Thursday, December 31, 2009

December 31, 2009

Though the dates have been deceiving, I have finally come back on track. My first attempt to write a poem a day failed, but these failures are merely the slab upon which success is built. I will start anew tomorrow and attempt another year of poetry. I hope that you have enjoyed this year, and I look forward to sharing a bit of my life with both people who accidentally stumble upon this blog while searching for the lead singer for Toad the Wet Sprocket.

So for my final poem of the year:

Just moments before the ball drops,
the sparklers light. and our names
are written in the disappearing air,

I am watching the friends I have
pour drinks and sip anxious conversation
in a poorly lit uptown apartment.

Among the glass bottles and city lights
there are quick hearts that wait
to see next year's

quick turns and abrupt stops
But for now, we casually await at
station, happily we've arrived together

Hopeful we'll see each other
the next time the golden whistle blows.

July 13, 2009

Like Coleridge, last night
I dreamed in art,
and if I were wise I
would have had paper
and pen at my bedside
and if I were wise I
would have written on the
walls if there was no paper
and if I were wise I
would have written it with
blood if there was no ink.

But instead, I lounged in
the warmth of awake
and let the story vanish,
just like the great skeletal
eel vanished in my dream
with a wave of her vaporous hand.

July 12, 2009

I am comfortable
on the carpeted floor
of this country home.

My friend, down for the holidays
plays and electric keyboard
whose un-dampened notes
carry chords about the warm room.

Other friends are stirring
small cups of conversation,
walking in tight circles
like toy trains.

Unbeknownst to them, I
am furiously penning it all down,
a play by play of this
seemingly innocuous moment.

When they wake, they will
have forgotten, but I , having
wrapped it in a ribbon of words,
will remember.

And I will tear off the bow
each time my eyes
open this small present of a poem.

July 11, 2009

My nephews are asleep,
their hands held tightly

over their eyes. My brother,
more impressive to me now than

ever before, is outside in the
cold, biting carrots left for the deer.

he proudly says that he can’t make deer tracks
because his sons will know they’re fake.

He’ll fall asleep tonight, his arm around
his wife and will be woken

in a nut full of hours by the
children who now so soundly sleep.

Grow as I may, my brother will
always be a giant to me.

July 10, 2009

I am sitting in my
father’s chair, beside
an orange fire in
the early hours of
Christmas day.

The stockings are
a slow cascade
down the wooden
bannister. The trees

with their little glowing
fruit, hold Dollar Tree
ornaments and shield
unwrapped presents
from an indoor rain.

My older brothers are
beside me arguing about
global warming and unregulated
population, and somehow

the gumdrops that
would have danced some
20 years ago in my
childhood head must
tonight, be sorely unsatisfied.

Their gummy selves
stretched out on candy
couches, significantly
depressed by my brothers’
directionless diatribes.

The candy canes,
bundled like barber shop tinder,
another Christmas faggot
waiting to be burned.

July 9, 2009

The man in front of me
is socially perfect the way
that men are good dancers
on their wedding day.

I can imagine that he’s
been training daily for this
casual conversation he’s
sparked with his unattractive waitress.

I imagine that when he
leaves, holding his smile until
the door, he’ll quickly exhale
the nervous breath he took

when walking into this everyday
shop, whose clientele and coffee are both
rather unremarkable.

July 8, 2009

The man in front of me
is holding a tomato slice
like my childhood priest

held the broken Eucharist.
Somewhat papal with his
short hair and pock-marked face

I am drawn to line up
in front of him, open my
mouth for a transubstantiated

pickle chip, take a holy
swig from his chai tea,
confess to him my fabricated

sins, then walk away,
terrified, ashamed, and still

July 7. 2009

In this early morning
coffee shop, the runners
social misfits gather.

Some have just awoken
while others wind down
to a short stack crawl.

It is here, I think,
in this hazy center of
the Venn diagram

that people are most human,
both drunk and aerobicizer
overwhelmed by relief

that they are not the other.

July 6, 2009

The Christmas tree
my mother insists upon
is over fifteen feet high and growing

The ornaments, our
childhood art projects hang
off the plastic giant only waist high

The top is naked
but for the long ribbon of a bow
that spills down each side like crepe lava

my mother
a hopeful
soul, sees
not waste
but canvas
on which
her giant
will paint.

July 5, 2009

My nieces and nephews
are a coal burning train
that has run out of track.

Hands high above their heads
and mouths wide open,
they run through the kitchen

on fire. My mother, more stern
in her grandmothering years
holds them by the scruff

and tries to catch them
in a sack of silence,
but there are holes in

that burlap sack and
through the smallest one,
I hear a steady crescendo,

a five-mouthed wail

July 4, 2009

It is late in the house
I grew up in, far later

than I would have been
allowed to stay awake

or sit in my father’s chair.
The half-eaten bowl

of cashews sits in front of me
like some still life, hanging in the Orsay.

The seventeen wounded nuts are
devastated at eh bottom of the

chipped, brown bowl.
The window beside me only

gives me a dark reflection
of the sad painting in front of me.

Behind the cold glass, the
winds stir the short hill country

trees like a cauldron. The rains sweeps
our porch like a crying widow, and I

sit shocked in the melancholy morning
of my childhood home.

To think, I thought my parents were concerned for my health
when clearly it was my soul they were protecting.

July 3, 2009

I am done buying gifts
for the ragamuffin children

who sport my name and hold
a thimble full of my blood.

I have won their affections
with reptiles and ribbons,

and they have thanked me as
their embarrassed mother instructed.

And the machine look in their eyes
as they threw obligatory arms about my neck

is perhaps similar to the look in mine as
they tore through the thin green paper.

Emptiness given, emptiness received.
The ornaments, older than I remember.

July 2, 2009

I do not congratulate
us for being smart. No,
our cephaloons are helium
filled enough.

But on the rare occasion
that we use what we’ve
been given, that we open
the locks and latches of our abilities,

these are the rare and beautiful moments
that I stand to applaud.

I will not cheer the gun, but the aim,
Not the violin, but the pull of the bow,
Not the tools, my young friend,

But the machines you have built with them.

July 1, 2009

In this windswept
college town that has
emptied for Christmas
like loose marbles

I am alone in my
little castle of a house.
The doors, now locked,
stand at rare attention

to defend their one king
whose thrown is made of
half-written sonnets, whose
crown, discarded popsicle sticks.

June 30. 2009

When I close my eyes
there are still dragons
and rocky crags.

There are still panoramic
waterfalls that hide
cave entrances.

There are unicorns and
elves and dust-winged fairies
and magic that keeps
my eyes shut tightly.

June 29, 2009

I am, on this crisp
December afternoon, still
in bed.

The sun, midpoint on its
high arch, bleeds
through my curtained windows
a milky light.

Still buried beneath
blankets I will pretend
it is the middle of night

that the sky is black
and bare, and this light
is the glow of a messenger,
hovering quietly,
outside my unsuspecting, undeserving house.

June 28, 2009

Qualitative Analysis

The stacks of cards,
significant in staccato,
are the fragmented
truths that I’ve gathered.

And with each stack
I shall build a small
and fragile house.

And only then,
when the cards
are no longer cards,
but my walls and roofs
and floors,

will I understand
not truth, but a truth
that I have visited.

Let the statisticians tell you of the houses.
I will tell you of the homes.

June 27, 2009

The cobra is not feared
for its strength, but for
its speed, able to strike
as a gun is fired.

The ant is nor revered
for its speed, but for
its strength, able to carry
small mountains.

The human, of course, is
neither feared or revered,
for speed or strength,
but will be remembered
as a god, as our words
are all that remember.

June 26, 2009

Somewhere in these names
there are mothers and pianists
and priests and beggars
and lawyers and murders
and the best and the worst
of us. Somewhere
in these names there are
men clawing at the gates
and men hiding beneath the bed.
There are women arriving
and leaving,
and in the oceans of thin
black robes and stiff mortar boards,
the only difference from my mezzanine seat
is how the temperature has dropped
as they all hold their breath
at once.

June 25, 2009

I will begin again with you
If you will forgive me all
the times I’ve stutter stepped to greatness.

If you allow me to fill balloons
with your regrets and send them
drifting high into a cloudy sky.

If when I touch the upper part of
your arm you only feel my hands.

If when I touch your bottom lip,
you do not close your eyes.

June 24, 2009

The oven hums like
Christmas and the un-iced
ginger-men inside stretch
and brown to a deep
Caribbean hue that the
white mothers will modestly dress
in cinnamon raincoats
and gumdrop shoes.

The pant-less cookies
will be fed to the
white children, who will
with no explanation bite
their heads first. Their bodies,
still soft, will be dismembered
clockwise until the child
swallows the trunk, gulps pasteurized milk,
and reaches for another.

June 23, 2009

The Church at Pontatac

And the penitent trees
bow down at the rock altars of Pontatac.

And the deer are the ministers
Holding the Eucharist in their antlered fingers.

And the winds are the hymns
and the stars are the prayers

Here within this rustic congregation
of drying leaves and crippled creeks.

Here where the quiet Christians
scurry beneath the underbrush

between the bending light
that falls through the penitent trees

that have come to bow down
here, at the rock altars of Pontatac.

June 22, 2009

An Evening With Garrison Keillor

I stood with them and applauded
in the middle of that maroon seated auditorium.
I stood and banged my hands like cymbals.

You, in modesty or prayer held yours
just beneath your bowed head as
the crowd continued to cheer.

