The makeshift ashtray

A better word for purgatory

When camping

jellyfish clear as old
hills, cleared of schoolyard
fish, stepping over
years of fallen trees
the islands too tiny to count

a smooth black stone
an afternoon of sunburnt cheeks
with cards in hand
a walk through crates of peaches
an unbearable wind with whiskey
in an old tin bottle
a long talk shared across shaggy dogs
and picnic tables at sunset

waking mornings shared
with mosquito bitten ankles
cold nights of long embraces
the walk

through the starry tunnel of
light green moss,

at night
we left
our shoes,
those tracks
easy to remember,

how we surrendered
hearts to moonlight in sea,
the dearest childhood friend
walking through sandy goodbyes

stitched hearts

and now I’m
of your words
before a smile,
frozen like tiny
fish happy to be free
of the season

thinking of badly cooked
dinners in two kitchens
blasting 90s hip hop,
our silly laughter
and light

down to the last
curve of the road
as we fought best intentions
and drew blood out of love
singing at Valentine’s
and screaming vows
projected slow motion,
through our memories

the first
summer I’ll see.

a rewriting

a writer of nature
she, torn from a mother
in darkness, to find
starlight on hand painted leaves
peace in shapes of white

tossed aside on a long
dinner table
caught with calloused hands
driven through every harvest
she, lost to the sea
embraced its shores and
storms of every articulation
of the bones of the dead

long tired from waiting
welcoming her smile
she, wore butterflies
landing for the night’s slumber
and tamed anger’s tantrum –

she holds the hidden black
corners of don’t tell me
dreams, closeted in curtains
of stained satin,
the scent of cedar its only

like fresh cut flowers

for the elk’s heart

on our first ride
I drove, your hands
over my eyes
inches from a missing
rearview mirror
long kisses prolonged
between traffic lights
easy banter buying
cheap cigarettes
and first glances

you carried me to bed
when I turned 31
far away
from home,
floating in the sea

drunk on early autumn wind
and endless rows of moss laden trees,
your latest project
thick in the air
we’d stare

for years,
so love,
to grow without fear.

a brother’s loss

when we miss calls
to birds with twine
in their beaks
hopping hypnotically

sometimes I feel
like a secret superhero
bound by titanium chains
by crumbling earth

a mother’s explanation
of her made up
name, for the sake
of all animals trapped

adrift like orange rafts
lit by a setting sun
a vista of speckled clouds
punctuated like chords

the drying paint hums
a melancholy whistle
just ready for toddler’s hands
and weary women

a triumphant first day

the bridge

at sunset
two things happen

at endings more than
despite promising smiles

the tree is always
just a tree
for canned photos
and suspicious eyes
on fresh lawn

barefoot ankle deep
in growing grass
easy embrace,
like a folding deck of cards

drawn on a fisherman’s hook
in lace filigree
as it spills over the edge
a recounting of tea leaves
moss on porcelain

reflected in newly waxed floors
before the elevator
and after we forgave.

Two forks

The discipline
you put yourself
through at least that
you got from your parents,
metal gun finish
in a stroke
of glances
torn aside

Newspaper ads about our
latest fantasy
smoke filled office lamps
overhead cupped heads
and one too many
drinks against a mirrored wall
splinters of pleasure
a captivating mosaic
the show of the show

Where no’s and yes’s
are relative
and honor no family
truces fail
like a child’s first step
on a bow
slipping on coattails too long

Two trees
between city brick
at sun after work.

moving day

in new houses we
watch the blooms drop
lighting the stairs
with fallen pink lights
you laid me down
begging for one more
late for work
your foot caught in the door

I hushed in your ear
there’s always tonight

you surprised me
with precious tales
told with hesitation
between syncopated kisses

running through chance
encounters in past lives
watching for the bird’s return
as life stirs

on a boat always afloat.

dry eyes

treating wounds in the field
the full moon to your right,
I pictured you young,
full of hope and no sense
of regret
like still waters
too deep

but how new, how passing
a summer of love
true and gone
by winter’s abode
whispered from
a death bed,
the last smile

a lamb’s shroud,
falling into leaves

we’ve never
laughed like that again

a poem for a poet

resisting is no good
on a day cold with green
flowers hanging
onto branches made black
with tar
some beauty in our destruction,
that of hope
to love like a child
and die like a hero,

cold wind through a torn screen
turning winter into spring
wondering how full the moon
was tonight
and in awe
of the city’s northern lights,

purple with hues of pink
and shapes of animals
seen on safari
said the teacher
to wide eyed children
the return to the words
of your first
in a dust jacket of a graduation present
graduations ago,

so we are the ocean’s crest.


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