Sailing from Salem

The desperate horde
hanged the mighty witch high —
as she watched from behind,
laughing, musing:

“If I’m as mighty as they say,
and so well-versed in 
dangerously Dark Arts,
do they really think —  
can they really believe — 
this is over?”

And so the mighty witch
swayed in nature’s caress, 
seeding her folk with everlasting
consequence

before moving to California.

*

There are STORIES, too — HERE.

Eternal Coast

She ate cotton candy and 
watched Seattle seabirds hold 
steady in nondescript
movie-sound
and almost forgot the scar
he stretched around her heart
before she died.

Now, a thousand miles down-coast,
California oceancoast,
glass house above sunset sky — 
that’s where she’s always been,
soft blanket, now, soft light — 
a story she likes, 
a dusky sea — 

her intransigence now just a word 
describing another mother,
someone sad far far away.

*

More poems? They’re HERE.

And then there are the BOOKS here.

Yes, Brother

When I ab and sunglass,
trim, talk low-and-slow — 
pose an aging, faithful body
against sunning sand and waves,
breathless for perfection’s attention,
I know:
Brother, you’re not for me.

When I’m empty, yet still scrape 
this darkening shell for one more 
acceptable pearl;
when I pray dimmed sea-light and
dusky stars right my crooked face,
I know:
Brother, you're not for me.

But if on this patient winter’s beach
we wander from books to pasts,
honor quiet scars and funny ignorance, 
sandy jeans, faded flannel shirts
warm against the LA cool;
cheap beer;
if you ask for another, eyes 
still on the page, and laugh a bit
at my dancing disbelief:

Brother, my answer is yes.

*

Poems, the good ones, are small stories. See other stories here.

Two Trees

I couldn’t help it, leaving.
It  must be the way I’m made.
They spoke God,
said I'd wreck my soul
with that abomination —

so I chose the other tree,
blue-green against the same sky,
splashed its dark on my face
and fell sound asleep

as they raged beneath
an equally good tree
preparing for my salvation.

*

If you like this, try some more here.

A collection or two? See Books here.

Descent

Sylvia’s ceiling was glass.
She could see armed men 
perched above with orders 
to shoot anyone whose parts didn’t
protrude.

But that’s not how she fell
into an oven.

That happened when she realized,
as all thinkers must,
that thought itself is their enemy —
not sex, not sin,
but a single word: 

Why?

*

Any Day

The phone vibrates twenty-seven times
between Beowulf and lunch.  I 
snap each time. Students always know.
They look at me carefully, compassionately.  

I dial the number. Wait. “What, Mom?”

Labored intake:  “Took you long enough.”

She says the chicken’s spicy.
She says she’s always alone.
She says no one cares if she lives.
She is my dying mother.

I listen, stare at the wall,
wait for the tears to subside.

Beowulf.
He had it easy.				
Monsters and a dragon?  
Any day.

*

Apartment

I can sense them, his old lovers,
   his old leavers,
   their cloves and smoke thick in
   threaded carpet, grease stains
   browning on unwashed paint.
   Other tenants, other times.

Most pass through this station,
   moving up or down the home-hierarchy
   to new mortgage or penitentiary.
   I stay.  
   His transience suits me;
   I never want more.
	
He can only be rented,
   like everything else, really,
   pimped for profit.  But I treat him
   well, I think, much better
   than the others.
   Every time I open the door,
   I tell him I’m lucky.
   I tell him he’s beautiful. Mine,
   but still his.

I’m not jealous.  He can think of 
   Them when he’s with me;
   who am I to demand?
   I love him.
   He compares me to others,
   I know. They weren’t so
   dependent, so needy.  
   He is who he is,
   and that’s okay.

I have no claim,
   pay another for his company,
   sure that he won’t remember.
   Sure that I am not the last.
	
   That I’m grateful 
   to have made his acquaintance.

*

There are books. Great books. Here.

And poetry. Always poetry. Here.

Late-Night Lucid

What you discover
after —
after the battered “Yes, okay”
to your heart’s direction — 

is that all of your guns
that once shot enemies and fools
are now trained and aimed
at you.

One Last Chance
to apologize
to recant
to come home.

So you write another poem
as familiar bullets 
speed toward their mark.

*

“Quick!  They’re coming for you!
Call down your god!”

Oh, buddy, if you only understood.
My god runs towards me,
bayonet in hand,
trying to scare me off,
see if I turn.

“Some god!”

Yeah.  My god.
As I take a run at him.

*

Like these? There’s more — all collected into a NEW BOOK! Click here!

So…what do you do? A Collection of Poems

Spend a day observing people. 

Most of the time, it’ll be boring. But if we’re lucky, we’ll catch a glimpse of something we’re not meant to see. Pilots leave an apartment window open while waiting for flight attendants to arrive. We see their desperation. A man in a breezeway doesn’t think anyone is upstairs when he tries to get his dealer off his back, all while his little girl plays. The fratboy next door doesn’t know someone can hear everything — and wants him anyway. A whole political party shows its true colors. 

These poems are dedicated to who we are when we’re on our own time — to the strange, laughable, heartbreaking, dangerous ways we do ourselves.

Want a sample? Click here.

Available from Lulu.


More poems? Click here.

Or maybe a short story.

North Hollywood Elegy

Lankershim Boulevard was better
when Grammy took me to the
Jewish Council Thrift Store
to buy me an out-of-date
Writer’s Market, and I looked up
at her against the naked fluorescent
tube lights, and wanted to write
a story that would make her rich
and me famous
so that we wouldn’t have to shop
at the Jewish Council Thrift Store
again.

*

There was once a time —
you’ll have to trust me —
when Dad would write notes
for cigarettes and liquor,
and off I’d go to Dales Jr.

And then if I was fast,
he'd give me a sip.
It burned all the way down.

Probably how I got so good at track.

*

“I want you to stay away
from that guy upstairs.”
Old Shirley’s hair was frizzier
than usual. She held a glass.
“Something’s not right there.”

“Okay, I will,” as I walked 
past her window
down the driveway
out onto Oxnard

remembering how he 
held me to his chest
and showed me I was happiness.

*

Roam around the stories here. They’re pretty good.