It was then that my eyes warmed
as if to water, but
instead of crying for you,
I think I was welling up
for the America that you gave us,
the fireside conversation,
the warm, log-cabin blanket,
the smoke billowing from some
distant mountain home.
The family dinner whose table
you head, whose hand-sewn linen
covers the country.

June 21, 2009

The small blue pills
I take to clear my arteries
and thin my blood
are small enough
to swallow without water.

The small blue pills
I take to clear my arteries
and thin my blood
are small enough
to hold in the cup of my tongue.

The small blue pills
I take to clear my arteries
and thin my blood
are small enough
to lose if they are dropped.

The small blue pills
I take to clear my arteries
and thin my blood
are the only thing
keeping the ocean off my chest
the volcano from erupting
the vice grip of death
from my over-worked heart.

June 20, 2009

I am tired of these arms,
like straws in a trash bag.
I want instead to stretch sleeves
while turning on the ignition.

I think I will start with curls,
13 res of my self intolerance.

I’ll tire easily at first,
but with time, I’ll take more weight.

June 19, 2009

The decapitated snowman
at the corner of Everett and 12th
is bold, but not as
evocative as the red-nosed reindeer
strung up for cleaning
just past the old Catholic church.

Perhaps not as showy, I’ve been
building a little gingerbread Chernobyl
in my basement. I’ve used Sour Patch
Kids for the Russians.

They glow like Christmas lights.

June 18, 2009

Waiting here in the hallway
that connects pods A and B
of the Beutel Student Health Center

I can feel my enlarged heart
galloping. I can see
the tired valves flapping.

I can hear the syncopated
palpitation that worries my
middle-aged doctress.

The smoker’s cough of the
triage nurse reminds me
that I am the only one who hears.

I wonder now, in the co-ed
next to me, the khaki man down the hall,
and the Arabic couple whispering to my right,

what secret songs do their bodies sing?
What local disaster are they hiding?
A flood? An eruption? The quiet death
of a poorly constructed machine,
flashing its last convulsive lights?

June 17, 2009

Driving south on Highway 6
I saw three freshly turned
mounds of earth in a roadside graveyard.

In the cool evening rain
the soil was still thick
and black, the flowers still crisp and yellow,

and the graves, so close
together could only mean that they knew each other.
They died together.

And I thought, if I died, you would bury me.
If you died, I would bury you,
but if we both died together, would
we know the hands that pushed
the first mound of dirt on our coffins?
Would we care?
Would we remember?

June 16, 2009

I will not cut it
short and stubbly
like your cologne

I will not cut it
in wild designs
like your desperate
musicians and filmmakers.

I will not cut it
so neat and comely
that my face would be
remiss without it.

I will cut it once, without warning,
delight in your faces,
then wake the next morning refusing to shave.

June 15, 2009

It is always in
the deepest holes of the night
those moments just before
the sun and long after
this little orange slice has gone to bed
that I walk the empty halls
of this house and wonder
what is next.

These anxious moments
so full of potential and promise
buzz around me such that
I can barely sleep.

But when I do and then subsequently wake,
I am as dull as the previous morning.

What I would give to bottle these
nighttime bees, open them
in the morning,

let them sting me to greatness.

June 14, 2009

Benjamin Franklin was 81
when he signed the Constitution.

It is said that when he did so,
tears streamed down his face.

His body, so deteriorated from gout,
required a younger man to hold
his hand as he wrote.

Barely able to walk, Franklin was
carried to and from the hall by four
prisoners from the Walnut Street jail.

Is it such a stretch to imagine
that the same man who carried him
would serve as his aide?

Is it such a stretch to imagine that out
of the thirty-nine signers, one held
the heart of a founding father, but
the strength of a convict?

Did he know what history he pushed as he guided
that liver spot hand?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

June 13, 2009

I’ve pulled six books
from my shelves in hopes
that one would yield a poem.

A Concise Encyclopedia, Pauline Brown’s Guide to Beginning Patchwork, a small bound edition of the U.S. Constitution, Seamus Heaney’s translation of “Beowulf,” Peter Irons’ Jim Crow’s Children—a discussion of the Brown decision, and a New Living Translation of the Holy Bible.

Surely in these poems and proverbs, these
facts and fabrics, these laws and their
verdicts, there is a short verse worth my ink.

And when I find it, I will be sure
to send it your way. A little lateral
literacy to enlighten your lives.

And if it bends the eye the way my
grandfather once claimed I could bend the ear
then my poem will not be an end in itself
but a beginning and a beginning and a beginning.

June 12, 2009

An Exercise in Typography (3)

able bodied
men from Catalina
went sailing, only one came home.

June 11, 2009

An Exercise in Typography (2)

able bodied
men from Catalina
went sailing, only one came home
a man.

June 10, 2009

An Exercise in Typography (1)

able bodied
men from Catalina
went sailing, only one came home,

June 9, 2009

Open Letter to Stephenie Meyer

I have not read your books.
I do not plan to.

I have heard they are
a great story penned by
a willing if inadequate writer.

I congratulate you on
overcoming your name.
I believe, until now,
the highest honor a “Stephenie”
has received was Lieutenant Colonel
of her high school drill team.

You’ve really showed the world
what big hair and high kicks
can do when unfettered by the
yoke of character development.

June 8, 2009

Heloise was not beautiful,
but she held her ugly
in a champagne flute

such that the gentlemen
never drank too much.

June 7, 2009

Simple Sentences

A sentence always has a subject and a verb:
I won
Phillippe snores.
The soup is cold.
-Rules of Thumb: A Guide for Writers, 7thedition

But what did I win?
And what is the prize?
And who, if anyone, did I best?
And are they angry? And if not,
shouldn’t they be?
And is it over, or will I
have to defend my title tomorrow?
And how will I
continue holding the
trophy with both hands
when there are so
many people here
to congratulate me?

Surely Phillippe does not snore.
He may breathe deeply or sigh
loudly, but he wears a heavy crown.
You did not tell us what
he did before he lay down
on that embroidered pillow.
You did not tell us
what page or small peasant revolt
he will conquer upon waking.
You did not tell us if it is
tonight during his, what you have
casually called , “snoring,” that his
throat will be slit and let his
royal blood flow like the Seine.

And what about the body,
slumped over the table?
What about the wooden hilt
that branches from the woman’s
spine? What about the sweat
on her brow? Is it not also cold,
the winter door left open, her
mute son still running.

June 6, 2009


Last night on the couch
as bergman and Grant
fell irresponsibly into love,

I thought about how
cold you and I are to
one another and how

this black and white romance
will stay stale and lackluster
until you are called

to espionage, and I,
your ranking official,
am thrown into harm’s way.

I think it is then
you will turn your soft
profile to me.

It is then, that I
will hold your head like
a globe and press

you into me. Oh, where
are those meddlesome Germans
when you need them.

June 5, 2009

The Norton Anthology of English Renaissance
Drama sits wrapped like beef jerky
on a borrowed wooden shelf in my bedroom.

I am sure that somewhere within
that vacuum-sealed variorum
there are scenes and acts which would,
if I let them, expand my mind like popcorn,

but for now I am happy that their
thick British vowels, which I’ve always had
a hard time discerning, are cheerfully
packaged in sharp cornered cellophane.

Who knows what would happen if we let
them out too trustingly, Marlowe,
Jonson, and Webster pushing
sweet William beneath the bus.

June 4, 2009

Lord make me simple
so that both poverty and
wealth will suit me

Lord make me shrewd
so that the devil or devils within
cannot trick me

Lord make me kind
so that there is nothing, time or coin,
that I will not gladly surrender

Lord make me just
so that my judgment is sharp and true
that the arrows are not my own

Lord make me brave
so that I am unafraid to fight
those monsters within and without

Lord make me small
so that I see how big you are
Lord make me wrong
so that I see how right.

June 3, 2009

How impotent my actions
How futile my deeds
I am
a land-locked raft
a thread-less screw
a bear and a lion
all stars and no teeth.
I am a log-less fire,
a lake unbanked.
I am the unbitten apple
a plague upon dead trees
a horse, unbridled, but still,
Caedmon, awake before he dreamt.

June 2, 2009

When she died
they cut her open
and found her kidney
was a bean bag.
They found her tongue
was sliced in two.
They found her toenails painted
and her stomach full of fingernails.

I’ll tell you her toenails
were cherry vodka red.

Somehow, I think, this
will have resolved things for you.

June 1, 2009

I want my hand
to hold, not my future,
but an accurate map
of the many rivers
I will forge,.

I want each line
to be a tributary, a branch,
so that when I look upon my palm,
I am not reading as much
as I am divining.

There are three great rivers:
one falls off the edge of the world;
one s deep like a canyon;
one is long and opens into
the great ocean of my arm.

May 31, 2009

With these hands,
I hold mountains,
rocky crags,
and their un-summited climbs.

With these hands,
I hold oceans,
deep trenches,
and their soundless abysses.

With these hands,
I hold space,
its airy tentacles,
and their bushels of jittery stars.

With these hands
I try to hold three words,
but they spill out from my fingers;
they scatter at my feet;
they roll, frictionless,
across the glass table of conversation.

May 30, 2009

For Bosquiat

Unbeknowst to me
I have become a cat person.
Helping a friend
take her pet to the vet,
I held the
ball of fur and fight
through thirteen traffic lights.

