peel it back



    purple bruise

poke it


is kept

the ants
     over me

     i will bloom
        without hesitation.



fancyfull flying
intermittent short burst flight
leads to crash landings.

desire well

look me in the eyes
aqua pools searching for you
come and drown with me.



in & out
    showing up to tell you
  when it occurs to me
           to tell you
    what was that again
        that i wanted
               to tell you?


me teevee

i keep clicking but
your program is offered on
every damn channel.


american girl

   with a guitar
start your song with ah tsch

        i will follow you anywhere

               uh huh

for future reference

please note
that turning on
a denis leary special
signals to me
that i have been


half full

Week six of the Indie Ink weekly writing challenge! In the challenge, participants are randomly challenged by our peers with a writing prompt. 

Lying here with you, half awake drifting dreaming back to a bedroom window in a cabin in the woods and that birdfeeder maple branch outside.

That time at night when the branch bent down down down as the mama bear raided the feeder but that branch! Bending all on its own out of nowhere.

Walk up the hallway to row after row of glass jars full of beans. Adzuki beans, appaloosa beans, pinto red and black eyed peas.

Breathe you in, breathe in the memory of that window and the hall of beans.

He spends days filling quart-sized mason jars with dry goods. He stands and stares at them. He holds their sturdiness in his hands.


She was a tall glass of wine. She was bees on flowers and gardenia on the wind. She was a patchwork quilt. She was a homecooked meal.

She took it all with her.

She was endless syndication.

Every cloud has a silver lining. The platinum was worthless. We ate a fine lunch on the proceeds.

I drink my water from a mason jar and my wine from a jelly jar.

You and me, let's lasso the sun with a water rope.

Drink me up. Half full.

Sir of etceterablah challenged me this week as follows: "Every cloud has a silver lining," he thought to himself, then continued, "silver, of course, being less valuable than platinum." Talk about the general status of your glass (half full or half empty), how it came to be, and whether you view its status as a blessing or a curse.

I got my dry goods from Dave Hayes. And I have written on the topic of the glass being half full before, here and here. (Both of those posts contain adorable photos so you should definitely click.)


    but i 
still want it.


big blue marble

   she takes
cyan marbles
        on her blood lips

     in her mouth

        on her tongue
   glossy clickings
glass on enamel

        i may faint


  to her mouth
          one inside
      to retrieve
      three cyan marbles

      cyan marbles
   crunching in her palm
          as her blood lips
                search for mine.

happy to report

weather man was wrong
spring storm! lots of snow! never


where (are you)
when (i want you)
which (is right fucking now)
what (the hell)
who (am i even)
why (am i waiting)
how (do i write about this?)


at first

Week five of the Indie Ink weekly writing challenge! In the challenge, participants are randomly challenged by our peers with a writing prompt. I had just a little bit of fun with this one.
Once upon a time, there was a wordy princess living in a mountain kingdom. Every day she would pack her notebooks into her satchel and hike through the forest to the top of her mountain. And words would fly from her head onto the pages of notebook after notebook. In time, realizing that she wanted an audience, the princess started posting her words on trees for the woodland creatures to read. As she saw how they nibbled and then gorged on the degustation she laid out for them, she decided to fold some words up into paper airplanes and fly them off her mountain. People in the village below received her missives as they floated gently from the skies and they began to ask for more. Too-raa loo-raa they sang, more airplanes, more words from the sky, more words more words!

Soon enough a message came from the village barber that a ribald knave was papering the trees of a neighboring town in words and wheat paste. Knowing of her love for words, the barber urged the princess to come down from her mountain to meet the knave. She agreed and descended cautiously, her bare feet tippytoeing along the knave's path of words until she found him there, scribbling and pasting. She abruptly threw a haiku at him. Stunned, he questioned from where on earth the princess had alighted. She threw another haiku and he replied in kind. And soon they were rollicking through the countryside hand in hand, throwing verse upon verse at each other and all around, papering every tree in the village and starting back into the forest and up that mountain. People stopped and stared and devoured their words. More words more words!

