grouped in pods like whales

1. enter the day with hope
a mandarin orange
a mason jar of water
cocoa spice tea
cranberry blueberry pecan waffles
collards with leeks and onions
two eggs

2. monsoons and essays
for the new year

3. unsure
but i choose a dress
black sequins
poofy cut
i am more sure about
elbow length gloves
cut off at the fingers
laced in black
accompanied by isabel’s
silver medallion
my heart

4. man in white car
on buffalo
asks if i’m ok
because i am in the road
standing next to my bike
(reaching in my pannier
for an address)
and kindly offers
to drive down the street

5. laughing harder than we run
through balmy
post-rain night
through sidewalk maze
of industrial southeast

6. shiz,
when i say
portland blows without you
i mean
i spent the night
searching for your face
i mean
you are family
i mean
you are home

7. remembering last year
midnight explosions
by the blankets
under the blue light
ayla’s bed
riding through the wet
into the southeast
in the backseat
with milo on the phone
in providence
two time zones earlier
dancing with sequins
and onesies
laughing with chane
the whole time

8. and then there was
the new years
i was riding
from here to there
on my bike
and loving it
and that other new years
where i had to steal away
from a loud party
in chicago
to a back balcony
under the hugefull moon
silences of snow
and then
that year
in the moonwater  basement
finn on the turntables
and again
my midnight tradition
of stealing away
to the moon

9. new years lullaby
for the cocoons
along the river
sidewalk curled
grouped in pods
like whales
and i am glad
they have each other

11. a message
to two timezones later
this is what
looks like

12. rain into river
water into water
i would sing to you
but i don’t trust
the satellites
with my voice

a boulder of shame releases itself

1. breakfast for the sleepyhead:
hash browns
(the trick is to par-boil the potatoes)
brussel sprouts
mana bread with dates and nuts
thank you molly

2. loops of handwriting
black fine point ink on blank white
lasso-ing me
hawaiian sand
still sunwarmed
in my palm

4. white
frosting the cake of my neighborhood
bringing the gift of wonder
like some kings
brought a certain baby

5. staredown
with the
mentor of bones
in oil lamp
and snow lit

6. twinbrotherpoets
on npr
matthew and michael dickman

in country song
these lines
wrap my gut
in rope:

I’m supposed to walk down the street
like a violent decision
that hasn’t been made yet.

you are never far
from breaking someone’s jaw.

out of context
maybe they don’t do much
but he’s talking here
about male socialization

inheriting the role
of kill or be killed

7. a poet
with an mfa
a book published
multiple poems
in multiple well known
literary magazines
at a grocery store
and a boulder
of shame
releases itself
down rockface
crashing through iced surface
of frozen river

8. a chronicle
of chance and wonder

chimes slice sound into silence

1. it is the kind that looks like
ripped up paper

the only kind
that ever
in movies

the thick heavy wet kind
that accumulates fast
and gentle

and it is not a snow
of heartdemolition

2. triangle pose
under skylight

slice sound
into silence

it is the first deep breath
the coming into myself
in a room full of other people
breathing deep
coming into themselves
that brings tears
to my eyes

3. triangle pose, take two:
what is the chance
two time zones into the ocean
at this moment
hold your limbs
strong and stretched
into the shape of
a triangle too?

4. the scene ends badly
as you might imagine
in a cavalcade of anger and fear

there will be feasting and dancing
in jerusalem next year

5. alberta co-op
spooning bulk cashew butter
reminds me
what lies at the root
of all this


poems that hold themselves so open, you can dive in
poems that pulse under the skin of your wrists
poems that break us open
poems that will hold you in the dark
poems that lodge themselves so deep,
they’ll never leave us

poems that other people believe in

which reminds me
i believe in them too

6. thank you note
on lined paper
ripped out of notebook
safe places
and warm dinners
six hours north

7. when the mantra was
i want to know everything about you
you forgot to provide the footnotes
such as
the definition
or the date
of expiration

8. backyard studio
an oasis
of good light
and spaceheat

untwisting life strands on two single spaced pages

1. a day late,
but, the dream:
daddying me
go on
go pick out a spoon
for your birthday gift

and the wonder
at how much easier
it is to be estranged

2. sun
shine of
forearm burnscar

3. thud of deconstruction
one street over
i wonder
how much longer
they take the trees down

4. serious love infusion
via satellite
u.s. / canada border
we don’t choose to make art.
we have to.
it’s what connects us.

