in the sunlight
a flash of fishing line
catches the eye
snagged on a branch
maybe there are no fish
in the pond ringed by trees
amongst the headstones and memories
perhaps there never were
certainly he hasn’t caught one,
not yet
though he has spent many hours
amongst the headstones and memories
by the pond

ringed by trees

Home Recipe for Sharia Justice

Home Recipe for Sharia Justice

In a small atoll
mix a smaller framed girl,
no older than fifteen
with distillate of fear
choose one lean,
sun baked
season with isolation,
truss the legs, the arms,
pin back the head,
carefully stuff a filthy rag in her mouth
stab repeatedly,
allow the shame to marinate,
penetrate the bone
separate from family
pull out
let soak for three years
whip until murdered



casting no reflection
a mirror without surface
the moment, homeless
refuses to linger
finds no purchase
slides with teflon speed
careening past synapses
frictionless, a superconductor of time
eternally transient

Bury it on the back page,
behind the ads for shitty cars
and after the wedding announcements
journalistic hucksterism to glorify monsters
a carefully cultivated breeding program
to churn out disaster
as if hate and glory and depravity were some endangered species
we dress the set like a porno,
getting the blue and red light flickering off congealed pools
tight close ups of wet sloppy faces
and fluttering hands
always prepared for that money shot
a broken body is good
but a dozen even better
horror reduced to token plotlines
pale shaky excuses for the next set of images
raw and real,
amateurs and professionals get their turn
water cooler pundits salivating for a shot of skin
another savaging,
public, prolonged and pointless
but air time sells like hot cakes when the bodies pile up
and we wring our hands
wipe the sweat from brows
and when the last overwrought tone thunders through studio speakers
and we are done, collapsed, spent, exhausted
We’ll shake empty heads,
suddenly nervous as a maiden
and wonder how this could have happened again



like the air has suddenly lost it’s weight

the space between

a chasm

unknowable, boundless

every gap palpable

tangibly not present

empty spaces  impossible, limitless

absent everywhere


Dad taught him to fight

sparring in the kitchen
socked feet dancing across scarred linoleum
reaching out

clenched in pockets
boulders in miniature
unfurling gnarled fingers reluctantly
they perform,
return home

He knew what they said
still read the paper
found his name buried
usually misspelled
they misread him
mistook his falls as failure
bent knees as surrender

swings out in reflex
as he goes down
Remembers each time he feels the flash
Dad taught him to fight
to dance in socked feet in front of the oven

Gasoline in Small Doses

Part of him still wants a change counter
the kind,
that clip on the belt

Of a fat man in a yellowed white shirt
who smiled at your dad

Fetched him a couple packs of smokes
before anyone was ashamed of them.
He wouldn’t use it,
no damn use for it at all,
it would just sit in a goddamn drawer until he found it
years later
while cleaning out a file cabinet
or a nightstand
and he’d turn it over for a moment

His hands
remembering the smell of gasoline and aftershave
and wondering why the first time a match touched

His father’s cigarette it

Smelled so sweet
while every other pull on that goddamn cancer stick

Smelled the way grey tastes
and he knew
holding that change counter,
that he should just take the quarters out of the damn thing

throw it away
but he wouldn’t,
wouldn’t really even think too hard about it,
it would go right back in that damn drawer
where it would sit for years

it would move with him from home to house
probably in a box labeled “Junk Drawer”
that his kids would find
maybe thirty or forty or fifty years later
chuckle at how “Dad liked stuff like this”
and they wouldn’t know the smell of

Gasoline and aftershave

The way those cigarettes smelled sweet and grey
and maybe

They would even forget to take out the quarters,


Chucking it into a box.
Part of him knows

all this is true

and wants one anyway.



He hates sand
resents their untold numbers,
exhausted boulders
grinding pornographically
inexorably reduced
passive substrate for seagull shit Pollack reproductions
scoured, unclean.

A walk each morning at dawn,
he loathes the sunrise
presumptuous rays stalk the horizon
obliterate the embrace of night-time anonymities

found a glass ball
green, spectacularly delicate
a fragile maritime impossibility
lying in the sand
It popped when he crushed it under foot.

Tacit Dignity ( a cento, inspired by the work of Matthew S. Barton)

I really want to hear this silence
all I hear is my own echo
another orphan
eavesdropping on unanswered questions
but there are no more nickels
no comfort in the early morning stillness
blurred at the edges
I send them home
my body doubles and stand ins
any excuse to wear a mask
careful not to let anyone look over my shoulder
a hand tailored facsimile of grace
forgiveness seems so unnecessary


He was twelve when he first realized he could remove his face;
set it calmly aside
reattach it at will.
Shocked he hadn’t noticed it earlier,
hadn’t felt the small, sturdy latches just behind his ears
Hands trembled
fumbled the first latch,
pressed it forward,
met its spring-loaded resistance


overcame the tension
released into ecstasy that joy of perfect anonymity.

For years he would only remove his face when he was alone
in the bathroom
holding that limp flesh in his hands
part of him.

Much more malleable off the skull than on,
released from the tension of adhering to phrenological cartography.

He was twenty when he learned he could make more of them
read Elliot in an English class,
fell in love,
began his life’s work.
Prepared faces to meet other faces
sometimes braver
sometimes faces that looked at the sun,
burned out their retinas, saw only fireworks
faces that always wept
that smiled
that listened attentively
that offered sage advice

Warehoused them,
carefully labelled,
each honest if not always true,
they piled like snow drifts.
filled closets.
used them as blankets,
covered his feet in the small hours
began to fear opening the door
they started to spill out,
no room left under the rug,
their weight cumulative, inevitable
the barest whisper
inaudible among the faces
each soundlessly asking the question