Wednesday, September 7, 2016

9/7/16, morning

I'd used this place for spotty poetry and short fiction before I was any good at it. That's okay. We all have to start somewhere.

Maybe I should really use it as my journal. That's a bit of an ego project, I admit, but being public with my writing is important to me.

Please stand by.

Monday, December 8, 2014


There are days when the
Sun dies young, behind houses,
Between bare branches
Long rid of their amber leaves.
My back and forearms ache as

I pull piles from the
Gutter so it won't clog when
It rains later; an
Alert on my phone says it's
Inevitable. My old

Rake is rusted, too
Often abandoned
Overnight in the yard. It
Greets me like a slighted friend,
Pushing splinters into bare

Hands. Who knew tools could
Be so vindictive? I plead
Sincerity in
Waning daylight: let us work
Together once more, and I

Won't forget to put
You back in the garage when
We're done.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

When it makes sense

Try loving me at
3 a.m. when the dark of
Nowhere is so bright,
Singled-out, vulnerable.
A woman hacks consumption

Across your car and
Skin tingles with train itch. The
Bathrooms are below,
Faucets shotgunning into
Metal catches as you washed

Your face with a hunched
Back, elbows jutting without
The train lurches to a stop
South of Klamath Falls. A child

Awakes and wails hot
Protest to a young dad just
Out of the army,
Whose sloping face contrasts sharp
Muscles up his arms, across

His shoulders. He looks
To me for anything, but I
Close my eyes and fake
Sleep. Love me then, with screaming
Children, with the woman who

Might have died, with my
Nascent tuberculosis,
With anything you
Have left. I gave everything
Else as a tip for bitter

Coffee underneath
The observation car just
Before it closed for
The night.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Some years ago we
Were young and our eyes shined like
Polished metal. Back
Then we lived in Portland, where
Everything flowed like honey

From a tipped-over
Jar. Life came at its pace; we
Worked together by
Day, or at least alongside
Each other. At night you drank bourbon

Anything and I
Sipped beer. Once we floated the
Umpqua River in
Borrowed tractor tire tubes while
Steelhead jumped between us and

Greybeard fishermen
Huddled on the shore, lips wet,
Eyes tired, eager.
The shore was a hazy green
And brown, dotted with globs of

Yellow and purple
Paintbrush wildflowers. The
Water could have been
Invisible, or streaked
Choppy white, becoming a

Wide impressionist
Canvas. You wore that lilac
Bikini covered
With magenta polka dots.
I hid a blush behind my

Burnt skin. The suit hugged
You tightly as the river
Carried us under
A bridge where shadows cooled the
Fire on my face. I closed my

Eyes, picturing my hands
In place of the top, pushing
Just enough so your
Softness spilled out around
The sides of my fingers. I

Loved your skin. You laughed
And looked down the bridge of your nose
At me, through askew
Tan aviators smudged with
Your fingerprints and sunscreen.

Friday, May 9, 2014


Face half-pressed against
Glass, nostril fog floods and fades.
Air conditioning
Works best with the windows shut,
Only chilled temperature
Difference keeping
The city out. The sound of
Suction, doors open
To hot wind, gas fumes burning
Us up. It was all in vain.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The corner

And we saw, sidewalk
Burning our bare feet, diamonds
Disguised as broken
Shards of scattered glass. Your voice
Echoed off fading signs. Dust
Stung our eyes, pavement
Cracking to swallow us up, but
You wouldn't let it.
We stood on that corner, sweaty,
Hopeful, irrevocable.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


You let me get you
Alone, when your chapped lips bled
Until mint lip balm
Made us tingle, memory
Wax tasting like better times.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pilot gas, 4 p.m.

Customer eighty,
Shower's ready at stall five.
Buy your single-serve
Soap and get the key from the
Desk. You have fifteen minutes.

Monday, April 28, 2014


Vivid percocet
Dreams. Antibiotics, crash
Of garbage trucks in
That place between waking sleep,
Haze memories, and nightmares.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


For anyone that might read this, I apologize for not updating in a while. I began writing my next project, and it's going so well that I've been focusing on it. 21 writing days in and I'm over 30,000 words.

I'll try to do a bit more short-form, mostly tanka I think. I also may update you on my writing progress now and then.

Hang in there. I am.


Volare. To fly,
Planes and clouds and wind
And me, up, up, far away.
Volare. Eyes shut, deep breath,
Face the sun. Here comes the drop.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


I stare at the sun
Until I see spots. Later
I'll read about death
Certificates and browse old
Magazines at vintage stores
While deciding how
Best to enjoy placebos.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mason's house

The night before my grandfather dies, my parents send me to stay with the family of a friend. I am seven.

I eat dinner with my friend that night. His name is Mason, and his father drives him around on a motorcycle that makes me jealous and causes my parents to give him disapproving frowns.

At this point I usually go home, to my family, my stuffed bear, my little blue blanket, my nightlight, my 10-watt bulb. Instead, Mason and I return to his room, where we play more. I'm tired and confused.

Mason's mother explains to me that I have to stay overnight. She has long, blonde, soft hair. My mother's hair is coarse and frayed. I nod at her words.

It's early summer. The sun sets through a purple and orange sky. An hour later we are put to bed.

