From the Grave

Countless days
we walk together
in the gray half-light
to both ignore and reclaim time.

Sometimes it is dusk,
sometimes dawn,
and I can only tell
the hour
by whether I find you
young and beautiful
or frail and fading,

yet I am always
what I’ve become:
time weary and distant
from any touch.

It it an illusion,
a trick of the mind,
that calls you here
and more and more
I see only
your youthful gaze.

I fall further
into a sepia toned past
where I dream
all was safe

before the fire and falling
before the hard exile
before time separated me
from everything.

Driving it Home

Alone, driving down a country road
close to what was home, I hear my mother’s voice.
I see her hand point to each farmhouse and lane.

She tells me who lived where when she was a girl.
But all I hear are general tones,
because the words have gone.

Farm fields stretch on like urban blight inner city blocks
strained to their breaking. Two miles to the next corner.
Right, then five miles more. Turn upon turn of absence.
The bleached white bones of loss lie scattered, unclaimed.

The car rattles up its lane to the familiar cedar shingled frame.
Park inside the old shed, it’s soul wrapped in metal.
Dad drove every nail. The barn, the shop
all in dust and disarray of the last days
which lasted for years.

I walk in the house, set the keys on the table.
No need to say I’m home for the ghosts all know,
glide around in whispers.

Open the fridge, pour a glass of milk.
Ten leftover containers seethe with curdled discontent.
Shut the door.

Sit for hours
and watch the faces on the walls
drift back deeper.

In a Richer Vein

The maladjusted sheep
took a poll among the wolves
who said she’d do much better
if she rested on the ground,
four hooves in the air.

She agreed with their assessment
then laid down in repine
and occasionally repose,
waiting for their breath
to weigh upon her ear.

A life of grazing got too boring
so she let their perfect teeth
slice the iron of her blood.

As she lay there dying
she remembered Michelangelo,
how he saw the angel in the marble
then carved to set it free.

For dVerse Open Link Night #114

32 feet per second per second

A slip from gray stone
and off the ledge
he plummets,
a resistible man
immovable sidewalk.

Strangers’ arms
not to catch him,
but to mark
the speck of him

grown larger, while
his thin screams
dodge in and out
of city traffic.

Tumbling blind,
severed from
all previous connection,

the man
never wishes to land,
but to fall past earth
and orbit
a safe distance
from grief.

For Dverse Poets Pub Open Link Night. Starts at 2 p.m. CST today.


The day falls
and breaks open,
shows its inner workings
of cogs and wheels.

Tiny craftsmen swarm out
from the mainspring,
scurry to resurrect the loss
but I walk on, doubtful
of their success.

Jeweled mechanical toys
inlaid in cloissone enamel
lay broken by the millions,
over countless hillsides,
sprinkled with the skeletons
of little men
who tried to make them work
beyond their time.

In childhood the magical motions
are unexpected joys.
By old age they are rote
machines of assembly line

Set the last one down
and be rid of the damn
scampering fool.


It was wooden with a worn, red finish, the bellows bright blue. There were no ivory keys, just shining brass buttons. The sound  carried a hundred thousand yesterdays in two minute installments. Carnival bright one moment, hauntingly sad the next. Standards from a hundred years before.

I remember a night when I looked into the framed blackness of the window while I listened. And I knew the music would end.

The accordion player told me a dream where his long-dead childhood sweetheart waved a handkerchief to him from a second story window, then another dream where he walked into church, down the center aisle, and sat next to his father. I was Joseph and he was Pharaoh, but Pharaoh already knew. He was 95 and I was 24.

My loss is no different from your loss. Bridges disappear and there is only the river, with currents and eddies too wild for one to swim and ever return.

At dusk, sometimes, wisps of music carry from the other side.



Here is some of his music. You may no doubt find it Myron Floren kitsch, but for me it is tinged with fond memories.  I don’t know the name of the first one anymore, and am hoping someone might recognize it.

Amos Music 1

And I’ve just discovered Tumblr only allows one audio upload a day. Grrr. More to come.

Queuing Up

My moment rings more blue
than yours, some
infinitesimal fraction
slower, the thought
broadcast through your eyes
misread. The blind spot
filled in by surroundings
altogether missed your gun

and I am falling
through a thousand
flashes of birdwing,
stone wall, field,
open doors
and familiar faces
with countless names.
Sidewalk, brick,
wrought iron
chain link eyes
dirt road

rush headlong
with the tile floor
cool to the touch

and fading


At Lake Ronnie, 1975

In the dark
I find my uncle’s voice
punctuated by a cigarette tip,
burning bright orange
then red as the sentence
rises in conclusion,
followed by the laughter
of all gathered.

Yellow party lanterns
strung around the clubhouse
screened in porch
light the way for
escaping conversation
to roll down the steep lawn,
across the boat dock
then meet chance phrases
carried at dusk
from the other side
of the lake.

The random gang of syntax
gathers on Uncle Mel’s salmon pink
fiberglass pontoon boat,
casts off the bow line
and motors at slow speed
to the lake’s center.

Words drift in and out
of this party of strays.
They become less and less
coherent as the night deepens
then stagger off
to separate silences
before dawn

when fish awaken from dreams
of being drawn beyond choosing
toward brilliant light,
dancing gracefully
in a long arc.

Most take this
as a good omen
and swim unaware
beneath the rectangular shadow,
a man’s loud voice,
and a dusting of cigarette ash
on the water.