This Basement Window


This basement window
Allows a glint of light
Through its high narrow strip of muddied glass.

It’s well before dawn now
I can smell a skunk sauntering past the yard
Which is why my hound has been, well
Hounding while I wrote all night

Darkness past that pane
An overeager cock crows too early
And a neighbor stews him in disrupted dreams

My view just a line of chain link and indigo
The sky’s the limit if I can keep from
Impaling myself on the way

What I see though as I gaze through this window is a path to the
Future, paved in words
My reward more days just like today (adding only
A better idea of where the next mortgage is coming from and
Means to fix the roof):
Ensconced at my desk in this quiet subterranean cave
Embrace a challenge get productive
Practice aikido play tickle with brains
Nap in a dog pile and
write, write, write.



Better to start with what I
Haven’t missed.
I haven’t missed the meals I skipped
When the choice was art or

I haven’t missed money
Unless I was broke and begging
But I’d miss any page gone from these shelves

I haven’t missed the chatter that tore my
Mind away from her own matters
A theft only time and silence can cure

I haven’t missed the time I gave or the
Kisses, but I miss that magic that turned us out of our
Entwined bodies our spirits rocked
Locked together transforming through
Spectra of species
Oh we were bears enclasped lions
Leaping salmon
Wolves writhing snakes
Rising like smoke from our
Burning flesh

I’ll never miss a ball and chain
Yet yearn so for
Compatriot, collaborator, mutual transmogrifier
I probably wouldn’t mind
A little less silence



Alabaster cinched in ebony velvet
A golden comb glitters, worked to match jeweled straps
Ever patient unruffled she waits
Delicate carmine nostrils and lips
Never flare or curl
But she’s been holding that fan for hours and she
Leans on her free hand, fingers stretched over the hidden edge
Wrist slightly twisted

Leave your friends a moment
Trace your fingers lightly through her silken velvet as you
Pass your hand across her bodice
Encircle her waist
She wears your ring after all and this little
Pleasure from you brings
Rose petals and porcelain together upon her
Cheek and precious breast

Leave your friends a moment
She’s tired
Alabaster can grow so cold



I’ve asked a million times to pick up your room but you
Always leave it to the last nano second
Good thing nobody

Natural Selection


Dad wonders if all this
banding of birds and
tagging of ears
creates selection pressure in favor of

But with microbeads
The Great Garbage Patch
Spinning in the Pacific
And asphalt to go by,
It won’t be good

Don’t Say The Final Frontier



That’s death
and the frontier neck and neck with death is
the soul
which flits off into other dimensions
if you’re in to that kind of thing

Space is just geography without the
Geo topography without the
Unnavigable via pitch, tilt, and yaw
Bereft of reference

The reason we haven’t met any
Aliens is because
Earth is a pre-contact indigenous people’s preserve
It’s a zoo here and folk poking the bear make
Crop circles and pick us up for a little look see
Then try to put us back where they found us

The space in my head where
Fantasies unfurl
Encompasses it all
With room to spare




Without the fluids see
I get those migraines
But I won’t drink plain water
I tried and carried a jug for months
Always still half full at twilight

Way too many migraines

Any one of my ten
Classrooms has tea stains on the carpet
I clutch this grown up sippy cup or
Put it down
Knock it over
Leave it precarious
My mind is with the kids you see

This district allows
Personal appliances
So my 1.5 liter water heater is
And the drawer full of teabags
A serious compromise from
Hand picked organic loose leaf and infusers
But see let’s not be nuts about such things
At least not at work

After real tea in Japan
No paper baggies and thread
Do the trick for my ritual

Though at school I admit
I can hold my tippy sippy in both hands
Sneak in a quick prayer for patience or with luck
Quaff a warm, soothing draft that
Hides a bittersweet smile

See I can’t
Keep a straight face around the kids.


