Since Cincinnati

Since Cincinnati,
like an old-school promise
to love me forever,
packing up our new
old typewriters and
looking for a straighter
answer to the perplexities
of evolution.

Friendly dinosaurs and
dragon myths;
Adam, the first love,
and the advent of
burdensome toil;
the bloody clods of
sibling rivalry and keeping
brothers; the measurement of
salvation gauged in gopher wood cubits,
molded with animatronics,
desperate belief and, of course,
that passionate intensity.

Breaking for cigarettes
on a clotted highway,
and gaining on Nashville
by moon.

[For Paul and Libby, April 20, 2016]


Indian Summer, bathing

“You do it to me.” –Proverbs

Indian Summer, bathing
this lower canine smile and
stubble-studded skin
holding a voyage of rain.

There is a proferred cigarette
and plastic teacup filled with beer,

stories of past penthouses,
burnt dollars,
and the forged signature
of a 91-year-old Hell’s Angel
for his store of assistance cheques.

There were three wives:
the first a hellcat
flagrantly cheating
with her purveyor of coke,

the second a Czech beauty
forever undone by loss:
too-distant parents,
too-suddenly turned
to memory.

No mention of the third.

If it could happen to Dave…

Small, so


“Flowers resembles beauty / less than our breathing.” –e.e. cummings.

Small, so
small. As a billowed breeze
against this morning
face, you are the missing,

And, so soon,
you are ready.
Red fists from the placenta now
beat at the made-warm air:
It is only life when you
take it under your ribs;
only genuine now that you
discover it.

Your eyes precisely
unfold the new light.
I spread myself against it and
wait to be found.
The line sweeping my palm
accepts your
five-fingered blessing:

There will never be nothing again.

[for Zachary Aimé Griffin Abraham, January 8, 1997]

Only Words

“For the ancient Hebrew, the way out of the Second Commandment was — to make images in words.”  –A.M. Klein

always rules.

A transcendent idea
inevitably followed by
a “Thou shalt not…”

No building, no matter
what your true intentions.

No speaking of any consequence;
all voices stilled by the ineffable.

Above all, no images;
inner eyes blinded by ever-shall-be’s.

Strength atrophied within the enforced humility.
Somehow, the mystery all around us
was meant to be ignored, not glorified.

The walls had reasons, of course —
community, structure, protection —
but always there was the feeling of
a portal we were meant to discover.

And we found it —
groping in the darkness
we found it
in a whisper borrowed from the rain;
in the near-silence of pen on paper;
in the etching of quiet words
that few, if any would read.

As it was in the beginning,
there remain the cynical choruses
of only words,
but we share the secret celebration.

That only when
thoughts use lips
to leave us lonely,
only then —
unexamined, unrepaired —
are thoughts made only.

[for Frank Manley]

Keep Listening

“Whomsoever shall I kiss, that same is he; hold him fast.” –Matthew 26:48

It wasn’t
the challenge,
the money,
the kiss
that brought it all down.

I was no rebel,
but the best of disciples.

So why does he hang there,
touching the world
with his wounds?

quick and dead,
          body and blood

while I hang
out forever in the garden.

without action,
               without rest?

Disciple, right?
Discipline, no?
— doing exactly as you’re told.

He told me what to do,
and yes,
He told me also.

But there were decisions
I couldn’t make,
All manner of promises
I simply couldn’t keep.

And, in the end,
people decide who they are.

The Almighty waves lightly
and reasons:

All right…
      Whatever you want…
so long as
       you keep listening.

[for Matt Bergbusch]

Hunting and Fishing



“il faut enivrer sans trêve”


Not far from the derelict

    elevators of bread, still rising

    blind and Babylonian, closer

still to our Lady of Safe Harbours so often

bathed in honey, braving the wet

resin of coming winter war, my friend,

    an impending pappoú, has friends

with greeting hands into which we disappear

for a time.

Helen is the fire of Crete, ensuring our mindful

use of public transport before

    the bubbly, the orange of Campania,

La Vielle Prune warming the beginnings

of imaginative huitres, home-smoked belly

of boar, and pockets of lobster.

The tip-tongue tripping of pappardelle

    and truffle slivers, l’air doux de

thon,de morue glacée, the solid verities of

venison, all now under the domain of Bizot,

    and a moist November evening evolving

into a Night of Saint-Georges.

And amidst the peaty pleasures…

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