Category: Free Verse Poetry

Never mind the night of dancing hip and belly to belt,
before the bitter sip and the slender blade divided
what would have been fire-lighter love, inextinguishable,
if the message hadn’t got lost like youth or a bad bet,
if the messenger hadn’t smelled of grapes,
(if his wife hadn’t had expectations)
(oh, what were the words, your tongue feels for the shape
like an old man fumbles for his zipper, with a kind of sorrow and dread.)

The first babe erupts, hairless and red,
louder than the bang that birthed the universe,
then the inaugural of nights in a bed of arrow-headed words
and soft as a spider, knowledge creeps along your spine
but you lie to yourself if you think at all, and life moves in glacial time,

life rains dainty, even tender in the hours before the river gallops away.
Days skitter and bounce, pebbles at the foreguard of the slide.

Fly fishing finds your heart, hooks it like a trout (the joke tucked in its jaw.)
New Zealand isn’t far enough away -there’s always a return ticket home.

And the light step drags in sensible shoes with a side of bunions;
there’s never enough heat in the shower to purge the stink.
When asked, you curl your lip to an arsenic smile, “An asshole, is what.”
Never mind the burning hip that wants a kiss from the surgeon’s knife,
or the belly over the belt, and when you finally thud into a kitchen chair
you open the obits first, looking for a familiar name.



Patience, in her wide arms she gathers me.
Soft-lipped and sleepy-eyed, come
says she, stealthy as time,
to the light side, to the dark side
and the side with diet Coke,
cold chicken and cyanic nights;
to a tent town with sluggish air,
long-shadowed and sere;
slum city for leftover souls
who sit themselves down in the tortured grass.
With overcast eyes and trembling hands
they pick at the loose skin of a tattered past:
am I beautiful? Am I now?

I roll, water-struck men
with beards like weeds
and eyes like a sudden storm,
where the tall waves smack and dance
under a blanket of blue-black sky.

Stars sing themselves to a dream-lit sleep
in the high thin voice of the whale–
the right whale, the wrong whale,
the humpback whale or the sperm,

and there from the shallows comes a salt-soaked man
risen up in a clatter of cowries and clams,
sand on his lips and his tongue.

Turmoil of crows melts into cold fields;
chickadees throw arcs of whistle across the trees.
Winter creeps from the corners of a great gray sky,
twists back with a glower and a growl:

Come away to the crackle of the ice-bound seas
and the long white hands of the giants of the north.

Or stay in the warm wilds,
in the feather bed of some pine-scented saint
who swallows the swell of the young days
under a thick sun, fat as butter.

Lower your red-rimmed eyes
before the push and rise of the newborn green;
fingers that scrabble like spiderlings
across the breast of the breathless world,
leave stripling shadows on the face of a two-poled God.

The Black Cat Purrs

The black cat purrs, generates its own kind of luck.

I see you silver, edged in pink,
eyes like a salt-grey sea.
I struggle not to reach for you,
not to gasp for the last tick of breath.

Our late lives close over us,
first in roils, then calmer, in slow waves.
Your perilous eyes look away.

They hunt for a moment,
seek a time superior to now,
a place of equatorial heat,
where life is like being asleep,
only flying.

Be quiet in the art museum

Tiger may waken,
ambergreis spill.
Subsume yourself
in the solemnity of the mass.

Men in dark suits,
women with stern hair,
eyes like opium
passive in prayer.

Granite walls between god
and a boisterous day.

Laugh bubbles like cardinal’s song.

Girl on white pony
gazes at nothing in her misty way,
sitting sidewise under the glare
of a high New England sun.

Above Freezing

A circle of cat warms the blanket over my thighs.
I have been reading poetry, scouring for secrets in the lines-
secrets, answers, keys.
Outside my window is early Spring, she’s having a drink with her lover
the sky, they’re watching the brown grass and discussing their unruly young.
He frets about them more than she, and grumbles
when she only smiles, and touches his hand.
Robins set their round bright notes adrift through the rain.
The house is cold, it wants a fire in the iron stove,
but instead of laying wood and setting flame,
instead of chasing after words to settle in my fat and bones
I sit and watch the fluid, rising day
while the round cat hums and bathes.

it’s the gaze of the June sun
assessing you
your misted skin an ember hue
a hand across your brow
it’s the breath of the warm air
when first light cotton slides
it’s the lap of the cold sea
along your toes
you feel it higher than your knees and so
you let the next soft something go
from the place that the close heart knows
it’s entry gained by heat and sigh
till nothing’s left to cast aside
old skin for new, wet wings untried
chrysalis and butterfly.

too many hands

too many eyes seek for the bright key
you have gone blind and lost God
you cannot pray.
too many mouths seek for the ripe seed
you are cold and laid too low to meet the sun.
too many hands beat on the red door
set deep in the blue wall;
you turn the key to find
it will not go.