The knave, not having spent his life on a solitary mountain with only woodland creatures eating his words, was surrounded with people and in particular a group of luscious women who could not resist his verbose charms. The princess watched the ebbs and flows as the knave teased and tickled his fans, admitting that she too was caught up in those teasing words. Though she might have liked to have the knave's attention all to herself, it was clear that his words served a strong purpose and she would need to behave in the interest of the community. She started looking and listening and breathing in the words of the others around her until one majestic voice rose louder than the rest. Intrigued, the princess queried the knave as to who could possibly possess such a voice. The knave directed her toward a grove of trees and suggested that the princess introduce herself to the queen of his village.

Once again, tentatively, the princess approached a new and intriguing talent. As she drew nearer, the princess realized that the queen was carving words into a tree, slowly, methodically, in beautiful looped cursive. How does she do that, the princess wondered, drawing ever nearer. When she placed herself directly in front of the tree she saw that the queen was working with a knife like a paintbrush to canvas, carving words so delicate and deep and true that the strokes gleamed like a hot diamond in the bark. Whole stories spun like golden silk wound around the tree in the queen's expressive hand. The princess read and read and read some more, often holding her breath and then gasping for air. The princess wondered what the hell she thought she was doing with her handbill postings and paper airplanes full of verse. "What an amateur!" she cursed, and threw her pen down. She would never write again! But the rustling of paper and pen tossed errantly in the gathered leaves distracted the queen from her intricate musings. She turned to the princess, picked up the crumbled verse and wondered aloud who may have sent to her words of such beauty as those the princess had discarded. The princess and the queen locked eyes brimmed with tears as they recognized themselves in one another.

Meanwhile, the saucy village strega toured amidst the chorus of villagers, devouring the wheatpasted words of the knave, the intricately carved musings of the queen
, and now the airbound words of our princess as well. A verse-thrower of a different stripe, the strega felt connected most strongly to the princess and her short poetic form. The strega read and read. And then she sought out the princess, showering her with admiring praise until the princess turned to her and said, "Strega! Go write your own poems! You are so poetic, do you not write?" And sure enough, the strega replied that yes indeed, here were her tapestries covered with magnificent words. She began to sing and chant and her gauzy gown lit on the air and she waved her wand and there flew the verses to the scrolled fabric, out of thin air, fast and furious. "But you are a genius with your magic!" cried the princess, embracing the strega, who reacted with deep shock and extraordinary pleasure all at once. "Let us throw verse together!" And they did. Verse after verse, form after form, line by line and word by word.

In the end, the princess, full of love and devotion, tossed more and more words and verses into the air. She took up residence nestled in the bosom of her mountain in her new village community, instead of high above and all alone. As she became stronger and bolder in her verse, her community grew. Her friends brought her gifts: birdhouses, ripe peaches, even manatees. All because she had found her voice and used her words.

And they all lived happily ever after.
This week, I was challenged by the very lovely Mandy of My Plaid Pants to write about a pivotal event in my life and describe how it changed my outlook on life.


if it means
finding a muse
hitching my wagon
to ever higher altitude
i may never sleep again.



just slight
like a copper penny
to throw me
right off the rails
just a little you
on the wind
breeze on by here.



you asked if i feel free

i said i feel free

you asked
when do i feel free?

i said when i write
                    and when i fly

which is when?


jump up
when you hear him
ratcheting and upon
his glorious soar don't forget
to breathe--


little poem feature

The truly hardcore stalkers of my blog already know about this (and you know who you are), but for the rest of you, there is this cute little feature here you've been missing. If you look to the right and find that fuzzy photo of me and you *click* on it, you get a special prize! 

