not in the air
on the broken concrete walk
near remnants of January ice
wings at it
flailing rapid circles
like grounded hummingbirds
twisting & bedding, twisting & bedding
one black ball of feathers
beaks at it
twisting & bedding
on the broken granite-hard walk
still for a moment
for a moment more
one black ball of wings
then off—
toward opposite
corners of sky

First Published: H. O. D. (Winter 2011). Web.




The Zen of selling was told by a Venetian girl:
She used to sell swords in San Marco. She never
sold a shaving mirror, till one day she sold four.
There’s a kind of energy, you see,
the kind that brings us together
this evening, spontaneously. Another
time she was selling expensive bible sets,
for weeks without luck. Then she took
an intensive training course. One must learn
to read the dream of each person from their house,
their character from a stray photograph—
& convince them that fulfillment is in what
is being sold. It worked! She enjoyed
visiting many families, as many as 20
in a day, reading their dreams. Then
one day a man answered the door
who had been running the vacuum cleaner.
The Venetian girl had always wanted one like that.
No problem, the man’s brother-in-law sells them
door-to-door. She must have one!
It was the Zen of selling.

First published: Buddhist Poetry Review. Jason Barber, ed. (June 2011). Web.



the birds were next to gain intelligence
their feathers had fallen
except for a patch on their enlarged heads
and down under their wings

they took to wearing skins of animals
but continued to walk upright
to waddle the streets of earthen cities
when they started to speak
they lost the gift of song

of course
not all birds evolved this way
some continued much as now
and were called angels

bird science excavated our future
and found our bones
they diagramed our anatomies
and copied our forms
parliaments imposed taxes

worms were no longer a staple
three chambers could not get enough
blood to the brain: jealousy
emptied the skies

First published: Blood Lotus. Stacia Fleegal, ed. (Jan 2009) Web. <>


for Ken

Our best ideas fit
on index cards. Yet
what of the blankness
of the unwritten, where
the possible remains?
The full sketch of its movement
requires so much more than thought—
having seen the lively colors
when she flips it
& the skeleton comes up
when all this talk begins again
but the two debaters

First published: The Cynic Online Magazine. (1 Mar. 2008)



The perfect suicide is surely
one that fails—the overdose
that under does it—the wrist slasher
who passes out before she can find an artery.
In Japan, where “it’s easy to become a nihilist,”
the trend is to die with strangers
in nondescript grey sedans
parked off the road in semi-wooded areas
not far from town, three in the front,
three in the back, in their 20s by the hundreds
each year. They meet on-line to discuss
their fate—no girlfriend, no boyfriend, no job,
money running out—surfing the Web
from childhood bedrooms in their parents’ homes,
looking to “die together with someone
garbage like me.” Moon was her screen name—
excited by the fantasy of an easy death.
“Moon-san, we die tomorrow, there’s
one seat open. Would you like to come?”
As though on a road trip to Hokkaido,
she claimed a spot up front. They bought coals
& a brazier at a home-center, pulled off the road,
taped shut the windows from the inside.
One of the too shy young men wanted to
compliment her on her perfume & her
lace dress. They shared out the sleeping powders
& slipped on ski goggles to guard their eyes
against smoke. As Moon eased into her last dream,
the head of the boy next to her slumped
onto her shoulder. Everything turned white,
rice paper bleached of calligraphy, fog blown in
over quartz crystal beach of featureless ivory.

First published: Confrontation: A Literary Journal. Martin Tucker, ed. (2008).


Milton Rogovin, 1994

The artist’s aims have changed
since the first series of shots when
he couldn’t resist the desire
for transfiguration—why should he?—
by eliciting the eloquence of light
the grain in wood, each brick
of a graffitied facade, arranging
Madonna & Child couplings, offsetting
solitary rebels. Balance—Contrast—
Gentle Irony—Depth of Focus—
all help to unmask dignity
in simple passions, neglected
beauties, vitality amid ruin, Miller
High Life captioned above
the granite resolve of the poor.

A parent staggers out of a darkened
stairwell to sun on a broken
step. Velvet painted peacocks
framing a lace draped mantle
behind a doll-like tiara-ed Virgin
express the same simple optimism
& innocent trust that a small girl
does, clinging about her proud
father’s waist. A self-contained
immigrant family gazes expectantly
at the camera proclaiming, We Are Here.
A Mod Squad in turtlenecks, shades
& hooped earrings, like a scene out of Hair
steps over the color line to groove
with one another. The artist provokes
a silent language, musters a patience
to hear where there is literally nothing
to be heard, so that it is we who fumble
to speak, we who want to shout our
sympathy, our respect & solidarity, even
our admiration, for those from whom
did we actually hear their guttural voices
we might turn away in distaste.

By the third group of images
this glamour is not even attempted.
Where are the pan pipes, the bare chests
& subtle toes—a ménage à trois with dog
ready for the April morning? Where are
the tight groups & couples, the solitary
souls brave in the light, the high school
girl with pencil in her teeth, fire
in her hair? Replaced, often, by ungainly
families, elders whose dreams have
vanished, kids who look spoiling
for a fight. Simultaneity lapses
inevitably into sequence, a rhythm
of cycles, narratives of loss. Tragic
stasis unwinds in bitter folly. Distracted
by this progression, the camera loses
its eye for detail & the compositions have
given way to a chaos closer to real life.

First published: Black Robert Journal. (Feb. 2008)

These photos by Rogovin are from





Pop culture’s desire for cool’s
ironic alternative ramps up
the official unofficial,
hears in an excluded people’s
not so much a desire
to be heard,
as soulful urge—
real & down,
dug, funky, gone,
groovy, heavy, & hip—
for the “ideal mass personality”
keeping dry its arsenal of
“verbal stun guns” & “dumbed down put downs”—
“celebrity words, air guitar
licks for lips,”
above the barely audible “quasi-
sexual pleasure of the click.”

First published: Timber Creek Review, John M. Freiermuth, ed. (2008)

Slam Dunks and No-Brainers: Pop Language in Your Life, the Media, and Like . . Whatever by Leslie Savan (2007)



there are two suns
laughing dazzling laughter
& clovers folded upon themselves in frost
& white ribbed edges of things

how they glitter now
like two ladies
in bright bandannas, laughing

or the mother at the payphone
replacing the receiver
repeating to her child
crooked in her other arm, “still busy.”

First published: Harvard Review 29 (Fall 2005)



The sweet spot in sleep comes
after the road up the mountain
to the temple.

Follow her up
to her little pretty place
of leaded glass & heirlooms of mahogany.

Wait as she fixes her bow
in the glass, looking out to where light
looms above the trees.

Soft hands cover the eyes in dreams.
Breathing breaks the surface
of shallow water.

Frist published in Ship of Fools, Jack Hart, ed. (2007)



adapted from a translation of a passage near the beginning of “Boule de suif”

Earthquake burying a whole people
beneath the ruins of their houses
the river in spate sweeping away
bodies of drowned peasants
carcasses of cattle & rafters torn from roofs
& the victorious army slaughtering
all who resist, making prisoners
of the rest, looting by right of the sword
thanking their god to the sound of cannon—
all these terrifying scourges undermine
our belief in eternal justice
& all the trust
we have been taught to place
in divine protection
& human reason.

First published: Pegasus. M. E. Hidebrand, ed. (Spring 2007)