Some Poems


 Road Trip

An old trailer off  

Highway 65 wakes up

the part of you that’s

filled with junk metal. 

And windows so grimy

you can’t imagine seeing

out of them.  And you’re back

in that other life.

Not that you lived in a trailer

by the side of a highway.

That’s not the way 

the mind works.  It just lifts

and deposits, simple as that.

Lifts and deposits you into

a gray mass of sheet metal

and filthy windows as playfully

as if you had agreed to play.

And thank God it does that 

because you might not 

otherwise go to that yard,

or even notice it.

When I First Fooled God/St. Barnabas Hospital

I promised God when I was seven

that if I could just go home

I would not complain again.

That’s all I thought I wanted.

So it could have been

the very first night back

that I knelt at my bedroom window 

like a skinny grasshopper,

looking out into the dark.

I was coming to God as an animal now,

my message sent as the smallest

creature might send it, every muscle

leaping to be out somewhere

in a lush place.  But I didn’t

ask God for that place—

I told the God in the dark sky

that I didn’t believe.  And I thought

God told me it didn’t matter—I would still

remember my promise, and

everything I wanted would feel

like danger to me, and everything

I thought I wanted I might actually get.

[selected as runner-up for the Jane Kenyon Poetry Prize, Water-Stone

Review, Fall 2012, judge: Alberto Rios]

One of the Stories

It’s one of the stories my daughter keeps

for him. It has to do with his seventh

birthday, when he and his mom,

outside of town in their trailer,

hung balloons and baked a cake

and invited his whole second-

grade class to the only party

he ever had.  And no one came.

She leans up against this story

and it gives her a place to spill

sadness.  The story that lures me

like that involves her, as she 

lies on the carpet rolling her head

back and forth crying I think too much,

I think too much.   

There’s no catching up with these stories.  

Isn’t he now a man who disappoints, 

though once his joy was pressed dry 

by disappointment?

Isn’t it all true?



Okay I’ll tell you about that place

I was there because they were friends of his

and he was my big brother  He lived on his own

and he wanted to show off  The girl was fifteen at

the most Just younger than me and they all

lived in an abandoned farmhouse There was a

basement but no stairs going down to it Just

an open hole and someone’s little kids played in the kitchen

by that long fall And worse the girl lived with

her uncle and was his girlfriend  We accepted

that I guess She sang better than Joni Mitchell or

Loretta Lynn or her own mom who looked like

a girl too Going around the room was one

joint after another A great big bottle of wine lots

of Grain Belt I watched her sing sometimes nodding

my head In that place with no way home except my brother

I had no mind of my own I watched someone soak her foot

in epsom salts  A nail went through it I had no body of my

own either So when I see anyone go too far that

farmhouse is really what enters my mind settling deep

like a stone in mud My son whom I would pull from

quicksand and send almost anything sinking beneath him to

do it tells me about the crackhead he knows who sings scat

and was burnt in two months sometimes has a week where

he’s clean and doesn’t have pee all over his pants and

talks normal and then he’s back on it again

And Tyler the heroin addict and How do you

know these guys I ask my son He’s a squatter

I don’t know he says And I think of that place that hole

and those little kids and I want to say go backwards Run

away from that stuff But that’s not it That’s not

what I want to say I want to say Hang onto your

body  I want to say Listen  I want to say

I’ve heard enough.