In Rapacity

in rapacity, I have been trawling diaries and obituaries and watching you when you think you’re alone

in rapacity, I have dipped my fingers into almost everything and trespassed onto almost every property,

     I have ducked beneath the bright tapes and over the chalklines

in rapacity, I have snuck into the concert, the backdoor of the oldest bookstore, I have loitered in the hallways by all the doorframes:

     you might walk through

     when you think you’re alone


a blue pencil doesn’t work on regrets

and lining up thoughts is like lining up cats

sentiments are tumbling down the ladder of your throat

the words are laid out on a burning table

you’ve erased the line but it’s still etched in the paper’s skin

you’ve erased the line but the margins of your memories are no longer empty

The Dream Carriers

the wall full of clocks clicks in an endless cortege of iron lances. time

casts runs of grey motes down to the loom of the floor

footsteps score its pall – wood scars in the dust where eidolon steeds waited,

their long heads settled on your pillow

Shy of a Fortnight

four years having nothing to love  but your voice

I’ve pushed two mattresses

to the floor, their sides touching

while we sleep; ours not


by day five my lips are brushing

everything but your lips


Sibilant streams of sordid observations. It’s thin tongued paring out teeth-scraping slinking little words. We aimed for scarlet, ended up with bruises. It was supposed to be a soliloquy but reads like a bit of eulogy. We’ve beribboned the politicians and slain the poets. No whores in the house, just sacred sluts and their shivery tongues. What masses, a horde under the screen-light, eyes bleached, blank faces fed the junk inanity hate information character character, and it’s plot with point. Yes you, you’re dead and ruler edged. The stitched wound is a pressed red line, a mouth pressed closed, desolate tongue caged. 


My selfish tongue hoards the words I need, perched and curled like caviar in its mother’s mouth – salty, almost sacred in that warm asylum; and so I cannot name my wonder, cannot voice a word painting to stroke your eyes. Words skirl along my throat, buzz down the red threads of my body, until they bump into the tips of my fingers towards the keys beneath my waiting hands.


The Power Rangers develop piece by puzzle piece

laid down by my father’s broad, artistic hand

He’s too intelligent for a 100-piece puzzle

but his focus isn’t realized in degrees


My mother is behind the lens, taking this picture

our family cropped into a fractioned symmetry

Michael and I, little thirds of our father – six and nine and unhelpful, but intent

The three of us in white tank tops on coppering skin, dark eyes cast down


A scarlet motorcycle helmet sits on the corner of the kitchenette’s counter

Soon the reel of my father’s shinbone will be sliced

a metal rod spanning the interstice that will ache in Wisconsin winters

when he leaves sultry Key West to be near us


Twice a year will become two days every two weeks

I still won’t know my father until another woman splices us into a real family

More and more tigers dwell in my room, unrealized symbolism

exposition of a cavity in frames and plush toys and figurines


When I am older I will complete a thousand-piece puzzle with my father

a girl with a flute to her lips, backed by an enormous tiger

Later, I will move in with him, and all the tigers come with me

Later, Michael doesn’t know he’s visiting for the last time

– their separation larger than the states between them

the summon

The bus smelled like the slippers of a runaway

Stop 9217: a thirty-four minute walk from the microphone factory

where I found a socket for every plug

prongs fitted in, wires rivers all flowing to the same port

I said one word

my arms numbed with the flesh-fear of needles

as circuits blew and screamed sparks and under the dissonance

of all the glass in all the worlds shattering,

from the ragged mouths of frames and borders

flew chthonic creatures fey and gray and beautiful in their severing glory
A Perennial Thesis, and Please Stop Chewing the Furniture

The discovery that dived from your hand bricks a lion

turns the brims of his toes to fork tines that don’t bend across your thumbpad,

we don’t buy that cheap aluminum – and neither should you.

And you’re neither Cyclops or anvil-palmed but all the same

it breaks the tumblers he’s hidden in the cups of his ears,

orifices you’ve stuck your fingers in to the second joint

keyed into with champagne tickets and laddered provocations.

How many words have you flossed from those veined shells?

How many tongues have you spent into copperwire coils?

They are looking for all the light you swallowed

just to galvanize the rimfrost, the cornfield, this staid ring.

They are following the sulfur smell and the struts you left behind

and if they find you the headline will be “A Chorus of Stones”.

This would be an ideal time to abscond.

Did you remember to read the notes I inked on the churchpanes with my fingerprint?

Did you break the glass with your fulgurate breath?

Did you use the quiet side of your mouth?

We are having a difficult time telling that flap

from the slashes with skin awry,

all those raw valves are seeking another way to ligament

to suture, to cudgel, to delve the tread of one more fierce regret

to fill shabby coat pockets with other people’s prayers.

Supplications that function and fracture like strops against your inclement bones

their extremities pestles coated with wedding rice, Unseelie teeth

recalescent grit that burns the texture off your tongue

rasps down your esophagus like lithium syllables

or the keys that you dangled

then dropped

between the metal ribs of a lion’s cage.


