Poetry: Four New Sequences

So I’m not writing books, but I am writing long and girthy bodies of short poems.

I have much to thank Deborah Woodard for, but most recently it’s that she carried my poetry through her class, and had me stop by to discuss it with her students. They had written new works, new poems, short bits of text barrage in the spirit of my own, and I had the chance to hear them read. Gloriously I responded in my own way, to each of their works. The results are below.


After Sudha Nandagopal


Devotional #1

Depth charge the jasmine.

Exposed wreaths

or garlands.

She plus he

as arrangement.

Garlands sway.

Wreaths knock.

Krishna enraged.

Or just a sigh.

To what do we owe this

projected opine?

To what do we owe

this speck of peace?


Devotional #2

The spiral needle

navigates the sun

and presses a palm

and draws blood.

So this navigation

is as dark as musk.

The muse sits

masculine eyes closing.


Devotional #3

The number five

was once before a key.

And pressing in

a Heimlich maneuver

the keyboard

collapsed in doubt.

Sag of weight

an energy.

Graffiti of spittle



Devotional #4

His hands get lost

in the damp piles

of dirt and leaves and

a nail bomb of needles.

Later he dreams of nettles

and rests his head

the rash a balloon

and the light fading

like an orgasm.

Stone pillow gapes.


Devotional #5

I don’t doubt

these lungs of mine

will match yours.

The gray end a result.

The matter is not what

but when.

At least we are granted

a killing blow.

At least we have

the death dance.


Devotional #6

When sobriety returned

the sky grew dim

and we heard voices

upon the wind.

Our own. Frozen

from a high desert

covered in snow

and cold air

some sick fantasy

ending never gentle.

The house empty

meth heads gone.



Mild Lives

After Eva Maria Sher


Mild Life #1

Spiders arriving to claim their due;

be awake and stare them in the eyes.


Mild Life #2

The light is pale before the awakening Queen

and the flowers wake too, before they die.


Mild Life #3

A lakeside eruption described is as invasion.

Its coat of darkness sparkling like one hundred suns.


Mild Life #4

We sit and guffaw but do so honestly.

Lick lips. Scrape clean the plates. Chew. Ache.


Mild Life #5

When we incinerate, it is together.

Smoldering limbs entwined, burning wings layered powders.


Mild Life #6

In a dream her face is licked clean of its chocolate.

Savored smiles mark the saviors of smiles.


Mild Life #7

Through churned brain I think of some statue-filled sea.

Lunar magic drags the stoned carcasses to shore.


Mild Life #8

Through the breadth of love a consistency Kevlar-like,

tough for an incoming, penetrating imperative.


Objects Question Objects

After Darby Ringer



What to do with the leash

and its remarks of lashing.

Chokeholds leave rose knuckles.

A ghost barking multidirectional.



Inside the dilution of pipeline

two boys live bearing trinkets.

Strange smells hang

through this bondage of love.



We ease ourselves into disease.

We still ourselves into frenzy.

Frenetic 1980s bath of synth.

My dog? My shadowed history.



Tough toes in my head.

The last time I touched anything

I could only think of deep paralysis.

100% in and on the bloodied verge.


The Exquisite Router

After John W. Gorski’s “Off Route”



What do we call time?

We call time youth

and we refer to our future

using “blossoming” backwards.

It is chalkiness under tongue.

It is a rhythmic and occasional screaming.

Ambiguity before and after and intention.



Let’s make it personal.

The color of the pen soaked in matcha.

There is matter and there is fact.

There is the tangible storytelling.

Characters who breathe

beautiful lungs allowing more lines.

Stains like secrets within objects.



I dream of the coulee.

Extermination of the high rise.

Pockmarked landscapes.

Central and Eastern Washington.

A love for the night sky.

I dream of the pressure.

Brave new neon and fluorescent.

This urbanism is criminal.

Never misshape dichotomies.

Words are hounds

this time up out of a free fear.



Getting out of the way.

Pouring out of the shirt.

Pressing palm to chest.

Coughing into the air.

It is the germination

of the atmosphere

system of systemic warfare.

Biological. Brave.



When we pull ourselves out

the cocoons will be hot blood

our bodies smoldered too

and the smell of gas will spread.

Between our folds of flesh

they will find the keys.

Exacerbation and exhaustion.

Dehydration and due diligence.



Every driver we ever had

would look at us.

Gemstones slung across necks.

Colored shades the housing,

filtering for our eyes.

Facial hair burying periphery.

And all of them go away.

And we all go away too.

A reuniting of peace

through absence.

Prior presence abandoned.