Published Pieces

The following pieces have been accepted for publication by some wonderful journals to whose editors and readership I'm indebted and grateful. Please stay tuned as I update this page with poems accepted for publication. 

Spark Wheel

As a writer habitually falling in and out of a dance with the muse, I'm often drawn to documenting that dance, of approaching the muse after a period of distance. This piece was collected and published with other pieces written by fellow members of the Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective. Entitled I'll Have Wednesdays, Vol. III, the journal is available on Amazon, thanks to Bambaz Press.

SPARK WHEEL

 The blank page is not unlike a cold, dark pond.
The prospect of diving in, the holding inside,
Clenching of the spleen at the thought of stepping in,
Thought so viscous it halts the balls mid step.

The mind’s a cunning little wrench,
Making what should be a dance into a single footstep.
As if inviting the muse
Is as pat as just breaking the white with a single word.

It’s not meant to be easy.
It’s not just about diving into the cold waters,
Not just about grinning and bearing it and jumping and dealing with the cold.
There’s a compulsion in the body
To move move move once submerged in the deep dark cold,
Move so that the blood flow heats up, and in the same way:

It’s not as simple as breaking the white of the page
With just any old word or fetching phrase,
But also about moving through the white for a spell,
Moving moving and keeping the words flowing
So the muse warms.

And then suddenly she’s alive and warm and welcoming
And her graceful fingers hold an unlit French cigarette
And she’s leaning there against the vanity with some sweet Nina Simone song
Crackling on the record player
And she’s looking at me and she’s looking deep into my eyes
And she’s liking every nook of what she sees
And she’s excited but in no rush,
And she beckons with the eyes just the most modest glance as if to say,
“Excuse me, my good man, but won’t you please light this up for me.”
And here I stand rocking back and forth
With the sweet little beat and I’m in the pocket with the song
And my hand is in my pocket and I hold the lighter,
And I can feel the grooves of the spark wheel on my thumb,
And I could pull it out at any moment, and I will,
I will at any moment, but for now,
I’m just looking her in the eye as she is locked in my eyes
With lip corners in a slight upswoop,
And I’m just swaying with the music
And she’s just leaning
And looking
And waiting,
And I will light it up.
I will I will I will. 

Spam Folder

This experimental piece was collected and published with other pieces written by fellow members of the Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective. The journal - entitled I'll Have Wednesdays, Vol. IV - will be available on Amazon shortly. 

SPAM FOLDER

Blends of the days turn inside out
Like a leaf masking a man’s ego from his wolf.

Forget childhood rhymes torn from board book pages
Brought forth without wonder yet with some skill.

Engage the black egg resting in the lower belly.
Engage the tender shoots sprouting somehow in winter,
Forget-me-nots for a warmth gone
By time’s great mass execution
The clock thee, the clock thee, hath begun
To bellow its forgone conclusion.

Traces of a numb finger are
What rang the war gong in 1991
And forever we are changed.

A braise is in an attempt to ridicule.
He is a warlord and he smiles like a baby
And will take your babies away and will wonder
At your fear of him though he has a smile
On the nape of his neck that can’t help but look wicked.
To you.

To you, true power comes to pillage
Not people but culture—the most moneyed of cultures.

Fresh off the boat and rapping about a tender crocus
Sprouting in cement cracks that weren’t there a moment ago
And yet now cast long shadows in the dusk,
And will start tomorrow at the crack of dawn
To eat munch by munch the curb
And the doorknobs and mailboxes,
Anything that sounds like a bell
To its retarded sense of smell.

Outsmart it yes.
Outsmart it by telling it what to say.

My ring finger aches sometimes and no
It’s not the one without the redding wing.

Keeling over is a game you win by forcing the other’s hand.

A batch of lentil stew made my heart palpitate.

Shrinking down into a flake of salt
Would result in the heart loading your toast
With vitamin K which is a crucial palliative
On your way to little death.

There’s a fire in the throat of a warbler
When the clouds go nimbus
And the light’s just—so you know—never
Going to flip the script on the California sunset,
Which is just a magazine’s way of saying advertorial in the masthead.

Shake a finger at me, boyo, and I will bring my dog named Bear to the party
And I’ll find your finger first
And wrap a piece of applewood-smoked bacon around it
And then you’ll see what the Grand Canyon looks like in winter.

Disclaimer:
I’m loosely affiliated with a fringe banner ad company
That will fleece your checking account
And turn off the ads that pop up on Facebook.
It’s a genius business model,
And the founder figured it out by hopping one-legged
Into a ceremony led by a fortuitous monkey,
Forgiving everyone of their sins by saying nothing more than “kale and radish”
Over and over again in a high-pitched cockney brogue.

Saturday

This ode to simple pleasures and a fleeting sense of clear answers was - along with "Grief of All Grievances" - the first of my poems accepted for publication, by the Evening Street Review

SATURDAY

I unwrap the NY Times, Saturday edition.

There’s an American flag
In this coffee shop
All in black and white.
Pretty bold.