she lifted the edge of the road like a canvas runner
   and started walking
the rain drums the dust back down
sets a pace to the war still ringing in her ears

above, the clouds crowd against the ceiling now, even now
   with the dead sun bleeding light behind the mountains
bruises from desperate hands smudged along her arms
   the road groaning in her fists as it’s dragged along

she has no patience left, only the will to outlast
the rain drums the sparks out
   and the grit against the ground

tamp down bitter words for another time
   if there were to be another
tamp down the earth with sore intent
and under her feet the world was rising,
   the mountains shatter in the distance
   but the air won’t carry the sound
she quickens her pace

the sun leans bloodless against an unlit moon
   the clouds a silent, heavy witness as the end of the road starts burning
   like a comet tail
   like a last wish

she has taken the road,
and there is no horizon to run to

Because You Say So

then start the jokes
even if the stereotypes held any truth
    which they don’t but you see what you want to see
    why would you question TV or society
    you don’t need to
that is still a generalization
there are always exceptions
    I guess individual is a word without weight
    if it was I’d throw it at your head

why should it matter
if this person is a mathematical genius
    or this one can pull the soul out of piano
but is not so good with history facts
    or fumbled through language arts
    or was kind of average at everything but was just good
why does that earn your derision?
you, who can’t even finish a sentence
or has a single friend that wouldn’t interrupt you

but you aren’t racist
because you married a “halfrican”
    oh, he may as well be white you say
and you aren’t racist either
you discriminate against everyone
    you hate all people
there’s another word for that

by the way
we don’t start off equal
    so the damage your words do isn’t equally spread
it doesn’t bother you so it shouldn’t bother anyone else
    a stellar line of reason and logic, not to mention empathy

and by the way maybe you could try being original
    instead of shooting targets already riddled with bullet holes
maybe there are endless subjects in the world
    yet you’ve picked race again and again

but you aren’t racist - they’re just jokes
just funny, funny jokes

The Harrowed

Sometimes a feeling passes through
And if it was too fleeting or too weak
I harvested its bones
   still slick with recent memory
   or time-polished and pulseless

Sometimes a feeling passes through
And if it ran I gave chase
   fingers glancing off wild flanks
   eyes dry or glazed with desperation
   my heart baying in my chest
Later I’ll walk, salvaging the pieces shorn
   to reach the verge of change

All lingering sentiment weathers here
Unfinished skeletons and locked teeth
   bitterness lying by bittersweet
   hunger beside half-asleep
The chaste and the sordid breeds of love,
    friendship, their mongrel offspring

I fashion caricatures of suffering and rapture
   crude beasts of jealousy and shame
   curled fingers of fear and anticipation
   the long throats of surprised and sensuous
Here’s a broken serenity, pieces from
   fury and wonder, the enduring
For a moment I might be gloried by
   the smiles of the bewitched and the joyous
For a moment I might be seized with
   violence born of loss or envy
My experiences are fragments of someone else’s

I strike down their unbodied forms
   unsorted jumbled devoid of articulation
But when my hands are gentled by nostalgia
   I will tidy these bones again, again

Sometimes a feeling passes over
but I do not follow it out


angry words are burning on my tongue

but I will not open my mouth

angry words are knocking against my teeth

but I will not open my mouth

I swallow the anger, still growling down my throat

it does not die in the acid of my stomach

it does not drown the deeper I push it

my blood is feverish, percolating

my thoughts have spun too long frustrated

I am dizzy with my quiet fury.

Looking Up

I’m lying in the grass trying to discern the constellations

They say Orion and Caelum and Ursa Minor are other worlds and

     I’ve heard a few alternative universe theories

     I’ve toyed within my thoughts with time machines

and there’s no such thing as a silent night but as my eyes

fail to find the edge of the sky

as each blue deepens into another blue deepens

darkens the harder you peer into it

The rise and fall…

of my chest… is replacing the trail of thoughts and

I can only keep staring…

at the stillborn yolks of the stars


I weaved through State Street’s thin morning crowd

canvas bag handles looped over each forearm

while buskers coaxed coins from the corners

into the gaping velvet mouths of open instrument cases

with whining flutes and entreating guitars and woeful violins

but my hand didn’t reach for my wallet until I heard

a rapacious saxophone gutting the sunlight

making the bright fragments


and tumble

across the sidewalk

dodging under the rubbery tread of shoes and sandals

As I tugged a dollar from the leather folds Washington fixed me with a stern eye

“Art thou deaf? It must be worth something more.”

a fable

He saw her morph on the twenty-third of October

   like real life origami – a flurry of impossible folding

   into an unremarkable bird, small and drab

   except for the red crown on her head

   “I swallowed a feather once,” was all she said

   and was careful not to give him one of hers

Whenever he closed his eyes she would crouch

   and drop tiny kisses across his face

   two weeks later she said it then walked away

   so he plucked a pinecone from a branch

   and with pliers wrenched off a scale

   to reach the bone-pale seed

His smooth skin stay smooth, but hardened

   he was tall, then taller, and he could never drink enough

   he stopped wearing shoes, started coughing needles

   he’d wake with twigs littering his pillowcase

   he said it finally – then constantly, as if he were his own echo

She watched him change through the last of fall

   and never asked him why his lips, when she kissed them,

   were sticky and sweet with resin

   at last he was a tree, with a thousand arms offered for her

   the contours of his face smoothed away into the trunk

His mouth was gone, so he could no longer speak

   her mouth was lipless, so she no longer spoke

   and never converted back to a girl with hands

   she flew to him every night but always faced the sky

   and before the winter had finished its bleaching, she left him the way birds do

   with only the memory of her feet scratching tiny scars into the bark


   A cool spring day behind James Madison

Memorial High School. It’s mostly an empty

soccer field. Seagulls wheel over square yards,

goals without nets.


   Shoes and backpack perch on wood worn

to cracked satin. A line of old fence behind the

bleachers. Dandelions crouch with their backs

against the posts, where blades never cut.


   My spine remembers the aluminum grooves

of bleacher seats. The clank and creak of her

stairclimbing to me. Her body is longer than mine

but she still tucks her head beneath my chin.


   Crows scud where seagulls once punctuated the

sky. Wind scuffs the cropped grass, the thick cropped

curls that my fingers are anchoring. This will never

be photographed.


   A cool spring day behind James Madison

Memorial High School. It’s mostly an empty

soccer field. Seagulls wheel over square yards,

goals without nets.