in the interstices of time
our lives pause and twine

two primates clasped
in the thick hours
of infatuation

i close my eyes
picturing saber-toothed tigers
stalking towards the parked car

kiss me hard
take me all the way back
to the pliocene

Leaning On The Everlasting Arms

double pneumonia

it’s crushing me
nothing is on you
it hurts, i can’t breathe
the blanket? i moved it. how do you feel?
i just want to sleep

dad wraps me
fast in a quilt
runs downstairs
into the alley
buckles me into
the jeep wrangler
and we speed
through snowy

he carries me into the ER
and maintains a hostile air
of businesslike irritation
until i am in a room
until they give me oxygen
until my brain can think
hear, see, smell, taste

i can tell by the way
he sits next to my bed
his huge shoulders sloped
head lowered, eyes on the door
he is tired, impatient, scared

every time i wake up
they are drawing blood
my fingers ache
from the lack of it

maybe i need it more than they do

fever subsides
blood oxegenates
nurses give me icecream
in little foam cups
with wooden spoons

i am myself again

dad stands up
holds my hand
we can leave when you are ready
are you OK to walk?

he would carry me to the ends of the earth if asked
i didnt know then of time and weight and distance
that this was the last morning
he could carry me to safety

yes. i can walk, now.

The Alley Behind the Italian Restaurant

The Italian restaurant owner argues with the waitress about how there could not possibly be a leak in the ceiling, and that the water pooling in the hallway must be from something else.

I sit at a small table facing the back door, facing you.

We order dinner and contemplate a map of Italy.

The owner stares out of the white iron-scrolled door into the alley.

I am saying inane things to you to drown out the argument.

I can’t find the coordinates for Florence, but we should go there. And See Rome.

An ambulance arrives at the duplex across the alley.

They sell large cannoli and small cannoli, here. 

The paramedics in this neighborhood wear bulletproof vests.  I see them hauling a sheet-covered-stretcher down the stairs of an old duplex, partially obscured by the form of the Italian.

He turns from the screen door and puts on upbeat music.

The waitress glares at him from the corner.

You see the fear in my face.

You ask what’s wrong.

I cannot stand the incongruities.

The alley.  Our little stores of potential future pleasures, our play-acted tragedies, all of life amounts to Not A-God-Damned-Thing.

I think somebody died.

You search my face while I pretend to locate Florence on the map.  Despite my stalling tactic, I do not come up with anything more intelligent to say.

Life is terrifying.  Death is fucked.

Short-lived carnal appetites drive humanity forward.

The gnocchi is divine.  We order the large cannoli.

Ghost Walk Blues

I once read that troubled spirits cannot depart.  They are believed to walk the same path over and over again, wailing, screaming, seeking closure, and a release from their trauma.  Steps on the flagstones, screams in the well, hallways haunted by the rustle of their garments.

ghost walk blues

morning, night
she walks the perimiter
a lupine shadow, trailing

she commands him to sit, stay
at the end of the driveway
then releases him

he runs, unbridled
sleek with kinetic wolfjoy
scattering leaves in his wake

april sleet
thick as frozen buttermilk
clings to her cold, pale fingers

she laughs, swears
scattering handfuls of seeds
for the chicakdees’ breakfast

who cry out
their highest alert level
until the forms disappear

Scavenger’s Blues

blood-scented winter wind
tastes of spring mud
stings like paint chips
splintered into nailbeds

i look at my feet as i walk, collecting pinecones

feathered treebark falls
trodden down
on sidewalks
like crisp, flattened birds

saved between dictionary pages for decades

the hallowed parts of us
will transcend all
to be found and cherished

sought by the scavenger, immutable as nature



the sun edges beneath the hem of the leaden cloudbank
backlighting rosegold strands of vapor
spewing airy pellets, dripping sleet
onto bronze-leaved oaks

i ache for the warm brassy verve of summer sunsets
not iced bands of sepia-silver
growing cold as the sun slips asleep
drugged by November


Yosemite, Once

Two figures stop hiking to prepare lunch. Yosemite Valley in spring, an unearthly backdrop.

One woman is my cousin. The other sways in a state of dissociative stupor.

Is it me?

I cannot focus on streams of consciousness long enough to be certain.

I watch The-Woman-That-Is-Supposed-To-Be-Me spread her lunch on a large rock. An orange from a roadside stand, a PBJ sandwich, and home-made chocolate chip cookies that were schlepped all the way from PA.

She-Who-Is-Supposed-To-Be-Me stares at the scenery in awe.

She eats the orange.

The women speak, quiet and playfully caustic.

The sign says this is a seasonal pool and not a lake.

What a fucking ripoff.

Both laugh and watch the river twine through the valley.

It hurts to eat. To exist. To breathe.

She silently cries, barely sidestepping the esophageal pangs of anxiety-and-grief-induced-vomiting.

She writes a little poem on her phone.

She eats a bit more.

She snaps a photo.

For him? For no one.

She turns to her cousin and says:

Sometimes I don’t feel like I can make it.

april 1st 2019 – 3:22 PM

i feel like dying

next to Mirror Lake

it’s not even a lake

just a seasonal pool

in a riverbed

isn’t that a real bitch?

Hangman’s Blues

trust is a gallowsbird
perched beneath
a right-angled bough

noose-clad, unruffled
scanning the heavens
with sharp, burning eyes

swing eternal, dove
never knowing why
only that we must

sweet gallowsbird, pure
unrepentant grace
– struggle no longer

Lovecraftian Sleep Paralysis

Irrational fear:  I am scared of mice.  A few times growing up, they got into my bedroom, tore up tissues, and nested in my stuffed animals.  If I hear one in my house, scattering in the attic, scraping in the wall, if I catch a glimpse of one in a field, my blood freezes. I do not know why their ability to shatter my peace of mind has such a hold on me.

There’s a character named Brown Jenkin in the H.P. Lovecraft story ‘The Dreams in the Witch House.”  He is a familiar that has the body of a rat and a man’s face.  Sometimes I have states where I am awake but unable to move.  Where I know that I am probably dreaming the interdimensional-rat-human-hybrid is behind me, but cannot fully snap out of it.


interdimensional rodent

i respawn in a room i know
covered in bruised angles
he is there
trapped in the wall behind the bed
caught among jagged bits
of opioid-dazed fantasy

i cannot fight or move or scream
submerged in paralysis
he is here
freed from the drywall labyrinth
feel near, his steady breath
a vile, scraping form among us

i respawn in a room i know
of dazed, cold reality
he’s not here
i alight from my carousel
of uncertain nightmares
i hope that rat never finds me