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Descent The Unnameable Intrusions
God The Lost Part of Self
for my mother, Joan
Without You
Instinct Blues Grief Fate
Memphis Fractions
for Dede
Hope Virginity Dreams
Premise And Then There Are Those Faith
Visibility Partings Eclipse
Persimmon Among the Proclamations of Doubt Solitude
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Like houses, at our touch, the heart opens
its door. Windows brighten with breakthrough
and in come all the lives

like troops in an assembly line down a wild path,
the scent of berries and possibility, crushed bees
beneath their feet

moving into the yard, toward the door in a manner
of great significance, such beauty in those that
come empty handed, willing only to give

and not receive, bleak with love I take them in.

The Unnameable

drifts in and out of my consciousness
as I take an easy walk through town square,
watching as others toss coins in the fountain,
the wish-want on their faces so clear, I put
down my head and look to the sidewalk,
as each dark toe of my shoe comes forward.
How dangerously we all arrive to that strange
party called depression, with liquid smiles on,
ready to mingle, feeling the room with our eyes,
searching for someone like us, checking
the corners, the bedroom, the dark fracture
under the stairs.


Last night I cast the demons
from my dreams.
It was not easy, especially
those with silver speech.
How they tried to woo me
out of my self.
They split my side open,
created a sanctuary between
my lungs, fed off my heart's
nocturnal wanderings, pinned
pictures of themselves
to the bones of my ribcage.
Memories, the one with the stoney
voice said, as he hung a mirror
from my sternum and looked
at himself.

The demons are not unkind.
On the contrary, they believe
to be of service, as the sun finishes
baking and closes the oven door
until tomorrow, they think I need
company. As I lay my head down
to sleep, they begin walking, talking,
thinking aloud, ruminating, considering
our past which is still their present.
I realize it's up to me to set them straight,
to clear their cloudy heads from thinking
that any damaged love is better off
left lingering and so I show them.

This is the door to the outside world,
here through the cut in my side,
between the fifth and sixth rib, go
and be free. Some totter with worry,
others simply leave. A few are very
afraid and stare through the opening.
Some are so tiny I find it humiliating,
others are so large it's like giving birth,
my body is the grave from which they
are born. A herd of black horses waits
to carry them off.

The one with the stoney voice is the last
to leave. A cord of maternal nature
binds him. From the light coming in from
the cut in my side I can see he is young
like a glass child and is refusing to go.
So I break him, poor boy.
Send his shattered pieces flying.
There is no room for adolescence here,
I say as I remove the glass from the carpet
of my lungs. First loves nor any of those
that have come after. From now on
I do not need to know what day it is,
nor what hour. I'm starting over.


God keeps me alive.
God constantly.
God a piece of moonlight
piercing through the pastel
bellies of clouds.
God is bigger than the sky
but fits inside of my shoe.
God a colorless motion
surrounding a diagonal arm
of sunlight.
God's head resting in my lap.
God's hair fanning out like a flame
across my thighs.
God doesn't smile, knowing if He did,
I might go blind.
God's grief a soft cyanosis,
a blue expanse of bundled light.
God feeding me serpents
cleaning the juice running down my chin
with His tongue.
God smoking a cigarette
while I plant kiss after kiss, pale as teardrops
upon his forehead.

The Lost Part of Self

for my mother, Joan

People get deserted.
It happens every day.
People are abandoned,
daughters by their mothers,
women by their lovers,
you by your last hope.

It's best not to dwell on it.
Memory can not serve you
any better than it can salve
your wounds, stitch your scrapes
together, or cast your fractured

The abandoned part-of-self is lost.
A stray, deep in uncertainty.
Leave it there. To find
its own way, to dig through garbage pails
for something to eat,
to howl into the frozen night
for company,
to scratch with dirty nails
on bolt-locked doors.

However your true self decides to make it,
she'll make it.

I promise.

Without You

I am lost.
Meaning does not unfold
but stays clasped up tight
as a newborn fist.

