Poems in Journals

Poems in Anthologies


Scott Wiggerman's Poetry Pages

J o u r n a l s


I've been very fortunate to have published hundreds of poems in the past two decades, a small sampling of which are highlighted below.

Forthcoming: Three new haiku in Akitsu Quarterly, one in Cold Moon Journal, and five in Bamboo Hut; as well as a duplex, "In the Confessional", in San Pedro River Review and tanka prose, "Draw of the Cool," in Contemporary Haibun Online.

Some recent online publications, many in Japanese forms:

  • "sudden flapping" and "snow fort" in the brand-new Pan Haiku Review
  • three golden shovels--"Bitter Moon," "High Maintenance," and "Dear Basho"--in Verse-Virtual
  • "tsunami" and "the same page reading the same page" in tsuri-dōrō
  • "white noise," "the miles we've drifted riverflow," and "cottontail" in haikuNetra Journal
  • "sand verbena" in Shadow Pond Journal
  • "Getting Up" and "Housecleaning Drill Sargeant from Hell" in MacQueen's Quinterly
  • "Invulnerability," tanka prose, in Contemporary Haibun Online
  • "Three Hearts: A Summer Kasen," a kasen rengay with collaborators Claire Camargo Vogel and Janet Ruth in Under the Basho
  • "Sliding Scale" in Impossible Archetype
  • "Day of the Dead" and "even after" in Horror Senryu Journal
  • "halfway up the hill" in Scarlet Dragonfly Journal
  • "The Story of Fire," a haibun, in MacQueen's Quinterly
  • "turning pages" and "storm cloud" in Autumn Moon Journal
  • "day after day" and "sneeze" in Failed Haiku
  • Five haiku--"rash grasshoppers," "paper silence," "light lingers," "divorce," and "night when skies"--in Under the Basho
  • A collaborative poem, "Open Heart," with Claire Camargo Vogel and Janet Ruth in Drifting Sands Haibun
  • "fitbit" in Prune Juice Journal
  • "clacking against clouds off-key oak leaves," a monoku, in Whiptail
  • "New Feeder," a sonnet, in Trouvaille Review
  • "Piedra Marcadas," a sonnet, and "Job Arrives In Texas," a ghazal, in Grand Little Things
  • Yet another collaborative poem, "Beside a Fountain in Summer," a renga written with Janet Ruth and Claire Camargo Vogel, in Tandem
  • "How the Heart Lies" in Coastal Shelf




    Also includes another poem,
    "These Hills in the Distance"


    Winter Walk on the West Mesa after an Argument

    Bitter winds from the northwest arrive,
    the city below clearer than yesterday.
    Snow atop the Sandias and Manzanos--
    or is it the play of afternoon light?
    Wisps of clouds sink in wedges of canyons,
    triangular shapes like huge arrowheads.
    Steam from a power plant ten miles away
    blends into clouds--which is which?
    Volcanic rock wet from rain on the mesa,
    blacker, sharper, than the usual chalky gray.
    One last dry leaf on a sole cottonwood.
    No birds in sight, no people besides ourselves.
    Side by side, we haven't spoken in an hour.
    I only know what I am thinking.






    Includes six haiku--

    and six of my art pieces

    lightening the burden
    of white







    this fine grit
    coating every surface
    your visit







    January Gray

    The flannel sheets should have been washed
    weeks ago, given our night sweats from fever
    and desiccating winter skin. Better late than never.
    Out the window, a paraglider floats high
    in abandon, but all I can envision is landing
    and neighbors recuperating from from knee replacement.
    The swish-swish rhythm of the agitator, more
    annoying than soothing, like most things
    these days: news, weather, popular music.
    Somehow we've become the old ones
    with aches, pains, and fistfuls of pills
    spread out across all hours of the day.
    Gray water of the wash cycle, but even rinse
    water looks dingy. Two stupid pigeons
    flap furiously as they attempt to defeat
    the "pigeon-proof" feeder, sending seeds
    and feathers flying, spooking the finches away.
    To be a finch and not a pigeon: to be spray,
    not slow and bulky; clear water, not gray.
    The sheets will smell like spring soon--at least
    for a few days--though we'll retain our winter scent.
    We'll fit them to the bed, bending as best we can.
    Outside, a teenager on a skateboard goes airborne
    on the sidewalk, makes a full turn, and lands
    back on the board as if this feat were nothing.
    We recall a time we could leap without thinking,
    dress without leaning. But we're still here,
    and tonight we'll have clean sheets where we can
    dream of flight and other impracticalities.






    In English and Romanian!


    slow measure
    of dunes at White Sands
    desert moon

    măsurând lent
    dunele Nisipurilor Albe
    luna pustie






    Also includes "Viewing After Hours"
    and two of my art pieces!


    One Week: A Parable

    On Monday, red as rash, a scar appeared
    across wide skies, its purple edges weird

    and harrowing. By Tuesday morning, rain
    began to effervesce like cheap champagne,

    then drizzle, but the blemish spread its seam
    through Wednesday, flooded down a thick black sheen

    of something oily, unctuous, Nonstop . . .
    By Thursday, every surface was a soup

    of viscous glop, both land and water, woe.
    The scar, on Friday, disappeared, although

    Earth remained flocked in black, impossible
    to flay or flame. By Saturday, the toll

    was plain: all plants had withered in the tar
    and Sunday prayers were moot. We breathe the scar.







    birthday somewhere my ex celebrates







    the bird of paradise
    rainbow's end








    The moon looms

    white as an inquisition,
    bald-faced, wide-eyed,
    leaving no room for lies.

    The midnight of you
    washes on my shore,
    glistens like waves
    of silvery questions

    over and over and over.








          with a nod to Rebecca Dunham's "This Is a Letter"

    This is a moon for a January so cold
    the roots of Ponderosa pines shiver.
    A moon whose light is distant and fading
    like the last flickers of a galaxy long extinguished.
    A moon whose best friend is a headstone.

    This is a moon for the hungry with gravel in their mouths,
    for the thirsty with water deep
    out of reach in the bowels of the earth,
    for the final phone call, the last email,
                the terrible alone.

    This is a moon that doesn't rise,
    or if it does, never shows more than
    a clipped fingernail of its yellowed self.
    This is a moon for the numb,
    for arms that can't feel and legs that won't move.
    A moon for a time when there is
    no tide, no warnings, no new moon.

    This is a moon for the miserable
    whose fingers grasp ever-shifting grains.
    This is a desert moon too long on hold,
    an orphan huddling for a sliver of warmth.






    Another golden shovel!


    Listening to Time

          incorporating a Bashō haiku

    The stillness

    of night wings, the gentle piercing
    of dark heavens, the
    soft echoes of this terrain of rocks.

