Backyard October

last night in our backyard
the Steller’s Jays
began sounding the alarm
all across the hillside
a predator perhaps a Barred Owl
or a house cat had arrived
it ended as quickly as it began
the sunset and the cawing
dying away together

Singing in Cars

Before there were radios in cars
We sang
Kid heels on windows
Like garlic buds
Past orchards with ladders
And lungs splayed on tree shoulders
We wandered our side of the globe
Tiny firemen in Red Ball Keds
Angular fence birds in overalls
Who wouldn’t believe a calendar
That picked pockets like a conspirator?

Past the concrete dinosaurs
Past the tongue depressor river
Heavy with cancer that gave no report
Under the gruff clouds
One dish of flung out life
The doctor couldn’t cure
With a dark slap
Born songbirds all
In a sheet metal schooner


Gagging on an apple
Each departing soul
A hopeful tent of oxygen
A bale of farther food
Moving like sea in a jar
If I could melt the maze of tongues
Shoveling out the Bibles
And the yellow daisies
Before the knees buckle
Waving away the transfer tube
I might be known as a purifier
Caulking up the Antichrist
Before the rain storms of April

But my spine runs on bourbon
And spite and green ice
Back and forth like an angry bird
Trembling I mark the spot
Where the air rudder goes
Until she gasps and circles back
A fermata in a wheelchair
Army wraparound shades propped up
Blind as grandmother
On a snowy evening
Behind the leather padded
Doors of the US capital

Ghazal for an Oilfield Town

The Ghazal Page has published one of my poems. The ghazal is an Arabic form that often expresses love and loss and the beauty that arises within both. This poem is about the grim beauty of the Bakken oilfields in North Dakota and people who work there.

Ghazal for an Oilfield Town

Fence Rail

the fence rail
wanders the country
like a whisk for
snow drifts

a cowboy
rides it all day
like a patient scholar

past fear
is always and always
and beyond is dread
and perhaps knowing

today he gives
one side a credit
and debits the other


last night a Barred Owl
in the tree behind our house

like a Buddha
in prison clothes


the light of your
saving otherness
silvers the tin birds
above the hand-painted pond

like the headlight
on the model train
you left behind
for bigger
and better things