Everything is black and white.
Booth seats and backs are black,
Tables white, floors white,
Black flags hanging from white rafters,
White walls and white peace sign.

Giant whitewashed wall out front
where parking is tight.

I like this napkin holder.

There’s good jazz on
And the people
Who sit
Nearby
And walk past me
Each smells delicious
On this Saturday morning.

I’m thrilled to be out of the house
On this Saturday morning.

I flutter open the first page
Like a peacock boasting
Or a cardsharp splaying the straight flush.

Grief of All Grievances

I wrote this poem shortly after the dawn of the #blacklivesmatter movement. Though I was - relatively speaking - somewhat aware of the inequality of our American dream, of the privilege I enjoy as a white man, the brutalities and injustices (long endured) that precipitated the #blm movement got me to actively listen and investigate. This piece - along with "Saturday" - was my first piece accepted for publication, by the Evening Street Review

GRIEF OF ALL GRIEVANCES

I am listening.
With ears burning, I am listening.
Burning ember-hot, these bright white ears,
Because somewhere not far and not near,
A whole community is wailing and railing in fury and fear.

They’re out in the streets
On warrior foot on cracked pavement
In front of boarded-up storefronts
And marble towers.
They’re out in the streets,
Laying a last rightful claim.
They’re out in the rough streets
Because it’s where they must be,
Because their homes are not their homes,
Their houses not their houses,
Time not their time,
Their own not their own,
And grief of all grievances,
Their bodies not even their own blessed bodies
In the way certainly mine is mine.

And so I am listening.
Because I know that they are out in the streets
Railing against an animal in their midst.
An animal rabid and thrashing and hundreds of years old
And guilty of a million billion atrocities.
Awful indignities daily like pat-downs and prejudices
And check your pockets and cheek to curb
And hands up and stop and frisk
And no vote no bank notes no hope
No jobs no sky’s the limit,
Just deep and abiding limits
And a thousand acts of hobbling violence daily
As common as daily bread.
Oh forgive us the daily trespasses.

They’re out in the streets
Because beyond all the daily affronts,
The raw and dirty truth is that it’s normal now.
Even after decades of marches
Millions of voices rising,
The rabid animal abides still.
It’s the insult to the injury, and so I am listening.

Because my ears are burning.
Because the white fence I live behind
Near the lush green lawn
And the bright blue sky
And the home I own
And the clothes I roam freely in
And the full life I know
And grief of all grievances
The ripe and fruitful freedom I know:
It’s all my bright and shiny normal.

And so I am listening.
With ears burning, I am listening.
Burning ember-hot, these bright white ears,
Because somewhere not far and not near,
A whole community is wailing and railing in fury and fear.

Artful Digits

I wrote an original version of this piece back in 2001. It was accepted and published by the inimitable Crack the Spine in early 2017. (Click here to read this and other compelling work on the Crack the Spine site.)

ARTFUL DIGITS

Blizzards of trivia.

“Beyond all this,” the founder says,
“We are all voodoo,
Anthems created,
For our moments,
With nonchalance only
Grace can manufacture.”

Beneath all this, the beats abound
And sound the bounds of our fortune.
Tiki-torched walks
Mark a pomp-filled circumstance,
The stale, ashy scent braiding itself
Around swelling rhododendron buds,
Taking hold like roots, the dirt, our pleasure.

Beyond all this,
Alas, a missed call:
A bird’s beautiful ascending
Unwatched, unmarveled,
Tickling its surrounding air with its curves.

Beyond all this…

Anthems to an assuredness
That nurtures itself
The way locomotives don’t dare stop
For a cow caught in their tracks.
May we at least chronicle
But some of the passing countryside
And the crickets,
And the cracking racket of the moving machine,
Steam stuffing the conduits,
Blacking the sky and the grass,
The boring through mountains.

I sometimes mistake the throbbing Earth’s heart
For a friend ascending the stairs,
Awaiting the welcomed knock.

Our lives and our works,
Cutups curated:

Lives,
Like variations speaking to themselves
In raspy discussion around martini glasses
Held by hands amber from candlelight, or;

Works,
As gleanings compiled of their own force,
Like smoke or scents braided through verdure;

Works, picked like flowers
From a boundless greenhouse
Not made by man’s hands;

Works, an airy passage to the skies
Becoming an ever-denser column,
And then, fluted by the most artful digits.

Revival of the Opus

The original version of this poem, written back in 2000, was set to beautiful music by my dear friend Bill Barclay. This updated version below was accepted and published by the Burningword Literary Journal in 2016. (Click here to read this poem and explore others on the Burningword site.)

REVIVAL OF THE OPUS

The round and flat disc
Became a glowing orb again
In earnest today.

The static landscape
Awoke into a fierce self-
Conducting opus.

A hunched man clutching
Bamboo unruffled his cloak
To show the graceful,

Smiling waterfall
Of Loshan his two grandkids
Love-leeching frail hips.

A wood-paneled floor
Opened its stoic lacquer
To permeation

To welcome my tear-
Soaked cheek and then to comfort.
That, your intention?

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