Friday, October 31, 2008


Wall of Blooms

She shoots a vine across this life,
climbing high, holding tight.

My structure surrendering
to the whim of her wisteria.

photo by Marisa D.L.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Forever Now

Present Tense

Driving along at the speed of light I note:

Ahead of me
the edge of the earth falling off into bottomless shadow.
Beside me
the loose gravel shoulders secreting years of tomorrows.

Uncertainty rides along unable to map
destinations hereafter the end of this day.

Behind me
the red glow of taillight like a vapor trail of another time, another world.
Beyond that
the compressed black light of time travel which has brought me to now.

photo: 'traffic lights' by andrew christopher nagl

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

no dummy

Mannequin Self

stick your hands inside me,
i am forever falling apart.
hold what's left, together.

crawl under this skin,
i am not myself these days.
find me hiding from the sun.

wear my face like a mask,
i am what you want me to be.
look for my smile behind your lips.

turn my heart inside out,
i am stronger than i know.
beat a drum to keep death at bay.

swallow my voice whole,
i am now spoken for.
tell me everything i need to know.

breathe the heat of my spirit,
i am the flicker of a dying flame.
burn in effigy my mannequin self.

photo by loomis dean


Hospital Dream

In the deepest sleep I rest upon a black wave,
floating, drifting in the absence of wind
under the sedation of a hospital dream.

The surgeon's knife faux and dull
through the insensate of skin, tissue and bone.

My inert body rocking to the lullaby of the dead,
my weightless soul evaporating to become a cloud.

Sky rains consciousness as I crawl
from an ocean of anesthesia,
awake upon this earth again.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


A Part Of Everything / Apart From Everything

There was no smoke coming from her chimney.

They walked the hill to the house expecting the worst
and arriving to find,
the old woman standing in the pouring rain
talking to a young girl who wasn't there.

This is my house.

Then whispering,

There's money hidden in the root cellar.

A finger to her lips,
cocking her head to one side,
her eyes to the sky.

Listen child.

Between the drops,
somewhere unspoken,
her story's soothing melody
surrounding like a warm bath.

She didn't drive.
Walked to town, to the corner store,
to bingo on Saturday nights at St. Anne's.

Brought the same homemade pickled beets
to any and every church social.

Husband died young, she never re-married.
A hesitating beauty hiding underneath
cheap housecoats and Dollar Store makeup.

She played the organ at Mass.
Gave piano lessons, $3 for an hour,
never more.

"That timber could fetch a dollar or two,"
removing his hat outside her door.

"I could figure a price for the hardwoods
in the back acreage," putting it back on.

Help came and went over years.
Mostly went.

She killed a groundhog her dog, Lucky,
had cornered in one of the out-buildings.
Shot it with a rusty .22 rifle her father had used
to keep coyotes off the property.

She signed a piece of paper a neighboring farmer
brought over one afternoon.

" we can use that field on the south end for
for winter wheat, like we talked."

Court papers arrived a few weeks later.
Duped, she'd signed over rights to the house
when she died.

But she hadn't.
Not even quite sure herself how old she was now.
Only thing, her mind wandered here and there,
time to time.

The horses haven't been fed today.

No horses in that barn in a
couple two, three decades now.

Is my hair appointment tuesday or thursday?

Her one and only extravagance,
the beauty parlor.

Same wash, color and cut and
same Helen making it happen
once a month, twelve times a year
for the last twenty-five or so.

Did I remember her tip last month?

After Dick died, she'd let herself go.

Almost five years went by until she saw a picture
of herself in the church bulletin,
helping out at a cursio meeting.
Prematurely gray hair down her back,
face drawn well beyond her years.

She looked like a widow.
She was a widow, she told herself.
But the next day she found herself
in Helen's chair asking for the works.

In all the years, in that chair,
the same conversation,

Save for,

Hello, Helen.


Goodbye, Helen.

defining a life,
keeping it tidy
even if only in appearance.

Standing there, in the pouring rain,
in her best housecoat, face made-up,
beauty parlor hair beneath a plastic rain bonnet,
a finger to her lips, but not quite quieting
the downpour slapping at the mud beneath her barefeet.

