― to the Sharp-faced Boy
Ryan’s house, when I was sick
The light from your cigarette
looks good on you,
but I’m not sorry when you put it out.
It is too cold for smoking
and the stench enters my lungs
like a mad dog barking.

You give me blankets and a choice
Soul Caliber or a movie –
which movie? Start ‘er up
and settle down in the cold room.
But your smile and your eyes are friendly
and those are more than enough reasons to stay.
I’m sorry for being somewhat worried
every time you open your mouth,
but your clever head has a habit
of spewing boiling water at me.
How many times have I had to look for aloe
after a conversation with you?

But I have missed this person who
talks and laughs and listens with an
air of interest. We’ll stay away from
God, though. Dangerous ground I wish
I were brave enough to attempt. Wrap
your smarts around something else, please.

Movies and music and books – you
are avid and opinionated (that O’Neal coming through) – spark a
debate littered with swapped insults and mock offense.
I will have to learn better slurs
if I want to keep up with you – your mind
leaps ahead of mine like a loosed kite.


Did you start that fire to show me that
you care? That’s what I’m thinking, but you
never say it, and these little gestures are
almost too sporadic for hope. But you let me borrow
your movies and ask before you smoke in
my car – is this a brother’s way of saying

“I love you”? Well, in any case, come over here
and give me a hug. Smart boy that can’t keep your
brains to yourself and dotes more on a cat than on
any person I know. Don’t look at me like that –
stand up straight, and try to remember,
however sappy it may be, I love you.


This is a poem I wrote a couple years ago for a poetry workshop at USM. Found it tonight going through some old files. This was the first draft, and I’m pretty sure there’s a rewrite floating around somewhere. Didn’t look for it, though.

I should work on this poem again. I mean, I’m one of those horrible (and very occasional) poets that gets stupidly attached to their first drafts, and don’t ever try very hard to edit/rewrite. And changes I do make tend toward the superficial – a word here, a word there. Rarely anything of substance. Bad Charity.

But even I can see that this poem has some problems – awkward lines, jarring sounds, super sappiness. Definitely gotta cut back on the sappy.


The Flaming Rut – “Worst Bad Poem” Sigma Tau Delta National Convention 2010

The Flaming Rut

the road is a winding wheel

rolling, rolling along

carrying me to and fro




until the ruts made

by my dragging feet –

listless, heedless of

rocks and stones –

have become deep enough

to reflect the depth

of my pain

not the pain of




but of the




and the pain it stabs hard

slices me open




until the raw red wound

throbs, radiating pain


like a stubbed toe

my stubbed toes

catching the jagged edges

of exposed granite

– for I am in New Hampshire

where the sea breezes kiss

the granite cliffs, made

love to the old Man in the Mountain

before he


oh his fall was terrible

shaking the verdant hills

and restless pines

until they


salty green tears

like mine, though

my tears are not tinged

with the color of life

instead, they are the color of




and they are filling the ruts

as I think of you

as I




for you!

for you

who burned my heart


singeing my love away




until the last bit of it


into the lighter-fluid

tear filled ruts


engulfing me in an





Stop Signs Are Only Reminders of the Smaller World

they whisper,

“You don’t know where you’re going,

so turn around,

turn around here

at this wooded crossroad

so shady. Leafy dark

glides the road down deep tunnels

of undergrowth –

can’t you hear how startling,

silent it will be without

the sun-beat and the rumble,

the pressing in of bodies?

Go back to your boxes,

your refrigerator boxes

and your toy cars and all those

bright and blaring shiny things –

this blue and green air will be

too soft, too open, too dandelion-wild

for your city-lungs. They can’t handle

the expanse of it tumbling

down the velvet hills, crashing

through the oaks and the pines.

The cows will think you foolish, standing

sky-dazed, stroking old, rotten fences

with your manicured fingertips. Don’t

forget who you are now, where you’ve been

coming from. This is a good spot to just turn,

turn around.”


This is a poem I wrote this past semester in my poetry class. I wrote it for the pastoral assignment. I had a lot of fun writing this one, and got it all pretty much written in one evening at a Hattiesburg coffee shop, listening to a fantastic two-person band, Scott Chism and the Better Half. I was definitely feeling a bit homesick and tired of being in a city, even one as country-ish as Hattiesburg.

Before I Was President

Before I was president
I wore feathers in my hair –
an ostrich feather and a
peacock feather and a
sparrow feather – and
they all meant something
but I’ve forgotten now
they’ve made me president
and I have to wear a hat
with a little bow and frills
that doesn’t mean anything

Before I was president
I lived in a slope-roofed house
made of pine trees and grass
and a carpet of dirt
and my head was filled
with sharp scents and cold air
but now they’ve made me president
I sleep in a white bed on
starched sheets no speck of dirt
has ever stained and now
I have allergies and I
sneeze on the clean linens

Before I was president
I had a dog – as tall
as me with a sloppy tongue
and soft fur I buried my
arms in up to my elbows
and he was a good pillow
but now they’ve made me president
and taken my dog and
replaced him with a wife
and a stuffed poodle
and now I am cold
and I have a headache
from sleeping on the mattress

Before I was president
I rode my bicycle
from place to place and
I went wherever I wanted
spreading lemon seeds
and baseball cards
but now they’ve made me president
a bicycle is not grand enough
so I ride in the side-car
of a motorcycle as they carry
me from place to place
which are not places
that I want to go