My father’s body has become a crippled shrine,
a complex-compound formula misfiring.
Three times daily he takes up our offerings
of L-dopa laced through with regret―
not for falling ill but for all our missteps
and shuffling when in his prime.
For years, we spun in silence and insomnia.
Moon blind, my mother holds a gavel poised
above her bird-shaped prayers. One more
visit to his doctor and she’ll loose her swing,
bringing a judgment down on all our heads,
a flutter of bruised wings. Now, there’s no god
left in this universe to hear my confession.
-originally published at Linebreak
The Interior Weather of Tree-Clinging Birds
My oracles of icicles and snow,
a future told in cast-off hulls
and feathers tipped with pitch,
what prophecy resides in those
low whistled notes? The key
is lost on me, my brain & heart
both winter-spoiled. Yet, these
fingers are such soft supplicants,
they peel the bark in search of seeds
the nuthatch stored in memory.
I come away bloodied by a need
to see the pattern in the portent;
alas, the shadow of the hawk
dispersed the humble seers.
I fear, if I deciphered anything,
I’d still fall down the well of disbelief.
-originally published at Copper Nickel
What the hawk witnesses remains airborne,
secrets kept from the earth-shackled.
Having picked the sacrificial body clean
and taken flight there’s a certain drag
on the tail ― the bones dismissed
amid the dust the way all heroes are born.
The dead go on past all forgetting
in down drafts and the flutter of feathers, the hawk
the last connection to the living.
Only the dead and the birds of prey
know this: To be still in the force of wind
is to contain the energy of stars―
to be human is to accept a cruel anatomy
of bones dragged down by lethargy and gravity.
-originally published at Free Verse
Of Mortal Men and Women
Doesn’t everyone misspell death?
Handwriting thick, black, and in all capital letters.
Palms blistered from burying the dead
on the horizon and deep.
Arm’s length is our battle cry.
The devil in the silences and the jagged gaps
between the floorboards, covered
with coughs and cheap cloth.
Who walks more backward into speech?
Not the calf bleating as it’s weaned from the cow.
Not the red-winged blackbird’s territory
cry of okalee, okalee.
Look at me, look at me, is what we mean to say.
-originally published in Quarterly West 65