A faint candle sitting

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
-Raymond carver

We were in the living room
sitting apart stilted
with the unsaid and now said,
wondering why and if you got what
you wanted,
Your cyanic eyes seeing clearly
in perfect slicing futures.

And did you get what you wanted?

An expedient thunderstorm
exalted the day just moments before
and the ground and driveway and sidewalk–
my hair, your coat, your lips
were still fresh and damp, cleansed–
hands washed of us.
It cast it’s lighting in memory,
reflecting a lambency of August fields.

And did you get what you wanted?

Reverberations echoed in our tears,
my tears, my heart, our hearts,
trembling the faint candle sitting
on the old wooden coffee table,
weak, fading–illuminating, precious.

And did you get what you wanted?

Unnoticed cars flashed in the windows.
Unnoticed rain pressed against the panes.
Unnoticed wine disappeared with collard words.
Unnoticed sun concealed behind clouds.
Unnoticed hunger drowned in saccharine orbits.

And did you get what you wanted?

Wrap your arms around me and embrace
the tattered breath, bring flowers
to the spring. Fracture the unfinished writing
of silver stars and songs of sheltered meadowlarks
hanging deep and high above us.

And did you get what you wanted?

You loved me sometimes,
and did you get what you wanted?


Ghosts, don’t you mind

The ghosts of mountains, rivers
and owls,
the ghosts of soft blankets
and softer skin,
the ghosts of tenderness, illness,
and loss,
the ghosts of pine and peat, passion and earth,
and other fragrances of you,

the ghosts of four hour drives,
the ghosts of afternoon naps,
lazy jazz Sundays,
and whiskey and wine,
the ghosts of lamentation,

the ghosts of flowers eaten by cats,
the ghosts of movement and grace,
the ghosts of surreptitiousness,
the ghosts of waning light and tears
in your eyes grieve my soul.

These phantoms form
clouds in my sundered sky,
pastel and soft,
whispering and uncertain mementos.
They form knifes
poised above knuckles
of hands reaching for you.
They form shadows of broken glass
shining from within my arms.
They form absence.

Don’t you mind
the ghosts haunting me.
My heart was born with the ghosts of love,
and it will haunt.


If your heart remains

If your eyes light to mine,
what is carried in their gaze
aside from the movement
of the heavens
and the dirt beneath my feet?
Why do they linger,
not on my face, but on
the trees behind us,
and in my loneliest moments?

If your hair blows in wind,
hair I have touched and subsumed,
what of the jealousy of flowers?

If your lips sulk towards me
in rosehip moments,
how can the sun still drift
and rivers still cut and breach their banks?
I could drink the salt of these seconds
to sustain the life around and between us.
Why do they tremble?

If your mind wanders from us,
how do I not cling to petrichor
or the pallor of the moon,
grasping them firmly and tenderly
as one holds a sparrow?

If your heart remains.


Magnificence a Meadowlark

Her second moon rises
humble and steadfast, splendid
in morning rapture,
sure of itself as I am of us.

As children possess the sun,
this moon belongs to her waxing beauty,
the luster of her eyes,
to her softness which tenders ablution.
Her magnificence, a meadowlark.


Love does not migrate

A spring wind builds
and snow cedes it’s paltry warmth
from street corners and houses
to those which need it now.

Birds return fitful of song
and green pushes deftly
through thawing dirt
as couples sip coffee from cozy chairs
watching through windows
the slow tide of spring
enter their lives again,
talking of books
and each other.

But love does not migrate;
it only comes, or goes.

It goes.


To know at least

I want you to know
one thing.
-Pablo Neruda

I want you to know at least
seven things

then a million more
until you effervesce with inquiry
and insight
quaking in a peach soft moon,
the chattering of delicate birds
rippling from you through my mind,
small birds calling out, circling each other
through the night.

An aged tree pruned,
ruined or saved,
with each mincing cut,
from thinned branch
seven nascent buds
extend upward from me towards you.

I love you as a river
swells against ephemeral banks
and divides with elevation;
cutting tributes reach 
smaller into the widest part
of my soul, my watershed.

The gnarled roots, airy azure talons, 
gossamer heartstrings embrace my eyes
and show you in my dreams.




I will bend and sway

delicately in the dayspring waves

like the susurration of aspens

until I break

this yoke of grief, myself,

or the soul of the songbird,

ignorant, diaphanous,


Always tomorrow.


An incompetent misunderstanding of time

I’m better off writing this poem tomorrow
during the solstice when days are balanced
like the teenage June I spent driving
through the same swarm of gnats
that congregate over dirt roads to nowhere,
past the same herd of deer,
so tranquil and ever present I assumed they were dead,
stuffed and set out for eternity to frustrate
hunters and lions with no land rights,

but I knew they were alive
because I was.
And what was the harm of wasting time driving?
I had it trapped and sitting in the bed of my truck,
time, waiting to be set free and spill about
the dust covered coulee like cleansing frost
or pungent sagebrush,

like liquor on ice in a humid sunset,
the kind of sunset that people lock in cages
with cameras and paint,
the beautiful kind made from summer death
and asphyxiating heat that was always there, lurking behind
abandoned houses and under old tires, even in the winter
when heat is supposed to be playing cards with
its grandmother in Santa Fe.

I hope that I find it,
the right hour, the right second
to begin, for without it I am

But for now, I will just write a single phrase—
“loneliness without time to understand.”
to leave in a drawer to remind a future self of this
task I’ve promised a now older self to complete,
and I will stay rooted in discerning paralysis.
It is comfortable here—
death or inspiration will come
soon enough.


The road through the mountains

It’s impolite to begin a poem
with an expletive

you lost,” was all he said, at first.

Not that he said much more later,
but it is what he opened with.

The “fuck” was not in anger or distress,
it was maybe a conjunctive adverb,
the Montana “consequently.”

It was spoken as rare punctuation, a verbal quotation mark
indicating “so says I” and seemed as much a part of the man’s speech
as the droop of his left eyebrow or hole in his neck

I tried desperately not stare at.

you lost,”
teemed between question, decorative, and imperative.
I’m in my car doubting.


(me this time)
Let me try this again.

Who wouldn’t stop for a
figure who stood in the middle of the road.

He had been there as I approached,
just an idea at first that grew into a man,
a sentinel, it seemed, to the road through the mountains.

I looked past him towards the road through the mountains.
Fingers drummed the steering wheel,
thought of spitting but thought better of it.
“Does this road go through the mountains,” I asked.

So says I
“Gotta go around.”

I nodded as if I understood the situation,
noticing the stillness of the foothill grass,
the dog unmoving in the bed of the truck,

the rigid back of the head of a woman, with dark
wispy hair in the cab.
Through glass of the back window and rear-view
I could see she had no face, only eyes but her eyes looked
so tired they may not have been eyes at all
but sockets too long filled with tears or darkness,

the strangeness of life.

The dust of my approach reached him,
rural courtesy pulled along my wake.

I thanked him.
I went around.


Last time,
I promise.

The problem with poetry
is that my words set to capture
the innumerable birds of the wilderness
with the tenderness of
an axe slicing orchids,
but cannot explain
the hole
in the neck.


Wind chimes

A wind chime plays for me nightly.
Only for me
and my dog
who rummages about the yard silently,
sniffing and biting at the snow.

It’s my neighbors chime,
but it’s solely mine after dark.
I don’t know them,
inside their house which is close enough
to spit upon, but their chime
hangs above their back porch and
talks mindlessly to me about it’s day as I stand
taking in it’s quiet banter.

It is a dark winter breeze that whisks it to life, softly, tunelessly
like a child discovering keys upon a piano for the first time in the next room.

The motorcycles and adolescent’s whining cars are not mine.
But the chime is,
and the night is.

And my dog, I suppose,
she’s mine too.