The room is dark. Mason asks me if this is my first sleep-over. I lie and say it isn't. He asks how many I've been to. Lots, I say. How many, he presses. I dunno, I search for a number, maybe five?

Later, Mason breathes softly in the bed next to mine. I can't sleep. In the rush to come over earlier, I forgot my bear, my blanket, and my pajamas. I borrow a pair of Mason's. They're too tight and red, the wrong color. I like blue.

I wake. I must have been asleep. I cry for my mom, but she's not there. No one comes. I'm scared. Strange shadows creep across the wall toward me. I pull the blanket up above my chin.

There's a purple streetlight outside Mason's window. It flickers on and off every thirty seconds. I practice counting. Sometimes it's shorter, sometimes longer. Always around 30 seconds.

My legs hurt and I want water and I want to use the potty. I get out of bed and put my feet on the floor. Mason turns over and I hold my breath. Another three flickers pass. I keep moving.

The hall is completely dark, the kind of place where monsters wait. I'm here because, without warning, my parents shoved me into a car and drove me here to visit my grandfather in the hospital. I asked if I could could come. They said no.

I find the bathroom and run the faucet, turning my head sideways and leaning in to drink. Then I hear a bang and I shriek and stumble backwards. I fall into the tub and hit my head. I cry out and wail.

A flashlight beam blinds me. It's Mason's mom. She lifts me out of the tub and asks what I was doing. I sniffle and say I needed to use the potty. She laughs and says don't worry, it was just a transformer blowing. Her hair smells like sweet flowers, and I let my tears run into her shirt.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


I've always loved you from the moment I saw you sit at the desk next to mine in second year composition, I tell her, although as the words come out of my lips they don't sound entirely like I was the one saying them. It's an answering machine, I think, a distant, tinny memory, played over an over until you accept that you must be the one speaking because there's no one else it could be, while at the same time harboring doubt at this alternative voice that speaks dark fears and intimate desires.

She laughs and I hear music. Her voice swims and I float alongside. She appreciates me, I know and she says. An awkward pause ensues and she squints her eyes and realizes my intentions. Adjust the lens and take another look; flush cheeks are either good or bad, I'm not sure.

Oh, she says, a word escaping her locked lips before she can wrangle it back. Insight dawns; she winces gently, an act I notice. I feel like a kid at the top of the roller coaster. A hand, her hand, touches my shoulder. My emotions are drawn there like one of those touch electric glass ball lamps that arcs energy at any fingers that touch it. My heart beats too fast and it's all I can hear and feel.

More words are said but I can't make them out. Sweat beads on my neck and behind my ears. I shouldn't have, I mumble, and force my way passed her and out of the room. Then she is gone and the sun beats down as the wind blows across my face, scattering freshly-fallen leaves.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Four lines and five colors, a three-by-five portrait drying next to my furnace where it will collect dust until the light shines again and I remember my hands gripping a brush in an attempt to define vibrancy on a rainy Saturday afternoon while my wife sleeps on the upstairs sofa and the caffeine and beer in my stomach fight to a stalemate. A window one foot above and to my left frames the downpour; the sidewalk floods and the white noise furnace fire offsets the sound of water slapping concrete and hard-pack dirt. Somewhere nearby, a car backfires.

The colors I choose are red, blue, orange and green. Gluey paint gobs on heavy bristles until I swipe them across empty canvas. I divide the work into four sections, one for each color, and divide them with heavy black lines; I draw these with a separate brush so as to not pollute the other colors, but the efforts are in vain as streaks of black follow rogue strands, polluting my work. I shrug and switch to bourbon, pouring a healthy three fingers into a highball glass.

Paint fumes give me a stretching headache that claws its way up from my nostrils across my scalp. I set the brush down and leave the canvas to dry out of sight, behind the accordion door and into a closet next to our furnace. My Old Crow tastes like paint; I drink the glass down in one gulp and pour a second.

My wife awakes and shouts down from the kitchen what I want for dinner. I yell if she's cooking tonight for a change. She replies no, but she's hungry so I'd better figure out what I want and then cook it so she can have some too. My hands leave paint fingerprints on my glass. I tell her I'm cleaning up and will get to it as soon as I'm done.

We occupy a sterile town home. I paint in the basement, alongside the furnace, what I'm told is called a "half bath," and an empty concrete floor we intended to turn into a den. The kitchen is above me, and the bedroom is above the kitchen. I wash my hands and mixed paint runs black, red, and brown down the drain. Most of the color comes off, but some remains

I finish my bourbon, pour myself a third, and go upstairs. In the fridge I find a loaf of bread, half a jar of peanut butter, and an equivalent amount of grape jam. I scrape together two sandwiches and yell to my wife that food is ready. I head downstairs before she enters the kitchen.

I sit cross-legged next to the furnace and watch my painting. It isn't particularly good, but I feel accomplishment nonetheless; the lines are strong, and the color are deep. My wife yells down something, but I can't make out any of her words over the furnace and the rain. I finish my bourbon, set the glass on the stone floor, and grip the sandwich between both paint-stained hands as I eat.

The accordion door slams open and my wife gives me a perplexed look. What the hell are you doing, she asks. Eating, I say. She sighs and leaves the door half-open as she goes back upstairs. From my position I can see the falling water through the window above me. The only thing I can think of is how the lines of the painting would bleed if I took it out into the rain.