October Poem 17: Childhood Words

One word prompted a nebulous mix of

What would turn out to be little more than

Waking to his childhood. He’d realized

That the people responding pushed him up

Lifting two years after the small rock shook

Him now that it shot out from the homemade

Salsa. An entire bag full under

His front right wheel. Like the flat side too fast

To bail now that he was a fruit. A red

Pepper that you buy from the store. Still in

Great shape for his age. Now that there was one,

Out there was the gap that would catch the wheels

And a few clouds to darken the after-

Noon. Send him flying into a blind rage.

October Poem 16: If Curtains Have Meaning

The red iron smell of the dried wood tongue

That had been burned against the heat like the

Sweet jalapeños. As if the gap between

The bushes of peppers and his cover

In growing of the grass hasn’t brought down

Layered insects, you ask him, what does it

Mean? He responds: does your house have curtains?

Now tell me, if you can, what do they mean?

In so many ways, he had given in

Adorned like stained glass in a Catholic

Church. He had taken on the mantle of

Post-modernism. Now, he was of the

Neighborhood garden. Pushing up lifting

The front of a word so malleable.

October Poem 14: The Last Scraps of Rational Thought

The fear of living by the college. The

Fear of living in a community

Of liberal values. The fear of the

Black and white stripes of anger on short shocks

Of pink and blue hair. Their words with eyes like

Zombies devouring the last scraps of

Rational thought. To go without a prompt,

They could use a word like yellow strips on

Patterned walls when they look into the glow

Off their dog whistle virtue signaling.

They brought it all back to his time before.

The path and the word were concrete instead

Of just the first plank on the path to the

Fear he used to ride when he was a kid.

October Poem 13: Lance, the Skate God

Like a park full of RVs leaving to

Outrun the coming storm. He barreled down

The hill littered with leaves and sticks and rocks.

Zigzagging to avoid the big crack in

The sidewalk, the old man felt less himself

Than he thought he would skating on the board.

He had not ridden one since the 60s.

And should not be on one now, but his feet

Vibrated under his weight. Now, he was

Speeding towards the old wooden bridge that he

Had, at first, been sure he could safely make

It over. Now that he had seen the kids

Sitting and coasting down a gentle hill

On their skateboards and stopped to tell them how


He used to ride when he was a kid. Now

That he had asked if he could try a board and

Show them a trick or two. Now that he was

Still in great shape for his age. Now that a

Small rock shook him. Now that it shot out from

Under his front right wheel. Now that he was

Too fast to bail out, there was the gap. The

Gap that never posed a problem while

Walking. The gap that would catch the wheels and

Send him flying. The gap between the path

And the first plank of the bridge. Now that he

Couldn’t bail out without breaking a bone,

He gave in to his hidden childhood.

He pushed himself up lifting the front of


The board and slid his feet forward to pull

The board up and lighten the impact on

The back wheels. He heard the rat-tat-tat-tat

Of the wheels over the wooden slats but

He had hit the gap and his knees buckled

And the board had swerved left and then right, but

God bless the simple child, he was still

On his feet coasting to a stop at the

Apex of the old walking bridge. He was

Remembering the tear that he had had

In his knee. He returned the skateboard to

The kids. His cheeks reddened. Embarrassed and

Exhilarated. And enough of both

things to last him for the next 60 years.









October Poem 12: Carpool Buddies

Into the car we took to install new

Floors in an empty house, as the miles

Slid by under the crushing traffic, we

Kind of talked Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, or Ram. Then

The jokes. Like the green along the southern

California interstates, this side was

Seldom seen. His schoolyard punchlines horded,

Memorized, and embellished. Curated.

But they were the old standby. Remixed with

His own insights. He must have felt it too.

The old dog slowly metering out his

New tricks. But by the time we made it to

The jobsite, the yellow-black power of

His hidden genius had brought me to tears.




October Poem 11: The Walking Tour

What better way to see the city. The

Press of flesh. The breeze of cars jockeying

Mere feet away. The yellow of the cabs

Speeding and zipping to make a dime. The

Closing of your conscious mind to the mad

Gibberish of steel and glass rising to

Block out the sky. The trash and odor and

Graffiti of lived lives out to pick your

Pocket with hot dogcarts and pizza shops.

The street side bazars and three card monte.

The real people taking real steps to hurt.

Awaking to the idea: the people

A place outside of nature. A massive

Inhuman biology unconcerned.

October Poem 10: Domestic Bliss

The Camera man loved his job creating

A visual narrative with models

And sets. The woman was aloof waiting

For her photograph. Nothing is in the

Moment like standing in front of a pot

On the boil wearing headphones watching

Criminal Minds on your cellphone bitching

At the man who took out the trash because

You were going to do it. The critique received in slashes

Of black as you would expect.  Or maybe

You wouldn’t unless you lived in this house.

This family promise is a book written

Among the slender trunks of pine. To find

A wanting hour to settle your mind.

















October Poem 7: Manufacturing Consent

She looked at my TV to say, look at

All that sex. To bring me out of my work.

To peck the eyes pumping in a grotesque

Caricature. And I said, what sex? That

Isn’t even what sex looks like. To pull

My mind from the growing ashes off the

Burning end of my cigarette. The burn

And urge of my male being. The subtle

Give and take of mental combat. I reached

Out to brush the tops of my fingertips

Against her cheek. To take deliberate

Each step to sooth the sting behind my eyes

With her wet flesh. Like the blood drained from the

Exotic verities in poetry.

October Poem 3: Twilight in Washington

When she feels the churning green glow of the

Hardening voices. She escapes into

The hard binding of her books. She had read

All of the books about vampires who

Fall in love with girls. Now, she has begun

To read about werewolves who fall in love

With girls. Next she will read about mummies

Who fall in love with girls. Then, ghosts who fall

In love with girls. Then, Frankensteins who fall

In love with girls. She was fifteen when she

Broke his corrupt hands and began to slip

From one man to another. Pulled to these

Books to see children rioting in beauty

To see things she had always never had.




October Poem 1: Knitted in Sparrow’s Breath

The heartland of the hidden faces in

That unearthly color. Was it so strange?

A slight hint of orange? Their skin matched by

Pale yellowed people of sepia photographs?


In those days of smoking flights, Delta trips

In your lungs. Gravity pulled together

Only two. Again, the command pouring

Through windows. Packed in their own acts of creation.


She looked happier with her hair pulled back,

Tied back to her silvered silhouette of

White water floating in on whispering

Clouds of mourning, sending bodily vibrations.


Placing events in time, you begin to

Wonder if it really happened. It was

The movement, flapping wings and sparrow’s breath.

To create a narrative. Feel the pain. The loss.