For quite some time, that click has taken you to my ever-popular grown up haiku. But I've decided to try using it to pull out of the archives some older poems that many of you have not seen. So when you come, click on that nicey blurry photo, and I'll switch up the poem every week or so for your enjoyment. Right now, it's one of my very favorites. Enjoy your prize!

in real life

even a girl who
flies at night must in morning
make breakfast for kids.


you came
levitating above me
laughing and twinkling
reaching out
pulling me to you
through my haze
bringing me back to life
in the next moment
i'll see you elsewhere
so come and cross over
and then please
if you would
tuck me back in.



you are a marvel
keep on throwing what ya got
and we'll see what sticks.

tenant rights

if you
worry that i
cannot feel you, stop. you
have taken up residence here,


even green girl gets the blues

you expect
sex and sunshine
but if you followed
you might find me
drunk and twitching
in the swirlum of doom.


i am trying not to slobber all over you
  like a giant drooling dog.
  (i am not even a dog person.)

the challenge is in resisting?

then i'll just sit here
  wagging my tail.


signs of spring

the rain stops, the sun
peeks out, and in my mailbox
gardener's catalog.

(another poem about) flying

way up high
above all clouds
drift then fly then speak out loud
what it is we're reaching for?
are you with me? strive for more?
more is quite a lot i know
as we have much down below
all the love and all the good
maybe then we really should
stay where we are?
i can't stop soaring toward that star.

a whole nother

aw, man
what's the plan
are you nowhere
and what
aw, shucks

what the fuck 
a ways away
you okay
a whole nother
place to stay 
the real deal
gonna steal 
what's real
i can feel
you now
yeah baby
i can
sure as hell
feel you now
oh yes i can feel you now.


put up a parking lot

that excavator
will ravage a thinking man
even made of stone.

(This poem was inspired by this week's Monday Photo Prompt at my friend Eric Alder's photography blog, Bifocal Univision.)


     and i am


(this poem is partner to this one.)


c'mon, really?

it's just wrong: my kids
are playing with a toy called
Magic Licky Tongue.


burn marks

Week four of the Indie Ink weekly writing challenge! In the challenge, participants are randomly challenged by our peers with a writing prompt. This one turned out, well, heavy.
Look at this heavy walnut bureau, ornate and beautiful. Wide and sturdy, with its pretty scalloped mirror. Only one crack in the glass. It has those teeny drawers I like at the top, little jewelry tray inside. I love it.

But it has a big flaw. A large wound right on top, right in the middle, see that? A ring, a burn mark. More even than that, charred wood, almost like firewood, right there on top. Can't miss it, right? Oh maybe I could set something there, put a cloth over that. Maybe I could make it work.

But what could make a burn like that? What could make such a scar? It's the wrong shape for an iron burn. A candle, perhaps? A candle unattended, just like they warn you about? Never leave your candles unattended, they always say.

how could she
why would she
why didn't she
She thought they could work it out. It was worth it to try, he was worth it, they were worth it. She put on her nice sundress, she wore her best underwear, she poured some wine and lit a candle on her bureau. Hoping.

He came over and they ate and drank and drank some more. And even more. They danced. He held her, asked for another drink, they drank some more. They kissed and lay down and they talked. And he began to get angry. Lying in her bed. Angry drunk and crazy. She looked up at him. Begged him. No, that wasn't true. No, that never happened. No. Oh please, no. She looked up at him for the last time.

The candle on her bureau burned unattended.
I don't think I'm gonna buy this bureau after all. That wound on the top is just too raw.

This week, I was challenged by A Lil' Irish Lass thusly: "Go to a thrift store, Salvation Army, yard sale etc. and select an item. Tell me about the person who owned it through the item."



my scream woke me up
fleeing from the scoundrel
who'd rape and rip me

sure i was not alone
i lay pinned to the mattress
for hours

but i was alone
you were not there
no protection from scoundrels
real or dreamt

as the light came up
coo of roof doves
brick wall out my window
took me elsewhere
scoundrels and you.

