Practice Fire in the Gyroscope Review


I’m proud to announce that my poem Practice Fire has been included in the Winter 2020 edition of the Gyroscope Review. You can download a free PDF but you’ll want to buy a paper or electronic copy because poetry.


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Online Dating Haiku


Mining for true gold
in online personal ads
all I find — pyrite

(from the Monday Living Poetry Prompt)

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Seven Steps to Writing a Poem


Seven Steps to Writing a Poem

Wait one hour after the sun sets.

Light two candles, left and right.

If your three muses are hanging around
send them home. They’ve done their job,
now they’re just a distraction.

Four mood, put on some music—
instrumental, no lyrics,
at least not in any tongue
you recognize.

Pour yourself a nice glass
of five wine, preferably red.
Contemplate each flame
reflected and refracted.

Think about six,
pour another glass.

Seven— Get to work.


(Inspired by / stolen from Dorianne Laux‘s Ten Tips for Poets: A Prose Poem from The Practicing Poet— Writing Beyond the Basics edited by Diane Lockward.)

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The Optimist’s Sonnet


The Optimist’s Sonnet

I’m thankful for this flat tire
making me late for work.
At least I have a car and two jobs
so I can keep up my payments.

I’m thankful for this headache
reminding me I’m alive and for Advil
since I can’t take time off to see a doctor
even if I could afford the co-pay.

I’m trying to stay positive
since my girlfriend’s pregnant
but I’m afraid to ask for a raise
since they busted the union.

I’m thankful that this year was so damn bad,
there’s no way next year could get any worse.


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Sixth Grade


for Raymond Keltner, 1936-1979


In the Thunderdome of twelve-year-old boys,
learning the Code of the Playground,
No Tattling, Two for Flinching,
I had my first male teacher.

He was a big guy and played the curmudgeon.
When he took attendance that first day,
butterflies turned to hurricanes in my stomach
as he mispronounced my name.

He didn’t mock my vocabulary like the bullies.
He welcomed my scale model of the solar system
with blunt praise so I didn’t get beaten up
during recess or on the long walk home.

One sunny late winter, he borrowed a cornet
from one of the band kids and serenaded
his students for the last half hour of school
his love of music vibrating in every note.

Three years later, during freshman algebra,
they announced that he’d died of a heart attack.
I remember girls from my class crying.
I wanted to but did not— having failed
his most important lesson.

(The two men in the top row of my class picture are the school principal on the left and Mr. Keltner on the right. Any guesses which kid I was?)

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Leg Man


Leg Man

Watching the subtle streaks
on the inner glass, only visible
under precise light and vintage,
I wonder who’ll appear on this blind date?

The wine is the skirt, the source
of those shapely apparitions.
Will her legs be as nice?
Her dress as purple?
Her song as delicate
as the crystal aria?

This isn’t the first glass
that’s sat beside me tonight
and I fear I’ll be too drunk
by the time she arrives.

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Shameless Self-Promotion

Basic RGBNeed a last minute gift this holiday season? My chapbook Milkshakes & Chilidogs and other food poems is available. You’ll get 24 tasty poems for $4.95 paperback or $1.99 digital with zero calories!

Here’s a sample from the dessert section, one of my holiday chocolate poems.


Small bag
of silent coins
gold and silver

They do not jingle
jingle all the way
beautiful as winter
sparking stars
held in the hands
of a greedy boy

More valuable
than precious metals
more fleeting
lost on a spin of shin
more delicate
melting on fingers
and lips

Give me no objects
wrapped in pretty paper
treasure to bury
or clutter shelves
collect dust

Give me events
a smile a wink a glance
moments lost forever
a small plate with two forks
volatile unreliable
sweet memories
to treasure

Give me art
to consume
with you
for a taste
of eternity

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I’m grateful for the spring
and Robert Frost seeing
the gold within the green.

I’m grateful for summer
and William Carlos Williams’
dependable wheelbarrow.

I’m grateful for autumn
and James Wright
along the Ohio River.

And I’m grateful for winter
and Robert Hayden’s father
on Sunday mornings.


(For Living Poetry’s Monday Poetry Prompt. Which poems am I alluding to?)

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Waiting at the Bar


Waiting at the Bar

Don’t talk to me,
I’m quite content
watching you pour and mix
while I sip and twirl,
awash in the hum
of other conversations
and the ting of silverware.
Let me savor these moments,
anticipating her arrival.
Don’t distract me
with sports talk
or weathered cliches.
The wine you poured
and the woman not yet here
are inspiration enough.


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Drawing A Circle


Drawing A Circle

My enemy drew a line
in the overheated sand—
daring me to cross.

With my pen I turned
his line into a circle,
big enough for us both.

Nothing standing in between—
no pundits, no internet,
no ads, just our words

and we soon discovered—
we have more in common
than either of us dare admit.


after Edwin Markham‘s Outwitted


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