A part of everything.

Apart from everything.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

the winter of our content

Bon Hiver

a good winter coming

but how many blizzards
were suffered by
my mother and father,
their mothers and fathers
in the decades adrift
in north dakota

calloused hands in a chapping wind,
numb toes in uncertain footwear,
the watering of eyes turned icy tears

snow with nowhere to go,
gesso across an unending and flat canvas,
october through april,
halloween to easter

awaiting resurrection
from the dead
of cold

for mud springs
and bug summers

even the missouri turning to head south
before september's inevitable first frost
and the promise of

winter coming

here as well,
yet warm in your arms,
the heat that lies between
belies december's proximity,
denies the distance of spring
in anticipation of un bon hiver à venir

photo: 'snow falling through trees' by len marriot

death on the installment plan


i am rotting from the inside out,
st. christopher watches from the wings
waiting to carry me across,
as sun-spoiled milk stink of infection
spikes fever, speaks in swollen tongues

("you weren't supposed to be here.")

maternal reminder of blood born pathogen's
blight tearing at the fiber of new born being,
beating odds only to be buried now by

black plague fouling mouth
bitter root twisting bowel
thumb tack piercing nerve

("an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.")

death's revenge
slithers from remission,
his venom spittle dripping from sinus
across corroded dentition and diseased gums,
through the clog of arteries toward a paper heart,
besotting capillaries of a gelatin brain

st. gerard, where for art though?
now and forever i am still a child
of my mother, seed of my father

their little boy lost and wandering the dark
in search of st. joseph

Saturday, October 25, 2008

rain o'er me


slipping over hands
and coming to rest on wrists,
the weak pulse of langourous rain

the day decidedly down
and contemplating felo-de-se

drop by drop,
hung from skeleton trees,
taut-rope twist in the grim grips
of an ambivalent wind

for Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (poet-scientist)

Pale Rider

metallic cloud of anesthesia hanging over
the horse-drawn amnesia of halothane

pale rider
somewhere between

heaven and hell
day and night
birth and death

born back into the light
from this limbo

dead-weight of limbs
saddling a soul to earth
for now

Dr. William Thomas Green Morton's 1846 ether operation
(daguerrotype by Southworth & Hawes)

ce n'est pas une poésie

I Am Strange Loop

no memory of
being born

my father remembers,
but now forgets my name

back to the beginning,
before " I "

not a recovered memory,
but a keepsake

a photo,
painted by light

of my mother,

of what was,
what wasn't yet

an image preserving,

the moment for me
via feedback loop

from now to then,
to here and now

in utero,
with no name to forget

a child,
a heterarchy

more than memories,
moments imbricating

that my father
may forget, elide

though they will
come to pass

a birth, a death,
a strange loop

i will remember

Inspired by
Douglas Hofstadter's book, I Am Strange Loop,
and René Magritte's painting, The Lovers.

Friday, October 24, 2008

from a box labeled ' tinsel & lights'

Down From The Attic

She blows dust from his skin.
He is not so antique.
His cracked teeth smile, knowingly.
She will grow old with him.

under pressure


the crushed crescent of a moon
hanging by a thread
behind a stand of white pine

the pressure of this life
compressing all i see

Thursday, October 23, 2008

lover / lunatic

The Man In The Moon

You were here just moments ago, now gone under cover of clouds.
Hidden from me when it matters most, leaving me cold,
Though truth be told, I've wasted the heat from your sun.
The kiss you left still curls like smoke upon my lips,
Along with a conflagration of mea culpas, a bonfire of sanity
Awaiting the rain and its applauding refrain of,
Let's hear it for the boy, let's give the boy a hand.
For I am still sagacious despite scorpio rising's lunatic whims.
Throw caution to a solar wind and move Venus nearer to Mars,
Her bluish hue suffusing his red haze, ushering in empurpled dawn.
The taste of new morning light will scour our mouths
Of criticism's carrion, leaving fresh-cut flowers lining throats
That swallow deep the abrading, fluvial rush of all apologies,
Carving the anhydrous marias of the moon into a relief of my face.

still from George Méliès 1903 film, A Trip to the Moon

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

seeing is believing

Second Sight

My dead relatives see everything.

