Words I Wish We Had

Cafuné is the first—
the act of tenderly sifting through someone’s hair.
Afterglow’s first affection,
mindless, lightheaded love.
Almost a state of Hygge,
a Danish word meaning
the complete absence of anything annoying,
or emotionally overwhelming,
and the presence of and pleasure from comforting,
gentle and soothing things.
Something you might accomplish on an Uitwaaien,
which literally means a walk in the wind,
but we’d probably call it a calming stroll,
a walk one might take to clear his head
of that regrettable moment of inaction
that the Yagán people called Mamihlapinatapei,
when neither of us wanted to go,
but we didn’t have the words to keep us together.

This poem first appeared in The Louisville Review v.78- Fall 2015


Words I Wish We Didn't Have

Oblivion is the first.
As if it were a place we could get to.
As if we could leave ourselves
gone, to be looked back on
like a shed cicada –another word
that’s crawled into every book
on the shelf, applauding over itself,
clogging thought quicker than
an audible moist, which we all agree
should be banned. Are you discussing
dessert or your hand? No one wants to know. 
And yolk sounds like you’re choking
while eating one. It’s the consistency–
like curdled, pouring reluctantly
out of the mouth the same way it does
a jug. For god’s sake, let someone else
do the talking, or beat a goose to death. 

This poem first appeared in STILL: The Journal .no.23,  Winter 2017



You promised to teach me, and you did,
How to give and take weight, how to lean
Into the steep, or sit back at the decline.

How to hold the reins so as to show trust,
And ask by squeezing the thighs.
How to repeat                   –harder.

How to deal with skittishness, and let control. 
How to fall correctly.  How to notice
The signs of things just before they happen.

How to convince yourself otherwise.
What must be done when it goes lame.
How to say it’s not sound but it’s something

We can work with. How to hold your head
When the words are said. How to know
How much you can take. How to break.

This poem first appeared in STILL: The Journal .no.23,  Winter 2017


The Televangelist

"By his hands, we are fed." —a prayer

Facing from stage the carpet sea
Before the crowd arrives, he parts

His hair with a pocket comb, breathes
Powerful breaths. He’s come so far.

Backstage his wife brings plastic bags
Of food –chicken– he smells, and throws

His ersatz tie onto his back
Like a beaver’s tail. Seven shows

This week alone. He’s lived and died
A hundred times, conducted souls–

He blessed a baby till it cried,
Punched black cancer from a widow.

Today he’ll do the old routine;
This city ate it up last time.

He stains a thin napkin with grease,
Checks his reflection, adjusts his tie.

A murmur swells across the pews
Like spilt coffee. He chucks his plate

Of bones and glances at his shoes.
They are ready to receive him.

Spreading his arms he exposes
Cufflinks like golden square-head nails.

His eyes glance up to nothing, then close
To walk through the cobwebs of shine.

This poem is unpublished. To solicit this poem or others, contact me.