down a flight of stairs
Slapped on the thighs by black leather belts
In the photo I find of him he is younger than I am now
Holding a long-handled axe across his chest while smiling
When my daughter asks who he is I tell her
It’s nobody I ever knew



Tonight I am searching for that boy again,
Age nine,
On the edge of everything—
A cliff, a catwalk, a firewall, puberty.
In this old photo he looks like someone with promise,
A would be astronaut or comedian
There is no car wreck yet
No dead girl
Or prison sentence
Simply ripe youth
I tuck the picture into my shirt pocket
Get out of the car
And as I make my way across the lot to be checked in
I tell myself that there’s
Still time for him to save himself
When my son is finally paroled


Your Spot On The Mattress

The bed moves on its own volition
Like a slain elephant squirming away from poachers
Sometimes its sheets try to strangle
Pillows want to smother
Coiled springs search for a jugular
But there is no light in here
And the moon outside the window is shy
Or too embarrassed by my foibles
It’s been sixteen nights
A friend has recommended therapy
The neighbors cower and look away
My son says it’s not healthy it’s sick it’s not right
Yet I cling to the sheet anyway
The part with the large crimson stain
Where you once lay
I keep my voice soft and steady
Asking was it me
Tell me please
Was I the reason you did it




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