    A high desert mesa, the
    stars: quiet has a sound.
    Fleeing the past in the silence of
    now, it returns, droning like cicadas.






    A light-hearted pandemic ghazal!


    What We've Become Used To

    Forgive me for eating a year of comfort food this month.
    My intent was purely self-serving--not to be rude--this month.

    Excuse me for not picking up a pen, a phone, or a thought.
    Low testosterone could be the reason, not just my mood this month.

    Ignore the mulch of hair around the sink--at least I trimmed my beard.
    This eczema's such that I've scratched and remained nude this month.

    Pardon the abstract art patterns, my work in progress in the toilet bowl..
    The online doc claimed I'm fine, the one I virtually sued this month.

    Overlook the mound of mail on the counter, just junk anyway.
    Brownies and chipas, as ever my bloody fingers, chewed this month.

    Disregard the underwear on the floor. I'll get to it when I run out.
    I can go commando awhile longer--not like I'm a prude this month.

    Indulge? Yes, I've learned to indulge myself. Why waste love on a pet?
    Grubhub and Doordash deliveries--easy, my attitude this month.






    wading through bones
    of tumbleweeds







    Starting with a Line from Cole Swensen

    Length over width to make the horizon run straight,
    as if it would not run straight otherwise,
    as if it might launch into the stratosphere
    and cosine into the curve of a perfectly round moon..

    We stumble over and over with long division,
    but we know in our hearts something about fractions.
    We know the world shrinks away into nothingness,
    grinds the mightiest of mountains down into rubble.

    We feel that infinitesimal grain lodged under the sole,
    know that even a percentage of a tiny
    percentage can impede progress,
    make us feel every terrible step of the struggle.

    Tomorrow and tomorrow, again and again:
    planting the garden, harvesting the fruit,
    leaning into the earth's subtle dimensions,
    length over width, height over heft,

    the slim volume of our ways and our days.
    Only so many days to do what we need to do,
    and the countdown is always nipping at our heels.






    Two haiku, including a monoku!


    lost too many mountains to name

    my hand
    in the fine print
    of his grip







    Finding Home

    All my life I have wanted to be here.
    Here, where mountains breathe in the distance
    and skies cut around them like collages;
    here, where desert floors bloom in earth tones
    and browns are more prevalent than greens;
    where winds go dead as if the world has stopped,
    then pick up with the fury of cyclones,
    air filled with the smells of pińon,
    the sounds of aspens, the taste of ash;
    here, where sun burns shadows clean and white,
    where mud is molded and sculpted,
    tin is punctured, stones are scooped from earth;
    where my heart glows like a kiva.
    All my life I have wanted to find home.






    Also includes "Catholic Boys, 1960-1967"
    and my sonnet "Early Morning Gaze in the Bathroom Mirror"


    Doubting Thomas

    Despite your doubts, you thrust a finger in . . .
    then another, all the way to your palm.

    All the way, another trial you’ve palmed.
    Your mouth goes there, your tongue an auger.

    Your tongue goes there, as mouths had augured.
    Blood-red skies stay silent; ground does not fissure.

    Bloodshot eyes hold ground, silvered by the fissure.
    Experience is the test of temptation.

    Taste temptation to savor experience.
    How many days in the desert is enough?

    Enough days to desert any tenets
    or to prove truths submerged in yourself.

    Find proof of your true self. Immerse, confirm.
    Dispel all doubts: thrust those fingers in.






    Inaugural issue with a divine cover by friend
    Denise Weaver Ross. And yes, a villanelle!


    Not as Gradually as We Thought

    When bodiews slow down, the futurre proceeds too fast.
    Oh, the futility of raging against the dimming of the day
    when the present begins to feel like the past.

    With each fleeting week, the end is again forecast
    in stone. Muscles grow weak and hair goes gray
    as bodies slow down. The future fizzles as fast

    as a pin-pricked balloon. Our mouths aghast
    at how we've finished the work of life's resume,
    how the present begins to fall into the past.

    The young get younger. We've been surpassed
    by generations whizzing down the Time Expressway.
    Our bodies slow down. Only our future proceeds that fast.

    Foot to the pedal, we go nowhere in stark contrast.
    Our memories more distant, on slow replay
    as our present begins to feel like our past.

    Years once seemed a galaxy star-filled and vast.
    We've reached the horizon line, that gateway
    when bodies slow. The future proceeds so fast
    that even the present begins to feel like the past.






    Poetry of Place issue


    An Empty Field

    We dug and dug
    like prairie dogs,

    shoveled for days
    till the hole

    was big enough
    for the two of us

    to lodge ourselves,
    deep enough

    that we couldn't
    see above it.

    We found boards
    from construction

    sites, wood from
    discarded pallets,

    and whatever we
    could scrounge

    from our fathers'

    We nailed together
    a roof of sorts,

    hardly airtight, flat
    as a carpenter's rule,

    with an entryway
    just large enough

    to slither through.
    We furnished

    the shelter with
    a rug from a dump

    and a metal milkbox
    for essentials

    like a flashlight,
    matches, and gum.

    Dirty, uncomfortable,
    it was ours--even if

    deep down we knew
    it couldn't save us.






    In addition to this sonnet, also includes three other poems--
    "Canyon at Kasha-Katuwe," "Fall Equinox," and "Open Bar,"
    in a gorgeous two page spread.


    Reveries While Walking the Mesa on the Hottest Day of the Year

    Down there the city quiety burns up,
    heat crying agua, agua, rising waves
    visible, ghostly swelling from the map
    of desert lands below. Nothing else moves--
    just air, possessed, alive, as if the stacked
    spirits interred over eons have been
    released into the atmosphere, and cracks
    of matted canyons are portales seen.
    The rocks tell stories. Seas once thrived in lands
    now dry, and temperatures increase with each
    sad day: Could this be how the planet ends,
    with barren fields, waterless, as we watch
    the world wither to dust? How long till we
    become the ghosts and join eternity?






    A prose poem, but the issue also includes

    "Data, Affirmative," another persona poem.


    Hemingway's Favorite Cocktail

    I’m on my sixth Death in the Afternoon, the Black Lagoon quiet as a dive bar gets around this time, plopped in my usual spot at the butt end of the bar, the seat known as Skip’s Stool. I’m about to order another when Donny splats down beside me, so I add, “And one for my friend,” who regularly shows up about now. Donny hates the familiar Don as much as he despises the formal Donald, but if you call him The Creature, he really goes ballistic. I’m Skip, by the way.

