First Indications (of Trouble at the Ranch)
The tree we planted
tore itself to pieces last night.
The tips of branches,
bunched like hands, reached
and tore off all its leaves.
They piled in a yellow ring.
Thicker branches collided
snapping off the green tips.
Elastic, they flew far.
The main limbs strained,
split and fell straight down,
tired as they must have been.
The trunk barber poled.
Bark sloughed away revealing
woodgrain like strained muscles.
Falling forward, then
back, it finally
snapped at the base.
It fell flat on its face.
With no arms to break its fall,
it looked like a cowboy at high noon.
Dead before he hit’s the ground.
-previously published in NOO Journal
I Can't Thank Her Enough
When I think about man’s inhumanity to man,
I'm back in fourth grade on my knees.
A girl I had a crush on
kicked me in the face
because I wouldn't give her my seat on the swing.
Just like in a movie, when I touched my lips
and my fingers were bloody,
I actually saw red.
As if some beating heart, startled from a rock cleft,
shot away leaving a cloud.
I remember lunging, running for her.
A circle of adults catching, holding me back.
Just like in a movie, they said, "Are you calm now?"
I said, "Yes, I'm calm now."
Their grips relaxed. I took off after her again.
She escaped into school.
I ended up in the nurse's office,
a fat lip and a headache from rage leaving me limp.
Later, I shook her hand. A teacher between us
saying, "She's sorry and she wants to know you forgive
Which I did. Why not?
She'd given me a view of myself as an animal.
For that I could never really get her back.
I have begun to fear
possibly our boy would be
a giant possibly
our girl would have no lower lip
it could also be the case that
our boy would have no hands
I wonder where we would eat
dinner the day after the birth
or the day after we shook
our heads at each other in
the mirror with our child between us
would you drive our automobile or would I
would we begin to drink
out of separate glasses
could I ask you to open
your legs to me the night after
some random wet christmas
-previously published at My Favorite Bullet
Pride Of Ownership Evaporating Like Sea Foam
There's a second hand shop just off the square
in the old southern part of town. It's only
open a couple hours a day and even then
there aren't too many customers. The store
specializes in antique babies. They have quite
a selection from the late nineteenth century up to
about the nineteen fifties. I once saw
a baby girl from New Bedford circa 1821.
She was radiant. Eyes like the light that breaks
through storm clouds at sea. Her little hands wove
through the air as if tracing filigree. She was
gorgeous, but I didn't bother buying her.
There's something about that store. Inside
the babies are little peaches. If you take one
home, though, they end up shriveled, wrinkled
little hags and wizened old men by next morning.
Leapt Upon From a Great Height
Thomas decided to kill the painter
who set up each morning below his window.
The little man with a big mustache
arrived each day just after sunrise,
propped a few canvases alongside the building,
opened an umbrella and a red and white chair.
As café visitors strolled by, the little man
watched them look at his paintings. Throughout the day
he smoked four cigars, occasionally sipped
from a flask. Thomas hadn't seen the man
sell a single painting in the four weeks he'd been
watching. Thomas was about to run
out of money, he'd have to leave the hotel,
find somewhere else to go. He knew
he couldn't go home, back to the states,
back to Idaho. Not after he'd killed a man.
He'd have all those paintings to care for,
for one thing. Plus the umbrella, plus
the red and white chair, the few square feet
of sidewalk below a window's billowing curtains.
-previously published at Ghoti Magazine