(This poem was inspired by this week's Monday Photo Prompt at my friend Eric Alder's photography blog, Bifocal Univision.)


time zone(s)

fasten seat belts
prepare to fly high
twinking orange lights
beltway river
clouds on the lake
and beyond

like a conspiracy
of pretzel breath
in stale air

one hour closer

i will miss you, central time
with your cobwebby love.


a little mystery

Week three of the Indie Ink weekly writing challenge (in which participants are randomly challenged by our peers with a writing prompt). Challenging, all right.

They had been fighting like lovers angry words and accusations.

She spat you bastard then he had her against the wall ah fuck as he pushed her hard kissing her hard she gave in opened herself wrapped around him inside her breath in his ear.

That was how it was.

While he showered she searched for evidence of what dunno but she knew she would find it this time a pile of papers on the kitchen table beckoned her rifling gently she found a letter in loopy cursive on lined paper.
I don't know why she would leave you all I want is to sit on your couch naked and drink coffee and read The Nation why would she not want that who would not want that but you won't have me she does not know what she has and gave away I love you.
Eyes flooding dizzy she sat her naked self on the kitchen chair to take it in what when how what was the date on that letter?

Someone wanted what she had.

Warm and wet he appeared and she gave herself to him.

My challenge, from Zoeyjane, was: "Pick a post from one of your past Indie Challenges. Using third person only, rewrite it as a mystery." I chose my first challenge, "prisoner's dilemma," and this is where it went.



where are you tonight?
ah, our rose is still a rose
but the bloom is off.

take a letter, maria(n)

what if
when he said time for dictation
or i'll have some coffee
what if i just
up and
run out?
blow this taco
stand, as they say? snagging
post-it notes, postage stamps, staplers
and tape?
yet if i hurl that coffee cup
scalding hot starbucks burns
he'd not forget
soon. i
am smarter than
these bozos, what am i
even doing here, stagnating
complicit in my oppression?
snap out of it sister
ride your bus pass
town now
find your mountain
and a good love, linger
warm air on your breast til you are
then you
can fly down singing madrigals
on the wing. then start on
some writing of
your own.


the social network

one click
and there you are
a guy with friends and likes
kids gripes jokes. i have been human
all this
time but
you have been like
a voice on high. before
and again, the earth small, my heart

so big.

show ya mine

show me what you got
yer great big whole lotta lot
more alike than not.


kirby's haiku

love you, mister moon
we'll see you again someday
now to kirby's house!

(Written by my kids, naturally.)


hundred year flood

If you've been following along here, you know that my friend Eric Alder has this new weekly photo prompt thing on his photography blog. So far I've managed to write a poem to his prompt each week. Here is Eric's photo prompt for this week, which has brought me a flood of memories:

This photo has brought to mind a hundred-year flood I lived through that is strongly imprinted in my brain. Though I grew up in a house right on a crick and lived through floods when I was a kid, this one, when I was a young(er) adult, is the most remarkable. A few months ago, I wrote a poem about it ("spring creek") and Eric's photo for this week brought it all up for me again. I recently found a box of my old writing and journals, and I was able to locate what I wrote about the Spring Creek flood. Here is is, mostly unedited:
Sunday morning, January 20, 1996. The events of the past few days have been unreal, remarkable, amazing. The great blizzard of '96 that hammered us a couple weeks ago melted and flooded. On Thursday, the temperature reached about 60 degrees and over night Thursday to Friday morning, we had crazy tempestuous thunder and lightning storms--it was scary, brought down all the snow on the roof in huge crashes. On the news they said that we got 2.36 inches of rain in five hours, which would have been three feet of snow. Friday morning my bathroom lights would not work and Paul came over to look at the breaker box. I thought it might be because of the rain (as it turns out, it was unrelated, the box just went bad)--I left for work and the hill, Paradise Road, was flowing, a huge stream of brown water and debris. I couldn't go up, but had to cross it toward the hatchery to turn around and drove to work the long way. At that time, the stream was very close to the road in a couple places and it was still raining very hard. I went to work and it continued to rain and rain so I left for home because I thought the road would be washed over. I had NO idea what was to come! I came home and Paul and I were planning to clean out my eaves so water wouldn't come in by my bed. I called Judy and told her to come home. My wood was getting wet so I brought a large amount in the house and started a fire. Stream rising. Then I called a landlord and negotiated a settlement which kept my client and his family from being evicted. Spoke with the client. Judy came over and parked her car in my driveway. I kept the key just in case. The water was only about a foot from her bridge--I watched her walk across and we knew she was over there for the duration. I took some photos, but still had no idea what was to come. I came in the house and Kathy called, she was concerned. Her basement up on the mountain was flooded and she had been watching the news. We spoke for about 20 minutes and during the conversation I began to panic. Looking out the stream window the stream rose quickly and dramatically while we were on the phone to begin covering the lawns across the stream. I called Judy, really began to panic. Alter's bridge began collecting debris, tree stumps and limbs. A lot! It was scary. I kept going outside to take photos (made me feel calmer) and then coming back inside. It became apparent to all that it was "coming" and Paul started to suggest that I move my things up if possible, which I did, guitar, books, etc. and things on the floor. The dam on the bridge kept building. For a long time Paul and Allison (who barely made it home from school--she parked at the juvenile detention center and Paul retrieved her by going up Fishburn Hill) and everyone was outside. The road became flooded over from Graystone to between the green house and mine, flowing down the road and back into the stream. Then the road was flooded over by John's house all the way up. We stood outside and watched the mess by the bridge. First the mailboxes went downstream. Then--amazingly--Punkin's swimming pool and dog kennels crashed through Alter's fence and went on downstream--it was unbelievable. Part of the pool attached to a bush in MaryLou's yard (which was then in the middle of the stream) and stayed there. Punkin also lost three trucks full of firewood and her house was getting flooded. The pool and fence going actually made it easier on her house. A big picnic table came down from the hatchery and got stuck on the bridge--eventually let go. The temperature dropped to 8 degrees Friday night. Saturday morning it was amazing! Judy's bridge is gone except for twisted steel girders. The hatchery was really damaged, all the fish let loose. Everything is covered in ice, everything has been wrecked and turned into diamonds. 
At the time of this flood, I was working in my first attorney job, as a tenant lawyer for the legal aid office covering several rural counties in central Pennsylvania. I lived in Bellefonte, in a little grove called Fisherman's Paradise, along Spring Creek, a mile or two from a hatchery. The fish commission improved the stream for fly fishing and stocked it with trout. I lived in a tiny cabin between the tiny road and the stream. The house was so close to the water, it felt like being in a houseboat when you were inside. I heated with wood and lived alone with two cats.

During the flood and the next day, I snapped a lot of photographs. Ironically, in another flood just a few years ago (this one not an act of nature but an act of neglect, when we went on vacation and forgot to turn off the water supply to the washing machine), I lost a lot of photos including all the flood photos. But here are a few shots of my tiny cabin and its environs. The photos are from different seasons, but they show both of the driveway bridges that were taken out by the flood. The one upstream (in the winter photo) created the dam with trees and debris until it let loose; the one downstream (in the spring photo) was the one my neighbor Judy walked across to get to her house, not long before it gave way. There's a photo that shows a tree that fell in my tiny yard during that storm, too. It snowed a day later.

I have a few other poems set in this locale as well, including "like keith zettlemoyer" and "rain on the roof." I lived there for three years--it really was Paradise--until I moved here to western Massachusetts. Yes, to another house on another raging stream, and then yet another house on a stream; now we live in a small town, with no stream rushing by. But at least we have our friend the mountain.

for my obituary

when i die, please don't
say in the paper that i
had a "heart of gold."


disappearing act

you were gone away
now cascading pretty words
buck me up again.


howard stern says

i should
meditate. fly
and transcend this joint. head
out, fly back, zero in on you.


i'm not
gonna be your
penultimate. with sweat
equity i'll trade to be your
last best.


compares to the heady rush
like biting the bullet
pull the scab off