    You know those fancy bars with swimming mermaids behind glass? Nothing like the Black Lagoon. We have a swampy aquarium with water that likely hasn’t been changed since the 1950s—at least it smells that way—but the owners think it adds to the bar’s mystique. No one’s ever tried to throw the thing out, and some patrons, like Donny, are attached to it. The barkeep sets down two more Deaths, which—come to think of it—have that same green tinge as the algae-ridden aquarium water, not to mention my friend’s once-emerald skin. Absinthe will change your pallor over time. Some say it causes hallucinations, or worse, madness.

    Granted, Donny’s not the most handsome guy: an exceedingly bumpy complexion, a bald head with loads of loose folds, lips that look like a cheap actress’s bargain-basement collagen-injected kisser, and web-like hands with long nails that—frankly—seem more like claws. Nonetheless, he’s the first one to spot a hot lady. One of these days I expect him to overcome his shyness and walk out of here with a real looker in his arms. In the meantime, he’s a great listener who drinks like he’s half fish. So what if he doesn’t talk much? He’s there when I need him.

    “Another round,” my fingers snap. Two more Deaths arrive, we raise them and toast to the depths of perception or whatever’s hidden away in that fish tank. If you’re pickled enough and gaze at it just long enough, it begins to feel like home.






    A traditional sonnet,

    nominated for a 2021 Pushcart!


    Monsoon Season

    After the rains, volcanic rocks were black
    as pupils. When did I learn that inside
    they're white as chalk? Around the cul-de-sac
    the sand- and mud-colored adobe dried
    like paint in sun. The rainbow's arc was brief,
    but wind continued blowing.

                                            Now pines sway
    and needles glisten for seconds. The sheaf
    of rain marches across the mesa. Day
    by day, I track these clouds, the sweep of sky
    in all directions, weather's random whims.
    A hummingbird sips on yucca, while I
    consider distant downpours, canyon rims.
    A streak of lightning fissures high and wide,
    almost more knowledge than I can abide.






    Another abecedarian sonnet--check out

    the first and last letters of each line!



    Kowtow! Do it quickly. Kneel with hands like doves in the air, but stock-still,
    mouse-like. Moves small as an itch will be misinterpreted. Best not have a gun,
    or even a pack of Skittles. Don't drop a word of disrespect. Don't dare look up.
    Quiver? Quaver? Some cops like to see that, but don't quarrel, rile, or run--ever.
    Smiles may be provocations. Stay expressionless, impassive as a wall. Be a fort.
    Under no circumstance, question. Nothing uppity. Best not have anything viewed as a shiv:
    wine bottles, whistles, gum wrappers. Don't empty your pockets or reach for a glovebox.
    Yes, Sir is the only response. Don't swear or even sweat. Don't seize a taser or spaz.
    Acquiesce but assume anything could happen. Succumb. Never disturb or perturb
    cops. Cease resistance. Cry or scream but keep it inside. Make peace with God.
    Excuse those who need forgiveness. Expiate others, but also find room for yourself.
    Good thoughts in case they're your last. Wish against hope, but wish. Wish
    inspiration comes from whatever happens. Whisper the alphabet. Pray you make it to J.







    five ink runs--
    the raven print
    not black enough







    Last Stop in Wine Country

    prosecco is the answer,
    not the blueness
    of drowned music,
    not the pluck
    of sleepy-eyed daisies,
    their petals sipping
    the sun like tea.

    Afar, a mirrored lake
    conceals its language
    like a mother
    disguised as a woman.
    the summons of wine
    is the full-bodied trick
    and the only ticket.

    This glass matters--
    like the first dozen
    of these vineyards
    of flowers, gates, grapes,
    and angels' syllables.
    Final words lock
    onto the last crisp drop,
    the superficial beauty
    of someone else's
    dream of home.







    Fall 2020

    Seven months since I last saw a sandhill crane,
    but now they're back, a measure of lost time.

    Doves and canyon wrens flicker and gather
    as long as we keep them supplied in seed.

    I have taken down and cleaned the red feeder
    for warm-weather hummingbirds. The virus is still here.

    The Don Juan roses court a last hurrah
    before deep crimson bleeds into gray.

    Leaves from corkscrew willows yellow and crisp,
    collect in arrays under the patio table,

    on which five-fingered racoon prints
    trail to and from the summer pot of basil.

    Most of the other herbs have withered,
    though mint persists and rosemary stays true.

    The pines heave with brown needles
    like thick spiderwebs the wind can't shake.

    Perhaps it's the drought. Even the monsoon
    was a bust, more of a day than a season.

    In January, I watched for an hour
    as a red-tailed hawk tore into a pigeon,

    dismantled the muscle and sinew,
    left nothing but feathers and bone.

    The carcass lies under the litter of needles.
    Looking back, I know I witnessed an omen.






    Another abecedarian sonnet--check out

    the first and last letters of each line!



    Aberrant heaven, an erratic, throbbing orb,
    cataclysmic casualties light-years divorced,
    eternities in defiant glances beyond the grief
    guaranteed our hard-bitten time on this earth.
    Intervals of luminosity from the edges, a hadj
    keened through the ink of kohl, the cosmic whorl
    mucking up dreams and dreads, our vision
    oppressed as this muddle of finite sky-map.
    Questions of quiddities, scourge and maker,
    stillborn as glimpsed pulses long extinct,
    undulating nonetheless, deplorable improv,
    wanton mission with the impermanence of wax.
    Yesteryears, ancient stars, and all that glitz.






    Another abecedarian sonnet--check out

    the first and last letters of each line!



    Naps in the afternoon are nice, but then there's the return to
    planning for meals, po-biz, political posturing: Boredom HQ.
    Rise, perhaps even shine, but don't expect the world transforms.
    Time has never been so tiresome, though those in the ICU,
    vegetating, clearly have it worse: ventilators row upon row,
    x-rays, excessive bloodwork, and absolutely no mobility--
    zombies awaiting reanimation. But we're not much better. Ska
    beats can't even energize. Our blood coagulates like automatic
    drip systems on hold, month after month. We watch extreme
    fringe groups on the news, mad dictators smirking, screaming
    hordes of hot-tempered adherents hysterical as jihadi,
    juvenile leaders that make us wish that we could just go back,
    live in healthier, saner times--but we know that's a pipe dream.





    Plus two other haiku,

    "bruised skies" and "sleepy droplets"



    the dark side

    socially distant
    and yet the scent
    of his cologne

    walking in sand
    the distance
    between us grows






    Another abecedarian sonnet--check out

    the first and last letters of each line!



