The Sense of Being Looked At


Around the corner, footsteps. A heel
clicking stone. The slosh of loose gravel

and then the no-sound itself conspicuous—
even the crickets hold their breath, hush

their rough legs while deep inside houses
women reading bedtime stories pause

to change their endings, one good wish
at a time. A car sails by with its lights off,

but Elvis on the radio still crooning after all
these years, still young—like nothing’s gone

wrong. When you turn, the trees spring back,
defensive. They point to each other all at once,

a dozen limbs like the Scarecrow’s saying,
He went that way. No, no, he went that way.

–from American Fractal
first published in Cranky

The Memory of Water


It can be demonstrated with thermo-
      luminescence: the salt solution
retains knowledge of what it once held,
      though nature, though logic
would tell it otherwise. Dumb as a bedpan,
      the hydrogen bond remembers
the lithium, the sodium chloride no matter
      how long distilled. There is so
little purity left in the world. Desire it,
      dilute it, strip it down till nothing
remains, onion eyes wept dry, last flake
      of the artichoke bit clean,
sour stalk swallowed whole. The homeopath
      stirs his mug, glass rod
guiding poison to balm, balm to poison,
      nothing settling, nothing
dispelled. With every loss the ache
      of a phantom limb he never
believed in. And still he finds himself
      awake at night, clutching the
cool insistence of a pillow to his chest.

–from American Fractal
First appeared in Crab Creek Review

White Noise


Listen. How the wind whispers our secrets.
How a light rain will speak any language.

–from American Fractal
first published in Poetry Midwest



Love is a horse, all sweaty suede and lean
muscle, heart bigger than its head. Love is a

dark horse, the unexpected silhouette, the anti-
man’s empty field—no shadow unattached

as darkness clings to light like a dead horse.
Look: I can make a dove with both hands. Now

a dog, a horse, an elephant. I can make love.
Love is a horse sound the throat makes when

it’s sore. I gurgle, I gag on a horse pill. But love
is an easy thing to swallow. Love is just horsing

around; it leaps like a wild horse from my chest.
Thank God love wears this simple shoe, and I can

nail it to a wall for luck. They say close only counts
in love. Lead love to the river; love might drink.

–from American Fractal
first published in Spillway

Cooking Dinner


Spring again. Its warmer breeze. Open screen door.
Another war buds up, pliant and green,
thick spores of restlessness
like pollen in the air–you could sneeze with it;
your heart could stop beating in a moment.
____bless you, you’re whispering.
                                    ____bless you.
As if a soul could leak like steam from its
            cellular prison, as if words alone
could draw it back–white light, white light,
a sheet, a flag.
Every day more words to be wary of, that space there
in the blessing, that monotone
on the radio with its figures and dates and facts
and facts that rattle on long after
you’ve pulled the plug, glued shut
                        your ears, rattle on,
rat-tat-tat like something you won’t say
while you drown yourself in a cold water bath,
pry loose your silver fillings
because you’ve heard that story–oh yes,
you’ve heard it before,
but maybe it’s your whole body that’s
transmitting their signals this time, that subsonic
                        headache drone, your bones
the antennae, your marrow electric,
pulsing, mortar crumbling, bricks
knocked free, windows smashed, bits of glass
like blue gravel, tires and dumpsters
            on fire with looting, the whole world
coming loose, thin thread being
pulled and pulled, wound tight
                                    around your_____.
But there she is over the stove.
            Relax, she says. Just relax. She’s cooking
dinner. Egg noodles and mushroom soup.
The kitchen dizzy with steam. Her apron
stained from years of fancier meals, wasted
energy, messes not worth
                                    cleaning up.
Not coming loose, she says,
                        been loose. A grocery list
of wars, holy wars, hunger.
These pots just boil with their watching, is all.
Out on the porch the clatter of a small animal,
                        a neighbor’s cat. The faint stir
of last year’s dried-out leaves against the fence
            finally being looked at.

from American Fractal
first published in RATTLE #22