There are no orchids here, and no long shore

teeming with raucous life, no salted wings

rising above the multicolored boats,

no overwhelming breezes, and no tides

rising, impelling everything that floats

to shore or seaward where no warbler sings,

and no palm trees, waving their endless fronds.

Instead there’s only heat: the algaed ponds

cannot reflect the sky or even trees,

birches grown bare above them, whose bare limbs

are falling constantly to riversides,

and floating downstream where a viper swims

in wait, for me or you, and all of these

impressions have combined to replicate

the feeling of an ever closing gate.

I want to leap it, get away, become

something completely other, changed somehow

just by the landscape, as my life divides

between the endless blossom and the bough,

walking in rhythm to a restless drum

to Panama, Maldive, or Singapore.

Night to Her Birds

on a black piece of paper

more shades of black

gliding, a stream on a map

the doodles, shapes of dreams

in quiet words

float, my traveling birds,

this February canvas

is yours, say the formidable


eyes of stars, blind

as dyed red hair, a veil

behind a grotto of gloom-

illuminate as I walk

a friend’s house calling

a studio apartment above

a Cape Air office,

eight college kids, a stray cat,

I notice north-south spanning

as if a flag bleached


as dark red and gray red

conflict for a muse

the birds in unison in a strange voice

call for a hope of a home

they will chase all their life,

with a night running after them,

the mother pleads: stay

I walk inside an aroma down

a stairway, late night curry,

my ears still ringing of that

strange call. A night to her

birds, hope you find what

you’re leaving me for


Clouds hover low after rain,

steady enough to soften the arrival

of full dark, late spring night.

Children on the Hale Avenue corner

have gone inside, their dog quiet,

curled by the front porch door.

The listening is best early dusk,

with quiet company chosen long ago. 

Old sounds return in the settle-down,

loosely-rolled cigarette crackling as I recall 

how her voice shivered when first she spoke 

her street address those many years back.  

Time’s elision, time’s frenetic parade,

nothing suppresses the longing

to live in the pulse of that moment, 

freshness filling the canal of the body,

my own heart surging with blood.

The oldest sound is made of breath.

Youth and By Ourselves

Consider this and that

It wasn’t meant to be

The thing that is going to

Kill me is already on the inside.

There’s this small grandfather clock

Inside us all-

There are minutes of death.

Just the touch. Just this brief.

Where love slips away with the fare

But who’d ask for it back?

There was a time

I knew you though-

Hands, face, pendulum

And when we finally caught up with history

We were no less crueler than our parents.

Yet we were relentless, forgiving, unconditional

We were direction…in blue…on a road sign

Found everywhere…then suddenly…all at once…

Father. He misses mother and she’s been dead

For 24 years

I haven’t missed you that much and you are

so gone

Then I stepped away from the poem

Mid stanza…

We must have been sexton’s sad pencils to say

Those things back then.

But there are rooms for us now and anniversaries to


In the perfect city someone has left everything

Including themselves. You. You should

Make sure you date and pen down

All the soft things that we said.

Because everyone will ask when it was,

How it happened- say something about it.

How the night rain spilled all over.

Our lives. Our soft soft and honest lives.

Aglio e Olio

Remember those late buttered

parmesan noodles mother made

              when you were young and sick

              and needed something simple?

Wednesday’s leftover cold

spaghetti reheated, worried wet 

              with starched water, sliced garlic, 

              adding an herbal handful, fever breaker.

Your mother is gone,

I am with you now.

              But the bug on the page

              crosses my words 

with tiny feet, tearing my focus

from your desert past.

              I’ll make it today – 

              just call me Jon Favreau.

Air bubbles surround 

browning garlic, aromatic

              in your small straw nest.

              Sliced so dangerously thin

I clipped my talon

and felt the puncture 

              as I tossed bits of red pepper

              in the hot, black iron.

I swirl the pasta

in your sauce. Minced 

              parsley, added last.

              My tense hand stings again 

squeezing summer lemon,

turning everything thick. 

              I watch your scarlet mouth 

              waiting on my bed.

Oil coats the corner of your open lip,

              dropping your fork

              to ask for more.

Still Life

But what night isn’t like this?

I’ve always been since earliest version of life


Like the dinner table

Carrying tedious things

On my head—

When there are people talking over

And when the voices vanish,

Life comes out of my mouth

Holding a spatula

… it looks just like me

If only I knew how to cook.

I’ve experienced imaginations of the

End of the world.

So I’ve never been happy.

But I’ve been content in small spaces-

Queues, linen back seat of a Hyundai

That tiny store. North face.

A girl’s heart.

Each day I enter life at the same moment:

You alone in your room at midnight

Are in your nighties beautiful

As how people stop to watch the moon together

The night is…what again?

Listen: the slow parade of wind, the fan

And the refrigerator, humming.

The mouse in your cupboard

I have always sounded like this.

NOVUS Literary and Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN