Thursday, October 11, 2012


I am the broad-necked
buffalo, the worm that
ate the fish.  I am an
untied ribbon, a cold bowl
made of porcelain.  I am
mails cut like half moons,
the concavity of the tongue,
a once and present star
in a constellation with no name.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Night in Chicago, May 2012

It is May in Chicago,
and we sleep with the
windows open.

I am on the east side
of the house; so, the
winds pull off Lake Michigan
and paint my
uncovered body blue.

I am cold, but if I
wear this heavy quilt,
I will surely burn.

Instead, I will lie still.

I will quit believing I
have a choice.  I will understand
that the wind is not a wind at all.

It is the world.
Chicago has packs of coyotes
that prowl the streets at night.

Cameras have caught them
on Jefferson, Ashland, and Kimball

loping through empty alleys,
looking for rats and discarded meat.

Researchers say that they are not
clustered in one part of the city,

they are as evenly distributed as
deep dish pizza or frozen yogurt.

But most have seen them
along the shoreline, near the waves.

I believe that coyotes pass on memories
like eye color or markings.

I can imagine what Chicago must
look like to them, the soft ground

a white concrete, the planetarium
some motionless animal in the dark.

The soft-skinned monsters in lycra,
running a hundred miles from the shore.

United 374

I always write a poem
when we are taking off,
when the flight attendants
are gossiping in the back,
when the pilots are
doing their penultimate job
of the day.

I always write a poem
when we are taking off,

so if this is the last flight
I ever take, I will
enter death in a kind of birth.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Eternity is not grains of sand
o belles etoiles.  Ce n’est pas
leaves or ants or hydrogen atoms.

It is the unquantifiable quantity
l’asymtote de nos âmes.

The ways that water can pass
over a stone.

Les chemins des vents a travers le forêt.

For her

She is a piece of water
an unwashed apple, a
blue and spinning star,
a ribbon tied without
hands, a book with only one word.

She is a candle, an origami
flame, all white and red and
awake.  Heavy bread, burned
on every side.

She is a cup of sand,
a balloon, sewn into the stitch
of the horizon—

holding both sea and sky at once.


my legs are broken pieces of winter
my arms the wooden echo of my penitent father
my eyes are my mother’s geometry
all lines and angles and unraised hands
my hands are unripened apricots and
my thoughts are a hungry bird
I am a seasonal color, quietly stitched
on the underside of gravestones
my blood is papal breath
my knees are the feet of my heart
I am an unpainted Picasso
monochromatic, three dimensional,
a bear, a wave, a phosphorescent dream.


In the blueblack waters of
South America, there is a fish
with a rock in its head.

The natives cut the heads
like oysters and with fish
hooks make jewelry out of

the small stones.  They fish
in local markets for dumb Americans
or pale Belgians that will buy
the wire and rock to decorate the heads
of their fat daughters.

The daughter, all blush and entitlement
puts the jewelry in a ballerina box.  The
native puts the money in coffee cans.

And both the native and the daughter forget
the rocks were put there for balance.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Why I am Writing a Dissertation

For my students, the ones
that click their pens like
a detonator
the ones that can’t fit
all of their life into my classroom

For the soldiers in unpronounceable places,
their ability to do
what I did not, could not
for the wind and the words
and the open mouthed earth,

for those that came home
to banners, balloons, babies
to an empty gate and a
lost bus ticket

for the day after the parade.

For the teachers who can’t teach them
for the schools that can’t fit them
for the students who were soldiers,

I am trying to open the windows.
I am trying to fill this place with light.

On Denzin (1989) Interpretive Biography

There is only fiction
only character and plots
redemption, revelation, and response

Only the stubborn oak
and its many branches

the acorn it drops

and the soil it finds.

Facts, facticities, truth, reality
are not as malleable as much as they are

Even while I write this I am
writing a poem
writing a poem about truth
writing a poem about truth and hungry

These are not extended descriptions
of one man.  These are three men

All very much alive

All wrestling for the same black pen.