    Homebound, hour after hour, the clocks confound. My husband and I,
    juxtaposed on opposed sofas--he with a crossoword, me with a book--
    live in a logjam of lethargy, the daily regimen of the new norm.
    Netflix at night, occasionally a Zoom, some outstanding meals--gazpacho,
    pesto soba noodles, chiles rellenos, risotto--nothing like Pok-e-jo's BBQ,
    restaurant, or diner food. No parties, no gatherings, nor even dental visits
    to put on calendars or attend. He writes his stories, while I have haiku,
    vacillating from couch to computer. Indoors our skin grows yellow,
    xanthous, but exposure to this coronavirus (or any other) is nearly
    zilch. Masks, sanitizers, distancing: how to stay safe is not an enigma,
    but at what cost to the spirit? These many months, stock-still, static,
    day after day disappearing like dusk into darkness. And when this ends, will we
    find breath without a ventilator, or will we go back to what we called living






    An abecedarian sonnet--check out

    the first and last letters of each line!



    White, old, male: I am, my husband is. Three strikes against us these days. Here’s the crux:
    You cannot do much about the race you are born into, nor can you wish or waltz
    away aging, though many do their damnedest. Sex, though changeable, has its own rub.
    C’est la vie. While not exactly loud and proud of it, I can accept being male, old,
    Euro-American (but at least gay). What I cannot accept are all the others who huff and chuff,
    gird themselves in privilege, and go on about how America is a land of self-made wealth,
    impartial opportunity, and infinite possibility—but not a place for people named Samaj,
    Kareem, Xotchil. I hear these old white men speak and I’m ashamed at their gall,
    men who do not embody my beliefs though their bodies look like mine. Do they listen
    only through their ass? These are the men who promote prejudice, their views a deep
    quagmire of inaccuracies and prevarications, grasping to the last gasp of prior
    sins and trespasses. Husband, we know change is possible, but too many used to entitlement
    unfortunately won’t transmute. I think our time is up. I think we should expect the shiv.






    Third of four sonnets in the sequence--

    "Four Cotton Tales," all published here!"


    III. Keeping Aggression in Check

    A bunny jumps into our yard, as if
    the spaces in our gate are meant for him,.
    He stops and hunkers down, the herbs a gift
    too good to pass, these months of drought so grim
    that even mint is tempting this dry year.
    His deep brown eyes look hungry, so I risk
    my husband's wrath and let him munch. I'll hear
    those goddamn rabbits, his usual list
    of curses, worse if there's complicity
    suspected. Silly wabbits, my response.
    Those snuffling whiskers, scrunched-up noses! Me:
    I can't resist. And though my husband wants
    his herbs untouched, he's left a water bowl
    near the mint, a small oasis that's full.






    A prose poem that's a cento,

    all lines from Raymond Chandler!


    Raymond Chandler Drafts My Obit

    He was California from the tips of his port wine loafers to the buttoned and tieless brown and yellow checked shirt inside his rough cream sports jacket. He breathed like an old Ford with a leaky head gasket. He just wanted to do wing-overs and sing the prologue to Pagliacci. His laugh and his voice were both pleasant. He talked the way New Yorkers used to talk before they learned to talk Flatbush. He sounded like a man who had slept well and didn’t owe too much money.

    He was a guy who talked with commas, like a heavy novel. No visible scars. Hair like steel wool grew far back on his head and gave him a domed brown forehead that might at careless glance seem a dwelling place for brains. A few locks of dry white hair clung to his scalp, like wild flowers fighting for life on a bare rock. He was a windblown blossom of some two hundred pounds with freckled teeth and the mellow voice of a circus barker. The French have a phrase for it. The bastards have a phrase for everything and they are always right.

    It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. The wet air was as cold as the ashes of love. There was a gusty wind blowing in at the windows and the soot from the oil burners of the hotel next door was down-draughted into the room and rolling across the top of the desk like tumbleweed drifting across a vacant lot. Big production, no story, as they say around the movie lots. A nice enough fellow, in an ingenuous sort of way. You would never know how he got that way because even if he told you it would not be the truth. Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.






    A sonnet (surprise)!



    That unmistakable red cap, that fast
    but nimble spiral up and out of sight,
    the endless hammering, the nib that lasts,
    a marvel of tenacity, the fight
    to take on trees with just a beak. My ash
    is full of ordered holes, in lines like rows
    of sawdust-riddled desks, not a slapdash
    affair: symmetrical, almost composed.
    I should be mad, perhaps, but winged things are
    inspiring--I would rather lose a tree
    than this relentless drill-bit. Insofar
    as I can tell, that Mel Blanc laugh must be
    hyperbole: I hear a steady knock,
    a low racket, nothing that seems to mock.






    Also includes my ghazal, "Spring"!


    Love Letter to a Naked Stranger

    I know you as intimately
    as I've known any man.
    Even days later I think of you.
    Each stiff wisp rising
    over your brow into the air,
    each shadowy imprint
    muscled into your limbs.

    From the streetlights of your beard
    through the haloes of your chest hair,
    down the alleys of your thighs
    to the dark between your toes,
    I know every stroke of you.

    I should. I created you
    in my own image, only better,
    not some monster puzzled
    together out of odd parts.
    A man of age and substance,
    of beauty and imperfections,
    but nameless as a blank canvas.
    Blame the artist, blame me.
    Is this not an act of love?

    So why do I ponder ways
    of further improving you—
    line-defined abs,
    more effervescene in your eyes
    a less contorted pose?

    I fear it's too late.
    Like every man, myself included,
    I will have to learn to love
    you as you are.







    Process, Not Product

    Start with a setting. A forest
    in the mountains east of Albuquerque
    will do. Add a sprinkle of moonlight
    straining through the pinnacles of pines
    as they shift and swoosh like fields.
    And enough breeze to catch movement
    around you—an animal skittering
    across the forest floor, a branch falling.
    Throw in a back story. A retreat
    from an overbearing boyfriend. Time
    to think things through. Blend in
    a twist. A scruffy stranger
    who approaches your camp site
    at dusk. His leer as he fondles
    a knife. The mindless run, the pure
    escape to directionless darkness,
    flickering shadows circling about.
    Include a stumble—and blood, dribbling
    down your head, your gashed hand.
    Mix in a mountain lion—or even
    just its low roar from a distance.
    Scatter in a parcel of prayers.
    It’s going to be a godforsaken night,
    and the end is entirely up to you.





    In English and German



    twenty years on . . .
    mom still mispronounces
    my husband's name

    zwanzig Jahr später . . .
    Mutter spricht ihn immer noch falsch aus
    den Namen meines Mannes







    A Rose, A Woman

    Deep as necessity,
    a body folded, perfected.

    The garden, a bare smile
    of milk and bone.

    An empty pitcher of moon.
    Odors close about throats.

    The dead in white,
    coiled as scrolls and illusions.

    Night bleeds petals,
    the sweet drag of flowers and feet.






    A glosa--and my longest poem ever!

