Living under Wraps

What housewarming gift is best for someone moving into a townhouse that will be under scaffolding and tarps for a year? I hope to get Evelyn Lau’s Living under Plastic. She writes poetry inside quiet places…

Driving Back We Pass My Parents’ Home

This never means the same thing twice. Tonight our children sleep in the backseat. Their heads yield left and right through the country, the moon a cantaloupe slice crowding Cygnus from the sky. Under that pinoak I crept, kissed a boy in porchlight pallor, picked grass from between my toes. By the juniper I snuck […]

I-5 N

A biker sped by, pushing 70, with bugs in his beard and grease in the crooks of his elbows. Miles of grime on the plates left him stateless. In the bitch seat, more than a weekend’s packing and two tiny flags where familiar thighs should have been. He looked like an old man, but he […]

Dialogue with the Body

I thought about leaving you. But you didn’t. Why did you treat me so badly? I was testing your love, but those days are over. I was a cigarette under your heel. You inhaled—admit it. If I said “stop,” you heard “more.” I thought you enjoyed a little rough play. Besides, who had who in […]

Human Involvement in Non-Saline Aquatic Environments

In Cedar Lake conservationists have planted fish attractors along the gravel bottom, in the hopes of building a sustainable underwater environment. We are not thinking about science, Jonny and I. Instead, we troll the shallows of Shellcracker cove. Beyond stoned. Aiming for anything clueless enough to snag onto our clumsy hooks. While I bait my […]


I was walking back from a parade in my hometown when I saw a house on fire, or it had been, was smoking itself like a cheap cigar.   I went inside, no one stopped me. I was very attached to this house. I found small scraps, discs and ovals, of sheet metal and began […]

A Blizzard That Brings More Than Snow

The world got wavy like that cheap trick in movies when a character dreams. It wasn’t a dream though, because I was fat, and my best dreams are when my girth disappears. I sat on the couch, heavy in the head, my wife learning Thai, the language program spitting sentences at her. Is the man […]


The gods’ hammers strike your eardrums. The vibrations shiver you from sky to earth. Your roots spread, gather voices into your trunk, where blue and green meet to create the symphony of the planets and the song of the worms, the whole Whitman universe rotating to the pulse of your sap as it rises and […]

Jabreya’s Words

 “This is the oppressor’s language yet I need it to talk to you.” -Adrienne Rich You ask me how to spell “ain’t” and I want to write “a-i-n’-t,” those malleable scraps of sound welded into a graphite fixture for you to hang portraits upon: Momma’s scalded hand shooing you to the rhythm of “ain’t gonna […]

Dream Hotel

The one I seem to check into twice a month, greeting the desk clerk who never reciprocates. I walk up the rickety stairs, suitcase and life in hand and enter my room that makes bare bones sound voluptuous. I prop a pillow against the wall, sprawl out on the small bed and stare out the […]


She brings shampoo bottles home. I don’t remember if she did or not, but I swear she brought the sheets home too. I probably decided to build a fort. Whenever Dad was home, he lets us eat junk food, watch Tales from the Crypt. John & I didn’t mind the dark. Mother was always frightened […]


Only one chocolate cake in all the land. Only this one Sunday. There was some startling blue. White caps. Only at this window where the loch lives leaping in its song. Minutes before, sheep turds. I have a blue plaid wool coat. Father in a suit. Mother in navy or beige. Forty more years until […]

41st & Ninth, SW Corner, 26 Degrees F

Fingernails turning blue again, you remind yourself in a few months this will be just another moment on just another corner in just another winter you reference. Of all there will one day be a cure for, this isn’t on the list, this quick catch of breath in the chest as you glance up the […]

1988: Suicide

All-American heroes in flames, my right hand a god controlling the world’s freedom while my left hand presses the knob of the aerosol bomb – Aqua Net in all its hot purple splendor – slips, and Duke and Snake Eyes nearly collateral damage to Voltar’s char-bubbled plastic skin. No miracle will get our mother to […]

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Love

1 Love is the heart’s Jiffy Lube. 2 Love is the dawn coming up like last night’s chili con carne. 3 Love is blind, hearing impaired, and bi-polar. 4 The language of love has 32 different words for “laundry.” 5 Apostrophe to love:   ′ 6 You see blossoms when the trees are bare? Leave some […]

The End Times Café

Remember when I snapped at the sight of a sparrow? That plain bit of nature reminding me I can’t grow tomatoes or live without a microwave. I worry about the Strait of Hormuz. Will there be gas for the trucks that bring us our cool ranch Doritos? What about those coffins and swing-sets on TV? […]