Poems

Child Soldier Song
 
There was a bee storm, my sister flung her headscarf over me. 
A boy, she laughed, will chase a firefly 
into a nightmare. Hark your sister, 
my uncle said, She has a grandmotherly heart. 
Early morning, it was spring, 
we were ear to ear asleep in the orchard like dogs 
when the dust unrolled upon us like a rug. 
The river put on its hat, stumbled off. 
Infants sucked but there was no milk. 
My sister & I had a throat-torn goat, dragging it 
one hoof each over the bladebones & 
just then out of the woods the thin men stepped, rifles up,
like dowsers. Some carried hoes 
but they were not farmers. The thin men gathered 
like shadows at the balefire & when 
finally they slept the wretched hairless dogs 
edged into the light. The thin men 
called us boys Little Ones. We drank their wine, 
sang their songs. We tied our long hair back 
as they did, with red bandanas. 
We made noise night & day. In the noise was a silence. 
They had a bandylegged bear on a chain.
It was blind & danced, milkeyed, like a prophet.
The rifle in my hands pointed
at a girl in a dragon mask.
She shivered as if visioning. 
I shot, she lifted her arms in praise. 
They were yelling at the bear, 
Make him stop, make him stop singing! 
I slipped out of bed.
I carried her to the orchard 
under the silver tree of the gods. 
I lowered her in a hole 
with a firefly in a jar. 
Time came to cover her 
but I could not. 
At dawn, the thin men 
screamed like eagles 
& the firefly dissolved.
— (first appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Fall 2019)


This This is the End 

And when and when my snaggletooth wife
Backs out of the driveway beside a grinning fool 
I think this this is the end 
I drive all night I run over a cat 
Her kitten clawing scrabbling blind in the dirt 
I scoop her up she purrs 
In the hook of my arm for a year 
And when and when 
My mother my impossibly kind mother
Holds an X-ray of her skull
Her finger upon a crabapple lump 
And she no longer talks and she hums 
That is no song I say and her eyes are stones 
I think this this must be the end 
I speak to the ocean at dusk 
I say Dear Ocean am I not the worst thing 
The spinning world has ever made 
The waves drink my hair 
The waves urge me like a leaf to my bed
And when and when I am kissed by a bus 
The crystal bowl of my ribcage
Bursts and the ripened fruit within it
Burns to fossil and to ash
My father stands in a forest a Vicodin moon above 
And my few close ones hold hands 
And when and when a war erupts 
For the water of my country 
And survivors encamp in the ruins of malls 
Thawing their souls at bonfires of books 
Still the women walk slow 
To the virulent river the rapturous river 
To wash their hair at dawn 
And when and when the last bird shuts its eyes 
And the flesh of the last whale 
Drifts like pollen in turquoise ink
And dust devils are lords of the squares 
And trees reclaim the stairs 
Still the stars glister like sparklers 
Aloft in the hand of a girl
Still the earth our grave hurdles with grace in the dark
— (first appeared in American Poetry Review, 2018)

Other poems online

The Most Handsome Man in the Neighborhood. Literary Matters, 2019.

The Epic of Senge. Philadelphia Stories, 2019.

A Briefe & Marveyllous Hystory of Franklin. Literary Matters, 2019.

PC Song. The Awl, 2017.

Tale of the Boy with the Horse Head. The Stinging Fly, 2015.

The Unspoken word. Dalhousie Review, 2017.

Utøya. Malahat Review / E-Verse Radio, 2012.

On a Metro Gliding at the Edge of Jungles where Tigers Walked. Subtropics, 2015.

Crow & Fox in Love. The Puritan, 2016.

Last Words of the Old Man with the Photographic Memory. PRISM / Going Down Swinging, 2016.

An Old Man in Black Slippers at Rush Hour. Cortland Review, 2014.

Three Photos of Jayne Mansfield. Rattle, 2011.

Hypochondria Song. American Literary Review, 2015.

The Death of Jolly Dolly. Mudlark, 2014.

Festus, Hansel & Grendel. Literary Review of Canada, 2015.

Only Child Poem. POOL, 2016.

The Prince with No Asshole. The Puritan, 2016.

The Confession of Chunosuke MatsuyamaPOOL, 2016.

Hydra. Literary Review of Canada, 2011.

Public Cremation. Asia Literary Review, 2012.

Tiny Pageants of the Soul. The Puritan, 2015.

Returning What was Stolen. Mudlark, 2014.

The Last Death. CV2, 2012.

The Falling Man. Forget Magazine, 2013.

People Came Back from the Other Side All the Time & Told Us But We Didn’t Believe Them. Mudlark, 2014.