The snow falling on trees still clinging to their foliage.
The smoke of a bonfire disappearing into the night sky.
The curvature of a mother's spine.
The masturbating hand beneath a bed sheet.
The ripple of concentric circles where a swallow touches water.
The solar wind's erosive still scarring the moon.
The slow, unsensed clogging of the arteries.
The morning light through the broken slats of a dilapidated barn.
The misplaced memories of dementia.
The tree falling in a forest when no one is there to hear it.
The wilt of perennials from the first hard frost.
The coin's splash at the bottom of wishing well.
The cancer before it metastasizes inside the breast.
The skinned knees of a boy who has fallen off a bike.
The lunar phases of the antlered ungulate rut.
The vestigial tooth still waiting to drop into a gum line.
The birthday party on a beach for a red-haired woman.
The lovers holding hands in a darkened theater.
The children of their children's children.
The slight annual shift of magnetic north.
The elliptical path of Haley's Comet.
The red-tailed hawk riding thermals.
The name of a baby yet to be born.
The date of my death.
The face of God.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

wish you were here


oceans don't listen,
shout a song
sung as a round instead,
stunning, trammelling with report
a beach forgotten out of season

grey light listing,
a sunless, pointillist november
of single notes of sand
played one then none by the slow fade
of a muted john cage shadow

night sea lightning,
strobe-lit unstructured wavelengths
captured then released,
abutting the seen / unseen infinite
with the scent-electric burn of memories

photo by andrew christopher nagl

the placebo effect


No longer ill with the fog
of a coming winter's cold rain.
Kidneys clean of the damp wind
sting of diuretic vitamin swell.
Fever's sweat broken by degrees
and passed into the ether of evaporation.
Red sun of flush skin surrendered
for the pale glow of a new moon.
The shutter and shake of chill
quieted by the static of sound asleep.
The anodyne of your arms around me
beneath the twill and throw of cotton.

end of the line

On A Wing And A Prayer

The rumbling ride of life threatening to derail this train
throwing sparks into a night, black with ravens roosting
between the icy cold of mortality and the warm, white light of Heaven,
cannot keep a soul from shaking through beneath these birds of pray(er),
station to station, without direction, to a destination still unseen,
despite a persistence of vision just beyond this passing train.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

the last waltz


The way I feel with the sun on my face on this cold day,
as I watch the waltz of this season's leaves,
hand-in-hand, cheek-to-cheek, with the wind,


" I have become myself at last. "

A Farewell To Arms

The Deer Hunter

It's bow season here in the northern reaches of Penn's Woods.
Hunters don ritual vestments, decked out in camo and day-glo orange
for the pilgrimage through field and stream,
to practice that Ol' Time Relijun of the hunt
as they seek Papa Hemingway immortality
along deer-worn paths.

Late day, weighted light caped across shoulders,
unarmed and accompanied by my African Lion Hound,
the chewing-potato-chips-crunch of leaves trumpets our arrival
into the cathedral of trees behind a humble ranch house.

Man's best friend rolls endlessly in the fresh of found scat,
so stops the progress of a daily, routinized walk in the woods.

Turning to admire luminescent dust floating on golden shafts
knifing between oaks, maples and white pines,
their long shadows wrestled to the forest floor,
my breath abates abruptly, leaving it immoveable
somewhere between tongue-throat-lung.

There, not fifteen feet from my own,
a tall, broad, eight-point buck.

The eluvium beneath me
so much richer than just a second ago,
as eyes lock, knowingly / unknowingly.

All sound surrounding swallowed whole by the moment.
So sacred, even the wind waits just beyond the leaves.

"The Hunted",
trapped by timber and the dumbstruck of my stare,
calculates the time between the failure of instinct
and the snap of a bow, swoosh of an arrow.