    Loneliest Place in America (excerpt)

          Snow falling and night falling fast, oh fast
          In a field I looked into going past.
          And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
          But a few weeds and stubble showing last

                --Robert Frost, "Desert Places"

    A whisper of December, overcast,
    I nonetheless pack the old Jeep and head
    to desert. Though I live alone, out there
    it's more alone--mile after mile of land
    space, and myself. A place where I can think.
    I use no maps, take dry dirt roads that lead
    nowhere. I'm lost much of the time, nothing
    new there. Not a single car in the past
    hour. I pull over, get out, walk, and now
    snow falling and night falling fast, oh fast.

    I recall those clasps attached to winter
    coats to keep us from losing our mittens,
    something I have not thought of in decades.
    Red wool, like my brother's great-grandmother-
    crafter. These days how few friends have parents
    living, much less older generations.
    gone the way of vacuum tubes and phone books,
    the way of many in my address book.
    Nostalgia creeps in like a flash of red
    in a field I looked into going past.

    Time was I'd have been afraid of being
    alone, afraid of leaving the city,
    of deserts, weather, death. So many ghosts
    materialized in my head--figments,
    nothing more--but lifetimes to overcome
    them. Land and space, and I am a granule
    of sand here. Always was, just didn't know
    till late in life. Years wasted in fighting
    those fears. No illusions in this landscape,
    and the ground almost covered smooth in snow.

    Tumbleweeds still have some color, have not
    detached from the sand and rocks they cling to
    like children. Spring winds will release their grasp
    and send them on a journey miles away,
    perhaps far as my yard in the city.
    Wanderers, meandering toward unknown
    destinations. Snow keeps coming, and I
    should wend my way back before dark descends.
    Around me, snow, silence, and then nothing
    but a few weeds and stubble showing last.








    Also includes "This Is Not a Sex Poem"


          a golden shovel incorporating a Basho haiku

    Another winter
    upon us, another season of solitude.

    At desks, on chairs, in
    separate rooms at far ends of a
    cold house, we listen as the world
    shifts to long nights of
    silence, nights and days, one
    and the same thin color.

    We cannot hear the
    rustling of the other, only the sound
    of outside voices: cries of
    ice on windows, of loneliness in the wind.







    my shoeprints
    on a cold trail
    looking for yours









    as if she cares
    telling my cat
    how long I'll be gone

    walking into
    my long shadow
    trying to keep up

    original sin
    skies are spotless
    this Father's Day






    Another ghazal!

    The Mystery of Belief

          starting with a Dickinson line (#1084)

    At half past three, a single bird unto a silent sky.
    The mystery begins with an airy clue, a silent sky.

    Look down: avoid the washed-out sections of the trail.
    Look up: an imagined rattle can imbue the silent sky.

    Some see a mirage of God, some a God of mirage.
    Close your eyes tightly--don't misconstrue a silent sky.

    Withdrawal is a familiar pattern; apology, another.
    You try all day but cannot see through the silent sky.

    By half past ten, the velvet canvas fills with stars,
    the evening fragrant for a rendezvous, a silent sky.

    Put your ears to your hands, your hands to the ground.
    Believe what you feel, Scott, adieu this silent sky.







    At Canyon's Edge on Rosh Hashanah

          for Debbie Winegarten

    I wailed your name,
    which echoed back--
    Debra, Devorah--
    settling like girt
    deep in my throat.

    I spoke your name
    again. A sudden gust
    muffled it, blew it
    off-course. A shudder
    down my arms
    as though you'd
    brushed my spine.

    I whispered your name
    this time--witnessed
    a white dove spiral
    upwards till I lost it
    in the sun, but looking
    down I found a feather,
    a message, a memento.

    I mouthed your name,
    its mute final syllable--
    Debra, Devorah--
    the wide ah tightening
    to an oh, oh, oh,
    as the world stopped
    for a hard moment
    before remembering
    it must go on.







    High Lonesome

    I abandon my horse,
    her silver body
    a coffin of drumskin,

    I eat her crupper,
    a bone of nourishment.
    Throatlatch, bird beaks,
    black insomnia.

    Remembering water, milk,
    my mouth wails,
    a beggar's cup,
    a trumpet of hunger.

    A fist of stars
    rises early and swiftly,
    drawn like a bride
    in a dress of snow.

    My first wolf approaches.
    His tail torn, his face
    still, a sentence
    of small truths.







    The Lease Said No Pets

    By which I assumed no mammalian pets--
    no cats, no dogs, no pigs. Nothing that
    requires walking, a leash, a pooper scooper.
    But goldfish in a bowl? Finches in a cage?
    And then there's my boyfriend, who claims
    I treat him like an animal. I admit that
    I do call him Poodle when I pat the couch
    for him to snuggle up to me, shout Bad
    at him when he doesn't follow my wishes.
    I once put his dinner bowl on the floor
    after he barked at me for no good reason,
    but whatever I made did look like kibble,
    and nonetheless, he wolfed it down
    as though it was the last meal he'd ever eat.
    In truth, he's more of an ornery old goat.
    I highlight No Pets on the lease, in case
    someday I need to prove that he must go.






    Also includes a haibun,
    "Dining Out at the Happy Dragon"


    I can't remember
    the word for the pink flowers
    swifts skirt the surface

    fifth anniversary
    he gifts me wood--

    white streaks
    in different directions--
    how the mind contrails






    An ekphrastic poem based

    on Harreitte Tsosie's "The Pleiades"



    How stories alter over time!
    We hung with gods, not giants borne
    from urine. Truth: that's how that slime
    Orion got his name. How worn

    we were from being chased by one
    so feta-breathed. For seven years
    we sisters hastened on the run
    like wind across the hemispheres.

    We flew! He followed, stalking prey.
    His lust and gall would not abate..
    Like cunning doves, we slipped away . . .
    again, again. Our steady state

    as fugitives led Artemis
    to intervene with Zeus, who turned
    us into metaphors, the bliss
    of innocence. As stars we burned--

    still do. We seven glisten here
    in heaven, forever imbued
    in blue. On clear nights we appear
    to you, never clothed, always nude,

    the way Orion wanted us.
    We tease him now, we Pleiades,
    as one we chant, victorious.
    That hairy hunter's set in frieze

    right next to us to vilify.
    With voices clustered in a choir--
    more truth--we sing to hear him cry,
    just out of reach of blue desire.






    Also includes another golden shovel,

    "End of Innocence"!


    Watching David Boudia's Speedo on the Olympics

          a golden shovel incorporating a Dickinson last line (#1377)

    Always the question: how?
    No matter that the luscious
    bulge conforms to what lies
    beneath fabric. Control is within
    the self, containment the
    key, like a tight pod

    holding in the
    mystery of the pea.
    How to avert that
    gaze, how to wrangle duty,
    how to place lust in locks?






