Glyph Dwelling

I want to scrimshaw love poems  
onto your bones. 
Scratch the itch of Rumi 
in endless scrawl 
knotting our ribs. 

No, I meant –  
carve totem poles 
of beastings, godheads, 
flying from one place in our story 
to another. 

No. I want to begin. 
and burnt offerings, 
cinders and spark,
painting cave walls 
red and black with our ashes. 

Desperate Poets OLN

First published at Euphemism, Spring 2019

Cough Gogh

Yessir milk is my North Star 
after all it is the Milky Way right 

poured into the galaxy’s whirling 
blender blades of light 

and dark chocolate frappé 
we sing “Say Say Say” 

until gravity is udderly teated 
open your mouth in awe 

to catch a squirt of falling star 
warm and liquid on a spring night 

let us say say say this is in 
Nebraska the State of Art 

because its picture frame shape its 
texture thick with pallet knife waves 

of corn green like Van Gogh‘s 
starry night with a million trillion 

points of mooing black and white

For Desperate Poets

Eat Your P’s & Q’s

Of course like all simulacra 
no mater how hard I rowed
the rowing machine its
wind noise its pull chain
fighting my grip
we did not cross the river
but sank steel and grease
under the waves

no matter how many lights
I turned on then off then on again
we did not find the sun
but sank in darkness no
matter I cannot find your hand
only the sinking feeling
of falling from the sky
pulling the ripcord

of words but the shrouds
snap only shreds
of I’s and O’s and U’s
what I owe you my love not
poems torn into fortune
cookie scrip counterfeit
screed with “Be here now”
written on one side

and “You are here”
on the other
a big red arrow pointing
like a laser gunsight
right between my eyes
down to my heart and
click of the ersatz trigger

a pacemaker hunting
big game Hemingway
exhorts us ‘Write the truest
sentence that you know’
so you look out
the window and say
“It‘s as cold as frozen peas”
for this I will love you forever.

For Desperate Poets

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