With "The Hunter" bowless,
the math's theorem fails to arrive,
leaving involuntary reflex to fill the void.

Quantum leaps and endless bounds
through branch debris and waist high weeds
as breathing locates breath in the condensation of an exhale
mixing with the mote of lit mist illuminating
the ghost of Ernest atop the wooded ridge,
waving a worn copy of A Farewell to Arms.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Re: Stacks

In an attempt to soak up everything that came before me,
browsing bookshelves near bed linens and
curling up with the History, the Science, the Poetry
of a world that didn't want me, until now.

But sleep cannot wait for
the retreat of Napolen from Russia,
the thermodynamics of shifting tectonic plates,
the free verse of Walt Whitman.

I awake from dreams,

the snatch of precious hours

from vehement library desires,

panic stricken by the prospect

of how little time I have left

to account for Time.

History will eventually claim me.
Science will certainly disregard me.
Poetry will surely define me.

Bury me,
with everything else that has come and gone,
in the stacks.

Friday, October 17, 2008

abeyant, kinetic, cathectic

As A Matter Of Course

a star about to become a sun

love burns in a ring,
the pageant turned boxing match
bleeds a blood bruise under the eye
of a homecoming queen

car collides with a clock,
time slows to tenths of seconds,
impact like a photograph
still in a bath of developer

heart sounds a train whistle,
steam engine lurches anodized
along night cooled blue steel
rails against the world

RNA fingerpaints a DNA footprint,
awaiting feral, valent reproduction,
a frozen embryo anticipates the heat
of passion to burn a brand

the broken bone will heal,
the dead flower will seed

the grass will crack concrete,
the sugar will erode enamel

energy on the brink,
like an icy kohoutek burning across a sky,
hands simultaneously capable
of strangulation and caress

pride lies down with lions
loyalty fords a swollen river
humility erects a temple

pride betrays a trust
loyalty turns a blind eye
humility fashions an ego

the star collapsing to become a sun

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Here Comes the Flood

Who'll Stop The Rain?

standing on the shoulders
of giants,
those who came before
providing perspective
on those who have come since

wince to squint
a cloud cover view of

the rain not the parade,
an umbrella never big enough,
the fairytale at the end of the rainbow

forecast grim,
lightning flashes and so begins
the count of one thousands
until thunder comes,
rolling in and on and on
through the flood of regrets,
puddling the bottom of a hole in a heart
where children once played,
but now sing the sad refrain
of rain, rain go away

scent of a woman

Perfume, The Ghost Of Her Remains

she is gone
but the ghost of her remains




she is gone
but the ghost of her remains

Good Advices

Shaking Quaker

a lifetime of clutter

fragments of literary moments,
ferments of literal momentos
slung across a shoulder
with a flask of forgotten dawns
where i have awakened
stripped bare of all but this Soul,
and standing like a beach bum Jesus
before a white sand road to Galilee
with only
the ocean's wind for conversation,
the gull's shadow for companionship,
the sea's shells for currency

this austere visage,
a kingdom for a gutter poet

where a hat placed upon a head
gestures a new beginning
uncluttered by trappings

to a world turning,
not away

but beneath this sand,
in every grain
by a wave

hat upon head,
free to dance, shout, sing
upon this earth,
like a shaking quaker
in praise of love,
the only possession i carry

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

last call

Wink And A Nod

the distortion of water through pipes

bright white noise in a dimly lit room

meth fingers no match for tired eyes

words hover over then drift out of reach

all sound turning to steam squint glare

consonants, vowels mixing with dissonance

the sting of well-placed adverbs swelling

digits laboring to sift chaffe from grist

the room a sudden choke of sweat and caffeine

flint of flickering thoughts the way paper burns

memory of cigarette smoke distends the abdomen

medicinal wink and a nod of dry red wine

contractions blurred between lost apostrophes

fading glow of lamp buried in the dirt of dreams

stanzas line a ditch slumping martyrs upon martyrs

catholic tendency panhandling for one rich word

silence startles a highbeam across a roadkill

awake stumbles in the cold of a now quiet room

window condensation drips nocturnal omissions

blank pages of liquid crystal displayed

sans music last call slow dance

fourth and long


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Mandan blood, The Omaha heart

