poetry, photography, etc.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


When I see the red-rock mountains and cliffs
of Box Canyon, I know that she came here
with her paint box
and a sketchpad she thought
might be big enough
to hold the image before me.
But my notebook isn’t big enough
and there aren’t enough words. If this scene
could be captured by words
or in paints it would have been
done a million times already
on cave walls, boxcars,
billboards, notebooks; we would
tattoo it on our backs, we’d sing it
out loud—the world would
be obsessed.

But if Georgia O’Keefe couldn’t do it,
then neither can I and neither
will anyone, until the cliffs fall and the sun
sets behind the rubble, leaving it
invisible in the darkness.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Mom is in the kitchen making Dutch babies—
instead of church on Sundays, we have breakfast.
I stumble in, fresh from sleep,

and see the table empty, the stove off, no one home.
I yawn and smile: she’s back again, the table’s set.
Go and get your brother, she tells me, Can you believe
that boy is still asleep? I pound down the stairs and knock

on Eddie’s door. Rise and shine, sleepyhead!
There’s no answer so I throw open the door,
ready to spring on him, but the room is empty
of furniture. Just a few boxes in the corner

and bare walls but when I rub the sleep
from my eyes, I hear a groan, I’m up, I’m up, and
We race up the stairs to the kitchen.

Mom has let the cats in from the garage and is
feeding them sausages. We tell her that’s not
good for them, and she laughs. Put on some music,
that Martin Simpson album.

but the CDs are gone with the couch and the stereo.
Where are they? with a hint of panic in my voice,
and her call sounds like it comes from far away,
the bottom shelf, but how could I have missed that?

Then the sweet sounds of Irish guitar fill the house
and for a moment it’s just me and
When I Was on Horseback. My family
and I sit down to eat but before the fork

reaches my mouth it disappears, the plates are
gone, and Martin Simpson fades away. I rub my
eyes, I blink, but nothing works. The dream is over
and I find myself alone in our empty house

remembering the wedding and my mother’s
new home an hour and half from here by car.
I want just one more breakfast
of fresh Dutch babies.

I return to my bedroom, still fully furnished,
and I crawl under my covers, turn on my
own Martin Simpson, and go back to sleep,
hoping I can drown in my dreams and never wake.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I swear I just
saw my dad’s old racing bike
locked up outside the library.
It was the same minty sea green
as when it used to hang
in a tiny room in his basement
surrounded by wheels and wrenches
and nuts and bolts and a leg press.
When I was ten he took out
the bike and the leg press
and all of the junk
and painted the room white
and that’s where I slept
every other weekend
and every summer until
I was twelve and he moved
to Ohio. I don’t have a bedroom there
and he doesn’t have a bike room—
I didn’t think he rode anymore
but I swear to God I just
saw that old Bianchi locked
up right next to mine.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Yellow Mama

Yellow mama
sing me a song tonight oh mama
let me rest between your arms
feel so cold so old
and tired, just take me
in and hum the old
hymns before

this time your cold whisper voice will fill me
up as your hot fingers take me



My Canary Sings in 7/8

Once upon a time there was a canary who lived in a cage in its owner's basement and had for as long as it could remember. Every day when the owner came down to feed the canary, it would sing for him. It sang the most beautiful songs--about food, and teeth (by which it was fascinated), and its perch, and its water dish, and most of all, its wonderful owner.

So the owner came down every day just to feed it, but when the canary began to sing, the owner always felt compelled to stay and watch the bird, and talk to it.

The owner would talk about his life, and his family. The canary learned over time that the owner's wife had died not long before the canary came to live with him. The owner's children left when their mother died to live with their grandparents on their mother's side. So the owner was all alone, until someone thought to buy him a beautiful yellow bird.

The canary loved the idea that he had made his owner happier, and the thought made it sing even more beautifully.

But the owner was an old man, and time moves more quickly for lonely people than for people with lots of happiness in their lives. He became sicker and sicker, suffering from an internal illness. The canary was sad to see the owner in pain. It sang as hard as it could but still the owner grew weak, until one day he didn’t come down to feed his canary. The canary chirped and chirped, but no one came down.

After a day or so (probably forever) someone came down, but it wasn't the owner. The someone took the canary up the stairs—into unexplored territory. The excitement was short-lived.

The canary saw its owner, stretched out on a couch, barely breathing. The canary started singing a very worried song, partly for his owner and partly because he (still) hadn't been fed—even sad canaries have to eat.

The owner perked up at the song, and the canary was happy.

But the canary only lived upstairs for a week (the someone finally fed it) before the owner disappeared again. This time the canary saw him go.

The someone carried him out of the room like he was a baby (even canaries know how you carry babies) and only barely remembered to feed the canary before leaving the house. The canary knew something was up because he got about three times his normal portions (even someones know how much you feed canaries).

So the canary was alone for a long, long time (probably forever).

But the canary noticed something it had never seen before: windows. The canary saw trees for the first time, and grass, and clouds and skyandbugsandflowersand birds. Seeing them filled the canary with such a huge feeling (kind of like gas) that it had to sing to get it out. And the song it sang was so beautiful that even the canary was impressed with itself.

So he sang, and sang, and sang to fill the time. After a long time (probably forever) the someone came again. The canary was afraid that his owner was like a baby again, but the someone spoke to the canary and said, "He's been asking for you, little bird. Let's go."

When the someone took the canary outside, he thought he would explode from excitement. Luckily he wasn’t outside long and didn’t have time to explode. The someone put him in the car and told him not to make any noise. The canary tried his hardest not to freak out. It was really hard. The canary came out of the car very dizzy and very freaked out.

He didn't come to his senses until he saw his owner, which was probably for the best because they were having Cornish hens in the hospital cafeteria.

When the canary finally saw his owner, though, he sang. He sang the songs he knew from sitting by the window. He sang trees and grass and birds and skies.

His owner smiled, and the canary was happy.

There was another someone in the room standing by the window, and this someone stood up and came over to the canary.

“I didn’t know you liked birds, Dad.”

“Oh, I don’t love them that much,” said the owner, “not in general. But this guy is my best friend. Seeing him makes me want to sing along.”

And he started to hum.