Perhaps it was the eleventh light
that the cat looked up,
and somewhere in its
mustard eyes there was
a quiet dignity,
a reserved confidence,

an understanding that though cat,
there is something of gods
in there,

a dusty history, shelved in the stripes
that line the tail
that curls about my arm like an asp.

May 29, 2009

The girl was large,
conspicuously so. Her
wide body perched
uncomfortably on
a buckling chair
in the hallway.

Her head, a
small grape to the
melon of her body
was slender, if only
in comparison.

She seemed trapped
there, a barrel
on its way over the edge,
a child in an iron lung,
a girl, 19, carrying
the world on her hips.

May 28, 2009

Bonfire Remembrance 2009

They flood in, small rivers
these families and students
who did not see Bonfire burn like a canopy,
did not hear Bonfire laugh like a harlequin,
did not feel Bonfire, shaking and shuddering.

here in this place that now echoes a memory
quiet hymns hum in the halls of our history.

Now is the night when their open ears, listening
quiet enough for a ten- tear-old voice

to say, “Silence young soldiers, our work is not over here.
Patience my brothers and sisters, still smoldering.

“We are the smoke and the ashes, the wind
that has yet to die down, that will stir through these logs

“Until you and your progeny, you with our history, you in your destiny,
set stones ablaze.”

May 27, 2009

These brightest days
are jewels on the crowns
of a few,

the glints from
the swords
of a few,

the gleam
int eh eyes
of a few,

and we, the rest,
are the dark many,
storing light like coins,

hoarding the great treasures
of the chosen.

May 26, 2009

From the top of Harrington Tower,
just before the sun slips away,
the dome of the Academic Building
offers a subtle severity,
anachronistic in our clay-colored campus.

From here, this little castle of a building,
with its windowed eyes and lattice balconies,
is not unlike one that some Renaissance
prince would step out onto, survey his land,
and walk back into his tapestried halls.

As I look down among
the grassy lawn of Cushing and through
the heavy boughs of the century tree,
I am not surprised to see
these regal students,

small kings and queens of
monarchies yet unmade.

May 25, 2009

Qualitative Research

We bring our biases
like crowns
like ribbons
like fanfare.
We announce them
like great orators
on the eve of battle.
We spread them
like thick blankets
over the picnics we prepare,

so when they come to eat,
they will take our research
with great mouthfuls of our souls.

May 24, 2009

Quilted Woman

There is a woman who quilts
and keeps calico cats
in the stacks of batiks
that cover her house,
and her liver spot skin
is a stretched Pollock print.
It’s a dangerous pattern,
her bones sewn within.

And her poetry’s pieces,
her prose cut apart,
but she seamlessly speaks
from her thread-tethered heart.

And her cat is a quilt
and her home is a quilt
and her skin is a quilt
and her voice is a quilt
and her life has been built
by the scraps left behind:

her memory, the thread; the needle, her mind.

May 23, 2009

Closing the Book

I am done writing.
I have retired the pen.
I have buried my little
coffin of a composition book.
I have gathered broken sonnets
and recycled sestinas
and heaped them into a small pyre
into which I’ll also throw
my book project, my love letters,
and the epic poem I’ve been writing
on the people of the Ibo islands.

Don’t worry about the little
black children collecting shells
in the secret Carolinas.
They’re used to being forgotten.

May 22, 2009

A Presidential Moment

He was here, you know?
Among the trees and benches
A day like today.

I didn’t see him, no,
but I saw the suits.
I saw the traffic.
I saw the flashing lights.

I heard the held the
crowd like a cup.
He sipped slowly
and let the stem rise,

and I, with nothing to drink
and thirsty for a whole country,
waited at the door.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

May 21, 2009

You collect them,
their eyes and their teeth,
their births and bar mitzvahs
Thier pulling on and taking off
of pants and aprons,
their children and their children's soft songs.

their bombs and their bones
their baked goods
all neatly ordered in their
oaken kitchen cabinets.

You collect thier flags
their heirlooms
their watches
and their time

their pens and the ink that spilled
their oratory and the ink still hiding.

You collect them as we collect you
your rumpled skin and chicken-scratch caography

And we, you and I, exist like some Escher painting
two outstretched hands trying to file one another away.

May 20, 2009

I'll hold this night
in the crux of my neck,
in the arch of my back,
on the shelf of my shoulders.

I'll hold this night
in the sleeves of my eyes,
in the shells of my nails,
in the little toolbox of my ears.

I'll hold this night
like i'll hold my tongue,
like I'll hold my breath,
like I'll hold your hand,
not holding mine.

May 19, 2009

On writing four drafts of a letter I did not send

I'm sorry,
and there it is,
no more and no less.
The leafless tree,
the grpeless vine,
the shelled acorn
and its little pumpkin soul.

I'm sorry,
and we are all sorry,
a misty-eyed patch
of harvest ready pumpkins
bare and apologetic.

May 18, 2009

Am I not still
a prophet of Bael?
Still licking my skin
with sharp stone?
Still waiting on my salamandrine god.

Monday, October 19, 2009

May 17, 2009

On the quilted first floor
of the Dabbs Hotel,
there are trains that
no longer run and
passengers who watch
their luggage gather
sheets of unstirred dust.

On the quilted first floor
of the Dabbs Hotel,
there are empty ballrooms
full of gossamer gowns
that hang like once happy women.

On the quilted first floor
of the Dabbs Hotel,
there are doors that lead
to guns and gold
and wide trunked trees
whose rotten fruit are not grown.

On the quilted first floor
of the Dabbs Hotel,
balanced between
the river and the rail,
there is a story and a crime
and a girl with no eyes,
a song and a spade
and an unmarked grave
and a man with no tongue
who's afraid of the sun

and so plays the piano each night.

May 16, 2009

As our best selves, we are still no better than the mice
that churn like ants on this small revolving orange.

As our worst selves, we are still no worse than the fish
that bite and tear the skin of drowning calves.

And so I sit, pen in my mouth and fingers slowly searching these
ergonomically placed keys, thinking if it is optimism or pessimism
that makes me think I should be heard.

Friday, October 16, 2009

May 15, 2009

You did not glance towards Evelyn
when you spoke of black women.
You did not look at Jon
when you spoke of gay white men.
You did not look at Patel
when you spoke of the Hindu faith.
You did not look at Renee
when you spoke of single mothers.

But it was not until you concluded class,
when you were saying nothing at all
that you looked at me.

What monster, what hero, what
pagan, what priest, what birth,
and what death do you think hides
beneath this bubbling skin,

And what do you think your
cataract eyes would do if they
finally saw it?

May 14, 2009

They tell me to read the Bible
sit down and hold my thumbs
Breathe long deep breaths
and listen to a God who is close.

They say they talk to him daily
they feel His presence like so much wind
They hear His plan for them.

And so I sit cross-legged
and cross-armed on this dirty carpet
my Bible opened to Job
my eyes closed and my
breathes long, slow as the Nile

And I don't her Him
and I don't ever hear Him
and I don't know if my
stillness is not still enough
or if he forgot to show

leaving me alone
a handful of thumbs

Sunday, October 4, 2009

May 13, 2009

If I had a dog,
I would not feed it.
Instead, I would let
it forage, dependent
upon neighbors and
passersby to give it
a bit of ham or some
cool water to drink.

When it returned, well-fed,
I would of course reward
it with a tickle behind the ear
or a scratch on its plump belly,
but no food will come form my hand,
no drink will come from my bowls.

I think the dog will eventually
thank me for making it so resilient,
so resourceful.

The technique obviously isn't my own.
(Though I'd love to take credit)
Parents, in fact, have been doing it for years.
Just look a their hungry children
filling up our nation's soup-kitchen classrooms.

May 12, 2009

The clothes in my
closet hang like
thin men at attention.

One is wearing my woolen
jacket, another my Parisian scarf.

The all stand facing the same way.

And people wonder why I don't get sleep

I don't even know what the
paper soldiers, feet from my head,
are saluting.

May 11, 2009

There are some nights
I must write a poem
before I lie down.

It doesn't need to
be an award winning poem,
not even a publishable poem.

It just needs to be a poem,
a small part of the contract
I signed up for
the first day I raised a pen.

And if it is good,
And if it is not,
No bother,
These things were never meant for the world anyway.

May 10, 2009

Bottle htis up.
This acrid melancholy.
This sweet salvation.
This hope. This fear. This light.

Bottle this up.
This way I'm looking at you.
This hitched hip you've got
pointing my direction.
Bottle this up.
This periwinkle elbow.
This thunderous acorn.
This hot air buffoon.
Bottle it up.
Because it's going fast,
and I'm still thirsty.

Friday, September 11, 2009

May 9, 2009

It's strange how just now
I was so determined to
get pen and paper, so intent
on finding tools for writing,
that I've forgotten what I
deemed so necessary to say.

Now to keep the pen occupied,
I'm drawing spirals on the paper.
My hand is sideways on the page,
lying motionless on the little
blue tracks that refuse to warn me
of the little blue train approaching.

May 8, 2009

My list of things to do
is wide but not deep,

Drink milk and eat eggs,
stretch like a cat before rising,

Dance in an otherwise empty elevator,
balance a spoon on my nose

Wave at the shaking trees,
and lay open faced to the noonday sun.

My list of things to do
is wide but not deep.

My list of things to be, however,
is thin but cuts down to this planet's boiling heart.

May 7, 2009

A Final Request

And when they close
the book on me
and set it on a high shelf
between Petrarch and Poe,

let them say it was wrong,
let them say it was shocking,
let them say it appalled even
the most diplomatic of palates,

just hold their tongues
and bind their lips
before they dare say
it wasn't worth the read.