In My Tribe

indian chant
of blood i never knew i had

headdress full of impulse,
peyote put a hand to my forehead
and channel my spirit to its source

there is a song behind this raindance
whetting ebb tides of rivers waded,
barely forded and double crossed
by black clouds holding back

skin me deep and reveal
what have i done
to deserve all you have given

sky down sun
lighting me
from inside out

winter awaits
and so i go
into wood,
upon mountain,
before fire

as you lay down beside
these fragile bones,
holding in your small hands
the calcified heart
i have carried from a desert
dry of dreams

to drums of
ritual awaiting,
beating conjugal

a jaguar loosed upon
a living sky

scars, stars
mapping a life upon this hide,
no longer hidden from the totem,
your love

mnemonic device


you awoke today
from the sleep of stolen moments
to behindhand epiphanies

the leaves have gone from green
to blaze woven orange rust red

the humid air has come to rest
upon frostbit stacks of firewood

the heat of summer sun has left
to melt a southern hemisphere

the forget-me-nots have grown and gone
to seed themselves like memories on the wind

and so awoke in you today
remembered moments westing dreams
belated but not forgotten

image by puddle

Monday, October 13, 2008

Adirondack Impressions



The wind carved face
Of an old man
Upon a towering tree
Amidst an ancient stand,
Whittling personal history
Down to size,
Weathering a soul
Beyond its years.


No television, no radio,
Just the cold hum and hot buzz
Of electrical wires overhead.

Reminders of the Koyaanisqatsi
Fled for the aural traditions
Of the Adirondacks:

The gurgling ripple's fall and rise
Over rocks in Alder Creek.

The repeating splash and drag
Of canoe paddles through a glacial lake.

The crunching rust worn footsteps
Of leaves landing on a forest floor.


Dropping leaf boats for a
Into a current circulating slowly
In the color choke of fallen leaves.
A family at last,
Headed downstream
Away from A Heart Of Darkness,
Toward a soul-satisfied sea.


Adding my own storied past
To imagined tales of Train Wreck Point,

Envisioned in,
Envisaged in,

The passing-quickly-glance
Of an old road signpost.


Playing hide and seek with a full moon
Ducking behind shadow branches
And century-old roof lines,
To come to find
The muted, moonlit dream-scene
Of two doe, two fawn feeding
From a nocturnal garden
At a small town, Our Town,
Street corner in Old Forge.

One of many memory anvils
Cooling outside the blast furnace
Of unexpected experience.


Taste of maple sugar, cinnamon spice
Baked and boiled to bribe
A salt soaked tongue.

Smell of smoldering chimney smoke
And the essence of balsam fir
Traversing mountain air.

Sight of jigsaw puzzle pieces
Of deciduous and coniferous canopies
Against a Picasso Blue Period sky.

Feel of close held heat
Within the fold of fleece
Upon fingers' cold crowns

Sound of disembodied voices
On ascent toward summiting
"...The Top Of The World.", she said.


The innate study
Of Proust, Whitman, Cezanne
In the silence of an endless forest,

Through thoughts,
Through senses,
Through meditations
Mutating one with the other
In an attempt to define a Soul
And its place in the natural,
And unnatural world

dedicated to jonah lehrer

Thursday, October 9, 2008

into the mystic

Narcotic Effect

that sense of peace still eludes me,
just out of reach and buried beneath
the Sturm und Drang of mechanized routine

fracturing the small bone structure of the soul
through a constance of vibration

drowning out the pianissimo
of quiet thought synapse connections

bombarding the transcendental chambers of
an Emersonian heart with an arrhythmia of pneumatics

in an effort not to tempt
aneurysm, stroke, heart attack, cancer,
i sit unseen in the narcotic effect of dreamtime return,
my spirit wandering sleepy Walden hollows


