#12 Northbound

In Los Angeles
I almost steered into a tree
my overloaded car,
overloaded with me.

I’d never felt so unlike myself,
a self willing to kill myself.
the day I left my mind
I left my future

toward anything I’m capable of
flood. Northbound
and home, away
from the machine,
the killing machine,
acting alone,
unable to admit
the killing machine was me.

#11 Umbrian Gothic

I followed fireflies down
the damp olive tree corridor
and into a cave where
a wall opened at the back, in the recesses
of mystery, and
torches flickered
and caught wind,
extinguishing in a flash.

Stone grated behind me
with an echo, the outside lost to me,
and he was there
waiting for me.

The bulbous-bodied
insects lit a love
for us, a path
that had been carved
over many years.

We roamed its magic, a pulse
of nature
that showed us we already knew
how the story would end.

And we emerged under the Umbrian summer,
hand in hand, never the same

#10 Just About–A Response to “Moonshadow,” by Cat Stevens

I said to him, we can’t possibly understand
what drives someone to contemplate
suicide. It’s true, he said.
And it was as if we’d connected
in that moment,
in our shared inability to empathize
with lost souls.
But I had lied.

I’ve sometimes thought
about how easy it would be
to die. All of me would fall away,
leaving no aches in my legs,
no catch in my back,
no kink in neck,
no pounding fist in my skull.

And my eyes would close to humanity’s
terrors. My mouth would seal
itself, become ash, and my heart would shrivel
and forego that drowning feeling
that tightens my chest every time
cruelty rears its head in this world.

Sometimes I think about how I fear
death. But I don’t really—fear it.
I don’t welcome it
yet, either. But I understand,
and when waking is difficult
and strange,
I think it would be so easy
to fall away with all my parts
from the world and become nothing
like I was before conception.
To be undone
means no work,
no sorrow, no voice,
no tomorrow. And sometimes,
that sounds just about right.

#9 Summer of Wounds

Twig snaps underfoot and
leaves sashay
to the ground
on an autumn-like summer day

makes me crave that pumpkin
spice, cinnamon harvest,
jack-o-lantern family.

Makes me haunt that memory
of apple clove plug-ins
releasing their cozy, homey
scent into my new, adult world,

into my first apartment after graduating
from college. The small, dark
cave-like space
had a balcony just big enough for
a chair so I kept it bare.

My galley kitchen
boasted fluorescent light
and a freezer with ice
build-up squeezing out
frozen Healthy Choice dinners.

It’s the kitchen I was in
when I sliced off the edge of my thumb
while cutting an apple.
I’d just returned from the gym
and I lived alone,
but then, I was strong,
so strong
I didn’t panic. I reattached
my fingerprint, and pressed a
damp paper towel over the
amputation. The bleeding ceased
quickly and a good witch somewhere
did a spell and Abracadabra!
When I lifted the towel to check
my injury, my finger had already
begun to repair itself.
My body made glue, and the tip
of my thumb was preserved
without even a scar
as proof of the accident.

This is what it means to
live alone.
You could die
and nobody would believe
it happened.

#7 A Picture’s Worth

Boxes of photographs tell the story of my life
the camera has captured moments, not emotion
pictures of people and places hiding commotion
not the waves of memory in motion
not a heart, only colors devoid of strife.

I first overcame through tears.
Then I learned to cope in denial
as if my safety had never been on trial.
My demeanor showed cheerful guile
while I survived the healing years.

A child who loves is lost
when mother and father leave
and family means fear must be grieved.
A child who loves believes
her world is forever storm-tossed.

If she stays the course, her spirit will revive.
She will discover she won’t always be adrift.
Age and wisdom teach many gifts
about how to grow strong, how to close rifts.
She will build herself up, love again, fly.

And these are the truths photos don’t show.
Because sorrow is too bold for us
pain so heavy it burdens us
so man’s invention the camera lies for us.
But hope is worth holding; don’t let go.

#6 Purple Purpose

Will my voice matter?
is every writer’s quest
question, coping quicksand

not the sound as it sputters
and reverberates into the throat

but the worry
hovering at the back of self-
importance. Choked by diffidence,

I’m supposed to write

for myself
because I’m called to words
like a moth to flame
and if the page ignites
ink burns

cinders remain
lining the annals of history.

Will my combustion resonate?
is every poet’s plight
ashen and disintegrating
like remnants


#5 Desert Low

Moon is high and full
I look for you there each night
a longing, a light

Creosote summer
road rumbles beneath tires
memory of you

Search for me in rain
wet earth alive with answer
I return in storm

#4 Dear Stepping Stone

I snuck a peek at an old photo
of you
who you were—
are you still that
youthful, rippling laughter
sparkly gaze
caressing my face,
stroke of softness
under yearning fingertips?
I bought you that sweater
felt alive with you
your easy skater style
and the night you
asked when was I going
to let you have sex with me.

My answer surprised you
but you remedied my rule
and we fell in love.

We fell into
chemistry like a potion
crafted by a wild scientist
mixing melted metals
and I carried your
in my bones
having to wait to see you
was intoxicating
a draught, elixir
of desire.

But then you changed

or was it that you’d
stayed the same or had I changed
or was your patina showing,
not a unique and beautiful
luster as of something
weathered, made precious by time
but a toxic truth,
conservative hate billowing from
your dragon mouth.

And when you left, you blew through
the apartment
gathering your things
and in a gust of anger
and years wasted you were
gone. I loved you then
more than you could see
and it was you, stepping over me.

Is that why they say
love is blind?
Maybe the saying got bent
somewhere along the line.
Maybe someone only ever meant
to imply
love is kind
like in Corinthians.
Because blindness isn’t acceptance
but ignorance.

And that’s why I told you to leave.
I still cried.
Because learning new, hard truth
hangs in the balance,
the fine, paradoxical line between epiphany
and the drowning of a dream.

#3 Privilege

You won’t see me in those streets
among faces of grief, theirs, not mine
because my fear wants to quietly weep.

Every shot and shout falls like a beat
I’m learning behind closed doors, in time.
You won’t see me in those streets

to march shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet
asking questions, seeking to find
because my fear wants to quietly weep

in private sorrow, my heart, my heat
comfortable here, resting in rhyme.
You won’t see me in those streets.

I write the song that prays for new belief,
hoping for answers and a loving bind
because my fear wants to quietly weep.

I sing the terror; I shudder in our need,
crying for millions, our collective lives,
but you won’t see me in those streets
because my fear wants to quietly weep.