5. sweetie on the big island
soula in vancouver
shannon in irvine
macon in portland
is one word
for this gratitude

6. the overwhelm
almost takes me

7. saga
of the mug of
half-finished tea

8. the art
of navigating

9. untwisting
life strands
on two
single spaced

10. two canadians
and a german
in the secret garden
on their way
to san francisco

confusing theories with post-it notes

1. the
i can’t

2. awake
in a body
that has finally
released the clench of
tensed muscles
tight back
popped ribs

3. half a tangerine
and a mason jar
of water
before stretching out
into day
front room
orange mat

4. white adidas stripes
on black
running towards
fernhill park
wind cutting through fleece
hips tight

5. quick visit to the garlic
green shoots
less hardy than expected
though strong enough
to survive

6. cheering
molly on
think about what you want

7. dronebuzz
of spaceheater
over hours
in white room

8. sometimes
the nightdark
is easier/more tolerable
than the all-day gray

9. shiz on coffee
sounds better
than coming alive
the way we do
when we travel
through the thaw
of spring

10. an essay
about the lifelong practice
of taking apart
every silence
i’ve ever inherited

11.  amassador
of 34
giving myself over
to the kind of laughter
that makes me want to shoulderpunch

12. confusing theories with post-it notes

11. coast-to-coast bike tour
pulling my dad
in the trailer behind me
and sweetie
in a sidecar

the arthritis of absence

1. in one day
this body
has come
to take on
such a terrible ache
i wonder
spine and muscle
complex machinery of shoulders

the stories we carry
the history we hold
and the arthritis
of absence

like wrenches
tossed into the great
inner workings
of cell division
information processing

2. high winds
on  clear sky late night walk
how i
close my eyes
to hear it
above rooftops
moving through

3. for every hour of work
two hours
trekking across the great
digital sprawl

4. macon
on stir-fry duty
while i
coconut milk
agave nectar

5. seated at table
from the demise of the dating industrial complex
a response to
if our hearts
age like our bodies
how many times
can i do this?

5. sun
glittering through
red curtain
if this is what i get
give me the chill

6. record bowl
gum drops

7. 12am
if i were there
and you were asleep
i’d wake you
in celebration
a welcoming
to 34
lit candles
and awe

and we laugh in uncomfortable wonder

1. dreams:
hugging goodbye
against the fridge
ribcage to ribcage
we hold on for days

in a house of artists
wooden banister
you become tony hernandez
from seventh grade
and we laugh in uncomfortable wonder

2. dad
mistaking desktop st. lucia
bringer of light
for the mona lisa

3. ice crunch
new snow sounds
under ancient hiking boots

4. throwing tinsel
on the cheese tree
a laundromat
salsa merengue dance
and a grin so big
you could fall in

5. mom
talking to herself
all over the kitchen
which serving dishes
which glasses
what goes in the oven

6. gruszki
polish for pears
and there is no
notable polish
for a return from the dentist
to an orchard
razed by nazi soldiers
but not before
they gorged themselves
golden dripping fruit
in hands

7. youtube variety pack
kid style:
jurassic fart
spider pig
i am a gummy bear

8. fuschiamaroon blazer
crispgreen stripes
brown sideways hat
black sequin skirt
a la 1940’s singing telegram

9. on my knees
changing all the he’s
to she’s
professions of faith

for our sake
she was crucified under pontius pilate;
she suffered, died and was buried.
on the third day she rose again

10. venite adoremus
venite adoremus
venite adoramus

let us adore

11. a church petition
for all those who are single
seeking companionship
and i reel
wanting to point the finger
at aloneness
and cultures of isolation

12. the crime
of carpeting
in a space
built to fill with sound

13. dinner table moment #2
flanked by 10 and 8 year old
Isabel (8 year old) asks:
is milo a girl or a boy?
my response:
he grew up a girl
but decided he wanted to be a boy

veronica (10 year old) says:
you can’t do that!
my response:
of course you can!
a lot of  people do.

oh, i get it.
like a tomboy

yes. something like that

14. dad on couch
reading post secret book
perched on nose
we laugh over this:
i hate when people say
they built their furniture
you bought it at a store
took it home in a box
and assembled it at home