    Also includes a golden shovel,

    "Nothing to Wash Away"!


    Boys' Life, or Be Prepared

    My first stripshow—
    in the wilds of Wisconsin—
    without a woman in sight.
    Just a band of Boy Scouts.

    In the wilds of Wisconsin,
    a howling fire bounded by
    a band of Boy Scouts:
    midnight’s bacchanal began.

    A howling fire bounded by
    hoots and yips and yelps.
    Midnight’s bacchanal began:
    one boy got naked.

    Hoots and yips and yelps
    as uniforms were shed.
    One boy got naked,
    then another, another.

    Uniforms were shed
    like lost inhibitions,
    another, another.
    Boys yearned to work it.

    I liked the lost inhibitions
    of my first stripshow:
    boys learned to work it
    without a woman in sight.






    Also includes a ghazal,



    Sudden Solar Eclipse

    When you gave me the old adios,
    an acrid cloud of smog replaced
    the filtered air of my lungs.
    Grass shriveled beneath my feet.
    The crush of years anvilled down.
    My mandala hardened to angles.

    I was a dessicated fly in the spider web
    of a battened-down window in an attic
    no one's entered for years.
    Invisible, I heard you, over and over,
    like a rasp filing down my bones
    in the hiss of that snaky Spanish word.






    A couplet sonnet! Reprinted

    in the Southern Poetry Anthology too!



    Grackles: their very name evoking greed,
    aggression, chaos. Persistent as weeds,
    a black plague, they swarm in like cloying clouds
    of pestilence, ill-mannered, siren-loud.
    Called devil birds by some, they persecute
    the neighborhood, attack my outdoor cats
    as if they're prey. At dinnertime, I stand
    on guard; the grackles do not wait to land
    at bowls unfinished, nabbing one kibble
    per lunge. But one bird brings a sudden smile,
    for morsel by humble morsel, he flies
    from bowl to rail to partner. Kibble flows
    from beak to beak like lovers swapping spit.
    The bowl cleared, together they caw, then split.







    so she won't hear
    when we talk about her
    whispering "Alexa"

    weather vane shifts
    from north to south
    off his meds






    One of three golden shovels--

    and a haibun too!


    The Whole World

          incorporating a Dickinson line (#657)

    A fist opens, the
    tight knuckles spreading
    like blossoms, wide,
    wider, but my
    black pupils narrow,
    can't keep up with hands

    that ache to
    flower, to gather
    the pollens of paradise.






    CNM's annual lit journal!


    A Small Theft

    I stole a spider today,
    removed it from it home,
    an empty pasta box under the sink.

    It could have been the mother
    of many children.
    It might have been a bachelor.
    Neither thought crossed my mind
    when I stole it away.
    It seemed an insignificant thing,
    though its eyes were full of spice
    and I spotted a patch of ink
    on its belly when I lifted it up
    in a wad of toilet paper.

    I considered flushing it.
    I considered smushing it.
    Those eyes stared at me
    with the burn of cayenne.

    I opened the door to the patio,
    where I intended to return it
    to where I imagined it belonged,
    as if I knew this spider's home
    better than the spider itself
    when I'm still looking for my own.






    Another golden shovel!


    Jumping Out of Bed Can Be Harmful to Your Health

          incorporating a Dickinson line (#1263)

    Sun breaks over the
    mountain. This is the morning's truth:
    easy hues of rose and amber. Must
    every sunrise stun and dazzle
    to be prized? Good should come gradually,

    like extra minutes from snooze control or
    the cautious drips of coffee into a poet: every
    moment should add to the moment. No man
    needs more than this truth to be--
    any more could blind.






    A ghazal, but of course!


    Borrowed Earth

          inspired by a Jim Bones' photograph

    Sunlight tiptoes in, and sands sweep across the kiva.
    We hear tumbleweeds dance and leap upon the kiva.

    The sky is squandered here, and spider webs, invisible.
    We breathe in dust, for rain does not weep into the kiva.

    These earthen walls soothe, smack of smoke and bones.
    Could we find true north from deep within the kiva?

    Grains of maize rooted in the chamber's floor.
    Ancestors honored: offerings to reap within the kiva.

    Long ago, spirits cropped up from this dense dirt.
    Rung by rung, the journey: steep, steep, up the kiva.

    Overhead, a world of witches, walkers, and powders.
    In the earth's belly, safe from their creep into the kiva.

    Dreams are palpable here, silent and ancient as pelts.
    How long have we been asleep inside the kiva?






    Two other haiku also published,

    "puckering clouds" and "wild rhubarb"!


    a clean break
    from the news






    Another ghazal,

    as well as "Calligraphy 101"


    Isle of the Blessed

          starting with a Dickinson line (#1760)

    Elysium is as far as to the very nearest room.
    A curtain is used to create a wall, the sheerest room.

    Years of drugs, although prescription, stickied his synapses.
    He cannot remember when his mind was the clearest room.

    Ask any two people--you won't get a match on paradise.
    Could be a chamber in heaven, or could be the queerest room.

    An old man wears a bib, drinks coffee from a sippy cup.
    It's true that the final one is always the austerest room.

    The relief of checking a watch: visiting hours are over.
    Stifled and restrained. Who is alive in the merest room?

    Can't take it with you--what's left can fit in a cardboard box.
    Petal by petal, roses fall in the insincerest room.

    When I have crossed the fields, traversed the quiet waters,
    should I feel blessed to lie inside this severest room?






    Another ghazal!


    Passing of the Matriarch

          starting with a Dickinson line (#995)

    This was in the white of the year
    when August took its bite of the year.

    The sun scoured our pebbled hopes,
    left no traces of blight on the year.

    Bark peeled and leaves left like phantoms;
    something was not right with the year.

    Scorpions entered our gray homes,
    offered little fight through the year.

    We counted our tears like savings,
    bankrupt as the night of the year.

    Prayers made thuds in the crackled earth.
    Muscles lost their might through the year.

    Each day we wallowed in sorrow,
    staggered through this plight on the year.

    Absence, palpable as razors,
    devoured all delight from the year.

    Death was a spell lifted at last,
    possibly the height of the year.






    Posted on New Verse News
    on June 11, 2017


    Gay Pride

    May we bike a wide expanse of untidy sands,
    of outliers and isles of desert brush.

    May we ride and ride, our eyes primed
    to an iota of wild, a mite of wine

    among the tumbleweeds and idle browns:
    a bind of thriving cacti. Divine!

    May we smile and find a vital prize,
    a sign in the uncivilized silence,

    a blooming lighthouse, a riot of pink fire,
    our desired life, our private tribe.

