― 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.


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

It’s a Dream Poem!

This is not a dream.

I am not at LifeWay
hanging blue and silver tinsel,
rearranging the wedding dresses;
or making decorations in the stock room
wary of the new management
with David sitting on a crate
in front of the large print Bibles
while I float behind the registers.
I am not at school and the Commons
has not turned into a field of grass
that we park our bikes next to
and my best friend and least favorite guy
lay down in it and stand back up with a baby.
There is no lion, no race up waterfalls,
no making of forts with lights in bushes.

This is not a nightmare.

I am not standing on a rise
watching a tornado sweep towards me;
I have not forgotten my best friend’s
or my mother’s birthday or
severed ties with anyone I really like.
I have not failed to write Dr. Hillard’s paper
and she is demanding to know where it is
while I say I thought it wasn’t due until Friday
but she says, No.
I am not falling off a ship and sinking
and drowning and not fighting but
giving up and closing my eyes
and breathing out.
There are no heights, no spiders,
no books with nothing written in them.

This is a soothing black disconnect
and I cannot feel my toes.

Memory Poem – The Blue Box

The Blue Box

The blue box is on the ground.

The grass is green and
the shrubs are green and
the light is green.

The blue box gleams
metallic from the ground.
I will not look at the blue box.

The church is red bricks
and brown tiles.
The spire stabs white
into the sky.

The blue box, tall as my knee –
the edges are sharp and bright.
I will not touch the blue box.

The ladder leans against
the brown tiles – steps to the roof.
A boy sits and draws and dreams.
A girl tries to follow but stops –
ladders are frightening.

The blue box is cold
and heavy. There is some
thing inside the blue box.

The horse is brown among
wild flowers. Yellow flowers
in long grass. He moves slow,
chomps slow under the noon
sky. Cautious in the green light.

The blue box has a
lid. A lid to open –
I will not open the blue box.

Black clouds behind the
horse. They roil, they boil,
they spoil for sport. Rain
shines weird in the brackish light.

The blue box is empty
on the ground. A turtle,
green turtle, is in my hands.

Rain in the trees – they
bend under it – flail
and swing in it. The
rain won’t come this way.

Turtle, green turtle –
sea-glass green turtle
in my hands.

The blue box remains –
empty, on the ground.