15. connecting
early childhood trauma
to bi-polar affective disorder

16. discovery over kitchen cleanup:
at age 15
grandma wheeled her
39-year-old mother’s body
beaten to death by soldiers
in a wagon
from farm
to town
to the priest
to a doctor
to anyone
who knew what to do

17. midnight yoga
in living room
letting go
letting go
letting go
in pigeon pose

janina, the living legend

1. dreams:
so much snow
we lost electricity
a return
to the swamp/prairie

2. waking life:
the approach of a storm
the words
historical weather conditions
are used

3. janina
the living legend
i spend
more time
taking photos
than i do
taking her in

4. down
on my knee
tying too-short laces
of her black orthopedic shoes
the only shoes
i ever
her wearing
all my 34 years
living room moment
of surrender
and i feel close
to god

5. on our way out
from the assisted living complex
she says
about the woman in the black coat, hood up
don’t look at her
she’s a witch

6. germans come
palm sunday
we supposed to hide
where we supposed to hide?

7. when the double stack
comes out
with colored sprinkles
in addition
to strawberries
and whip cream
we laugh
and reference birthdays
and i am proud
to remember hers
january 7th
this year, age 86

8. now i be never thirsty
no more

she says
with a pitcher of water
in front of her

9. she tells how
when at the hospital
to give birth
to henryck
when she saw the doctor
in a nazi uniform
said ‘I’m going to get my stuff’
and ran away
and how her husband
brought her back
three days later

10. what sounds like: sahdoof, poland
a farm next to a forest
wild blueberries, strawberries, potatoes

11. fang bangers
shoulder punches
houndstooth hankies
fancy forest birds

on your knees
don’t even think of moving
the pinecones

12. the best way
to describe this place
is by borrowing your method
and naming it ‘beige’

calhoun road cornfield

1. mexican spiced chocolate milk
and a mountain
of mini-marshmallows
tumbling over paper plate

2. every shade of rust
rolling past
out 4-year-old kindergarten window
wisconsin central rail

3. how i ache
at the sight
of houses built before
the 50’s
and the evidence
of public transportation

4. tracing hands
on brown construction paper
for reindeer antlers

5. calhoun road cornfield
behind barbed wire
in a sea
of strip malls
telling the same story
the last buffalo did

6. how is it
i do not know things
like my sister
for the fair housing council
for 15 years
15 years
have passed

7. the story of a cousin
who is a pilot
in the airfoce
dropping bombs
from planes
by pushing buttons
on something that probably looks
like a video game
in a room
at a desk

by this level of removal

8. grade school gymnasium
200 sing-screaming voices
landing freethrows
in basketball nets
climbing knotted ropes
bouncing against clock cage
silent night
12 days of christmas with choreography

9. how the nuances of an all-gray sky
with snow
differ from
the nuances of an all-gray sky
with rain

10. color-scribbled
VIP pass
to isabel’s room
in back pocket

11. a refusal
to show the needles
that i can’t help but link
to our mother tongue
of a million hushes

12. mom and i
winning team
it was professor plum
in the study
with the wrench

seat 35b

1. witnessing
first streak
of blue light
against gray treetopped layers
morning of
the shortest
day of the year

2. buckled in
seat 35b
when she called my hips
from the midcoast

3. red batman hoodie and blue jeans
on my left
black/grey stripes and blue jeans
on my right

4. tonight
while puppets reveal themselves
from behind
patched red curtain
it will be 10 o’clock
my time

5. one year ago
snow-stilled city
6 miles
on foot
infamous bus stop moment
in the form of a

6. washington d.c.
200-300 person snowball fight
tv monitor
minneapolis airport

7. at 30,000 feet
nina simone
against my ears
human kindness
is overflowing

8. how the sun
enters line of
8 x 10 rectangles
faces of strangers
each of whom
i fall in love with
in this underslept

9. towel-wrapped and barefoot
stepping into
wisconsin snow
white icecold
like one might lift river water
to face
to lips
to heart

10. dinner
eight year old
on my right
ten year old
on my left
both in braces
with pink rubberbands

11. isabel exclaims
we’ve got a lot in common
after we discover
billie jean
is our favorite
michael jackson song
and we both love
lady gaga.
she’s gay, she tells me
and if there were less
i would have said
i am too

12. moonwalk lessons
on living room carpet
lined up
while i instruct
right foot up
left foot back
left foot up
right foot back

13. single solstice candle
and i’m thinking:
saint lucia, bringer of light