Category: Poetry


I can’t whistle, but
I did once in New Mexico
when I blew steam
across the water like
the Northern Wind
my big cheeks full
my beard and eyebrows
a landform each
I am performing more
as you drift more
but my gestures
fill your sails
you kiss the ground
because it isn’t wet
I bite my tongue to
find some
when you ask for lights
you add that little
*don’t take me*
a disclaimer
*just show yourself*
you mean *anywhere
here… but also
everywhere else*

No One Can Hear You

I hear my mom hoping for it
my uncle tries to prevent it
at worst, he’ll collect it
my aunt prays someone will
do it for her
but no one will kill us for us
we walk ourselves to the door
we tell ourselves
this is your home
when they’ve all felt the same
this is food
when you can’t tell
this is your 11:30 Sprite
this is Tom Selleck, remember?
yes, he’s still alive
that was the doctor
no, I don’t know where he’s from
this is connected to you
this is your checkbook
I know, it’s an arm and a leg
would you like to go home?
would you like that?


If I had a clear backpack they
might see my Gameboy, or
whatever book I was reading
instead of the required

they might see how seldom
I used my folders, jamming
papers in like
forcing fire

if it rained it might look
like water on a window
on days when classmates with
clear umbrellas came equipped

with their own atmospheres
all docking here – I may
never have gone in
instead I’d lie to my mother

(I’d take the bus just
to spend all day
walking home)
or try lying to my father

(an interest in the coast guard)
he would have said
there are so few men
and so many fakes

they are easy to reproduce
and pass off
it’s taken me all my life
but here’s how you tell

The Music I Would Take to Space

I sing in the artist’s
voice – almost always
Rivers Cuomo is close
Billy Corgan hurts
Claudio Sanchez is like
I swallowed a laser
Cedric Bixler even higher
I can do Courtney Love
Shirley Manson – the
garbage version – but only
if my window is closed
I actually don’t know
where my singing voice
is – it’s gotta be in
my stomach, but
I keep my stress there
they fight their way out
– the Gemini twins
pulling at each other’s
loose skin, scrolling open
my throat like birch bark
the bugs are stars, but
they are themselves first
like all performers
I am understudy
I am making what I fake
but I have this window
one little window by which
life scrolls by – the
marquee – how exciting it is to
jump into a sentence before
knowing its ending
it’s got you talking
you can’t not finish
there’s no way nothing’s there


the moment wretching
becomes embarassment, or
forgetfulness begetting

I must purge before I’m full
like eating grass
use it down to its wick
and need more

get more. expend more
smoke it. they call to me
they are soul choice
says the non-soul

so avoidable
so unnoticed, so
they don’t break the skin
as to them

every pour
is a great cathedral door
my eyes like stained glass
manipulating the light into

church light
dried blood and piss, the
yellow-green of flowers
shoved into books

everything is a mistake
your bouquet should have been
grass, the animals
should have been quiet

The Most Humane Way Possible

I can see faces
in the trees again
their beards covering
their mouths         their eyes

the spaces of absence
where the grapevine
hasn’t quite
blanked me out of view

we’ve been through so much
they’re expecting a list
but I couldn’t         I can’t
I’m wondering about the farm

you adopted two hens
but must cull
five to six muscovies
the most humane way

is not the easiest
almost never
I wonder if
it’s a huge mistake

then remind myself
that we slept well together at
my parents’
we bought a car

we survived an abortion, an
assault, a freeze, a virus
all of which during
we wanted to pull so tight

like netting and a cone
and pass through         our
rib cages trying but failing
to catch us, breaking

the skin like pin feathers
I must provide life
that is what goes on the table
you must provide love

but I think mine goes first
I must work on balance
I picture cairns, but
not that         something

way more considerate
– mindful of
underwater bugs
maybe she’s here

and that’s why you can’t sleep
I would have loved
to have seen you pregnant
maybe it’s the house

it’s probably me
what’s the most humane
way possible
upside down into a bucket

but we slept so well at
my parents’         loved
so well in the trailer
had options

overcame those options
like mountain climbers
but on soft, little heads
we must attract

the type of good
you can’t feel good about
but it’s what we’d want
if we had the other

Jump the River

watching kids play
Jump the River, which
is a game with two ropes

the kids line up, then
run at the “river”
& jump across it

each time the river
gets wider until the kids
are barely able to make it

some run their hardest then
stop abruptly at its edge
some throw their bodies &

roll for extra distance
some just cry –
too hard, no fair

later they will wade in
the creek. its banks
move apart like ropes

the water flow lessens
some of it abruptly stops
it gets warmer

the sunlight reaches lower &
blooms the algae
the tadpoles feel the urgency

the tepid water tells them
hurry up, get eaten
or get caught & held

their instruments still in
perfect spiral
our eyes take time to adjust

to decide if we are heading
towards, or away
either way we fall into it

then drop it
will we get word?
will it be fire? monsoon?

will we throw our bodies?
or stop abruptly
at its edge?

C.K. Dexter Haven

I was trying to stop
smoking – I read everything
I ran. boxed
worked to exhaustion
tried to appreciate the
unreliable emotions
whatever showed up, I
went with
rage like a bull
through the front door
I let in
rage like a cat
with a bird
with intent to kill
but not before I show you
I’ll show you all
I’ll stop, and plunge
that unsuspected depth
to be part of a story
Pittsburgh, Philadelphia
anywhere but here
where the grooves are
so worn down
they accelerate
I go faster and faster
nowhere, like dying
in books, like the end of
Prince Caspian
or John the Forerunner
whose head came hand-
delivered on a tray
as my salvation
but there goes my appetite
up in smoke
up down the river
beneath the water, where
the sky is wet, heavy crumbs
beneath the desk
like a kid in school
locked in but down
I am no longer high, but
not low either
I threw my time
to the wolves
now I see the bone


all in my head
is all in my head

I still catch myself
screwing up my eyes

in the mirror, afraid
to connect deeply, even

with myself. I sit
down in mirrored elevators

avoid mirrored people
which are all people

when you give off light
how easy it would be

to have no light at all
how hard I’ve worked to

extinguish that light
but you don’t pour fire

on fire. you don’t kill light
or outrun it

you are it
you are the place where light

converges, swirling into a pool
you are scrying’s purpose

the loose hands
over letters

you are there now. get it?
there is nothing more to

create. it is created
there is only that which

you will destroy
or won’t