what do I do

when the mirror light stops flickering

stops watching me during the half-removal of clothes

as I spread them about the bathroom floor 

trying to decipher what could be Morse code from beyond.

what do I do

when  the noisy neighbors in the ash tree outside my bedroom window

cease their sunrise chatter and gamboling

and stop waking me at an ungodly hour to announce the presence of a worm or a cricket

hanging from a dark, wreathed beak

ignorant of sand in the eyes and twisted, sleepless sheets

damp with dreams and mourning.

what do I do

when the sun stops rising

and the seasons stop changing

and my heart stops beating

for all of this

Horse and Coyote

Beneath the waning gibbous moon

when two weeks marked you gone,

the horse stood in the pasture bare

at first glance all alone.

Before the gap of curtains closed,

a second set of eyes

peered from nigh the horse’s fetlock

both still of fear or cries.

There’s anger when someone passes,

but even more, there’s love

and these two sitting side by side

unite the vulture and dove.

We pray for God to give,

then he does but can take it away;

yet I think it untrue that goodness leaves

when things aren’t meant to stay.

Orpheus and Eurydice

Have your childhood dreams become you?

Do you travel in the spirit world from creek to bayou,

from lake to riverbed, whooping and hollering in the dark

while the rest of us sleep?

I always pictured myself,

in these dreams somewhere with you.

Smelling the pine needles embedded

in the damp earth;

ignoring the hiking boots that rub a thin red line

into the persistence of shins.

Guilty after some imagined marital transgression,


Always finding you;

I could feel you from decades and miles away,

post-holing through the snow and trees;

sinking deeper through that commencing punch; each step more single-minded

like bread that has risen

soft and yielding at the top, dense where it meets its fictile captor.

Perhaps none of us were meant to be grounded.

Up and down the mountain passes, 

then falling on my knees

when I could hear your voice again.

I bury my frozen fingers into the crook of your arm,

and you hold them there

through the wind and the ice we are thawed

like we were twenty years ago

not enough years ago.

We discover that my fingertips haven’t turned,

and that we are children again, forgiven of our ebbs

in this place where it is white

and sometimes cold;

this place where we are new

and never old. 

And I hope that I am the one out of this darkness always climbing the stairs,

and that you are the one in the light,

forever turning around. 

Motorcycle for Sale

So to tell you this

and so to sell you this

is a pact that you will keep your color.

Leaves without orange, red, or yellow

aren’t seen in the fall;

they blend into the undercarriage of earth

with no imprint on the brain

or the body that remembers.

Just don’t be ordinary.

You should know,

that it started with this motorcycle:

the grease left in the pan on the stove,

the puddled water around the overgrown garden

the smell of earthworms and rough shoots of grass

between the tomatoes.

Burgundy on chrome

he pointed west and slow through the chill,

fast through the hot

tires on blacktops the color of mountains

and towards the mountains

as if the needle were stuck in one direction.

There, he stopped almost


leaning into horsehair strings of an old violin

fingers fumbling with a sound that didn’t matter

as much as the song itself,

across the depth of prairie from a knoll

now full with quadruplet houses

foursomes and fivesomes and sixsomes that mock each other

with their different colored shutters.

I know all of this

because he told us—

the children and me.

About the stars and the squeal of rabbits

in the bluestem at his knees,

about the eagle who called from somewhere—

anywhere other than a tree,

not a tree in sight.

About the empty bank account

since filled and drained ten times over by the rest of us

with the ebb and flow of need,

and forgive-me-father greed.

About the quiet coyotes who saved their calls for sunrise,

yelling with his desire

farther and faster west into altitudes

where breathing steadies and grows deep with


There is nothing humdrum

about the shoes left in the driveway

by the dog who scatters them about like eggs

laid by chickens remiss and high-stepping

all over the yard;

their pecking at the shoes and the grass,

their laughter making him laugh.

Not when they are his shoes,

and it is his dog.

Not when it is his laughter.

There is nothing dull

about the motorcycle’s lean into a stretch of road

of course

when he is driving,

and I am the rider who fills the other seat

getting to touch him

and to see his face in the faces of our children,

and in the clouds.

Getting to put my arms loose about his waist at first,

then tighter

as he took on corners with speed

drifting left and right

tighter still,

as the years and memories multiplied.

So to buy this motorcycle


if you buy this motorcycle

it is to know

that this seat is where it started,

and there is no ordinary

in the stops along the way

and all the places

that he will stay.

Morning Yoga

I’ve been meaning to tell you about the mornings.

Before the sun decides its rising color, 

and after the dark has reached its zenith

I am alone in the room above the garage.

It is a room where nobody goes, and it is cold.

In the mornings it is especially cold,

but as the mat unfurls, and the icy tips of my toes begin their balance,

the warmth spreads into my legs; an iodine contrast as I begin to move.

Then it reaches my arms, and I am able to touch the sky

through the ceiling. 

Occasionally, cars will cast their headlight shadows across a corner;

the design of light and their patterned play is not of this world.

Or, a bird will peck at its image in the window before noticing my eyes;

she is not of this world, either.