i am the great horned owl
navigating night forests
in search of sustenance

i am the jack-in-the-pulpit's
time lapse push through
the mulch of decay

i am the rainwater collecting
on the campfire orange blooms
of a smoke tree

flora and fauna medicating me against
the cacophony of modernity
while soaking in the slow intravenous,
dripping with
the chant of the whippoorwill,
the mantra of the bullfrog,
the prayer of the mantis

peace at last less elusive,
slipping under the anesthesia of pax vobiscum

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Preservation Act


this autumn sun sinking through a fire maple sky
burning the hardwood reminiscence of

a judas kiss from wine stained lips,

open umbrellas inside the structure of a fragile psyche,

tell tale signs of dark days arriving on black-winged winds,

the hum of melodies comforting lonesome highway miles,

madness and delusion consummating inside a mind out of time,

the turning knives of lost loves wounding foolish pride,

road worn, soft shoe scuffling of walking away from it all,

the longing to belong abandoned in the pursuit of unconditional love,

stretching across the silence for a heaven to behold,

an unused sense of security left to auctioneering,

murdering opportunity and setting fortune afire,

tempting fate and baiting reason though well aware of the rocks below,

laughter medicating the brain damage of depression,

the emptiness not quite escaping over a man-made wall,

a story of scars under, not upon, this memoir skin,

climbing a history of hills in search of a river of words,

the blaze of bridges lingering in the smolder over a shoulder,

listening to the sermon of leaves from an arboreal pulpit ,

dying by degrees whenever took for granted,

living in the moment, the creosote of new memories defying mortality,

that final winter sun submitting to the black oak sky,
smothering the charred wood of reminiscence

photo: 'creosote sunset' by j. scott bovitz

Monday, October 6, 2008

home at last

I Used To Live Here (A Sort Of Homecoming)

scavenging collapsed tent revivals
in hopes of divining redemption
along the sawdust trail,
but finding only
a patch of shaded grass
where parents will lie,
old soldier of an oak
standing guard over their
as yet marked graves

beyond this saddening vista,
the house of cards they built
where choices became chances,
where ruins became risks
for a youngest son swept adrift
by a colossus flood
of sullied vows and superstition myths

washing him away down a river of tales, some told,
some buried in the banks crawled to salvation shores
where breath-catch, water-cough, dirt-spit, mud idols died
just in time to kneel before,
"i used to live here."

deliverance and damnation
in a father's failing chorus
to a mother's dying Te Deum

a hymn for her,
a psalm for a son

no longer drowning in doubt,
but wading in reconciliation

waiting all those years,
weighting all those years

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Like A Virgin


the wind in my heart
blowing dust from my lungs

exhaling the antique memories of
might have been

inhaling everything in relation to this
now and ever shall be

for all is new
in this old world

so weary and wishing
its moon back where it began

but spinning on despite itself
though standing still to evince

the fire of light through the trees
the water of sky spilling overhead

the vacuum of nature
enveloping, crystallizing all sound

a bluejay's caw caw
a pileated's rap, tap-tap

the distant, iterated bark of a dog
the paper shuffle rustle of leaves falling

the aeolian shook medicine stick
of wheatgrass basking in a bullion glow

the wind in my heart turning a weathervane
atop this nascent and aleatory world

the dust of regrets supplanted
by the purity of never going back again

image: robert rauschenberg's three panel white painting

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"I've been through the desert..."

A Man About A Horse

gone to see a man about a horse,
sand stinging my eyes,
hand raised to face,
shielding against low, desert sun

deserting the swing of gallows
I myself constructed,
abandoning the rope left dangling
of my own lasso

walking tall into The Wasteland,
quixotic, with only an Identi-kit,
godless, gunless, anonymous,
in pursuit of self amidst a basin and range
of place name Spanish saints,
pressing on into the arid breath
of Santa Ana winds,
my cotton mouth cannibalizing
what remains of me
and so, cheating birds of prey
soaring over valleys of death,
carrying only the ashes of dead uncles
along with my father's fading memories,
tracking the cast of their long shadows,
in search of my own upon time's shifting sands

image: Pablo Picasso's Don Quixote