The Vivisectionist of Nob Hill

New Orleans broke my heart. So did Utah. I’m the son of both and neither. All these places break boys’ hearts. Send them crying to their rooms on Sutter. When I was young my dad collected frogs. He dissected them. Kept them in glass jars. Pressed quarters in my palm to love me. The frogs stared at the world, unblinking. …

The Last Quarter

            (a Tom Waits kind of drunk poem for             a poet friend who calls himself Moonface)   Sing Motherfucker!  …Sing! Like Moonface in the dark, in the cold, ‘cause that Jack’s off the track he ain’t never coming back   …he had his long-johns on.   Nah, funerals ain’t funny, but ya gotta laugh, ‘cause he ain’t had nothing …

Celestine

Fragile girl; the delicate grass-blade’s dewily soft sheen trances me, sends me into a liquid dream or reverie; Novitius symbolum of I, the belfry, and you- Great bell for the angelus, siphoning to my growerly Every furrow and bone of the sphere’s celestial stars; Belle’s water; “indicator of the reborn sun:” The radiant pavonids of your eyes; you pull my …

Brownie the Puppy

Old M1911, the puppy your father handed you at breakfast on your twelfth birthday, right across your Honey Smacks, before he tramped out the door toward any place but here. You stroke her barrel as she whimpers in your lap, your only puppy ever. In high school, she slept under your pillow. You whispered to her. When you had your …

Forty-Eight Panes

It starts on the front porch with a determined stare, inspecting each of four French doors through each of the twenty-four panes it can reach, then over the fence to the back porch, continuing its ritual before settling for a bedroom windowsill, hunched against another numberless night, nose pressed to window screen as if to sniff the light, perhaps recounting …

Red Cloud Keeps Saying “Hush”

            N 42°25’32.5″ W 103°43’58.5″   “…when they would talk among themselves he (Red Cloud) would call out to them to keep still as he wanted to hear what his wife or father or mother were saying to him.” — Letter from Kate Cook to her sister Clara, 1908   A year before he died, …

Revival of the Opus

The round and flat disc Became a glowing orb again In earnest today.   The static landscape Awoke into a fierce self- Conducting opus.   A hunched man clutching Bamboo unruffled his cloak To show the graceful,   Smiling waterfall Of Loshan his two grandkids Love-leeching frail hips.   A wood-paneled floor Opened its stoic lacquer To permeation   To …

Cast Up into Heights of Liberation

Cast up into heights of liberation By bleeding air from the big blimp balloon That had arisen out of stalwart eruptions of emotion Taking then launching him Happiness surrendering to hard stares and encroaching staggers of justification As if laughter mattered in the face off with destiny newly invented Piling treasure on carpets woven in history Before you woke up …

Roads

Between any here or there is a road or pathway, a line, a distance, a fragment of broken space.   Some surfaces have an existence in themselves and lead out to celestial spheres, the parallels and perpendiculars of time, unknowns.   Is there any center that can hold, a perfect x/y axis, a constant north, a dimension that emanates and …

Pamela Hammond

A Sudden Wind   makes leaves tremble, bends branches, lifts my hair, tangles. Enters my nostrils, steals my breath. I turn against its surge, look down; dust whirls upward,             blinds me, grips my throat. I taste it. I am being whittled away to join its force, relinquish resistance.     Guardian of the Night   An asteroid plowed into …

Lockdown

With only a pursed lip and tone of crazed despair, my body constricts itself, the way a snake takes hold of it’s prey right before the kill.   And you know the way your throat closes and reopens with the tangled sentiment of choked back tears?   No, wait. That’s me, too.   And then the panic sets in- the …

After Loss

The days nest—   precariously—   like empty bowls.   *   A gold cigarette butt, twisted   candy wrapper, discarded plastic spoon, and dark,   flattened disk of gum surround a blade   of grass growing from a broken sidewalk,   the sprig seeming a humble   probe of life after   devastation, kindred spirit to the tender   …