After “Litany” by Billy Collins

I’m a broom and its dustpan, the sharp tip
of a long knife, watermelon, cool side

of the pillow on a muggy night. I’m the red
squirrel scrambling up a screen door, a dandelion.

I’m not gingerbread or lace of any kind;
not on collars, tatted doilies. I’m not the ocean,

prick of a cactus, a long-stemmed glass, bottle
or carafe of red wine. I fancy myself Egyptian

turquoise, a Paul Klee painting—geometrics
in soft pastels, hung on a plastered wall.

I’ve never been whiskers on cats, gerbils.
Not an apron—clean, maybe, never smeared

with flour, tomato sauce, greasy anything; not
the moon, though its craters are my thoughts.

I would love to be, but sadly not, the sounds
of Thelonious Monk, Johnny Mathis’ croon, Barbra.

I am a branch scraping a tin roof, fall from
a skyscraper, never hitting ground, a ripe

banana turned brown overnight, coffee without
enough cream. I am, in my dreams, a queen-size

bed in the center of a room—impeccably made,
four crisp corners, blue cotton spread, a throw,

mattress firm enough to hold a life of secrets,
soft enough to burrow in, fall slowly apart.

Published online April, 2023 by Burningword Literary Magazine (scroll down to see)
Image: Painting by Paul Klee “Temple Garden” 1920


A block from home
I decide to change
my name, press the walk
button, cross over
to the other
side of the street,
wish I had a friend
to discuss whatever
we might discuss,
a dog
tugging the leash.
I flinch
from the gunning
of cars, swerve
the leaf blower.
At the sidewalk’s edge,
camellias bloom.

Published online November, 2022 by Atlas and Alice (pg. 8)

Cave system Skocjan, Unesco’s world heritage site, Slovenia.


I lived in a cave in some far-off life.
Saw the world in shades of black
and white, ate bread from the floor
of my hunger, swore allegiance
to men and monsters. The grass
was high and the rivers ran swift
and cold. I looked to stones
for comfort, thunder to carry
me through. In the winding veins
of my existence is a mountain
molded from fear, an avalanche
of doubt poised. There is a way.
I carve a small slice off each day,
take up my blade and scythe through
the jungle of grief to the tall trees
of forgiveness. Don’t know the story
of the skies. I leave that for the future.
There is a whisper in my ear. I listen.

Published online October, 2022 by The Moving Force Journal (pg. 44)


Nothing remarkable today
The sky might argue otherwise

Had a brief affair with vodka
Checkout at cashier #5

Out on the street
Morning Glory twined in aloe

Floodgates about to burst
The drought goes on

Fitbit tracks my steps
Dead cockroach in the stairwell

The scale of life eludes me
No one is all magic

I’d club God if he showed his face
There I said it

A symphony on paper
I scribble notes in a circle

A mosquito pulses the window
When will I know I’m out

Published online September, 2022 by Wild Roof Journal


As we lie down to sleep the world turns half away
Elizabeth Bishop

I question whether it’s past time
to pierce my ears, dangle silver hoops,
feathers, add a small tattoo of a wine-
colored bird at the curve of my clavicle,
slip on a pair of stilettos, something low-cut.
All those years beauty wasn’t supposed
to matter. Now it does. I want what
I would have wanted then— a dress
on fire, love beneath the northern lights,
a river of curls no man could ever swim.

From the poem “Sleeping Standing Up” from North & South
Published online July, 2022 by Qu Literary Magazine


We could use poems right now
dropped under the headlines,
no, as the headlines, in the center

of the sports page. Poems
as crossword puzzles, comic
strips; the weather according

to Whitman, predicted to be green
and grassy. Obituaries in iambic
pentameter. Neruda’s ode to oranges,

salt that sings, in the food
section. Movie reviews in sonnet
form; haiku for short subjects.

In the back pages, the police
blotter with an editorial note
by Langston Hughes: “Yes I was

a good boy / Never done no
wrong / But this world is
weary / And the road is long.”

Note: Excerpt from the L.H. poem: “Po Boy Blues”
Published online August, 2020 by Panoply, A Literary Zine


Slowly it strikes me how quiet it is
Sharon Olds

I doze in a chair, book on my chest. Fog outside
the east-facing window. Fire in the stove. I survive
the day with raisins and eyeliner, pomegranate
and white stones placed in the shape of a river.
Tomorrow is a mystery. I forget this and lament
running out of eggs, rain stains on the ceiling, flares
of anger. When I get a dog, I’ll tolerate its dog
smell, paws tracking in dirt, wisps of hair swirling
the floor. I will take its face in my hands, press
my fleshy nose deep into the plush of its neck.