She was thirteen, I was six
We’d gotten her through an infection
Still the days of putting your dog out the front door
To patrol the streets nightly
She’d jump the fence anyway
Still the days of no vets
Unless the beast somehow earned its keep
We were pretty sure it was heartworm
I’d followed her that day
Caching a bone
Mincing through trash cans, a connoisseur
Daddy’s friend Jeff was over for dinner
Paper plates lining straw forms
Iceberg salad potato salad a slice of ham a glass of milk
He played catch with her and she
Raced, tongue hanging, until dinner was ready and she
Flopped at our feet
Adoring ham
She twitched once, then twice, then seized
Thwacking her tail against the wall
Like we got her ticklish spot
But the rest of her
Jangling strangling
Then pale
My uncle tried some CPR
This was 1974, remember
But he picked it up in Vietnam and
Never put it down.
Karen could secretly slip a candy bar out of your hand
But there was no dodge for this
Mom sewed a shroud to
Elevate the internment above a
Carcass in the dirt.
Jeff wondered if it was his fault as they shoveled and
Never visited again
Daddy read some Travels with Charley
She used to barf in the car too when
Conditions were wrong
David read some Thurber
We tried not to laugh and gave that up for
Joe across the street came over to commiserate, asked what happened
And a flame-headed cousin just getting the hang of talking said
“Like this!” and hit the ground jerking
It wasn’t his
Kind of funeral
David threw in a
Galvanized lid and a can of Borax she was a
sneaky dirty garbage eating hound
By which he meant epitome of doghood
I dug up that bone again, and gave it back to her
We lifted the shovels
Not a dry eye in the house
Slid the dirt back in
Nothing left of laughter but
Sad quirks on our chins

Our Miss Brooks


Our Miss Brooks goes home at night,
Where the rooms are empty,
The chairs are silent,
There never were any of her own children, and the
Work is never done.

Papers to grade of course and
Dinner to drink. A page of curricular notes for
Admin, required and universally ignored.

This scribbles out on auto-pilot while she
Smashes her mind into silence with
Imbecilic info-tain-news-ish-ment for those
Precious hours before sleep.

For how could she sleep if her mind wasn’t
Numb? What with the national, state, county,
District, city, and neighborhood up in arms
Dictating and decimating her job
Daily it’s a wonder she doesn’t go in
Gibbering with her bra on backwards and
Mismatched shoes.

Our Miss Brooks fights for better pay: something
Commensurate with two degrees, a position of public trust,
Ongoing certification requirements, decades of experience, and
Dozens of fragile lives under her thumb.

At least enough to keep her shit together.

Every time she says so in the lounge,
somebody snorts, “You wish” and stalks out.

She fights. Fights the adults for the kids;
Fights the kids for themselves. They really do need a few skills,
Like it or not.

At home alone, she
Fights herself roiling through
Incomplete housework, distant family, waiting until payday for
Groceries, media vitriol blasting, eight more hours of
Unpaid overtime this week (Idealism went and
Volunteered for the damn committee), and a lurking
Migraine probably triggered by the total weight of her
Social fabric.

Our Miss Brooks goes home at night, but
She doesn’t get her rest.



You might write a poem now
Proselytizing the omen of my hair
Twining in the wind,
Telling the world my smile
Froze you in your tracks.

Later you might paint Medusa
Over these features
Telling the world you should have
Recognized the signs and looked at me only in
Reflection and retrospect.

You might write a poem now
Of my far away gaze in the glass
While I brush, paint, and upholster to
Feed your expectations
You love to see me dolled up.

Later, you might re-write me as Narcissus.

You might write a poem now
Extolling me as your Athena
Because those martial arts make me
Sexy and you imagine me kneeling at your

Later, you might be disagreeably
Surprised to find these arts take
Time and focus you can’t redirect and fair warning there’s a big
Difference between me and that
TV princess in a plastic chest plate you imagine
Obediently placing herself beneath you.

I might write a poem about how you poured through my
Locks as a shower of gold and you tasted my surrender.

Later I might find, my Zeus, that the lock you
Ignored was there for a reason and this flamboyant
Insinuation past inconvenient limits is a
Pattern with you.

I might write a poem now
Bunkering built up fears against the possibility that
You might write a poem later: our roots and branches
Entwined through time as we age peacefully, becoming ourselves
Baucis and Philemon.


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