there’s a snowfield in my dreams
where tracks weave off toward winter
I imagine leaves
buried in distant snow
I wish I had them
I’d use them like someone
arrange them so I’d know
what I was thinking
a fire searching through books
in response to Dave Bonta’s “Ministry of Truth”
Hypnotizing wheels rumble the empty
space between night and dawn.
A world transformed—
grey ocean resting on the plains
deep, impenetrable, broken ghosts
signs manifest mysterious
Punk rock radio,
sonic wind, pushing ever outward,
a star core against the smothering
pressure of staying.
Silencing fog—infinite escape
routes when all directions
Roads disappear into the mist,
curtained destinies: farm and field;
town and school; fast food
off ramp, neon light—
A summer re-run of sorts. I posted a very early draft of this back in 2006 and kept tinkering on and off over the years. It was eventually published by The Houston Literary Review in February 2011. Sadly, they seem to have disappeared. Such is the way of the internet and its e-journals, I suppose. Anyway, here ’tis. I’ll post the other poem of mine that they were kind enough to publish in the coming days.
There was a time when film was too expensive.
In those days, we used words scrawled
on fast food wrappers, creased maps and memory.
The cars ran on gasoline and explosions.
The phones were tethered to wires,
but we weren’t tethered to anything.
The highways stretched forever.
Nobody knew what was on the other end.
Not the maps of the ancient conquistadors
nor the atlases of the highway cartographers
could show us the ten thousand things
we needed to see for ourselves.
This is one I’ve been kicking around a while.
In other news, mark Stratton gave a nice quick review of Birds Nobody Loves. He interviewed me for his blog too and that should be appearing in the near future. Thanks, mark!
I’m honored to have two poems, “Winter Solstice” and “In the Time of the Automobile” (both from my upcoming collection Birds Nobody Loves–More to come stay tuned) in the inaugural issue of Curio Poetry alongside the work of several other fine poets. Thanks to editors Joseph Harker and Tessa Racht for starting this journal and including some of my work. Now, go check it out.
moonlight sparkles in
grey hair and
beneath pine trees she
severe counts satellites
on silent skyways
the sky’s last synaptic glow
strange and waning
the highway fell
silent last summer
no cars since then
her mind wanders
revisiting the cellar
each jug of potable water
consumption, her husband’s
weight beside her
bourbon ice (luxury
for special nights like these)
the broken highway
bones in moonlight
Another poem about water, or rather, the lack thereof.
- Afternoon temperature. In the shade.
Slow & Coiling
drought doesn’t rage
like hurricanes or tear
the world like twisters
it’s a slow dismantling
of yellowed ecosystems
ash blown on wind
blocks from a jenga tower
pulled one by one
cracks snake the earth
the quiet collapse of cattle
roaming mudpits, abandoned
fawns starving on roadsides
constellations of vultures
summer’s stars dark and full
silent silent sky
smoky whispers of a thousand
cigarette wildfires, sirens
a lone bat loops the dusk
where swallows and kingbirds
once flew toward trees
songless losing leaves
months before their time
tree rings tell futures
a snake coiling around
this thirsty dying land
bring water, electrolytes
this night will burn
heat and light
have come untwined
out on the porch
I call back the dogs
swift feet, darkness
sweat beads my forehead
the stillness of trees
beyond autumn gold
pray for rain, ask
in secret for hurricanes
they claim this red moon
No one puts stock
in ghosts anymore.
But everyone has a story
that begins with I’m not crazy.
Maybe it’s the bridge on 97
or the creaky floorboard upstairs.
The chair they’ll swear was rocking,
or totems of the dead discovered
in strange forgotten corners.
Lights on the Devil’s Backbone.
Ghosts love these stories.
there isn’t any darkness
than the end of memory.
This was inspired by Dave Bonta’s “If there were such things as ghosts”. Dave invited others to add poems to his post’s comment thread and the result is a wonderful mix of ghost poems. This is the one I came up with.
We’ve been in triple digits most days lately. Too hot to do anything, even walk down to the neighborhood pool. Seems almost too hot to write so here’s a rerun from 2006:
He can’t hold his breath that long
She swims, swims, swims
She can’t hold her breath for him
Chlorine water bubbles
Break like glass
Smiling faces break the mirror
Ten more laps
They hold each other
Only Labor Day
(so far away)
Dispels the dream
Of swimming, sun and
He will hold his breath for her,
Offering it like sunshine gold
From wrinkled hand
Swimming, she accepts
Breathes the breath
Of summer sun
this land was sculpted by golf pros who only knew how to make a buck.
there is a secret zodiac of yet-to-be trademarked corporate logos.
the northwest passage was built by Bigfoot but is now owned by crows.
there was a cat who joined the circus to run the big humans act.
trees are the heretical thoughts of stone, but no one understands.
the woman on the lake bottom sold her sword business for a taco stand.
there was a man who named three oceans and drowned in a river.
all night, the cities beneath the plains hum that tune stuck in your head.
the Loch Ness grebe got lost on migration and settled in Oklahoma.
everyone has three teeth and a tongue that aren’t attached to them.
a man rode out of town and returned with an elixir made from cheap tequila.
words are keys, but the doors were all busted down by thugs years ago.
I don’t want to go to bed; tell me another one.
This was based on one of the prompts at Big Tent Poetry: start a poem with the phrase “legend says…”
My sci-fi haibun “Dear Old Stockholm” is up over at qarrtsiluni as part of the translation issue. Be sure to check it out and while you’re there have a look around. There’s a lot of great work in the issue.