Saliva still with the sting
of that house raw gin,
hearing cracked
and callused chords
filling up with
bullfrog bass.

Mississippi dreaming
on this Memphis morning:
Chicken fried steak;
sunny side and grits;
blackberry lemonade.

The main route into Clarksdale;
to Greenville along the One;
120 miles down where
God wants his killing done.

Beer and duck in Vicksburg.
Holding 55 on the 55
to the Big Easy
and home.

[Mississippi, April 24, 2016]

Lost & Found


             “Pensar que no la tengo. Sentir que la he perdito.”

Tonight is the saddest line:
it is, for example, a whisper torn against
a yearning sky; a premature hush across
an expanse of expectation,
shattered in the distance with
not even a glimpse of her infinite eyes.

Do you think that you did not have her?
Do you worry that you have lost her?

A tombstone night stippled with shards.
An open, stifling yawn of want and wondering,
forsaken but not alone.

He is an unbitten apple,
a blind, unseparated blend of red and
green, grinning
and stutter-stepping

like a started symphony
found while waiting.

[for Kristen, Tim, and Aidan Pearce]

Montreal to Ithaca

And, from far and close,
there are brothers, blood
and borrowed, before
a half-century of beginning.

There is sharing,
beginning with a Montreal car.

There are eye-opening Moscow
mules and questions at random,
friends and lovers, and
Sadie and Ajax.

And there is Ithaca, like
sought-after music found;
siblings joined;

a crisped night in
country darkness,
and still a winding road
to follow.

[for Paul and Robin Tuttle]

April 19, 2016


Hors de langage


You tell me poetry
written in English
holds no power
over you.

Comparé avec la poésie
écrite en français,
il n’ya pas assez
de rêve,
      de passion.

The language slithers
and twists as
you read,
comme un serpent:
                séduisant mais
                difficile à tenir.

Prend patience, Nathalie:
the best poets are dreamers.

Their blackened pages hold
visions meant only for you,
et les rêves
               sont toujours
               hors de langage.

[for Nathalie Schwartz]


The Feet of Another


Slide your feet
into the sand
and feel the
perfect fit of

It forgives:

it won’t remember
if you move above it,
but holds you, moist
and solid, connected
with beginnings.

The sun looks to you,
burning and curling
your skin
with its thinking —

the water tries,
effort upon effort,
to wash the
peelings away.

Your hair changes colour,
follows the water
in anticipation.

Your eyes and ears
fill prematurely, but
it doesn’t matter —
even if you could hear

hear the steady sand,
see the scent of
killing water,
it is all too pleasing
to stop.

Smiling now, your
teeth coat and blend
with the dust.

Your tongue dries
to blow across the
feet of another.

[for Dr. William E. Taylor, 1927-1994]

Daphne, 1929-2015


Do not look for me in the curve
or colour of the rainbow,
or in the pleasing shape
of a passing cloud.

Though I loved them,
I am still not in the small
petal of the lilac, or
the sweet spring scent of
the lily of the valley.

And you will not
find me anywhere
near the chiseled dates
and letters on those
gleaming plaques.

Do not worry.
When you need me,
you will find no search
is necessary.

I am already behind your eyes
and closer than your own skin.

Cry for us both now,
if you need to,
but know that,
still and always,

I will find you when
you’ve fallen
and help you again to stand.

Split Chin


“I’ve been where you’re hanging / I think I can see where you’re pinned.” –Leonard Cohen

Amidst all the talk
of blood and damage,

of resolutions and higher powers
as we understand them:

There is what has happened
and what is happening.

What happened is
that you did right and wrong,

got and gave
and lost and saved,

responded, usually, with generosity
and laughter,
and, sometimes, with a fully earned,
yet suppurating pride.

And then you got drunk
and fell down.

What is happening is something else.
What will happen is anybody’s guess.

Only know that I am with you through it all.

[for Mike Doke]

November 9, 2015