Spring 2015 Issue
Table of Contents
Gunning down a sense of mystery
Truncating hospital lives, spewing
Poison tar gas to advocate concrete
Control and ruthless rule-bound vocation
My agreeable nature floats
In, around, outside, and above
These games of stolen pride
I am myself, timeless bound
To a prophesy pure within the sky
All moods coalesce
All people march for destiny
Not a name, place, or vocation
Just simply realizing
The glory of each moment
master of your universe
cradles you in fluent twists of color,
finds a cure,
is forever saying “yes you can”
for all the scars, the hemorrhage,
the mangling of your half of the conversation
fashions you in silk scarves,
red spangled dress,
styles your hair,
whitens your teeth,
is limitless unless you say "enough"
when your name is blurred
or even ransacked.
it looms large
in your master's calligraphy of clouds
or is woven in the roots
of the earth you tread so lightly on
forget jaw clenched
or lips heavy,
the master of your universe
does an exquisite smile
whenever the mirror calls for one
ah yes, the master -
was a "he" for a while,
then another "he"
and now mostly you
as for the universe,
the house, the town
are vast enough
you're in your shoes
only you can give
Driving down the hill I see the same bend in the road the
school bus took me around for years. I can see in the
headlights the wildflowers ringing the curve like a necklace--
goldenrod, cornflower, Queen Anne's Lace, God's gift to country
roads in the fall. You don't see anything like that in the city but
I'm getting used to living there.
I see the house ahead, one light on, upstairs. It's midnight and
my father's dead and my mother's in that room praying and
maybe crying, waiting for me to pull in. She knows it's a six-hour
drive from the city.
The wake will be tomorrow night at Egan's mortuary. There will
be 15 decades of the rosary to say and I still have trouble getting
through five. Then there will be three hours of listening to my
mother's friends console her, ancient ladies all, many of them
widowed long before her.
Many times my mother has been in their place so she
knows what they will say but she will find some comfort in it
anyway. The old farmers still alive will simply say "sorry for your
troubles" which serves as both a condolence and a prayer.
Mass will be at 10 in the morning with Father Murphy in the
pulpit sounding like Bishop Sheen. My dad told me long ago that
when he finally died Father Murphy would confer sainthood on
him at the funeral, no need for any miracles. Father Murphy has
a long history of canonizing every farmer who dies unless he
committed one of the seven deadly sins in public. My father
said he hoped Father Murphy would talk loud enough for God to
After the procession to the graveyard and the consignment
of the casket, everyone will drive back to the church hall for
the funeral meal--wonderful food prepared by good women
and arranged in a long buffet.
The farmers will assure my mother they will be out to her place
tomorrow and the next day to put up the hay. After the hay is
taken care of, they will take turns coming to feed the cattle and
they'll go to town to pick up whatever she needs. Things will
work out, they will tell her. Not to worry.
After everyone has eaten, the ladies, one by one, will rise and
bow to my mother and tell her to go home now and get some
The men will shake hands with me and ask how long before I
have to go back to the city. I'll say I have a week, maybe two,
uncertain as to what night I'll have to leave. I know it will be
around midnight. And the same light will be on, upstairs.
A warm day in February
but the birds and flowers are having none of it.
There's no rush to bud, to mate.
Only I am fooled by the suddenly
intense morning sun,
and water rolling down the eaves,
and yard shapes that are once more details.
Despite another fearful dream,
dawn strokes my optimism
like a waking cat,
revels in the purr.
If winter can be tricked,
then why not soured relationships.
If the mind can rise up
from eight hours of oblations
like an elm seduced by heat and light,
then who knows who might call today,
and what they'll say.
Someone at a distance beyond hope.,
a soul loose and forever drifting,
a voice dwelling in months of silence ~
why can't they be that one befuddled crocus
that almost screams into the receiver,
"It's time to begin again."
If it can happen to the weather,
then maybe the hungry will be fed,
the wounded heal,
the battles turn the dial to peace.
It's mild enough for me to say,
"Hi, how's it been?" -
to whisper "yes" and then again, "yes."
Separated by distances
As time dances in and out
The evolution of our being
Caught so tight, interwoven
Hearts palpitating, pressing
To explore each possible nuance
There's a carnival of imagination
Left poised on every vacant lot
Teeming on the market
With unusual resale value
Captivating soul dance ether
Murmuring through density of dreams
Your thick breath whispering heat
Draws me towards the infinite
It's the one place
my moves are better than yours
though we both know
this evenly spaced board,
in clear-cut black and white,
is not the planet.
And what we do outside the game
is never as simple
as pawn to king four
or a bishop's long silky slide
into open waters.
Not even that sideways swipe
of the rambunctious knight,
giddy and demonic
the way it leaps about like laughter,
is up to the slightest touch,
the saddest crossroads.
And we can check all we want
but we'll never hold the other
with a word
though we've come close sometimes
and even mate,
that clarion call, that wound,
is not the end of something,
merely its mimic.
We can joke how tough the queen is,
how impotent the king.
She speaks for me now,
this conniving elder statesman,
observer of our friendship
who knows that,
despite my willingness to join your side,
I still prefer to beat you.
But what is winning
when your king
is just one more fingernail to clip,
a line you discard to make a poem better,
or the first words on a telephone...
before you start talking.
It can topple.
It can die,
You will shrug it off
like a pointless kiss,
like an unworthy dream,
let this loss chew on
those captured pieces,
not your heart and your head.
Of course, your king will grow stronger
as you play and play and play,
as your persistence empowers its armies
and some day you will beat somebody,
even me maybe,
with a heady flourish,
a brilliant maneuver,
and I could be a sorrier loser
for it all,
my confidence, like this past year,
melting into my fingers
as they flick over
its bellicose pride.
But for now, you leave town,
shunting up the column
with your rook
or maybe castling
in the far corner.
You put the game on hold.
I stay behind,
head lowered into the board,
ponder my next move.
and you have shown us
you are goal-oriented
with an eye for detail
a head for numbers
and legs to die for
but this is Colorado
and we don't give
a hoot about
we are only
looking for an
to sell some
onto her blouse
from eight ball
lines our whole
in for, and we
all agreed it was
bad shit that made
us think really fast
about nothing, so
we stuck to poorly
and puffed on glass
that made us think
really slowly about
dozens of me in glossy
wallet sized prisons with
enormous foreheads that
border regions of hair
frozen by styling gel long
before its time while
brows frown over flashing
red eyes divided by noses
whose rough terrain hold
evidence of last minute pimple
detonations within reach of
sneering lips you couldn't
see without a magnifying
glass, thin gummy toppings
over single scoop chins
vacuum sealed against
sports coat shoulder pads
guarding the neckties that
keep these miniature heads
of mine from floating skyward
out of the frames of the
abusive cameras that never
loved them, even when
they forced a smile and
said cheese for them
through clenched teeth.