Laundry Day

I pour Wheaties of ruin into a bowl–
Across the room,
iron, zinc, and B12 good for the blood.
Scarecrow’s feet at the edge of my eyes,
you say look at me.
a tattered squint hung on rough wood.
Skin as dry as cigarette paper
I ask can you forgive me?
rolling out of bed on Tobacco Road.
Sushi took me for a swim
You know about drowning.
to the bottom of the river.
Does the mirror taste like glass?
Your tongue lingers
Hard water.
Jolly Rancher stuck in my pocket,
so sweet.
lint and sugar, Fireball cinnamon.

For Shay’s Word Garden and TSM


If I could just reach out and pluck
the jewelry of lights, emerald and ruby,
atop the Empire State Building –
kiss your hand and place them on your finger...

But tonight they shiver white.
I know that we too are the city
waving a handkerchief in surrender –
we all give, uncle.

Ambulances hot up the West side –
flashes rising red like mercury in a thermometer,
EMT’s listening to playlists in someone’s chest,
searching Spotify for melodic signs of life.

Sphygmomanometer, hematocrit, xylophone,
osmosis, music of the spheres in syllables
strapped to a gurney, bang bang tangs
of the street’s tuning forks vibrating against our skulls.

In darkness, we watch the film-flam
towers of chocolate, their veneer of sweetness
crumbling under its own weight,
summer will come soon and melt us all down.

Sitting next to you
the rushing solar system of the Roomba
circles in our ears.
Tell me what “vacuum” means to you.

And yet let us marvel at my lack of a manbun,
and all our peculiar luck, all
that is still pregnant and topsy-turvy
in the thrift store of our lives.

For Shay’s Word Garden

Haibun – Trash Talk

No way my love you were asleep during that garbage truck catechism at three AM, counting the rosary of bins hitting the pavement, bags tossed long and high Hail Mary after Hail Mary, charming the rats with plague and kielbasa and wine and stale bread, Eucharist and crumbs of the True Cross, your delirium shouting hosannas in dialect of jesusfuckingchrist, your Passion erotic, skin electric and making a folly of sleep, OK, hey yeah, French kissing and hallucinating we are still those two kids in the apartment on 11th and College, hyenas braying all night from a frat party down the block, or is it now, in this moment, only a random dog out by the river barking the icicles off boats in the boatyard, nothing lazier than my lying here waiting for fruit to fall from sleep’s orchard, phantom apples and pears the playthings of dreams and seasons, I rise and shamble the waterfront.

Sleep loss vagabond –
Stalking trash cans until dawn
A wolf counting sheep

For Shay’s Word Garden and TSM

Breakfast Butter Eyes

As to you, my obliviana: 
she who nods off
as I lift to my mouth a forkful of ob –

obtuse, obligato, obsess

The consumptive chewing sound of my mind,
cicada swarms stripping the dictionary
to a field of stubble and vowels

obstacle, oboe, oblast

Poems like a wallet of mad money, 
when words explode, you jump out of the cab
in front of the library lions 

obloquy, obi, obit

verses an ATM of rage –
no withdrawal limit 
on the dying of the light

obelisk, obol, obtrude

geysers & fire hydrants 
metaphors for anger,
drug dealers with confetti in their eyes

observe, obviate, obscure

Startled awake, you clear the dishes
gently take the phone from me before I start again –
Too late! Ah you, my inamorata

For Shay’s Word Garden and TSM


Lo and I am like an armadillo, jolted and rolling into a protective tuck,
safeguarding scrolls of Tibetan mantras, chanting Avalokiteśvara – compassion –
as we are shot from the barrels of our phones, armored rounds
of blood-warm arms, legs, intestines, and organs
into the oncoming warships, worships

My skin knows only that tomorrow it will be stretched tight, immense
across the diamond vision screens of Times Square –
thin and translucent, burning pixels of news and all the colors of M&M’s
looking down where the naked cowboy sings in his rodeo boots,
no leather left on the sole, dubious, dub-stepped and pious

Please, mercy, I can't hear my own heart beat
over Kerouac jungle drums in the ChatGPT jukebox,
can't see my breath exhaled and frozen against the collapsed horizon
some genius left in shambles,
malfeasance and malediction

For Shay’s Word Garden and TSM

Endless Dust

A ghost ship washed ashore in Japan
Full of cargo and sailor’s bones.

The Japanese for “endless drifting”
Is “mugen no hyōryū”, which means:

“Dust motes in sunlight
Float like lotus blossoms
On the still pond”

Sure, I just made that up,
As did the sailors

Scrawling haikus of goodbye
On the walls of their bunks.



For The Twiglets

To the Snake, Anon

My reply to Jilly’s reply to the Denise Levertov poem, “To the Snake“. Full text in-line below.


To the Snake, Anon

Eat thine own tail, Ouroboros!
As I must eat my tale
and know we began only to end infinity,
leaving just our stories forever
twined, wrapped, twisted
as the caduceus we made in the forest,
our bower of staff and wings.

Would you shed me so easily?
Do you not taste of your venom?
Your lie forks your tongue
that such pleasure was not love,
the brush of our skin immortal.

My garden flowered with too much joy;
I cannot regret now
what I will bear alone.


The Snake’s Keening
by Jilly

Bright Girl, when you plucked me from
the grass and round your neck I hung
felt your seering warmth
and whispered in your ear the secrets
of a serpent’s curse
the weight of sin and shame I bare
wounded in your ears —

Bright Girl — I swore to my scaled children that certainly
you were sinless! But truly
I had no hope of ever passing your heel, only desire
and be held by you, for that thrill,
which bereft
of guilt, as the grass closed
behind me, and you with that dark
assurance in your eyes,
I shall never share.


To the Snake
by Denise Levertov

Green Snake, when I hung you round my neck
and stroked your cold, pulsing throat
as you hissed to me, glinting
arrowy gold scales, and I felt
the weight of you on my shoulders,
and the whispering silver of your dryness
sounded close at my ears —

Green Snake–I swore to my companions that certainly
you were harmless! But truly
I had no certainty, and no hope, only desiring
to hold you, for that joy,
which left
a long wake of pleasure, as the leaves moved
and you faded into the pattern
of grass and shadows, and I returned
smiling and haunted, to a dark morning.