Days become microscopic.
Hours can not be seen
by the human eye.
Courage breaks its wing.

Instinct Blues

Right away men come
to shuffle me places
I do not want to go.

First, as an infant,
into my mothers arms.
Second, as a child,
into the classroom.
Third, as a young woman,
into a young man's clutches.
Fourth, as a mother,
into old age.
Fifth, as a grandmother,
into my grave.

Right away men come.
Right away men go.


He died in January, the smell of winter
will always remind me of him.
The teeming scent of rain on asphalt,
nevertheless I have learned ways
of stepping in and out of myself.

The back door I created leads out
of my head and into Greenfield park.
I am an example of self-pity as I flop
myself down on the grassy hill
that overlooks the playground.

Even children are more sophisticated
than I am. Sociable animals, they
fight and play, always forgetting
from one moment to the next why
they were just crying, if they were sad.

The groundskeeper in his earth brown
jumpsuit blows leaves off the walking path.
The janitor rolls a cart of cleaning supplies
into each toilet stall. Father and son fish
in a man-made pond.

The park for me is not a workable piece
of escape, I can't live here, I keep finding
things wrong. The children are too exceptional,
the sunlight too bright as it lays a shining
highway over the water, which pushes me

to return, taking one last glimpse before I go
back into the profound sorrow of myself.
The minute I am in, the sky heaves a dark
sigh. My heart beats in a sequence of rain
drops, I stare down the street at the shapes
of wet trees.

Grief is like a woman in church,
finding no sign of life from the preachers
rousing sermon, she leaves.
The road ahead is long and narrow,
no end in sight.


This is my heartlessness.
Like snow flurries, my attitude
opens its gate, rains cold and wet-white.

Sometimes I'm able
to control myself, the emotional stuff
I keep gagged and sealed in the closet
of my head.

All it takes is a key
to open the door.
Why you have a copy for every locked corridor,
I'm not sure.

Did I give them to you?
I did? I must have trusted you then.
Before you began donning an executioners mask,
a switchman's ill concerned face.


I lost my heart to a man wearing black,
stars tacked to his shoulders, white roses
of smoke drifting, almost patiently, from
his mouth.

I walked into his arms like the sunlight
walks into a room, bright and eager.
He was there for me in ways my father
was not.

With the aroma of rye liquor, that manly
medicine, circumventing the air between
our lips, the sun and it, his stars,
we kissed.

I could snap my fingers and he'd be there,
a love song with bruised edges, a glimpse
into his boyhood dishevelment, a poem
impossible to put into words.


for Dede

Years after your brother died,
and your mother, who always drank,
started drinking at 6 a.m. to dull
the pain. The accident hadn't
happened yet. You were not
yet a shadow of your former self,
addicted to pain pills, so thin
I could see your shoulder blades
through your tee shirt.

Would it have made a difference
if I told you then what I know now?
How our lives are being orchestrated
by a God we can not see or touch.
That we must have faith.
Faith in blank space, and trust,
that awesome word shaped
like a fist.

How many years would you say
you spent reciprocating a love
you never felt? Your father gone
to live in another State, remarried,
new kids. Your mother passed out
by noon everyday.

At the hospital, the place
we always swore never to end up,
your right leg strapped to a device
the nurse called a medical limb
support assembly. Your boyfriend
dead, thrown 30 feet after breaking
through the windshield.

Five years, ten, maybe forever?
It was great to hear from you
after so long. Yes, I'm still married
to that guy I told you about
the last time we talked on the phone,
each of us with a receiver cupped
to our ear, music in the background.

Just like old times, huh, Dee?
Hey, remember that time in Delbert's
jeep, Bono singing, where the streets
have no name, and we agreeing,
as we tossed our spent cloves
into traffic, drank our southern comfort
and didn't think about trust or faith
or God, only knew that we'd make it.


Every evening
mothers gather their youngest children
and bring them indoors.

This happens just
as the sun begins to fade like a dying
flower, purplish on the horizon,
curled at the edges.