May 6, 2009

A gaggle I understand,
A murder, I hesitantly accept,
A brood, a school, a crash,
I hear them without concern.

But a parliament, a congress...

There is something about those birds holding court,
Their twisting necks and sharpened beaks pecking out legislation,
That makes my snake self quiver.

May 5, 2009

there are bees
in my kitchen
bright flashes
of light and sound

and when I wake
they swarm me
and when I sleep
they haunt me

and in their most
regal of moments
they genuflect
and call me queen

their sticky knees bent
a trembling field
a humming carpet upon which
I dare not walk.

May 4, 2009

On Turning 30

And here I am
straight-legged and
my body finally
filling in this skin.

My voice no longer
percholating in the
little cauldron of my throat.
My hair being
pulled back like a
slow scalping.

And here I am
known and unknown,
a cool summer day
with a wind that
carries fall on its back.

And I am not afraid,
And I am not bewildered,
And I am not anxious.

I am rising, as if
from a light sleep,
realizing that the
world will not wait
as I slumber and stretch.

And if I want the crown,
I cannot wait for the king to die,
And if I want the crown,
I cannot wait for the king to die,
And if I want the king to die,
I cannot wait for the king to die.

I must enter his guarded chambers
awake him and give him his sword,
then tell only the priests that
the handle was poisoned.

Friday, August 21, 2009

May 3, 2009


When I woke up this morning,
it was a half day. The curtains
half-drawn let half the sun
fill half my bed with light.

The half-slab of bacon I cooked
on half an iron skillet filled
half the kitchen with smoke
and half the alarm went singing.

I walked into my office carrying
only half of the papers I needed: not
forgetting some, but carefully cutting
them down into equal portions.

By the time noon rolled around,
I had finished half my work
and was looking forward to half
a sandwich I had half-hidden in my drawer.

Eating with the right side of
my mouth on the left side of
a nearby bench, I saw a
whole person walk past.

And when they smiled, it was not
the half-smile I give, but
a whole, tooth-heavy grin,

and I, half-heartedly, smiled back,
knowing that only I knew it was half.

May 2, 2009

If one day we should meet
and you should fail to recognize me,

I will break your arm,
ensuring you'll not forget again.

May 1, 2009

I awoke last night
in a brilliant peace
and walked, bare-footed,
into the hot night air.

The stars, who have
always been for the poor,
spun around my outstretched
hand, and grabbing one,
I fell to my knees.

My unopened hand, still
an arm's length above my head,
a trembling fist, opened
like hibiscus,

and for a moment, I
held both the sky and earth
at once.

April 30, 2009

You bit my lip
while kissing and
I, none the wiser,
bit back, but baby,
if I had known
you were devouring me,
I would have run.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

April 29, 2009

They're building a house at the corner of Fairview and Old Jersey,
a great and terrible house that will surely swallow up the kitsch
and courage of the crumbling Historic District.

I hope that when people pass it on their way to football games
or the ghost of the MSC, they'll refuse to admire its gabled windows
and easy wrap-around porch.

I hope instead they close their eyes and remember the first professors
who lived there, in those twisting and colorless shacks, now gone.

I hope they walk past it with a certain arrogance, knowing what the builders
do not, that their home will never be at home here, that their children
will not be family, that their mobile home money can only buy a house.

April 28, 2009

While walking last night,
I found a small book of matches.

The front design was fading,
and the matches were worn.

Nonetheless, I slipped one through
the bent book hoping it would ignite.

Predictably, the match didn't light
and I continued my pilgrimage in the dark,

heavy with the thought that if I wait,
I too will be rendered useless,

A wordless book and the sulfur I still smell.

April 27, 2009

Drunk girls, I've decided
have the same appeal
as parking lot carnivals.

What, with their squeaky
merry-go-rounds and poorly
constructed Ferris wheels.

And I, having paid my
admission, assume that
the bright lights and
cotton candy are for me,

that where there is
laughter and balloon animals
there is a certain peace,

but I, like many drunk men
have never stayed long enough
to see the carnival end,
to see the carnival workers
with their long faces and leather hands,
picking up the crumbling party,
welding, screwing, gluing it together,
hoping it holds so that no one gets hurt.

April 26, 2009

The cobweb Kilimanjaro
is still snowy and unclimbed,
and I, shoeless and asleep
will not, cannot touch the tip
until you or someone like you
with soft lashes and lips
can bring its apex down,
can bend or bow the mountain,
to meet my hand in repose.

April 25, 2009

I think it is not a passing of the torch
as much as it is a torching of the past.
And as I sit here, ash-eyed and forgotten,
as the chronal flames leap beneath my chin,
I am whole and human and combustible,
and this scream I sing is not one of pain
but one of longing and hope and light.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

April 24, 2009

The bagels are burned
and the toast is now toast.
The sunny-side-ups took
the train to the coast.

the juice has been lossed,
and the mik is now cheese.
The jam has re-fruited,
the honey, rebee-ed

The bacon backed out
on account of the ham
who has, just like the sausage,
jumped out of the pan.

The flapjacks were flipped
and chose not to come down.
the waffles we cooked
are a little too brown.

The French toast and scones
have repatriated.
The blueberry yogurt's
absurdly outdated.

And I'd have some bran flakes,
but the milk is still cheese,
and the bran flakes with beer,
they don't look fit to eat.

And though I need breakfast
I have half a hunch
the only breakfast I'll get
will be timely called lunch.

April 23, 2009

I wear my sex
like an origami hat,

and though silly and strange,
these corners are sharp.

I wouldn't recommend
this razor thin crown.

April 22, 2009

These waves are not too high
and will not crush you if you stand.
These waves are not too high
and will not crush you if you stand.
These waves are not too high
and will not crush you if you stand.

But these shells beneath your feet are sharp
and under magnificent weight,
will cut you till you bleed.

April 21, 2009


He loosens his collar
with olived fingers,
sure to drop the next
thing that isn't wet.

April 20, 2009


Shivering in diamonds,
her rhinestone ribs
and sapphire stilettos
quake light.

April 19, 2009


Head back on the
pool lounger, she
moves her glasses up.
Her eyes still shut.

April 18, 2009

The next few poems may contain short descriptive verses about the anthropomormhic nature of a word. Imagine if you would, what exactly you'd see if a word walked through the door.


Sleek and leggy
A man at each hip
Unlit cigarettes
Burn in her lips.

April 17, 2009


The locks are unlocked,
and the old brass hinges sing.
This door we cannot open is ajar.

The small moon of its knob
is spinning at a carousel's speed.
This door we cannot open is ajar.

The tongue of its latch
is pushed out by a well-oiled spring.
This door we cannot open is ajar.

Now the stage that we curtain
is crowded with things never seen.
This door we cannot close is ajar.

April 16, 2009

It must have been late
when I told you over
a hot coffee and the
rolling cobblestones of the
Rue de la Huchette
that the gargoyles of
Notre Dame no longer scare me.

I know because if it
had been early in the day
when the the tourists were
still riding the cathedral
like a rollercoaster, you would
have laughed, put your
shell-like hand on my shoulder,
and told me the gargoyles
aren't just stone in this town.

Monday, August 10, 2009

April 15, 2009

Walking Through the MSC

But where will they put the spheres
while the living room is renovated?

Surely not in the building
as it bends and breaks and burns.

And surely not on display in
some unused hall or treeless aboretum.

No, I think they'll be stored away
in some tight-lipped closet about the city
where predictably one small boy
with a bobby pin and a bit of luck

will uncover the find of the century.

Two whole worlds, one blue, one red,
Being held, prisoner planets
in the dark.

April 14, 2009

Fixing a Poem

For the last three days
I've been turning
a screww ina hollow,
lip-less hole.

It is no further in now
than when I started, and
it holds no promise of
tightening soon.

The manual has its lettered
body poiting to what
I know is this numbered hole.

So I'll just keep turning.

Better to be dilligent than lazy, I guess.
Who knows what wild world I'd create.
If I shook these words like bones.

April 13, 2009

That I would write the stories
children sleep to dream.

That I would grow from black sand
an apple tree.

That worlds would live within me.

Whole worlds with mutinous children.

Asking, demanding to be set free.

April 12, 2009

In pieces I will be less intimidating,
less august, less grand.

In pieces I will be easy to handle,
acquescient and small.

In pieces I will weigh nothing
and hold a gavel-less court in my hands.

In pieces I will perish,
but in whole I will swallow your cities

without water.

April 11, 2009

You can keep your windy cities
and pockets full of light,
your skyscrapers and office buildings
that stand like eager children.
You can keep your undergrounds
and asphault spaghetti, the
commuters who ride them like
rollercoasters. You can keep your
elevators and moving sidewalks
your neon nights and midnight oil.

Just leave me this railroad town
with its slow summer clouds
and crawling heat. Leave me
its humble bones and modest homes.
Leave me its translucent stars
that stir and rise with the
faraway bellow of a southbound train.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

April 10, 2009


I have long feared
that my small walks
in the heavy forest of poetry
would make me one of
those sad characters
in Vaudevillian melodramas
or French cabarets.

Even now as I
sit and wait, my
concrete pencil
barely moves.

The rash on my leg
is growing and the
sky is starless and still.

I begin to believe
my hypochondria.
I take small breaths
so the cancer doesn't spread.

