United States


At dusk, the grandmother sits alone
in the light of the long pale pool and speaks
to the frog who is waiting
by the electric gate of the clubhouse.

It will be all right, she says, leaning out
from her chair. Her voice

is churning, and old, and wet
with advice. Her newly red hair
purples under the bug light. It will be
all right, she says, again, and again

the sky rolls in and out on its journey
across the peninsula, rattling the palms.

To the Quarry and Back

White hail pelting the frozen bog,
I’ m stuck in the first line of January,
following my host’ s dog
on his walk through the stone century,
around the quarry, slices of marble and mud,
past a herd of miners exhaling smoke,
past a barn smelling of merde,
and back to where I’ m stuck and broke.
The fucking dog barks at the night,
mad at the stars all his life and then again.
I rethink kicking him out,
but being cool, I let him in.

The Chain Letter (An American Tragedy)

Ohdammit sez John I’m in trouble
so I sed why John?
John sez I got the bill for my insurance
and I haven’t got no money to pay it
cause I won’t get paid for swoking and bailing
Keith Guymon’s hay till next week
I done told him that would be just fine
when he ast a week ago but
LaVerne she went and opened the damn envelope
on a chain letter and I aint got no time
to write out twenty copies
I got to get that hay finished
so what am I posta do now?

The Bad Mother

The bad mother wakes from dreams
of imperfection trying to be perfection.
All night she’s engineered a train
too heavy with supplies
to the interior. She fails.
The child she loves
has taken on bad habits, cigarettes
maybe even drugs. She
recognizes lies. You don’t
fool me, she wants to say,
the bad mother, ready to play
and win.
This lamb who’s gone –
this infant she is
pinioned to – does not listen,
she drives with all her magic down a
different route to darkness where

Crawfordsville Confidential


In the land of milk and cream delivered early
and daily, and always in glass bottles, we care
about good grooming and, of course, news
of slurs and curs... Can it really be that home

becomes a place to be stranded?
“I don’t see a single storm cloud
anywhere in the sky, but I can sure smell rain,”
out on the edge of Crawfordsville, Indiana,
where the answers and questions become identical
as evil twins.

Northern Exposures

You hear the roadhouse before you see it,
Its four-beat country tunes
Amplified like surf through the woods,
Silencing bullfrog and red-tailed hawk,
Setting beards of moss dancing
On dim, indeterminate trees
That border two-lane blacktop.
Docked tonight, you reveal the badge
Of the farmer, that blanched expanse of skin
Where cap shades face, babyhood

Bewitched Playground

Each could picture probably
with great care his brother drawing
the corded string of a watered silk bag
and mumbling to Basho above the keepsake
pay your respects to mother's white hair
now your eyebrows look a little white too
but all have turned instead to watch this child
a girl my daughter Simone
an astute migrant
skimming the stream of days
toted wherever she wants