    May we ride inspired while our kind expires.
    May we rise above the spineless of these times.







    Speaking to the Snake

    I only stayed for the children.
    Layered in too many clothes,
    I wanted to take off
    everything, down to the bone.
    I longed for solitude, far
    from husbands, lovers,
    kids--but I told no one.
    Deserts beckoned, promising
    meaning in emptiness,
    if only I could go there,
    but I stayed, I stayed,
    my mouth stuffed with Eden.






    This is a special issue (#25)
    of Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry



          starting with a Dickinson line (#508)

    I'm ceded. I've stopped being theirs.
    Now meeting dreams, not seeing theirs.

    Unfettered of iron shackles,
    I wasted life's days fleeing theirs.

    Across the wide river I swim.
    Is my freedom foreseeing theirs?

    Out from shadows, into the light.
    My own god, refereeing theirs.

    In the clouds I soar from doctrine.
    Choice is mine; disagreeing, theirs.

    Sing the scars of my naked self.
    My truth: no guaranteeing theirs.






    Also includes another haiku,
    "November leaves"


    the past left for others
    to uncover






    Also includes my sonnet,
    "Couldn't Slow Down If I Tried (And I Tried)"


    In One Ear, Out the Other

    A nervous day. Caffeine and allergy
    meds tramping through the blood. A chug, a jolt,
    a lightning strike beneath the skin--whee! whee!
    a rollercoaster ride. A jumpy colt
    stamps, bucks, my head its small corral. Clear skies
    don't help. A moon appears above the fence,
    incongruous and plump. A pigeon flies
    in circles like a scavenger. A sense
    of wrong in every sight, in every thump
    and pulse. I've picked the same damned scab again.
    My foot taps like a code. An itch, a bump,
    an edge--and whittled down by teeth, my pen.
    No sleep tonight, no pardon will be found.
    Shrill crickets rouse to my internal sound.







    Another Night at the Maverick Inn

    I can no longer tell whether they're
    arguing or fucking or both,
    their earth-thirsty interludes
    of growls and grunts and slurs
    battering the wall between our rooms.
    Better, I guess, than guests
    with blaring infomercials or insipid
    laugh tracks, but I want to sleep.
    Why can't motel walls
    be insulated enough to avoid
    every sudsy stream of piss,
    every thrusting headboard bang?
    Are these walls made of the same
    toilet paper I've been hearing
    roll off its spindle each night
    at one a.m., and again at four?
    I've got the AC cranked,
    the squeaky ceiling fan whirring,
    but nothing's loud enough
    to drown out the randy--or angry--
    couple, except when the train
    thunders by, shrieking,
    the conductor's sadism let loose.
    Of course, the drapes don't close
    entirely on either of the windows,
    the sink has a continual drip,
    and the pillows are lumpy
    as biscuits and country gravy--
    much that same gray color too.
    Yet when I visit Alpine,
    there's no other place
    I'd rather stay. The truth is,
    I don't sleep much better at home.






    Also includes my husband's poem,
    "A Step Beyond Silence"


    The Possibilities

    The lights were dim when I arrived,
    Dr. S. so close I could smell
    cigarettes emanating from his pores.
    No one in the office but us. No nurse--
    I had to swab the blood from my leg.
    I watched his forearms, dark hair
    swirling over the tight latex gloves.
    He eased the knife through flesh
    like a layer of seal blubber.
    Can you feel it?

    That was the year Disney's
    The Little Mermaid came out on video.
    My red-haired niece in Mesa
    was into both Ariel and sharks.
    She hated when I called her Ursula--NO, Ariel!--
    but believed I'd been bitten by a shark
    when she saw me change the dressing.

    The hum of the fluorescent bulbs overhead.
    A three-inch circle around the mole on my thigh.
    Better here than some bony part.
    The slow sewing of the stitches.
    The sucking sounds of my flip-flops on asphalt.
    I walked back to the car as if returning
    home from a bad date, imagined
    Dr. S. lighting up once I left.

    Long before my niece's parents divorced, before
    my parents moved there--different cancers--
    the Phoenix desert called out,
    a shark bite as easy to believe
    as melanoma, as intimacy
    with a doctor, as becoming a mermaid.






    Also includes two other erasures,
    "Marriage: A Unique Relationship"
    and "The Rest of the Story."


    Across the Sky






    Also includes two other poems,
    "The Old Familiar" and "Shrinking World Theory,"
    a ghazal.


    Why He Doesn't Want Me to Watch Dexter

    Watch out!
    Two dead mice.
    See how they lie like commas
    on the concrete sidewalk,
    small enough to fit into a palm?
    Not mauled, perhaps poisoned:
    the park is sprayed weekly
    with God-knows-what.
    Close as yin-yang.
    (I see you thinking,
    Please don't name them
    Yin and Yang.)
    Did they seek solace in each other?
    See how they nearly hug?
    As if arranged there
    for some unknown purpose.
    No body parts missing,
    no carving knife.
    See those tiny ears,
    those tiny digits?
    Pay more attention.
    You almost stepped on them.
    When we get home,
    we'll re-enact the scene:
    Curl up,
    grow fur,
    be still.






    Also includes three other sonnets,
    "Blue Heron," A Perfect Day," and "Too Brief"



    I heard them first--their quirky squawks--before
    I saw the parrots. Green as jungles, fresh

    as spring desire, their feathers rich and brash,
    so unforeseen, I did a double-take.

    So green on green, it took a stroke of luck
    to spot these three among the leaves, but then

    the telltale beaks, the doll-like eyes, the din
    of vibrant colors. Where'd they been the last

    ten months? And could I possibly have missed
    such flash each day? I savor the moment,

    aware it might soon fly away. I want
    to turn virescent: blend into the green

    as long as time allows. To stand alone,
    remain a hidden sentry, wait for more.






    Also includes my poems
    "Hide and Seek" and "The Illustrated Man"



          starting with a Dickinson line (#1116)

    There is another loneliness that many die without.
    Sixty-four years of trying--but you could fly without!

    Why does Daddy's disapproval come as such a shock?
    Your breath so shallow: a rattle, with; a sigh, without.

    So you're a "fool" for wanting to marry? Then be a fool.
    Don't let his dour mood influence your own. Defy without!

    For sixteen years I've been a burr digging in his boot.
    Uncomfortable with me, yet somehow awry without.

    I do not feel estranged, for I've never been a part.
    You've had too many years with--it's time to try without.

    Don't let your father spade a hole in your full heart.
    You're not your old man, you're mine, so do not cry without.

    We're showered with congratulations, a flood of love.
    He's the only one, the voice of drought. Reply with, "Out"!