April 9, 2009

Empty Threat

I will hold his larynx
in my hand, push my
finger through its taut
chords, set it gingerly
beneaththe heel of my shoe,
then apply my weight
until I hear your last word

April 8, 2009

Vegetable Apocalypse

In the last days
there will be no
fruit or vegetable
only hard, weather-worthy
wheat and nuts.

The barley and tobacco
will still grow, but the corn
and tomatoes will fall
and un-twist. The
carrots and beets will
uproot themselves from
the drying earth.
The orchards will sway and
break like our fathers.
The gardens will crawl
and burn like our mothers
and our tables will be set
with chestnuts and bread
and we will eat our
colorless meals in silence.

In the last days
I will not hold
your hand and
I will not regret
your death, but
for the small cherries
of your cheeks, the
smooth squash of your
arms, the ripe
cantaloupe of your
head and the harvest
that will rot, a
broken cornucopia
beneath the dry
and unforgiving earth.

April 7, 2009

With my bags still packed
from a 4-week vacation
and my beard more ragged than usual,
I wonder how many of these
middle-class Houstonians who pass
quickly by my current park bench, think
that this leisure park is my home.

Surely children's hands have been
gripped tighter since mothers saw me,
and the scennc stroll past my particular path
is seemingly less attractive than others.

I am forced now to review my own
assumptions. How many slumbering
men and women on the streets of our father cities
were just travelers in repose, worn and weary
from a long journey that they'll one day
end in a host of warm hands and lifted glasses.

How many of these buskers and bums,
drunks and derelicts, homeless and has-beens
are just passing through, prodigal children,
waiting for the fatted calf to be cut.

April 6, 2009


Returning to Houston I stumbled
upon a small park tucked like an
appendix on the lower east side
of downtown.

Finding an empty bench, I sat
back and watched little rainbow
children dance feverishly in a water garden.

To my left there is a little cruiseliner
of a convention center and directly
across the water, a quilt of a building whose
woven windows would make even the most
precise Amish hands, slightly green.

The sun is hot and settling
on my shoulders like some mink, but
as the buildings rise and the shadows
of the McKinney St. skyscrapers are
pulled over me like some stage curtain,
I am happy to be here in the city,
in the heat of its geometry.

April 5, 2009

Art work

Along the allée Marguerite Yourcenar
the walls are full of pictures,
small hand-drawn tributes to a
gun death earlier this year.

If you walk past them fast enough, you can
see the Eiffel Tower crumble and rebuild.

If you walk past them fast enough, you can
see colors rivering like the Seine.

If you walk past them fast enough, you can
hear the dead boy laughing before he
died, bleeding beautiful pastel blood
along the allée Marguerite Yourcenar.

April 4, 2009

Gypsy TV

The Romani family standing
on the platform is not unlike
some zany television series
of the 1990's. One is tall
and rather dull, while another
is slender and good-looking.
A third, unattractive one
must be the brains, and the small
long-haired one runs circles
around the gang. There is also
a woman among them whose
scarved beauty or bangled arms
must be enough to keep her in the know.

I wonder what delightful theme
music would play, just before
the episode begins where they swindle
the bald American out of his passport
and small collection of unimportant poetry.

April 3, 2009

The water in these Grenoble fountains
flies nowhere and is largely disregarded
by the stale smelling French who pass by.

The mountains to my left and right
stand vigilant as the Haussmannian homes
spread virally through this valley town.

The ladybug who is crawling towards me
wrongly thinks I will not kill her as
I have killed many before her,
small, crawling, beautiful even in death.

April 2, 2009

When I look across these dark mountains
the villages are small handfuls of light.

I imagine that tucked away beneath heavy quilts,
the children have small hands, full of light.

April 1, 2009

She told me that she
was singing in Polish,
but the timber of her
young voice and the
expression on her face
were that of hymns
hidden in the rocks,
unlit lamps of our
bankrupt generation.

March 31, 2009

I want to wear your warmth
like a robe and feel it brush
against my numbing skin.

Better yet, empty your golden
barrels down and let me drown
a beautiful bouyant burning.

(I think I was cold when I wrote this, remember when I promised poems I was enjoying the very loose definition of the word and at no pointdi I add any evaluative adjectives)

March 30, 2009

The swallows that spin like
ashes down this long
green valley are brave and do
not need my weak poetry
to sustain them.

They are instead just
the weightless product of some
avian fire, burning crows by the murder.

And my poetry is no more wind to them
than they are breath to me,
my featherless lungs still waiting.

March 29, 2009

The thunder i thought I heard
is nothing more than a passing plane
and the storm I hoped for is still
patient in the wings.

Perhaps I can coax him onto stage
with a short prologue about precipitation
or a well-written intorduction
from the chorus.

Maybe the old Broadway hook can
pull him from his cloudy dressing room

assuming his thunderous vocal warm-ups
have made him miss his cue.

March 28, 2009

Catch and Release

I have tried to write this poem
oem many times. It is
about a girl I know who
walks the walls of
and old cabin, looking
for resting moths.

Once found she captures
them by the wings and flings
them into the open sky.

She says she loves to watch them fly.

I have postulated in earlier
drafts that she throws the
creatures as she herself
wants to be plucked and thrown.
I think instead, though, it is I
who needs the heavy hand hand
to take me from this ancient wall-
throw me into a fluttering oblivion.

March 27, 2009

The southeastern city of Lyon
smells of gingerbread and cigarettes.

Standing at it's airport terminal
(named for some famous French author)
I wait in English for a mountain bound bus
to carry me and my luggage far from here.

Waiting with me are a gaggle of boarders
sure to have marijuana in one of their many pockets
a Midwestern couple whose orthapedic shoes reveal them
and a quiet businessman who's been sittting on his suitcase like a stool.

As the bus pulls up they line up
like migrant workers and feed their tickets
to the nameless driver.

Before closing the door he steps outside
to smoke a cigarette.

I can only assume his wife is at home
baking gingerbread.

One Lyonese couple just doing their part.

March 26, 2009

And I am back,
now far from home and
its ever-closing walls.

Now far from the tree
and all the apples who fell so close.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

March 25, 2009

And here on the top shelf of the world
between stones that have never moved
and the mountain cactus that flowers
like some unworn corsage,

I have come to sit and write this
unwritten poem.

I am sure that I am not the first
to poetically describe the snaking stream
that leaps halfway down the mountain.

And I am sure that I am not the first
to pen a short heroic couplet about
the snow that crowns the regal mountain's peaks
and how like chipping paint it peels away.

The sky ahs long now been a subject
of admiration and the prima donna
that is the sun, with her grand exits and
entrances will no longer earn my ink.

I think, instead, the poem I am
here to write is of a small ant
who has with his sticky legs been
climbing in and out of my Alpine landscape.

My poem will not begin or end with
him, it will only graze him as a tangent
does an arc, as I am sure his eyes have noticed
and unnoticed me, a small god
sitting on a rock that is the world.

Monday, July 27, 2009

March 24, 2009

I am alive, here, on this little
shipwreck of a day,
floating among the rotting wood
and bouyant corpses.

The water is shallow so that the
mast rises out of the sea,
a constant reminder how close
we all were to tomorrow.

March 23, 2009

Three great ountains surround me
One to my left is rounded and green,
it wears a crown of needled trees.
One to my right is sharp and dark,
its geometry looks unforgiving
One in front ot me is tall and reaching.
its white cape dissappears into the open
somehow impenetrable sky.

But behing me is an ocean.
it is far deeper than third mountain is high
it is far more dangerous than the second
it is far more beautiful than the first

and it invites me to sleep
forever in its soft and shifting slopes.

March 22, 2009

There is rough air
above the rough water
of the Atlantic.

Shaking here in
the cloudy ocean,
I am both wind and wave,
a pull, a push,
and remarkable.

March 21, 2009

And I saw only the end,
a small piece of light
glowing like a hot metal.
a forged sword
falling and hardening
beneath this desert sky.

March 20, 2009

And I think he is French
but his French is stifled,
is strangled, is a permanent question.

I can only resolve that he is
from the Dakotas, some flowering seed
planted in a dry wheat field.

Now growing in transatlantic soil,
suspended some 3 miles
above the ocean floor.

March 19, 2009

The glowing white vestibule
of this France-bound plane
is well-airconditioned and
sterile like a casino or operating room.
The curved overhead compartments
and sliding window covers are
clean and futuristic as though built
for some late 1970's action movie.

I am paralyzed in the 41st row
behind a heavy set French teenager
who hasn't considered that as his
chair moves swiftly back, the
two bulbs in his spine are my
bruised and immoveable knees.

I will surely continue the uncomfortable
domino fall by relaxing my seat into
the lap and luxury of the passengers behind me.

Surely they will take comfort in the fact
taht this unpleasant seating is only
temporary as some thick-accented proletariat
is about to take over the plane,
thwarted only by some unlikely ex-cop,
who doesn't play by the rules.

I can assume the fire tongued stewardess
who just handed me a small cup of orange juice
will be instrumental in our salvation.

And we will all feel a certain sense of gratitude
as her modeling career takes off.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

March 18, 2009


And I don't want to be,
but I'm all piss and bones
at the end of the day.

And every night I fall asleep
on the second floor of my
over-crowded duplex,

I know I am just 16 feet
higher than I'll be not long
after people stop reading this.

And I brush my teeth, and say my prayers,
and slip beneath my sheets to begin
my daily trial-run of death.

March 17, 2009


I woke up screaming
in the mouth of a
great fish, and lighting
my lantern, I looked to
the walls and saw my
name written on the
jaws and teeth.

