The Hired Hand of Justice

And I know what you know, kid:
three-fifty a week ain’t worth dying over,
and if Justice needs a helping hand, hell,
she should put in a worthy bid
like everyone else.

So let’s you and me just ease down the pistols, kid,
we can talk numbers just fine,
three-fifty-seven, magnum, faster ‘an a whip, hell,
I’ll buy yer’ dinner, and a lil’ something
extra for your time.

And I know, I know, I’m a bad man, kid,
for shooting the man who shot my brother,
now, granted,
my brother shot his wife, hell,
and plenty of other folks, but listen, kid,
if I shoot you dead, or –
Hell, if I shoot you in the leg and the sawbones
saws through the scraps of remnant –
Is it gonna be worth that three-fifty a week?

So let’s just slide these pistols down, kid,
real slow-like, and don’t make any fast mov-

The Discovery of an Edible Berry

Some were bitter and some were bold,
some red and luscious as
dangerous lips;
some blue as bruises;
others, battered by
careless claws,
warned you away with
wicked thorns.

Some brought blood foaming through your teeth;
some wrenched and stabbed in your stomach
and some, still, would swell your flesh and
leave you crying out in the night.

But, still, there are some out there
that pop and flood over your tongue,
with juice as sweet as drunkenness;
some that linger in your mind,
some that stay at your fingertips,
your lips, forever,
and reward a long,
long search.


the stars eclipsed by the
flutter of paper wings, the
smell of burning ichor.

they come out at night,
at night, every night,
spreading dust and dread and
dying, dying,
a brigade charging at the light,
for some sick and sour craving.

heaps and heaps of them,
littering the streets and
choking the city, possessed
of unresisted urges,
the thirst for light, their desire
to shortcut this night
no matter the path

small destinies

there are children that must be born and
children born to bear them;
There are harvests that must be brought in and
seeds destined for shallow graves.
There are berries in deep forests, red and
bright, berries that will
never be eaten and never
go to seed;
there is destiny in all of it,
every puddle and every pine cone,
suffused and suffering
by destiny.

care in excise

there’s nothing so dangerous as deletion,
removal, excise, nothing so
so irreversible,
“always take care with the saw,”
they’d say,
“measure twice, cut once”,
they’d say,
but still, how thrilling to
cut, cut, cut away,
how delightful to
dig all the roses up with the weeds and
hurtle, half-dreamed and half-formed,
down long, lone highways.


What be you – lizard, bird,
living angel of the Word?
or demon dwelling in dark night?

Are you predator, are you prey,
the words you snarl – what do they say?
demons dwelling in dark night,
they, too, were born in light.

Snallygaster, in the skies,
with serpent neck and purpled eyes,
just a beast, neither great nor least,
and dwelling only in the mind.

Wandering Worlds

Where have they gone – those drifting worlds
with flora, fauna, gods, monsters,
carefully scripted and dutifully run,
where have they gone, now?
Where have they gone,
them who peopled
those worlds,
the warriors, warlocks, wizards,
what has become of their woes,
their weal?
what becomes of these worlds,
when the universes that house them –
(the burning page, the
flooded sever-room in Texas)
are no more –
do those worlds wander, yet?
in my mind? in yours?
do they sheen like bubbles in deep water,
a thin membrane and hollow heart,
rushing upwards to become no more?
What becomes of these wandering worlds?
and what will become of us?

Hole in Ohio

someone has gone and poked a hole through Ohio,
and all the rivers are circling, circling and
burning and rushing, down through some bottomless
insubstantial place;
and they’re washing us all away, all of us,
bitten through by fleas and asbestos,
we who sipped on sweet waters from ancient pipes,
washed away like particulate, like sediment,
settling down in some hole, somewhere,
where we can get by just fine,
i guess, just fine,
somewhere foggy and freezing where
someone important won’t have to see us, somewhere
dark and dreadful, dark and dreary, a real
place called “home” by the starving,
somewhere in Ohio,
and – who knows? –
everywhere else, too.

Is this?

Is this another winter day in Cleveland,
gray slush on gray street and
gray skies above?
Is this another sunrise, rosy and watercolored,
beaming down across the gray lake?
Is this your face, your smile, your
eyes when mine are closed
(and mine closed, when yours aren’t)?
Is this another wintry, gray day,
or is this a day finally worth remembering?