Warm Breeze, Mid-Afternoon in Mid-Winter

Warm Breeze, Mid-Afternoon in Mid-Winter

At the walnut tree’s highest reach
the day’s breeze sets twigs and thin branches

tense like frantic lost messages, last waves goodbye
but the slur slows through the random knots

and twists of the limb structure and’s spread asunder
further in by the outward-reaching limbs and widening

resolve of main branches to the absolute breaking
of leftover negative space: down where I am, humming

a tune I heard my beloved sing and will not forget,
just my voice in the quiet, here at the trunk where all is still.

Night Watch

Night Watch

The night’s face comes out of the empty screen or blank sheet
and watches me at my desk, whispers without moving its lips:

Why ruin this silence we all come back to? or make a mark
where no mark will stay? Lean in, and listen:

and after a while I do, and after an hour or a minute
or a second I place my hands in front of me

and write until the sound of my writing
is something the night’s hands make

and to you who can hear it, and looked up
from your reading, and then back down

at everything which will pass into nothingness,
tell me you can unsee these marks, tell me.

Winter Evening, After Much Snow

Winter Evening, After Much Snow

Plows pound the shoreline of the storm.
When their wave has passed, the shovels

emerge like crabs and get busy. The full moon,
distant jellyfish, drifts over the becalmed buildings.

Dream, First Full Night of the Year

Dream, First Full Night of the Year

I am one of four men entrusted with delivering refugees
from a disputed territory. The road lays over bare hills and open

fields. Everyone carries only what they need. I carry
their memories, so I can only take half a step at a time.

When the first bomb explodes by the roadside, the others
are already far ahead of me. The memories are important

but sometimes you have to outrun memories to escape.
I am cresting a hill, beyond it are more hills and small fires

where the bombs have landed. Gunfire bounces off the road
nearby and I break from the path, dropping nothing,

staying low. Somewhere there have to be trees, undergrowth,
a forest, where I can escape the ground.

Publications: Beloit Poetry Journal

While I await the Winter issue of Beloit Poetry Journal, where two of my poems from the Mei Yao-ch’en sequence will appear, I wanted to direct readers to my favorite poem from BPJ’s Fall 2015 issue, “Passerines” by Kerrin McCadden.

The entire Mei sequence, all 38 poems full of long titles and mostly shorter poems, will be released in a limited edition (20 copies) bound by St Brigid Press. I’ll have some more information about the book, titled Moonlight & Shadow: An Imaginary Portrait of Mei Yao-ch’en, in the coming days.

In the meantime, please take a moment and check out this wonderful poem in Beloit Poetry Journal.

Last Night of the Year, 955 Years After Mei Yao-ch’en’s Death

Last Night of the Year, 955 Years After Mei Yao-ch’en’s Death


I tie my hiking boots tight before I step outside to watch the year fall.
I am not afraid I will float away on Star River; my heart is 400 miles

upstream already. My family scattered. Just the cats and dogs here
to nibble water crackers with. Any year’s last hours are crumbs on a plate,

forgotten on the kitchen counter. For once I wish to be in a crowd
in a loud living room, my heartbeat adding to the temporary chatter.

Walk out with me, old friend. There will be snow in the year’s first hour
at the head of the trail, and I cannot finish this wine alone.