I sighed deeply, knowing
that I was finally home and
slid, eyes-open down
its long, welcoming throat.

March 16, 2009


I woke up this morning
with boats for shoes,

and like leap-frogging schooners,
I sailed about my house,

dockingat the reflective chemistry
of my bathroom mirror,

navigating the wooden water
of my upstairs hallway.

I held my breath as I descended
the geometric waterfall of my stairwell

and rushed, boat-footed, out
onto the vast ocean of the world.

Please Forgive Me

I am aware that the dates of the poems do not match the dates of the postings. THis is because my original plan of one poem a day proved too difficult. I am now offering the best I can with what broken boards and bent nails I have left of the original construction. I hope that before the curtain closes on the happy year of 2009 I'll be able to post once again with truth and honor that follows the proud and punctual. Until then know that my datings are purely organizational, and a fast one is being pulled on no one. I have written a bit while overseas. I hope that the poems that come will offer some interest as well as give small moments of my journey.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

March 15, 2009

In her dream
Calpurnia said
the Romans
washed their
hands in her
husband's blood.

In my dream
I had no husband,
so the blood
must have been mine,
and the Romans,
my daily apparitions,

were gathered
with daggers
that sparkle
like minnows.

March 14, 2009

When I was in high school
we talked about the atom.
To give us a better perspective,
Coach Clark told us to look
at the thickness of our paper.
What barely seemed measurable,
he said was countless atoms
stacked upon one another.

For the rest of the day
I remember fearing
what would happen
when these little atomic towers
all came tumbling down.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

March 13, 2009


The cheerleaders are back.
Like grackles or ptarmigans
or some other migrating bird
that comes from the north,
they have returned.

They are scattered among the
restaurants along University,
pecking in large groups about
bowls of chips and salsa.

They stop traffic near the
baseball field, one long river
of pigtails and pep, balancing pretention
like a liberty on their glossy lips.

But on the basketball courts,
huddled like flamingos
they squawk and shout,
screaming with their painted beaks
and stretching their featherless wings
to what they have made
an unconquerable god.

March 12, 2009

Apple Dreams

I stole a nap today
just before the sun took its final bow.

Swimming in the small pond of
my olive green bed,

I floated belly-up, two
pillows beneath my heavy head.

Awaking in an early evening dream,
I rose covered in apples,

all red and brilliant and rolling
off my arms and legs.

And as I stepped out of my bed,
I stepped onto the slick skin of an apple;

then sliding across its peel,
I crossed the hall into my little

crate of a bathroom. Flipping on the light
I saw an apple staring back at me

in the cabinet mirror hung precariously
above my sink that only spills hot water.

Stumbling, now blind with my
unpeeled eyes and waxy skin,

I fell back into the bushel of my bed.
I awoke 3 hours after I first closed my eyes.

My Magritte dreams now orchards away,
I opened the refrigerator and retrieved a peach,
felt and cold and sweet, I ate it, bitterly awake.

March 11, 2009

The oscillating fan shakes his
dissapproving head slowly
like my father.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

March 10, 2009


I stepped onto a bus today
and it was not the Hollywood
hoke of San Fansisco or Penn Station.

There was no smoke or gloved
hands waving, no tearful eye
covered by a drawn vale.

The children who chase the train
out of the station were elsewhere,
perhaps doing shorthand trigonometry
perhaps playing a video game,
perhaps watching an old
black and white movie
watching the children run,
wondering why there are no longer
any Hollywood trains to catch.

Friday, June 5, 2009

March 9, 2009

Upon Seeing a Plane Crash

In the aftermath, among the
twisted wings and bouyant seats,

I hope they find a hand
clutching another hand.

And whether it was in desperation,
fear, or anger, we can all pretend

that in those last moments,
as the hushed corn rose to meet them,

there was love.

March 8, 2009

I will tell you before
we die how once I kissed
you in your sleep.

How the fan spun above us
unaware, and how the pillows
held their paper tongues.

I will tell you before
we die how I once kissed
you in your sleep.

How you smiled.

How you did not see me in the morning.

March 7, 2009


Gather around the fire men
smoke smoke talk talk and
lace your lives together.

And when you wake tomorrow
lift your arma nd feel the
weight of your brothers,
not the dull hum of gravity,
but the balletic sweep of water
that makes each move so significant.

And when you wake far from them,
feel your brothers like
a storm blowing in, the cold
belly of the wind, the trees
in a passionate pantomime.
Let them run through your hair and
beneath your chin. Feel them on
your legs and shoulders.
Look up at the sky and pray for rain.

And when you wake an old man,
hum them like a song your
grandfather once sang. Hold
them in your mouth like music.
Remember the days when you were
first laced together.
Now open your brittle lips and
watch the smoke pour out, talk
talk as the embers twitch
and yawn.

March 6, 2009

Upon Graduation
For my friends at Pearce High School

You are not tamed men,
not you, not with your
fierce eyes and fiery throats.
You are not meant to be still,
to watch and wait.
These quiet lives are for other
men, vessels to carry the water
you are commissioned to bring
forth out of the thirsty ground.

You are not tamed men, for
the leashes and lashes could not,
would not hold you.
The lockless fetters woven by the world
caould not, would not keep you in one
place, so like a quiet wind, you
slip in and out of their doors and bars.
And when you gather, you hurricane
a spirit through the open cathedral walls.

No, you are not tamed men.
Not you.
You are instead the beasts of a
bold God, made in His image,
Temporarily pulsing in your thin and
thinning cages that must also set you

March 5, 2009


Riding on the choppy waves
of this man-made lake,
it is hard to imagine
there is a town beneath us.

Spacious 3-bedroom homes,
gas stations, and post offices
settled in the mud, some
40 feet below.

How strange it must be
for the fish who swim
there, those 80-pound monsters,
brushing an oven with their tails,
filling an abondoned day bed
with thousands of their pea-size eggs.

And what of the mailboxes, small rusting cans
Whose mail sits 40 feet above, undeliverable.

March 4, 2009

Wasps' Nest

Standing up quickly today
I saw spinning wasps of light.
They droned like deflating balloons
to the left and right of my eyes.

I imagine that above me
there must be a nest of them
waiting for some daring child
to throw a clump of dirt
or a nearby stick
and wake their thunderous light.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 3, 2009

Today I passed a homeless man
begging for some change.

As he reached up and unwashed
hand, I held out my plump, well-fed
fingers and told him, "I'm sorry."

If someone were to have finished
my apology, they might have added:
"I have no change"
"I don't carry cash"
"I don't have any money either."

Knowing I had four unnecessary
dollar bills shaved precariously into
my easy to reach jeans' pocket, I knew
that my sorry was different.

I should have, as I tell my students to do,
finished the thought.

I'm sorry that I don't think of you
as fully human.
I'm sorry that I'm scared when
you rock like that.
I'm sorry that I'm nervous when
I hear you mumble.
I'm sorry that somehow i think you're
telling secrets about me.
Secrets you shouldn't know
Secrets I never told you.

I'm sorry that the embarrassment
I ahve for your condition precludes me
from taking even a small step towards
pulling you up from that piss-soaked concrete,
dusting you off, and making you feel whole again.

I'm sorry I just assume you don't feel whole.

And as I continued, several blocks form
the first, I saw another derelict,
this one younger with a small dog
under the shelter of his bended knees.

Without prompt I gave him the money
I had and told him to "take care."
The dog, the money, the heavy sky.

And though he wasn't the first
somehow I walked away resolved,
like the feeding of one is the
fullness of another,

like they are redwoods of coral reefs,
some giant organism
occasionally pushing up through
the carpet, reminding us of the
eternal and overwhelming
presence beneath.

March 2, 2009

For David

I saw you tonight
20 years from now
on a northbound
San Francisco bus.

You were swaddled in
wool and Patagonia
with your right show
tucked behind your left knee.

Your hair was starting
to gray, but you'll
be pleased to know
you've still been working out.

You were alone on the bus
kept company only by
some hipster proletariat
whose parents often call
from Oklahoma.

And I wouldn't write this
but I needed you to know
that under your heavy layers
and rugged beard,
there was a sadness,

a hollow eyed stare
like models or catatonics
slip on to slip out.

And I wanted to tell you
that if you don't start filling
your eyes now, I doubt
they'll ever be full.

March 1, 2009

On my first visit to San Francisco

It's a Parisian pretty
all piss and orchids,
the heavy stench of both
making you wish there
was more of the other.

The elevation rambles
like it's crack pipe angels,
topography muttering about
God and guns and gold.

To metallic antennae
spark above the cabled car
I'm riding in;
the small fireworks
illuminate staccato city streets.

In China town the people
all wear Dolce Gabana,
their plastic bag hands
full of fruit rice and
a default forgiveness.

And the cabbies tell
their stories in terse
passionless phrases, no longer
competing with the
story of the city,
all shit and sidewalks
and Andromeda,
still chained to the rock
and waiting.

February 28, 2009

My grandfather died on a leap year.
The government, not wanting to
confuse the binary brains of census
takers, claimed he died on February 28th.

My father thinks that because of this
he is still alive somewhere, only dead
once every four years.

The problem, of course, is that
when we remember our dead,
we hold them with a year's loss.

My father holds his father four
years heavy while the rest of the
world forgets about a fourth
of a death every year.

February 27, 2009

The girl with seven fingers
is fully aware that she will
play only parts of Fur Elise
and Moonlight Sonata.