From the poem “Sunday in the Empty Nest” from The Unswept Room.
Published online February, 2022 in Chapter House Journal.


I told my mother I had seen
it in the kitchen,
not when it was dark
or there was rain or lightning—
in the middle of the day
with tea on the stove,
a sink full of dishes.

She had gone out
to hang my father’s, my brother’s
shirts on the line,
wore a flowered apron with square
pockets for clothespins.

It wasn’t a man or a woman—
ghosts don’t know gender
or time. I wanted to put my hand
through it, was too young
to ask why it was there,
if its body had died in that house,
did it have a message for me.

My mother didn’t believe
and soon it became a legend
for my mind only—that summer
afternoon in the kitchen,
the ghost, the steaming tea,
glint of sun
on the white enamel stove.

Published Spring 2021 in Western Humanities Review
Photo is of Gemma Moore (my mother) circa 1950.


Sign on the door
This way out

Photos of the cosmetic me
Shadow of my mother’s face

I’ll never go back to the way
Wild horses couldn’t

He was a big big man
A glacier leaves scars

I talk with friends
Swear words fly into tears

Dogs obey their master
A monkey struts its stuff

I fill the page with flurries
Fingers are my God

Madness is believing you know
I thought I had it so right

Hummingbird at the window
I shoo it away

Published November, 2021 in The Closed Eye Open.


because of the green
grass, white of the home
uniforms, the sinewed arms
of young men, that there are
nine players and nine
innings, that there’s a diamond
on the field, four square bases
precisely ninety feet from the next,
the way the crowd
falls helplessly, madly in love,
slapping high fives with
people in the seats
above them, below them,
people they don’t know,
never laid eyes on before
that night, ferociously embrace
the ones they came with as if
the world
was everything they believed
it could be, and was, right then;
because a stadium of fifty thousand
souls jump out of their seats,
jump up and down
with a jubilance not often granted
to anyone over the age
of eight, all because
a five-ounce, white ball, thrown
at ninety plus miles an hour smacks into
a wooden bat, takes off
in flight, soars in an arc so majestic,
like a tailing comet into the night—
over, over, over
the center field fence and

Published September, 2019 in Quiddity


Inked into my right foot, it will rise from the sway between
the hallux and pointer, etched into the tender skin bridging those two

most prominent toes. Rather than the hip, forearm or tucked into
the curve of the jawbone, it will reside in a place I can eye on morning’s

first steps, wet and pulsing in the shower, trace it’s pliant outline
in bed at night. I imagine the petals: symmetrically curved skyward,

a pale pink blossom veined with a touch of red, slender green root
winding snakelike down the metatarsal cleft. The needle will be

painful, a self-inflicted suffering, perhaps a karmic mending
of carried samskaras. A lotus planted amidst my noble toes, two-

dimensional flora carved into a breathing canvas, stretched over
a matrix of tendon, bone; my foot, an evolution of thrust and balance,

shaped by a million steps, jeweled now with this image in fluid
scroll, worn for my enduring days, worn into the final fire.

Published Sept 2019 Cathexis Northwest Press


She wakes each
morning to song,
willing to let the rain

christen her
nakedness, to take
a chance that lines

of caravans will arrive,
scrawls of boats
and windmills

will be etched
in her sand.
She isn’t sure

she can bear
the days when birds
don’t light

on her head,
scratch thoughts
onto her page.

From: She Speaks to the Birds at Night While They Sleep
Published in For Women Who Roar


Take the bones
fold them in half.

If it’s below zero
pack them in wool

above 80, in silk.
You must carry them

yourself. At times
theywill weigh

a thousand pounds.
At others, they will lift

like feathers
do the crow.

From: Talk of Snow


In the Fifth Street diner, windows
wide to the guttered slush and pale-bone
sky, the day shift passes like nickels
and dimes–buzzing coffee and sugar,

grilled cheese and slaw, cups of
and sides of, all up and down the formica
counter, out to the smooth-hide
booths, ring the register, pocket a bill

or two in the waisted apron. Click,
clicking across the linoleum:
slinging fries, choco malts and the one
o’clock pie. Wind up the smile,

the hustle, tend the regulars
and occasionals who lunch with chatter
spilling through lettuce and dills,
straw slurp and chomp. Four plate

juggle and sideways slide, order
up, take out and slow clunk
of the clock ’til the last tab’s out
and slam the shutters, clamp the lock,

mop up and count up the take–
jitter, all foot throb and brew
waft, out of the fry, the ogle, into pine
pitch air and car spew, to bide

and poke along, hugging the tatty
collar the round way home,
beneath a wedging honk of geese,
the scarred and bloated moon.

From: Life In Two Parts
Published in Inkwell Journal