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you’re driving
down the road
feeling content 
to The Rolling Stones
bobbing your head
your left foot
you realize
in that moment
that’s ever happened
in your life
is behind you–
that you got through it
that this moment
none of that s***
was big enough
or bad enough
to keep you down
on the bottom
you were so certain
you would stay.



Night Walker

Plump red lips
pink cheeks
with purple swells
of lopsided skin
head down
eyes forward
hat on
sometimes off
the gait
full of sloppy bounce
the legs not
quite straight
the brain intact
wholly intelligent
capable of
the self-awareness
that causes
great enough
to keep him inside
the house
when the sun
is showing off
everyone else’s
symmetrical bodies
as they are
he’d love
to have one.





“Four People Sharing a Meal” charcoal drawing by Vincent van Gogh, 1885

About this poem:

Since my childhood I’ve known of a man with major facial deformity who lived nearby. He was known to be very intelligent and worked as an architect.  I was always fascinated by his face, and occasionally would get a glimpse of him out walking.  Recently, I moved back to my hometown and I pass his house every evening on my night walk.  Sometimes, he’s out walking too and we say hello.  I can’t help but wonder about his life experience. Is he comfortable in his own skin?  Does he feel cheated out of a “normal” life? Has he ever been in love?  Has anyone ever loved him?

Anger Management

I don’t
want to calm down
don’t want to cope
with this disappointment
this anger
that’s on me
in me
around me
for what feels like miles
and I don’t want
to walk out from under it
escape it
stop it
end it
push it back
it can stay as long as it likes
long enough for me
to hold it
examine it
study its origin
its source
the way it tightens
then loses its grip
and always disappears.






Photo by Ansel Adams

On the Floor

The man
admires the woman
who is puckered up
in a tight black dress
slit up the thigh
standing at a flattering angle
in what appears to be
a bathroom so public
the trash can is overflowing–
but the man doesn’t care
about the brown
paper towels
and mascara stained tissues
on the floor
beside her 3 inch heel–
or that all of us can see her
under that confident facade–
he is taken
by her red lips
and her youth
which makes him feel
she might
have a need for him
his wife no longer feels–
so he types
his approval
in just one word.
No exclamation mark
to differentiate
his compliment
from his base desire
to crawl into that photo
and add her dress
to the pile on the floor.



No one thinks ahead
to the small rooms we’ll go home to
when the night is black
and the lights are fluorescent
flashing and spinning
in every imaginable color
and the smell of cotton candy
and fried anything
is as thick as your wallet
when you pull it out to buy a chance
at the stuffed bear that’s twice as big
as the beautiful girl who says she wants it
and by the time you’re ready to give up
tossing the rings into a sea of two liter bottles
the carnie makes you a deal
says he’ll give you one more chance,
half price, and all of a sudden
you’re watching the enormous creature
being placed into the arms of your date
who, months later, will decide
she doesn’t have room in her life
for the two of you
and she’ll kick you both to the curb
and become someone else’s prize.








Mind Reader

Where are you
you absent one
who knows
that now is when
I need something
large and warm
to crawl into
something like
an old quilt
with lots of color
and comfort
something marsupial
with a heartbeat
something easy
to get out of
when I’m weak
with uncertainty
and no sense
of direction
where are you
when I am lost
in dysfunction
no one can see—
where is the question
I need you to ask:
Are you okay?
And I won’t even
need to say no.








“Woman with Red Umbrella” By T.C. Steele

How it Ends

The photo of you
sitting in a field
of wildflowers
made you seem accessible—
and the picture
of your body
halfway into Mosquito Lake
seemed to indicate
you lived for adventure—
but the joy in your eyes
as you stood on Mt. Rainier
was in fact nontransferable
to life down below
where love waited its turn
for you to find it
as beautiful a destination
as the mangroves
in Costa Rica and now
the Redwoods are calling
and you are almost gone.