William Wordsworth: Parking Attendant, Weehawken, NJ

Lincoln might be in the Bardo –
where spirits wait bewildered
in their Rubber Room souls –

But William Wordsworth is outside 
in my parking lot
waltzing with language and cars –

Foxtrots of Kias, nouns, and verbs,
Fords and Acuras tango with adjectives –
insensate and doleful dip and turn,
While the drivers, like inmates
of ballroom dance class, trip on overgrown
iambic feet, hoofing to Glen Miller.

In Spring he will gently blow adverbs and romance
into pistils of foxglove,
until magnolias faint in jealousy.

For him, Death is no purgatory, no dotage, 
he is as lucid as yellow,
as sharp as a blackbird quill plucked in flight,

Far less bewildered than I
between this world and the next –
if he writes of eternity, it must be so –

Poems to guide us
with the half-life of Uranium 235 –
fissile at room temperature –

Nuclear reactions of sunrise
breaking like egg yolk over the hillside –
Ten thousand daisies runny with light.

For Shay’s Word Garden and TSM


I’m a tornado of bees,
a cyclone of buzz and hum
You have more sharp turns
than a toboggan of hornets
I’ll rattle your mullions, believe you me,
love storm of the century.
The sky is seasick
with hurricanes
We’re the full catastrophe,
no atrophy
No apostrophe,
no trophy
You ring in my ears like dynamite,
like a fight between samba and flamenco
Oh Nagasaki, oh hot ginger,
oh Ali‘s rhumba in the jungle
More fun than a barrel of mimes
tipping over Niagara
You are handcuffed to wind,
laughing about mortality
Eskimo my nose, my toes,
cuddle is the new tundra
The windows leak ghosts,
whistling for their supper
But this is a love poem,
gorgeous with leaves turning cartwheels
Rain weeps through the cracks in my hands,
wanders the damp maze of my bones

For Shay’s Word Garden and TSM

86 That

Go ahead, tell your sob story to the spoon
and the coffee cup,

how your addiction to night sky
started with poetry, the gateway drug, 

and now you are mainlining – 
shooting stars – your veins twinkling

with broken bottles
and shards of Christmas lights.

Go on, lament to this plate of eggs
and Tabasco

the fate of words like tigers 
performing tricks 

with what's left of the magician's sleeve,
or the sound of violins

playing blackjack
on their shoestrings, hit me.

I listen to your sling, your hash,
your blather spread

on whole wheat or white,
your second, or third, or fourth marriage

to sonnets, to Surrealism, to Whitman,
feeding the doggerel scraps

under the table,
stumbling down 12-steps 

into the void.

For Shay’s Word Garden and TSM

On Reading Four Small Bees

On Reading: Four Small Bees Found Living in a Woman’s Eye

He could see in her eyes 
she'd been sweeping graves.
Memory and duty – incense 
and a yarrow-stalk broom
worrying away leaves and dirt. 
Unearthed, bees flew 
to her sweat, her sorrow. 
They knew no pollen 
could yield such honey –
love, so smoked with grief 
that it was holy.
Ancestral manna
to feed her, and
keep watch.

First published Sept 2020 in the I-70 Review


Scratch Space

You said I was to imagine a great thirst,
and then to slake it.
But I think “back at ya!” –
instead why don’t YOU imagine
you are the sea itself
with salt in your throat,
waves rolling off your tongue
tasting the brine of last night’s sleep –
the great deep trenches
deep as the pathways
of your lungs, as if we could name
your breaths Mariana, Tonga, Aleutian –

And you cannot imagine thirst
because you are nothing but thirst,
the way a fish cannot imagine water.
And you cannot imagine drinking,
because you are nothing but drink,
the way a glass cannot imagine empty
or full –

In this way you, the reader, and I
break the fourth wall of the sea –
the stone jetties and dikes,
the levees and breakwaters,
give way. Our tsunami comes then,
beyond imagination.

Miz Quickly

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This morning I am a shuffleboard disc – 
shoes scraping across cheap playground asphalt, 
lines weathered and flaked 

I try shoving over a copy of The Waste Land, 
see if I can make points with ”hyacinth,” 
or bump off “lilacs” with ”lilies” 

But I'm too sleepy. I still have goblins 
in my fingers from last night's dreams, 
my maw dry and filled with peacock feathers 

Better, my game of folding grief like origami – 
I tear pages from the book, crease poems into 
surprise! A crown of thorns 

Forget about forgetting, 
memory steeps in tea bags of the past, 
dried peels and scabs of 1970 in tiny paper sachets 

"Are we having fun yet?" 
Outside again, the sun slowly slides 
Into scoring position, aloft 

Above the mirrored river, 
wings choppy as waves, 
geese wheeze south for winter 

For Shay’s Word Garden and The Sunday Muse


Sleepy, when my arm went over you,
the trapdoor slipped open
as always

And we fell in stuttered flight,
like bees drowning in sugar water
set out in the lids of jars

Tongues and stingers
slurred with nectar,
our waggle-dance instead a stumble

Drunken semaphores to the Sandman –
Instead of: "follow this way to forage, 
to hive, to hoard"

He reads: “Turn left at Chicago,
ride the ferry in your dwarf costume,
and meet us in the Shatterproof Café”

Which becomes someone else's dream tonight
while we linger on the veranda,
our bower draped in honeycomb

For Shay’s Word Garden and The Sunday Muse

East of the Garden State Parkway

The same way rain betrays 
a newspaper 
left on the bench – 

Water kissing the cheek
of headlines under a grey paste sky
drained of news – 

I finger my coffee mug like a rosary, 
rubbing the face of Christ
from the stains

In my best Judas voice
I ask to you please pass a napkin
and a pen

What will I erase between the lines,
between you and me,
What will I leave hanging

For Shay’s Word Garden

Waiting for Rain

Anne Sexton wrote:
"God has a brown voice,
full and soft as beer."

But I think no, 
more a shot of cask-strength bourbon – 
"Wow, shit. Woo! Hoo boy." 
Or "Hoo-ah!" like Al Pacino
in Scent of a Woman.

Holy – fiery midnight 
tossed back without sentiment,
the stars sway and shake
as they did at creation.

No sotto-voce stage-right, 
no sorry Romeo in crestfallen overcoat,
no sentimental trombones
stepping on valentine shoes
doing the boxing-step waltz.

Or if God has a soft voice,
maybe like asphalt gone formless
on a burning hot day,
the sky a void – 
no place for bare feet
on the road.
Waiting for weather.
Waiting for thunder and rain.

For Shay’s Word Garden