She sits every morning
before the heavy field of ivory
and imagines her hands,
bouquets of wormy fingers.

In these dreams, she has
the wingspan of six octaves
and hovers over the baby grand
her polydactyl talons, tickling
the beast to death.

February 26, 2009

the wind
that works
its way
the walls
and webs
of what
I want

is warning
me that wind
is war
and what
I will
will not
my wage

February 25, 2009

If all the world
mispells Febraury
it seems that one could
bild an arguement
that Febraury itself
was originaly mispelled.

At some point we
must deside wether
we are folowing rules
or folowing tradishons.

February 24, 2009

Today I stepped out
of the warm hatchery
of my bed and walked
barefoot to the kitchen.
As I broke two eggs
and watched them
skin the sides of my
non-stick pan I
reached my left hand
around to scratch my
right shoulder. Impressed
with my flexibility
I spent the rest of the
morning attempting
to lodge my right ankle
behind my neck.

The eggs burned.

I had toast instead.

February 23, 2009

A bowl of soggy cereal
reminds me that today
is your birthday, and
somewhere people have
reserved just enough
breath to tell you before
laughing, that they
are glad you were born.

February 22, 2009


1. Why they hang about you like wisteria or hydrangea. Petalled people looking for the sun.
2. Why they bow down prostrate at your golden feet. Why they blind their oracle and eat their women.
3. Why they bury themselves deep within your womb where it is quiet, dark, and volatile.
4. Why they tremble at your throne, lick your lightening and reel.
5. Why they climb your geometry to impale themselves on its tetrahedral point.
6. Why they hold the boulder of your eye after the earthquake, build nests among your thighs.
7. Why they follow you like a light. Why you stand so far from the breaking shore.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

February 21, 2009

The Eiffel Tower

I stood there beneath all its steel and falling bodies. I stood there knowing that he had not, would not stand here on the bottom lip of this grimacing river. I said "Hello" as he asked me to do to every foreign city I visited. And I said "Hello" to the women in the boulangerie. I said "Hello" to the heavy nuns and their heavy cathedrals. I said "Hello" to the mountain granmeres and their rawhide hands. And as I weave my way around this chunky globe, I pass out his "Hello's" like business cards, confetti of a man who will never burst.

February 20, 2009

Muskogee, Oklahoma

For a short time in grade school, my father left us. It was for work, and he flew home when he could, but he still left us. I remember one year when he returned he gave me a licorice rat. My brothers and I ate our rats pulling the tails with our teeth, chasing our sisters with their gnawed carcasses. When he left, my mother told me that he was living in the Panhandle, some distant place where all the cities are the same. Some distant place where all the fathers are one.

February 19, 2009

Cinnamon Toast Crunch

I poured the milk when I was 7. Big heavy jug, I lifted it from the great white door of our humming Kenmore and heaved it onto the delicate leaf of our extended dining room table. As I flooded my tiny pieces of toast, I looked up to see if he noticed my feat of strength. He was frying an egg, unconcerned his youngest son might be a super-hero.

February 18, 2009


I wanted the Sword of Omens to see myself out of this. I wanted like Liono to be the troubled youth turned fiery prince, the redemption and rescue of my people. I wanted muscles, a clawed hand, and a dead father who would lift my cause to crusade.


February 18-21 should be read in chronological order. They are a piece-wise prose poem for which i have much affection. I do however believe they stand on their own, so I don't really consider myself a cheater.

February 17, 2009

I'm flying to San Francisco
for a conference which I will
attend for no more than
the time it takes me to lose
the attention and professional respect
of the 4 dinosaurs who get
lost in my little circus of a paper.

I'm flying to San Francisco
unapologetic for the several
bakeries, bookstores, and brasseries
I will sit at armed to the ankle
with just a marbled notebook and tongue.

I will find every coffee shop ini
the Upper East side, refusing to drink
coffee and sipping only on
the stories left on the mosaic
tables like an embarrassing tip.

I will return with an army
of little sentences, drawing up
for an attack, and though
my hand will be unshaken
and my CV only slightly heavier,
on accepting the nomination
for Poet Laureate some years
down the road, I'll thank the
English Department's financial
contribution and tip my now watched
hat to the investment they made
on those hilly brick streets
so many years ago.

February 16, 2009

I've been wearing these
jeans lately, frayed reminder
of when my grandfather
knelt down in an August
tomato patch, sliced watermelon
with my older sister, froze water,
and danced a late century
Charleston, his hands covering the
worn denim of his knees.

I've been wearing these
jeans lately that people
mistake for commercial
weathered and machine aged,
these jeans some people buy
like they'd buy my grandfather:
two fishing poles and a
bucket of small perch, I
could never bait myself.

Febrary 15, 2009

I've been growing out my beard
to see what I'll look like after I die.
Surely my cheeks will sink a bit more
and my eyes will dry, small prunes
beneath my zip lock lids.

But as the old wives say, my beard
will keep on growing.

Surely science has disproved them by now,
but I can't help thinking as I shave today,
once more raising my bald chin to the wind
that 2 months and 5 days after my death,
close friends will confuse me for Russian
revolutionaries, aging professors, and Shel
Silverstein, whose poetry I once enjoyed,
long ago, when still among the living.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Febraury 14, 2009

Walking through a 1966 high school
yearbook, I found my father.
His glasses were thick plastic things
now used only for blasting and chemistry.
His hair was the same side part seam
he sewed into my head. The same
I will one day sew into my son's.
he was a bit my bother and somehow
my oldest sister, who I know I should call more often.

But there was something in the black and white smirk,
Something gazing from the front row of the Montgomery
High School FFA that he was hiding.

Perhaps he knew then that I, almost 50 years later
would be thumbing through his slick paged past
looking for him to find me, outside of himself,
on the convex wall of those thick plastic things
now only used for chemistry, blasting.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

February 13, 2009

These pens are being held like
batons, like daggers, like wands,
like thorny roses, like cinnamon sticks,
like baseball bats,
like wingless cranes,
like biscotti, like nail files,
like so many leafless willow branches
in this windless four-walled field.

February 12, 2009

If I'm not home
who's going to collect
the paper out of the flower
pot and the mail from
its dull little igloo?

If I'm not home
who's going to clean
the blinds and scrape
the deserts from
the fans?

If I'm not home
who's going to hold
the white walls straight
and keep the roof so
delicately balanced?

If I'm not home
who's going to tie
the corners of this helium
house to proud little plot
just south of campus?

If I'm not home
who's going to open
the doors and windows
bucketing in air from the
zephyrous sea outside?

If I'm not home
who's going to ask
where I've gone
when the fat woman
and her kiwi fingers
come rummaging through
your pockets for rent?

February 11, 2009


Long Division
Stucco Alamo
Several broken eggs
Romeo and Juliet
The dissection of a brown frog
Chondrichthyes and other boneless fish
Derivatives and the slow road of "x"
Gustave Flaubert and his mountainous women
A jar of mercury and its mirrored tension

These are the things
I waded through
waiting for you
But all you brought
were notes and bread
and the cow-eyed stare
I mistakenly read as
"Come hither"

Febraury 10, 2009

Six o'clock
and she
can't believe
it's already
six o'clock
when she
was so sure
that he
by six o'clock
would have
called or
covered the spread
come up missing
on the six o'clock
news she knows
is the only
her six o'clock
hands will

Monday, February 9, 2009

February 9, 2009

is best served
after their legs
stop shaking.

February 8, 2009

Today I told my students
that anything could be used
in a love poem.

It may have been bold,
but I gingerly stand by my claim.

To explore its truth I'll use
the following four items
to tell you that I love you:

A garden hose
A rotten plum
A medical dictionary
The chinese character for grass.

It was your garden hose
I wrapped at seventeen
around the humerus and 
carpal catch-all of  my
laffy taffy limbs.

It was your plum
I took from Wallace Stevens
icebox after the insufficiently 
tasty ones were stolen.

It was your spleen and appendix,
your snake of an esophagus and your
little trapdoor of an epiglottis
I saw as I thumbed through
my father's medical dictionary.

And it was your poem I 
was writing when the 
accidental marks on the
top left corner of my page
managed to form a familiar
Chinese character.

I would have chosen hose
or plum or dictionary for you.
But as I sit on this sunny hill
A thousand moments from you,
it only seems appropriate that
instead of your name, with a hand
I can't hold, I've written grass.

February 7, 2009

The following poem was a scaffolding project using Billy Collins' "Walking across the Atlantic."

Eating a Pomegranate

I wait for the grocer to turn his back
before slipping it into my pocket.

Soon I am eating a pomegranate
thinking about India
looking for scarves, Shiva.
I feel the seeds pop like rain.
Tonight I will sleep in its hollow peel.

But for now I try to imagine what
this must look like to the grocer,
these exotic fruits appearing, disappearing.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

February 6, 2009

If I were 7 and you were 5,
I would not hesitate to
push you and your pink
hair ribbon in the sand.

If I were an elephant and
you were a beetle, I would
crush you with my 40 gallon feet
in a swift step-ball-change.

If I were Uganda and you
were Liechtenstein, I would
never let you forget how you sit
so forgettably below the Bavarian belt.

If I were you and you were
this poem, I wouldn't let
you get away with this.

Friday, February 6, 2009

February 5, 2009

An Open Letter to Emily Raboteau

I heard you this evening
in a mixed media art
exhibit on the ground floor
of my university student center.

You began by speaking of Zion.