Old men watch
from their porches as young men
cut through the shadows with their wiry,
sinewy forms, smoke from their cigarettes
hangs in the air.

A backlash of heat rises from the asphalt.
Women of insufficient means stand around
under streetlights, tossing their manes of curly,
dark hair and flashing disaffectionate smiles.
The night is a wound on their souls.

Summer threads through the tiny town.
Moonlight crawls across Saint Anthony's church lawn.
The Virgin Mary hangs her head out front.
Men fill the bars.


So many things are open with love. It illuminates you.... ~Darren Tattersall

The sunrise over the slopes of the Superstition
mountains, changing from jagged to surreal
like hope in a bottle. We should figure out
a way to market this, you say. I agree
because I find you so easy to agree with.

The totality of life in an instant, how
the morning casts away the evening before.
How everything can change, alter its expression
in a moment. Hope rises than settles,
sets fire to the desert floor, like the sunlight
on this January morning, new year, new sun.

Everything sparkles.


I haven't been touched
that way since I was five,
the long grasp of unfamiliar
fingers, the child in me
cracking to life.
The taste of regret
in my mothers tears
as the neighbor is hauled
off in handcuffs.
My fathers dry
relinquishment, his
foliated disappointment.
He didn't speak to me again
for years.


I wake this morning
to the sound of rain,
measure the darkness
against the hour.
Beyond memory
my dreams wane
and dissipate.
Leaves scatter like pleas
across the yard.


All night love leads me away from my home.
Into the world, past the places I thought I loved
but barely knew.

I search for you, my eyes skimming past
the rush of midnight, its unavoidable moon,
the texture of starlight and the inevitable crease

the mountain makes on a brusque horizon.
I imagine myself finding you, a sillouette of raven
blue, the lyrics for your next song spinning

like starlight all around your head. I fear
stumbling into your silence, interrupting
the thoughtful contemplation in which you write.

Nightly my prowling inadequacy,
I hunt for your face, afraid of losing you
before I've had a chance to discover you.

And Then There Are Those

In childhood all the sunflowers are tall.
The seasons are bright, the road is long.
Every afternoon can seem an eternity.
Learning to whistle is an all out feat edging
ever closer to success.

Then there are the babies born unheard of.
The corked bodies and floppy heads without
a hand to support them, no breast, no crib,
no morning stroll in the park.

How many of these make it to the place we are.
Adulthood. Sure we have troubles, annoyances,
grievances with our neighbors, the principle of commerce,
the government, but at least we are here to discover
a new way to make amends, or rediscover an old idea.

In childhood bedtime is eight o'clock, stories are read
from Grimm's Fairytales, the television exhumes its
white noise news and all the little ones fall asleep.
Each dream a new chapter, every milestone an ideal.

And then there are those whose mealtime is a stab
in the dark, whose bodies are broken with hunger,
whose hearts are broken too. They are visible
throughout the world, so why doesn't anyone see them?
Myself included and so I hide my fullness behind walls.

In childhood the stars are worth counting, bliss crosses
the paths of those who believe. The air is always
marginally clean. Bubbles are blown, boxes drawn
with chalk are hopscotched, teachers are always available
for extra help after school.

And then there are those unable to evaporate, and so
they exist. How much easier would it be if they could just manage
to die, rather than live in a world without choices, left out
in the cold like an animal without a coat, whose voices
become more silent like ghosts only bluer, unfixated, and totally alone.

In childhood all the sunflowers are tall.
The seasons bright, the road long,
but so are the probabilities, the terrible commotions,
the list of names, those we never heard of,
as we contain all the falconry of luck for ourselves.
I mean, it's our goddamn birthright isn't it?
Isn't it?


if i placed my desire before God
with time removed as my dead
father bore witness as if I were
some cast-off from the sixties
with my lengthy skirt and welcome
eyes, as matters of great concern
fell by the wayside and if i tried
to think what to say about my life,
something impressive, though
i grew up quiet and afraid, knowing
God knows already but wanting
still my sense of place, carrying
a mysterious mark of abundance
on my forehead yet stunned silent
by what I hadn't done when I had
the chance like love more, take less.
looking deeper i wonder whether
or not there is such a thing as
a proper way to live. we each
have our barefoot jesus, the one
we so carefully avoid yet claim
him as our own when trouble or pain
approaches. with all this in mind,
if i placed my desire before God
and his all-seeing eye, the autobiography
of my life indelibly stamped sealed
and delivered, in both my narrow mind
and obese heart i believe He would grant it.