    The willow yellows with each passing day.
    Only July, too early for these leaves
    to change their hues, yet cypress needles splay
    beneath canopies gone to rust, and sheaves
    of bark from sycamores curl at the trail.
    The purple horsemint now is gray, and green
    has faded from the field, wheat-colored, frail.
    The drought is real, but not unforeseen
    in Texas: miles of sky and not a speck
    of cloud, just waves of heat rising like vines
    once did--before withering. Mud and dreck,
    the lake's down to nothing. Mosquitoes whine.
    Even the water fowl seek shade. This park
    too sere for the start of a long dry arc.






    Also includes my sonnet,
    "Theory of Relativity"


    Texas Zen

    The chinaberry leaves have yellowed, but
    no other leaves have changed: dull browns, weak greens--
    no purples, reds, or golds--the same old rut
    we've seen for months, and now November leans
    its chilly bones on window panes that fog
    with every breath, a sign we're still alive
    on days we have our doubts. If young I'd blog
    about the trees, the reasons to contrive
    a palette neither brown nor green, one full
    of vibrant northern colors--Michigan,
    New England--where fall is a spectacle,
    the leach of chlorophyll, the origin
    of orange, crimson--leaves heading toward death.
    At this cold pane, I tally every breath.







    See Mary Oliver's poem,
    "The Egret," the source
    for this poem's vocabulary!








    The silent water,
        green and sheer,
    a white froth
        at her edge

    that open like scrolls.
        Mottled frogs
    shoulder in reeds,
        words gone thin

    in an instant,
        then back,
        smooth bellies weedy
    inthe bamboo.

    The polished wild
        of her fish,
    little shadows
        inches from terror,

    tasting death
        at every shore,
    the inverted world
        of egrets and legs,

    of flames and such.
        A stranger
    at her silky door,
        I ripple into liquid.















    Crepe Myrtles

    Your trunks are smooth as shaven legs. I look
    around before I run my hands up them--
    can stroking trees, a little baby talk,
    be all that wrong? So why this whiff of shame
    when fingers rub your wooden bole, or when
    my cheeks caress and nuzzle--well, you know
    the spots. I close my eyes, clearly discern
    a gentle moan--but should this be taboo?
    Our love is hard, but I can't stay away,
    for once my lips touched wood, I had no choice
    but to succumb: I'm born to love on the sly.
    The world may never sanction our embrace,
    our honeyed, deciduous kind of kink.
    Let's go further, out on a limb, toward pink.











    My Zoo Story

    My first thought: the man
    on the park bench must be dead.
    Head scrunched low into his chest,
    shoulders curled into the comma
    of his torso . . . but then a quiver,
    the body language of deep sorrow.
    I think of Jerry in The Zoo Story,
    waiting for someone to help him
    die. I fear I might be that someone.

    A gust of wind scatters
    crumpled leaves at his feet.
    As if coming out of a trance,
    he slowly lifts his head.
    I see his face at last--
    no pain, no tears.
    A crooked grin and a wink.
    His pants unzipped, he works
    that thing like a knife.














    Watching Glee with My Mother

    Some things don't change.
    The gay student is again
    bashed into the lockers.
    Slurs are all that's missing--
          faggot! cocksucker!--
    but this is network television.
    I wipe away tears, hearing
    the reverberation of bone on metal.
    "This," I tell my mother,
    "is what high school was like for me."

    This is the most I've said
    to my mother about that dim period
    since she took me
    to have my stomach pumped
    four decades ago.
    She never once asked why.

    Murder wasn't in me,
    though I thought about it.
    There is always
    another tormenter in waiting.
    I did not want to die.
    I wanted flight.

    She says, "I thought this
    was supposed to be a comedy."
    "It gets better," I reply,
    and the next musical number begins.














    Woman with the Half-Inch Memory

    Then erodes like a sand dune
    spilling into the abyss of a lake.
    Still, what can you do to hold back
    the tumbling cascade of grains?

    An apple a day won't help.
    Plump memories thin to a whistle,
    the tinny sound of time's dry breath.
    You worry. You used to have

    tricks, but now the shell game
    turns up empty, empty, empty.
    You used to be sharp. Puzzles?
    No challenge. New ideas stuck

    like fence posts lining a pasture.
    The whole fat world awaited--
    then left you in its dust, speeding up
    while you slowed down, shrinking,

    an ice cube in warm water.
    You swallow cocktails of pills
    to stave off deterioration,
    but the grains are slipping faster

    than medical progress. Your greens
    are transforming into bronze.
    You clench the best days deep in your fist,
    your irrepressible grip already relaxing.





    Yes, a sestina!








    You wait
    for the eyes of light
    to open, the dark to leave
    and revisit its home.
    Will you then face
    the day and the need

    to do something, a need
    that drags a somber weight?
    You slap your face
    to snap to the light
    easing into the orderly home.
    You don't want to leave

    the bed.
    October leaves
    shadow the blind need
    for movement, like home
    movies without sound. Wait
    as the room floods with light
    and the clock's face

    glares, but you'll have to face
    it sometime: everyone leaves,
    unburdens, lightens,
    accepts the body's needs
    and the long wait
    for home.

    It takes effort to home
    in on the forlorn face
    in the mirror, the weight
    more leaden, refusing to leave.
    This hour of need,
    this time of light,

    when dark and light
    are both a way home,
    and all you really need
    is hidden in lines in your face--
    soon, soon you can leave.
    But now you must wait,

    face the need
    for light, for home,
    for leaving. Wait.


    This is one of nine

    of my poems that appears

    in this issue of Assaracus

    --a personal best.




    We went to bed like boars, but now
    we wake without the strength to fight.
    How we lose our passions, and how
    the day shades with echoes of night.

    Still we brood from hostile corners,
    hold on to thoughts of wrong or right
    like burnished martyrs, lost mourners--
    the day shades with echoes of night.

    Lights are dimmed. Love is kept in tow.
    We, as polar as black and white,
    speak with silence, watch the hours go.
    The day shades with echoes of night.



    My entire crown of sonnets,

    "Days Too Close,"

    appears in this issue.

    This is the last sonnet in the crown.




    Tomorrow bears the weight. A new regime
    of exercise? Of vitamins and bran?
    Despite the years of shrinks, your self-esteem
    is still a broken yolk in life's hot pan.
    It's burning, bottom-sticking. Something's got
    to change. Return to therapy? Increase
    the meds? Or quit the job, the coffee pot?
    Your life's consumed in quiet flames, and piece
    by piece it peels away. You need new blood.
    The phone won't ring, and even mother shuns
    her Sunday call. You hear that gasping thud,
    the siege of self imploding toward undone?
    Another week dissolves like that--a flash.
    The days have grown too close, all dun and ash.





    Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear any comments you have about these poems!