Sometimes, the snow will fall softly outside, silencing my breath;

bending my spine into an arch to attend from upside down.

Before long,

when the room is entirely warm, 

and the sun has endorsed its hue from the beginning to the end of winter clouds

the stretches return something more,

and I become a morning person, again.

On Knowing

If I could tell you the names of each tree

and think it important, I would.

No doubt, I would probably exchange one or two for the other;

considering their likeness of leaves or the way they lean away from wind

it is easy to do.

But I would rather tell you about 

their yellow-quilled flags floating and swimming at the surface of a large pond,

and their golden synchronicity like a school of Jumper Fish, 

in a tide of trees.

I would rather relive the chill of a walk through fall,

a maze through the woods, and the surprise of an infant creek trying to float

the earthen-wet needles and diamonds;

sewing, and softening, and marrying source with source.

And I would like to tell you that when I succumbed to their stilled intermission,

when my own horizontal source stared through each brown-skinned wing toward sky

my desire for that kind of recitation was corrected by the carrion below.

Every Morning a Storm

Every morning is a storm.

From flat to full, the trees take on light

not fooled by winter’s freeze.

Here, says the owl.

I’m here again and so are you.

Life’s attendance list is long 

as the good calls out.

Some are as subtle as a breeze

only registered on a thread of hair 

uncovered by a cap.

Some are brazen in their own right:

the icicle softened and felled,

the rabbit’s less-than dart through white

on brown, brown on white

color clinging to where her footsteps braid. 

Blue Jays tend the nest

culled by last week’s fiery zephyr.

They won’t remember the wind or the culling.

They won’t remember the tuck of balsa-wood core under wing;

only the nest and the urge to keep going.

None of them work alone.

Neither owl nor wind,

not the tree, and not the creatures who burrow.

Not the Jays, or the worms, or the carrion.

They are never widowed by earth and sky,

or light and air.

And their flurry is greater when the sun is at the edge.


The next morning

I followed your trail onto the road;

the same one where for years you walked.

It snakes through the desert where 

Saguaro birds flit wings so fast

they sound like horses shaking heads

when the halter’s been unfastened. 

I thought of the fan above your bed, stopped;

too cold for your beautiful, watery eyes; 

your flawless, familiar face.

I thought of your hands 

and your breath,

wanting to hold them and to hear you still.

Lizards scurried across the sand

in front of me.

They left whisps of trails

as feathers would 

before they disappeared into the bloom of 

Creosote and Whitehorn; 

green, despite the summer’s parch.

Kneeling down,

I read their marks into the shape of something I wanted to see:

a heart, 

an arrow to the sky.

Not even the warm wind arrived

without a wish for it to be more:

the wanting for a word,

or the whim of a whisper.

The trail circles around,

back to the beginning.

Coyotes have marked the ruts with 

the spread of their prints

back and forth in front of your home— 

zig-zags cut through cacti, avoiding the reaching jabs.

You would have loved hearing them the night before,

through the opened window

after you were driven away.

They were unbound, beckoning the chase. 

As free as the desert, and you,

and all of these things.  


I bet your loneliness 

is nothing like the flashlight through the arch of trees,

the soft calling of each chicken’s name, one by one.

Their tired, silken clucks from deep within that other world;

the dull, broody hen who lets the darkness move around her.

The others, who love the moreish confection of voice into the empty space of coop,

into the boughs of cottonwoods holding their breath ‘til morning.

Their seeds collect at your feet 

with stink bugs and robin scat

only the flashlight and the floor will know.

Then the horses move through the ley,

their heavy bodies bending thistle, pressing earth,

articulating snort and snit at the cull of sound.

The dry, sweet hay chirrs with the nudge of nose,

the resurrected fold of straw.

This is the way it is.

When the echoes in the eaves

lean and push into windows lit with longing 

on either side. 


In the morning,

there are some who arrive in their winter jackets;

the arms are stretched and softened with ware, the cuffs are a permanent

stain of grey. 

They carry the smell of last night’s dinner, and the static of leaving the pillow

too soon.

Some wear shorts in the snow, their rail-like legs shivering towards the

temperate classroom where they will soon be wakeful when they warm.

Many are lumberers, 

unable to move within the space they know. They are foals newly felled to

the ground, all knees and elbows commanding contact with the brain. 

Some walk with the emboldened confidence borrowed from a baseball

field, the soccer pitch, or an end zone. Their eyes are tired; their bodies are


They are hungry and hungrier;

they would pull up the grass from the roots if they could.

Mask straps encircle and change the form of their ears; 

just the slight drop from an unfamiliar nose, and their blanketed faces show dimples that

couldn’t have been guessed. 

There are braces, and pimples, and smiles to match the eyes we thought we

could read. 

There are scars we didn’t know were there. 

They are lucid and nebulous at once–

sated and decanted within the same moment.

Funny, insecure, sad, curious, hurt.


The building absorbs their stories.

Each classroom wall is thick and sound with their changing voices, 

and over the taupe sameness of lockers

every narrow hall echoes the perfect frailty and difference of their youth.