I Want One!

is the language of children
seeing a saw-whet owl for the first time and
coveting, knowing only how to appreciate through
ownership, through
subjugation, through
the keeping of a wild thing
in a small silver cage

The Discovery of a Mosaic Floor

dust and dirt, five hands high
forms the earth: above, only sky;
below, a delicate lattice laid –
the floor of a villa burnt in raid
in Italy, now, though called else when
the mosaic was fitted in blocks of ten
by twenty, repeating in rows
of colors some ancient heart had chose
and long-gone hands had (trembling) placed
for then as now – mistakes make waste
and though we’ve found such common things,
a place for feet, and not for kings
it stands and says “here was a home”
and so survives where burnt a throne.

Some Days A Miracle

Some days a miracle
is left standing by the door, some days
a miracle is an unseasonal warmth
the day after a blizzard, some days
a miracle is a moment of reflection in a crowded
some days a miracle is not a cure nor a savior,
some days a miracle is a lesser thing that
saves but one life,
some days a miracle
enters, unannounced, after patience runs out

Night of Demons In Miniature

So small, so small, so
scurrisome and squealing,
so slight to slip through baseboard and
screech their small and simpering sounds, so
it goes, them here and
sleep absent, them here and
peace stolen,
and they march and fly and squirm and
play their sleight-of-hand, flaunt their carnival tricks and
find the cracks in flesh, in bone,
dip their hands in veins
track them to the source,
and whisper their names and pound their chisels
mad and careless sculptors, equally scornful
of the material and the product,
and so it goes until
all dissolves to dream

Inexpensive Sins

we’ll buy a rack of Milwaukee’s and
a can of Easy-Cheese, the type with the orange cap that
is, legally speaking, still cheese,
and some pretzels. No, not that bag, put it back,
get the Utz and save some pennies,
and that’s ten dollars down the drain but
we’re drinking hard and scarfing
the finest death a science can make and
here and now, shit, this might be heaven
and this might be all we can afford but
it’s not all we’ve got.

In Defense of Poor Photography

see the smear of a smile smorn and
you will remember the evening lost,
look past the murk and past the grit and
the party springs back, so close, the drinks
at your fingertips and the old snap-click camera
at a friend’s eye, the smile they are committing to forever
is on your face, and also on his face, and her face,
and it’s all there! the whole night is right there,
the friend arriving early with a six-pack of Busch and
the friend with snow on her coat, twenty minutes late
(as usual),
and you were laughing at a joke that is gone, gone forever,
but the photo, all blurred, too dark, unsteady,
the photo is there to remind us

Bedside Manner

I never sat so alone with someone,
nor saw a human become a body, never
wanted so badly to find answers in, in –
the brickwork of the wall? in the blips of a machine?
Give me signs and give me wonders,
give me thrown chicken-bones or the
soot from thrushfire, I will believe any omen,
anyone, please, someone, let me
trace the failing of a heart to one vapor of yesterday,
tell me the movement of a planet caused this or
the Will Of God, anything but the cold chaos of a clot,
anything but the real.

Boil Advisory

and even this has turned to poison,
while we hauled it from the well,
our limbs sweating with the motion
like sinners racing towards hell
and even this was worthless toiling
(the profit deadly as the pact)
and even now we still are boiling
and hope to purify the act.


try to see the moment when the
rain ceases and the snow begins,
try to divide it evenly, and
hold it in your heart,
try to convince them all there is a difference
when the wheels skid, spin, slip, flip,
try to see the moment when
traversal turns to terror when
a day becomes The Day
and you’ll find,
with all sudden and terrible changes,
there is never truly just one moment
where everything went wrong

A Wizard In Memphis

A Wizard in Memphis works nine to five
but really, honestly, more like eight to six
(he doesn’t get paid for the lunch hour)
on the seventh floor in a tower full of ties and bluster
where they give him tin, he gives it luster
and glister and a douse of the Art
and turns it to gold, and throws it in a cart
and it gets shipped off to China or England or Somewhere
and the boss pays him in pennies and doesn’t get up from his chair
while he scolds his poor Wizard,
no work ethic! no talent!
And the Wizard just waits and spindles his beard
until the boss barks himself tired and takes a call
and the Wizard leaves, and walks, or takes the bus home
and he sits on a couch and he plays on his phone
and his thoughts are light wishes, just wishes are all,
that he had a skill to get him out of this life but
he snaps his fingers and up-lights his pipe
and he takes a few tokes,
and turns in for the night.