Interviewed by Hunting for the Very Best

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I was recently interviewed by author and food blogger, Dina Di Maio. We talked about my chapbook, Milkshakes & Chilidogs. Check it out at her blog, Hunting for the Very Best.

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Silence: A Halloween Nightmare

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Silence

The silence surprises me—
no more thumping from my chest—
no more swooshing through my ears—
the little gurgles of a living body
are now absent and missed.

The last light to enter these eyes
was from cold clinical fluorescents
as they sewed down my lids—
I felt the puncture of every needle,
including the embalmer’s.

Limbs useless, muscles atrophied,
a mind still spinning,
trapped inside a skull in pain,
feeling every itch of my skin—
nose filled with putrid rot.

The last sound was the dirt
hitting the top of the coffin.
Now— eternal silence
which I am unable to fill
with my screams.

Posted in Poetry, Scotland 2016 | Tagged , | 9 Comments

The Language of Touch

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The Language of Touch

Our fingers whisper—
trace thin skin,
sympathetic nerves,
compassionate nails—
a graceful discussion
of analog thoughts.

We’re watching something
that I’m ignoring.
Sitting by your side,
not gazing into your eyes.
I’d rather eavesdrop
on our hands.

I don’t want to interrupt
their conversation
with this banal language
of sound and sight.
Our fingers,
more articulate,
say it all.

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October Heatwave Haiku

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Rusted leaves recoil
Landing on scorching pavement
October heatwave

(The high temperature today was 98F/36C.)

 

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Peek My Curiosity

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Peek My Curiosity

If her top slips a button
and I glimpse white lace,
I must time my glances
to seem to keep eye contact.

When helped from a car,
if her skirt rides up, revealing
a delicate curve of thigh,
I pretend to avert my eyes.

Those made-up girls on stage
don’t pique my curiosity
because I know for a dollar
they’ll show their breasts.

I’ll stay patient, preferring to peek,
while trying to earn that which I seek.

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Pre-Modern

the-enigma-of-a-dayWe erected statues
to those leaders
who inspired
or enslaved,

back when things got done.
There was a kind of progress—
armies marched to kill,
factories produced and polluted.

It was a simpler time,
when a nation’s wealth
was calculated in tons
instead of bytes

and the elected were meant to lead
instead of distract.

 

(An ekphrastic poem written to “The Enigma of a Day” by Giorgio de Chirico, the Living Poetry September Visual Poetry Prompt.)

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Duty

girl-3395298_1280Yesterday I hosted a germination workshop for Living Poetry. We had six poets working with eight prompts over two hours. One of the prompts was to write about duty.

Duty

Even when the words won’t run
some days they barely crawl
the poet’s duty is to write

Drunk or sober
amused or apathetic
it’s our obligation
to drag a metaphor
out of the ordinary
to reveal meaning
found hidden under
the tiniest pebble
of inspiration

 

(I also used this for today’s Monday Poetry Prompt.)

 

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Chana Saag, Hot

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Chana Saag, Hot

I set fire to my mouth
with self delusion,
misbelieving I could handle
the spice.

Water doesn’t put it out
it spreads it around
like flames and gasoline.

Nose running,
scalp sweating,
lips smouldering.

My stomach — a furnace
whose walls are buckling,
belching like a dragon

until a lovely lhassie
in a mango dress
extinguishes the fire
with her kiss.

 

(From this morning’s Living Poetry Prompt and tonight’s dinner.)

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Asthma

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Asthma

More wheezing than breathing,
like a blood pressure cuff
tightening around my chest.
Shoulders clenched to the neck,
eyes glassy, diaphragm sore,
exhausted from lack of air.

More panic than pain,
being wrung like a rag.
You try relaxing
when your heart drums
too little oxygen
from flaccid lungs.

Pray for that first deep open breath,
that gulp of cool water on a stifling day.

 

(Yesterday’s Living Poetry Prompt was “Inhale“.)

 

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Gerald Ford’s Grave

20190718_150655.jpgMy summer road trip has been disappointing in the lack of any new ancestral graves and I’ve barely made any progress on my genealogy so I thought I’d go for an easy win.

20190718_152510I’ve been collecting Dead Presidents since my youth and Gerald Ford is my 35th of the 39. He’s also my 31st Dead Vice President of the 42. (There are 14 men who have been both President, Vice President and Dead.)

His presidential museum is located in beautiful downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, on the banks of the Grand River. They wanted $10 to tour the museum itself but the grave was just north of the building and free so I thought I’d pay my respects then get back on the road. But it was such a relaxing space, the modern architecture was appealing and while sitting on a park bench in the shade posting to Instagram, I changed my mind and walked inside.

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The museum is nicely done with lots of artifacts from his and his wife Betty’s life, including a full scale replica of the Oval Office which was interesting if only to provide context to all the photos I’ve seen over the years. It’s big but not that big for an office.

I fully expected the local hero worship and rose-colored glasses of hindsight but since I can remember the Ford administration, it was easy, and occasionally amusing, to detect the overly generous interpretations of events and actions during his presidency.

20190718_152454I wonder how differently history would have unfolded if he hadn’t pardoned Nixon just a month into his term. At the time, as a preteen Quaker boy just learning about national politics, I thought it a reasonable decision. I was willing to forgive since no future president would risk similar ignominy by committing crimes while in office, right?

If President Ford and our “Government of Laws and not of Men” had held former President Nixon responsible for his crimes, would we have sold arms to Iran to fund the Contras in Nicaragua? Would we have gotten lied into a war in Iraq?

Would Donald Trump be just another reality TV star today?

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