Your Headlights Are On

Poverty, poverty
with all the passion of the sun
awash in pennies practicing
lazy heliolatry
bowing down round
and round

Heavy, heavy
flesh-colored feldspar
illuminating fog-fallen lanes
bent with branches
wheel-gripped worrieder
and worrieder

I wrote no poems on this trip
that guy cut me off
what can I show for my time away

Flash 55 for Real Toads!



Ball in my belly
to hurtle downlane
& crash
wrecking ball
for a straddler
ball & chain
the whole ballawax
bloody moonball
in my belly
about to be eclipsed



on the grassy median
between north & south
near exit 14
bears sunlight
dew & wishes


Evidence of Something

Today’s the day
for cleaning up after squirrels
tossing green branches on a pile
fanning spindly strings of smoke
rising from the backyard bonfire
I’m considering tossing on my books
bras & slips of paper stashed inside
recipes for insurrections all of it
fueling the slow poisoning
of the neighborhood through cracks
Upstanding nuclear family facade
& wide-open windows that’ll teach ya
to keep your front door deadbolted
against random signature collectors
& altruistic fumigators
There’s this tickle under my arm
& my lemonade tastes funny

For Karin’s prompt to the Real Toads: OLIVER SACKS


Boardwalk Attractions

Our house
will one day
blow into the ocean
he said and ears
have a habit of listening
curious about life
in places called Rockaway
oceanside and unrepentant
the way you wish
you were



Friends, looky looky! I am honored and very pleased that two of my poems are featured in the inaugural issue of Hellbent, a fantastic and beautiful new magazine that is the brainchild of editor/founder Yvette Chairez. Also featuring compelling art, short fiction, and poems by Tim Schaefer among others. Congrats to Yve and her partner in crime, Alyssa Ammirato. YEAH BABY! Click and enjoy!


On Commuting

Clouds obscuring
kid carrying an amplifier
riding a bicycle
Volkswagen backing into traffic
car ahead refusing blinkahs
but that’s okay
I know where it’s headed
following blue bliss
all of us like wayward gretels
tracking crumblines
to the clouds
anticipating our last supper

Corey & Real Toads: THE LAST SUPPER


Map of the Body

Torn creases,
with yellowed tape,
fading in the ocean
of my arms, push pins
future pain points
along the organ corridor,
beginning with the heart.

This idea came to me while listening to The Naked Scientists podcast. Sharing on The Tuesday Platform in the Imaginary Garden!


Day Trip to Charlestown

You can drive all day
to reach the ocean, spend
several fragile moments wishing
she were always closer.
You might wish to be
a fisherman, fantasize
about tan and sinew, sea glass,
surf. The island at the horizon
beckons. But you have a station wagon,
not a schooner, and bills pile up.
Other mothers on the beach know.
You catch one’s eye as she tugs
her swimsuit top, all
the diffidence of motherhood
passing between you.
Only gulls are free here, only
children in photographs.

For Grace’s prompt to the Real Toads: JUDITH WRIGHT



wears a two-week bruise
badge of incompetence
brassier than wedding rings
fused with the pain of bloody years
in a crucible made of half-truths
masquerading as whole reality


Who's Eating Grapes

Sat down
to write a poem
I Hate That Guy
but a photo
of Johnny Depp
got me
how he looks
like you
your ring jangles
a bit
between knuckles
Oblique teeth
cleft chin
Who was that guy again?

Occasional Real Toads music prompt: IT’S A SHAME ABOUT RAY


Ice Fishing in July

skyward mosaic
ever-slickened for eyeballing
wondering if grass aquas
  in stormy weather--



In awe of your corporeal space
I sit parked in your station wagon
with the faux-wood trim, reciting lines
to your thrust, your roominess.

I can’t bear to pull out, preferring
your sweet little tree in my lungs,
intoning devotion to naugahyde,
wishing after wishing you were here.

It’s no secret I’m smitten.
I could palm your dash all day,
rub your fabric the wrong way just
to feel the ridged pleasure of you

in my hands, breathing
your reply, verse after salted verse.

For Kerry’s prompt to the Real Toads: POETIC VOICE



When you think
it’s not possible to cry anymore,
catch your child’s glance.

Bless children
who do not know how to stifle sobs,
and then cry again.


Songs of the Great Indoors

Listening to your song
about summer in California
Beach Boys and Spoonful-time
inexplicably brings to mind
a Pennsylvania moment
that probably happened in winter
Billy Idol’s sneer
on the big console television
in my grandmother’s sitting room
which come to think of it
was a bedroom
I guess she had a 3-bedroom apartment
with a writing desk in that TV room
and another in the living room
though I never saw her writing
at either one
It was the eighties
every season had a White Wedding
Anyway keep on with your summer songs
because it’s always winter here

This was somehow inspired by listening to Ray Mason perform a new song called “Not Everyone Can Live in California.”



Maybe you were sent
to remind me of my belly
full of bold assertions,
or perhaps you were meant
to paint my dreams
such that I remember what I am.
You are part of what lies
beyond the here,
and now I've found a circle.
Maybe the aliens burnt you in the dirt,
fueling you with enough evidence
that I believe you.

Gentle Readers, today is the anniversary of the Roswell thing, so I give you my perennial-favorite poem. "Roswell" was published in my first book, Responsive Pleading, which can be purchased via Amazon or directly from yours truly.


Spirit of '15

Pulled over on the highway,
huddled on the berm,
eyes skyward,
Distant cheers,
toddler shrieking in Spanish
as fog meets fireworks contrails
in thunderheads
roiling over farmlands
    the day after--
So many cars criss-cross
on sleepy roads,
one wonders where they all came from,
to whom they return--
People who know better.

Flash 55 in the Imaginary Garden


Trouble With

       -ing hearts
-ing other
          wise sunny


Pictures of People Who Were Murdered

These are pictures
of people
who were murdered
because they are black.
Nine community members,
murdered in church
not by a shooter,
but by a racist terrorist
who strove to start a war.
Children played dead
in order to stay alive
on the anniversary
of a slave revolt
planned by the founder
of Emanuel African Methodist
Episcopal Church,
as the confederate flag
over the Charleston state house,
full-mast today.
These are the names
of the people we murdered:

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton

Reverend Clementa Pinckney

Cynthia Hurd

Tywanza Sanders

Myra Thompson

Ethel Lee Lance

Reverend Daniel L. Simmons

Reverend Depayne Middleton-Doctor

Susie Jackson 

For Shay’s prompt to the Real Toads: PICTURE THIS


Early Civilizations

The kind of June
that’s caught off guard,
when love goes low
in the wake of all that rain.
You are left picking violets
gathering large bunches,
hoarding against catastrophe.

Sharing today with Real Toads on The Tuesday Platform. (Epitaph on Robert Frost's grave: "I had a lover's quarrel with the world.")