Heavy with the first fingers 
of the Pentateuch, you spoke
of Moses and Joshua and how
every slave story is an
Israelite's story.

We started by counting Egypts.

And you said this was not
the promised land, and that
was not the promised land,
and you said that you were 
still looking for that unspoiled 
milk and bee-less honey.

But I think I see it bubbling
up inside your quiet eyes.
I think I see it rolling around
the sharp bones of your ankles.
I think I see it in the colors filed
between the palm and back of 
your right and left hands.
I think I see it in the words
that fall like sand or broken
shells on the unswept floor
of your museum mouth.

I heard you this evening
in a mixed media art
exhibit on the ground floor
of my university student center.

You began by speaking.

February 4, 2009

If I were to give you something
to remember me by, it would
be an orange popsicle.
Slightly melted and falling off
its birdcage stick, I would crush it 
into the palm of your open hand.
I would hold it until it burned.

When it finished dripping onto
the Halloween street, I 
would kiss you, one hand
behind your neck, one hand
at the saddle of your jaw.

As I walked away I would
hope that when you finally 
looked down at your numb hand
you would let the words: cold,
orange, popsicle, and pain
staple me in your life forever.

February 3, 2009

I've said cerulean before,
aquamarine and burnt sienna.
I've claimed daffodil and lilac,
both puce and char truce.

But the shirts I wear are blue
and the curtains that hold
my windless room are blue, and the 
marble of the kitchen and the
marbles of her eyes are blue.
A perfect, full, unaided blue.

And if I were to be honest and
stop trying so hard to be different,
I would probably say
tangerine infused with a 
milky topaz.  Like some people
are into music, I guess I'm
just really into colors.

February 2, 2009

4,893, 322, 402 people probably wouldn't
care if I died tomorrow, wouldn't read it in
the paper or hear it from a  friend.
They wouldn't send flowers or light a 
candle.  They wouldn't call my parents or 
friends and tell them about the great sense
of loss they didn't feel and how God 
does and doesn't work in mysterious ways.

If I had a list of them I think I would find them
in their cramped apartments and beachside
condos.  I would introduce myself, careful to 
pronounce my first and last names with an
unfolding clarity.  Sure that they could recite
both first and last with linguistic dexterity,
I would beat them without mercy.  Blood
fisted and unyielding I would continue to scream
my name. As I walked away I would shout it
again over my shoulder, just to make sure.

I'm sure when they hear I've passed, they will be 
consumed with a great sense of joy. and then, of course,
there will only be 4,893,322, 401.

February 1, 2009

Don't worry about me,
they say I'm a fighter.

I've got big blood
pumping in these syringe
signed veins and vines
that twist up and out
of my arms like ivy.

My father put me chin
first into a 1963 Thunderbird
when I was 13.
It was the first car
I stole after he died.

My mother never looked
me in the eye, always bent-
necked with my father
pulling down her chin.

Now that he's gone,
I keep one hand on
her back and the other
on her chin.

I hope she understands
that I do it because
I'm a fighter, because
I've got this big blood,
because if I didn't,
I wouldn't know where
to put my father's
sandpaper hands.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

In Memoriam: Douglas Brooks

I was in one of your lecture classes
Three hundred students stacked like
Dominoes in a classroom that once
Belonged to Biology. You came in the
First day and wrote in frantic letters
"Country Matters." By the end of the
Lecture you led us to worship at the womb
Of an abstinent queen. So were the
Wild adventures of all your students.

Almost a decade later, lining up
Dominoes of my own, I can't help
But think of the electricity of it all,
How like lightening we were occasionally
Struck. How for the rest of the
Semester we would gather around the
Tallest poles, hoping to be hit again.

I didn't get the chance to tell you,
So I'll say it in memoriam, but we're all
Still here, penitent at your feet, quiet
For the next light that escapes your lips.

We have grown in number over
The years, not just adding by semester,
But recruiting beyond your classrooms.
We are now armed to the throat ,
Hungry for the moment when we, your
Unexpected army, will turn this war around.

Friday, January 30, 2009

January 30, 2009

The human body is not
something I readily understand.
It is not something that
I can hold in the kitten paws
of my nimble brain.

Have you recently thought about 
the rocks in your mouth, 
the little osteo-pebbles that crown
your meaty tongue.

Have you pondered what they would 
feel like if you held them 
like marbles in your hand.  What they
would taste like if you tried
to chew them like a clove of garlic.

And these, these are just teeth, the 
people's party of the bone world.
The teeth are for everyone.  Imagine
now the little ladder of your spine,
your patella and how it sits like
a small yarmulka on your holy knee.

What ape man, with club and heavy brow
first found a full skeleton outside the skin?
What would you have done if you were
responsible for attending the same
puzzle of a person?

I would like to say with my intuition
and long history at my parents' holiday table,
I would assemble it with ease, but I think,
instead I would separate the pieces into
small piles, label this one "long,"
these "bended branches,"  the incisors 
"raindrops," the molars "white corn."

January 29, 2009

Bold, broad strikes, I think.
Ones that cover acreage on
this funny field of a canvas.

That was my year, today.

Soft, smooth scrapes in un-
expected directions, enough to
change the scene's momentum.

That was my year, today.

Pin-thin scrawls on the edges of color,
on the sides of the sheep skin stretched
tight across the wood.

That was my year, today.

Another thick slap of paint
pulled slowly with a taste of pennants
with a mouth of penance.

That will be my tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.

January 28, 2009

How difficult it must be for a doctor
to simultaneously assess and tinker
with the bones and blood of a patient
while holding their psyche in a third hand.

The auto mechanics of the world do not
need same sex chaperones before checking oil
or testing catalytic converters.  They simply
break open the car like a wristwatch, just
careful enough to get the cogs back in place.

It is not this way with doctors, no.
When they break you open it is an egg,
and though their primal interest is just
the yolk, its viscosity, its color, they must
be careful not to damage the shell, patient
to weave its glass skin together if it cracks.

I am glad I'm not involved in such delicate things
what with my naturally buttery fingers, my
shortage of arms, and my overwhelming affinity
for things that are broken.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January 27, 2009

List of things to do based on John O'leary's sonnet

1. Incorporate boxing into my everyday life.
2. Eat oregano, not as a garnish, but as a meal.
3. Shoplift from stores that seldom see the deed,
Pottery Barn, Lowe's, a Toyota dealership
4. Take off my shirt in public, when sufficiently
comfortable, remove pants.
5. Invade an unsuspecting country, while
brandishing a Swiss flag. I think we all agree
it's time they stood up from the sidelines.
6. Walk on my hands once and for a very short time
just to appreciate how rugged my feet really are.
7. Learn to Charleston, in case I'm ever in South Carolina.
8. Hire trumpets, enter to fanfare.
9. Lie about my whereabouts, not to important
people or even people who ask. Call a stranger
and just tell them I'm in Hawaii or Mauritius.
10.Blow in the phone so it sounds like the ocean.

January 26, 2009

I'll hate you more than I'll love you,
that is, of course, if we're drawing
lines between the two.

I'll love you enough to hold
you up to the light and comment
on how the colors explode in your wicker/glass ribs,
but I will love the colors more than you.

I will hate you enough to hide you
in the garden when your translucent edges
have lost their light, and you are but an afterglow,
a fidgety ember.

On the bright side, you may die before
the wave and particle fail you, so you'll never
see how I shovel the upturned earth without a pause.

If this seems enough, for what you call love,
I know a very good florist.

January 25, 2009

the pencil I'm thinking of
is not as yellow as the rest.
the bite marks along its torso
reveal its wood organs and
the chalky sleeve if its
crushed carbon spine.

the eraser is whole and unused,
a perfect cylinder of unapologetic pink.

the pencil I'm thinking of
doesn't allow mistakes, just hollow
toothed payment for every
sin misspelled.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

January 24, 2009

Poor girl, never did know
how much new shoes hurt
the end of your toes
and the butt of your heel.

I bet she's still walking 
up and down and up
and down her railfence
road, unaware of the
black top two miles north.

But then again maybe that
suits her, poor dreams for a 
poor girl, not looking any further
than her cobweb feet could take her.

I bet they're quiet, spook
quiet when she slips them 
on in an early morning dark
then walks her twenty mile walks,
never an arm's length from the bed.

January 23, 2009

I'm tired of writing these love poems,
these milky lyrical labyrinths that
house the man and bull of my anxiety.

I want to stand in the center of your
cities, and your churches, and your unused
Rockwellian dinner tables and tell you

that there is no way in, and there
is no way out, and the only string we find
we'll use to tie a ten million necked noose.

January 22, 2009

On Discussing the Process of Creative Writing

Perhaps I'll tell them to 
forget about these rules
and walk with me.

We will go through a forest 
that is also the sky, and 
when they feel so inclined 
to cough up something beautiful,

we'll pull back a piece of the world 
and make room.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

January 21, 2009

I attended a class today

“The Desegregation of Public Education”


I was the only white student

A rarity at our traditional southern institution


The challenge of a class like this

Is not, not knowing what to say


It’s saying what I know

While trying to satiate the backwards assumption


That it’s far too much for me to comprehend.

January 20, 2009

Did you see him

When the reverend

Said humility

Did you see him

Raise his head

Like Rushmore


Was it quiet defiance

A challenge to the tie-tacked

Tyrants of our nation


Was it authoritative

Majesty, just basking in

White sun of the day


Or was it looking out

On the crowds, on the

Steady hands of the silent

Trying to learn what

This humility thing

is all about