Mountain Road at Night

People say it’s best to avoid the news these days,
But when I’m driving alone at night
Even voices repeating catastrophe
Are still voices, still something comforting
In the disembodied voice of a stranger,
Saying terrible things.

I’m moving through a country
Where people feel differently about deer –
On many a night someone driving like me
Then a furred flash on asphalt, leap and a bound,
Car swerve screaming,
Death as no clever conspiracy,
Just confusion with a hammering heart.

The tribe of trees my car lights cannot see beyond –
Under rolling tires a network of gnarled nerves
Reaching under the asphalt, sharing
Food, water, warnings, dark intelligence
Serving the deer in secret.

The familiar madness flows through my speakers,
No deciphered code from the roots beneath.
Fear, born of the hope I’ll know the next bend
But I don’t, yet the hope continues, is necessary
For the fear to break surface, stretch in bloom –
Hope and the killing of hope, over and over,
Compost turning itself in shadows,
All my phobias sharpening like claws,
Beyond this human lullaby
Into the wild-eyed snorting, leaping into night.

(First published in Bowery Gothic No. 8, Summer 2023 – thanks to the editors)

The Bittersweet Incense of Their Shadowed Evenings

All is not well, is never well
At Twicetold Abbey.

The wind, a lost child on the moor.
The moon, a patriarch’s death mask.

There seems to be
A wolf howling competition.

Lady Abernathy writhes in her sheets
In a bedroom dark with foreshadows.

She long ago decided
On a sort of permanent hysteria.

Her husband tears out his hair again
At his bloodstained desk.

Each person’s dialogue hangs in the air,
Awaiting the fated punctuation.

A handsome stranger keeps arriving,
Vowing to rescue them all.

He disappears over and over
In the same nightly hailstorm.

And yet, repeatedly trapped in their rooms,
Each smiles in secret.

To know exactly why they are here to happen,
How they will be allowed to end.

(First published in Bowery Gothic No. 8, Summer 2023 – thanks to the editors)


The world where I live is in slow secret.
The old bird feeder, forever hanging,
Lies on the ground. Its branch is gone.
The fallen leaves from the nearby oak tree
Creep by inches to the back fence.
The sun sneaks near the horizon all day.

A new boy seems to have arrived by himself
In a house sold in haste a few doors down.
He never wears a shirt, runs instead of walks.
The other children have agreed to his rule,
Cheerfully doing the most dangerous things.
New screams fills the air.

A lot, leveled at the top of the hill,
The house erased. No memory
Of what it looked like, who lived there.
Dogs I have never seen before snarl and snap.
All these polite strangers – names of confusion,
Lives of utter mystery.

Is it my time to move somewhere,
Be the question mark –
The one whom no one has seen before,
Who changes how their days happen.
Suddenly inhabiting the scoured hill
Where something was they can’t remember.

(First published in Nightingale & Sparrow #18, Spring 2023. Thanks to editor Juliette Sebock.)