At every juncture

The challenges are


For a five year old

First learning to fit in

Can be as painful as

A ninety year olds last breath

When we inhabit that moment

In the skin of then

We are incomparable

For one shall survive a flood

And another the passing of their favorite dog

A child may cry at a bad grade

Whilst her mother learns she must lose her breast

There are few compasses

In the search for meaning

We are not

Linear beings




Is a rare bird of shame

Its plumage


For guilt

Captures the beholder, willing or not

Averting gaze from all else

Guilt will render paradise dowdy

Comparing freedom with the chains of its capture

Guilt is an old, fond bruise

Reminder of moments left torn to shreds

It will piece them carefully back

Twice as convincing, twice the weight

Strung round your neck like noose of sea pearls

Begging to be drowned

Guilt is a rose bush with bleeding thorns

A shudder as you catch yourself thinking of

Those pursed secrets you’ll never disclose, even to yourself

Snapshots you expunge, that still, listlessly, rise from the depths

Never speak of it, even to the merry faced doctors 

Plunging their needles as far as they’ll go


Makes you sick

Wan faced, old before your time 

Aloof in the varnished secret


Steals your liberty 

But like a lie

Guilt is not vanquished, even by truth

There are things better never admitted

Keep them so deep inside you start believing the deception


Like a wide eyed bride

Guilt takes your hand 

And plunges you back where you’ve been all along

There’s no solution to shame when it’s too late to undo

The poison that you drink, the person you’ve turned into

Guarding yourself like a wreck against sharp rocks

With less and less by the day to salvage

If you spoke it out loud

Surely the very sky would catch fire

How many of us must carry a spark?

Burning in our secret hearts?

And maybe this is why

You never know another person by what they share


It is the unsaid

Electric in the air

We recognize in others

The tarnish of shame

As clear as promises once given

Cannot be refunded

Ode to the antipoet

I told the cheongsam wearing beauty

You are very kind

But I’m not sure there is such a thing

As humility

When our world is made of capital

For only recently

I heard a conversation

On the end of poetry 

The deceivers, sharp, pointed folk

Trussed in their certainty

Poetry was neither vocation nor career

But some beast of the very idle

Something retired people and students dabbled in 

Not a grown up or grown down job but

Proof of latter life impressionist indolence

Yet, like land auctioned off and trees torn down 

We cannot know of the beauty once standing

Without the witness of a scribe

For more roads without direction we take, employing compass

Without translation, our journey remains an enigma

Like redheads, freckles and those left-handed

Doomed to scorn and ostracized days

They paint the world with much needed alternatives

As poets write out everything within us we couldn’t see, lending words to universal feeling

Yet, relegated by the long tongue of capitalist decree

Those who configure feelings shall never be 

The vaunted or the high priest, followed in obedience

It is our nature to ridicule what we do not understand

Absurd yet with mis-hap sense, justifying how we turned out

No choice, no desire for question

Some grow up longing to be dentists, chartered accountants, bankers, zoo keepers

And those of us who from earliest moment

Wrote what others dismissed or feared to touch

Carry a strange torch

Maybe the value is not always clear

Surely easier to pour scorn upon, the role of poet 

Than to give thanks

We have not in our collective greed

Forgotten the art of being

When frail turn reminds us

Being human is more

Than cast off rind

But the potency of citrus

In a land that had never before known

Tropical fruit


The growing chronicles #3 Hypochondria

It’s still a man’s world

a world where most of the earth

would stone two women in love

and those women who break the glass ceiling are often

unrecognizable as women

for they eat

with their bean soup

the dry wafer of other females
If I tell you

I am not prideful

it is the quiet and the book

an occasion of solitude

interspersed with longing

I’ll never be a loud mouthed girl to hang your spurs upon

but still I know how to talk to the moon

and I believe in you
At night

poorly lit by lamps

like yellow faces downcast

we walk vigorously

hand folded in hand

and that simple act

I cherish

above any gift or benediction
When we are apart

monsters live under my bed

shadows rinse in continuing pass

the joy of breaking bread


as bloodied

the unseen art of war

within gentle hearts

causes my pulse to spike

and in time succumb

to hypochondria


For it is you

who taught me first

this is how you wade in shallow water

not listening to the buzz of insects

searching for a way in

and this is how you swim in deep water

not minding the curdled heat reflecting in

masks off the surface of thought

you can if you really want

stand solid against the onslaught of fear

crawling beneath your skin as the sun

grinds us down into withered and parched semblance

you can if you really want

defy time and tendency and take a deep breath

learning to stretch far in the distance

without air


When I wake

and the thunder of your absence

breaks my resolve

when the smell of you is fading

in the comb of your absence

I hear your voice skimming water

like touchstones seeking entry

one by one you build your fortress

installing me against the ravage

that pit I carried every year

before you walked into my life and said

fear cannot win as long as you believe in love


The growing chronicles #1 Bitters

I’m too tired

dear one

to refute your love of harm

or as you put it

hard but necessary truth

just as Swedish bitters are

good for you

spare the rod, spoil the child

so you ensured I learned the hard way


why then

do criticisms often taste

like gunpowder?

that overwhelming urge to correct at every turn

just like you were created to hurt?

what line, invisible or seen, exists?

to guide the critic in their pursuit

of picking apart the flaw

remaking anew and improved


you can do better

was my Christian name

you need to apply yourself more

the nightly prayer

and being absent

my response


you see

tear someone down consistently and enough?

you light them on fire

they become not as you hoped

your obedient (but inferior) acolyte

but something fragmented

a faulty firework longing to explode

earthbound and simmering beneath

your superior



Red Mary

hemofgarmentThey said

she’s a sinner

that red Mary

she’s got shadows in her soul

everyone’s done a wrong

what’s yours?

she couldn’t recall a sin she committed

though many done against her still

showed in bad light shining as scars will

what constitutes a sin?

not picking up a fallen book or

neglecting the heart of an aching soul?

not burying a bird nor preventing its death

sailing into glass as you ate your day

she’d let

the dinner burn accidentally making snow flakes for the windows

she’d been too tired

to scrub the tile in the bathroom before the guests arrived

she’d given herself the bigger helping on occasion

but more often than not she made room for the needs of others

cramped with heads on her lap driving in the car

give an inch take a mile convert to metric lose measure

what comes first? you?

she knew she hurt herself when eclipsing

and if that was a sin

she was a sinner plenty

scratching charred lines of dislike across herself

like a map plotting direction with blooming red pins

but lord if that is a sin

to turn and bear our fangs within

when the world is full of clamoring snake oil salesmen

hawking their false wares

building temples for closed gods

telling children who are raped

no you cannot abort this is gods wish

then she was a sinner of the very worst sort

for her belief was

those who are without blemish don’t exist

but some of us are good

not living under the almshouse for the spiritually impoverished

she didn’t know what it meant to

live in sin be born to sin

she felt sin was a choice

you made or did not make

and she did not choose

to sin except

by laying in bed reading

on Sunday listening to

the vowels of the faithful

herding their flock


To the bottom


Go down

very far down

to the bottom of the sea

I shuck you off

zip up my boots

think of corn husks and masa and chili staining madder root

lips tarnished from pleasuring you

friend without the benefit of youth

I make you come even when you’re done

leash between us yoked at the throat

pain has long learned not to show

as macular degeneration steals acuity

we are what we want to see

but you are a poor vintage

you don’t convince the blind

we who cover ourselves in your outpouring

know more of you than crows

lining hot wire

know of the sky