In the mood of winter
I refrain from telephoning
my lover, afraid to swallow
him in a sheet of darkness.

Perhaps, he once said to me,
you are happiest when you're

And I am, for the moment,
miserable though not quite happy.
So as usual, my lover was wrong.

I take a walk beneath the starlight.
I follow the moon like I follow my lover,
with my heart at my heels.
I have no illusions.


It should be noted that
despite the beauty and array
of our indestructible love,
you are so young like the dawn
and I have seen the stars come out
more than once.  Hours we spend together become

hours we've spent outside
our natural lives.  Still, we
venture forth and are polite
as the little house that god gave
crumbles in my absence.  As the children
I have tried to raise under a radiant psyche
of love and promise, moor their souls
to the floor of distress.

Tomorrow a new day.  And heartache, where
language has no words.  The first day
into my distant and mysterious life.


if desire had a pattern
some bar in the universe
to guide me through my
implacable days and endless
nights, to rule my heart
rather than torture me with
thirst, to mold me a metropolis
of want that i could enter in
and out of at will.

it is the heartache i don't deserve
the breaking point of discipline
to love another so much it hurts
a promise that aches like torment
bleeds like sunlight behind the moon.

wherever i go it is there.


For one thing, there is no you.

- Lynn Emanuel

As I drive past the old house, I feel no nostalgia.
Not for the too small front yard or the mesquite
that drove us crazy with its constant overgrowth.

I look but I do not care.  I remember but memories
are sweet and nothing more.  You in your khaki
shorts and tshirt trying to get a handle on it.

Life, my once true love, is treacherous at best.
Particularly for a girl who's loved and lost
many times over.  From this trench grief still rises.

I push apart the past from the present.  I push
them apart, keep wistful behind me.  The future
does not speak, still I am drawn to it.

Amid the Proclamations of Doubt


wake to silence,
the uncomfortable gap between
his and mine, to the sensation
of a forgotten kiss.

A looking-back past the diagram
of unexpected flowers, I stand
in the corner of the room, shaking.
I'm not afraid.


or do people fall in love only because
they are scared to be alone and is love
not a form of madness like a trap
door one can fall through.


but suddenly dismissal comes.
I want to open my eyes, hear
myself think.  What was it you said
seventeen years ago when we first met?

one of these days you're going to leave me.


and has the road not been long,
at times bumpy, at others so smooth
and straight it lulled us to sleep,
made us forget the reason we were here.

both shadow and light, every emotion
costing us something, perhaps
not a body part but why not,
it would have been easier.


you want to show me our history.
With an accusing finger you point
to old words I once said.

I watch you unravel, pale as a birch
under the moonlight, your eyes full
of intensity.

Your voice so harsh I can't breathe.


What can remain in the finished heart
to fool it into thinking anything is possible,
anything could happen,
the lingering scent of love?

driving away, i see the house in the rearview
mirror, its two front windows like eyes asking

why are you doing this?


It's not the ending I'm afraid of
or the closing of a door.
It is the product of my own imagination,
the what-if's.



Ours is a story of instances.
Fleeting, as if an hour grew wings
and left us apart.

In your absence, I don't know
what to do with my hands.
I don't know what to tell myself

or how to act.  I drink wine
to numb my mind.  I listen
to the sad echo of my own heartbeat.

Away from you, I am sorrow
sitting on a chair, staring at the sky.
As the evening takes shape

I notice the devotion to details.
The stars shining with necessity.
Ample moon.  Immeasurable dark
which has no beginning, no end.