How the Words Come

Sometimes they parade like naked children perched on ponies.
Sometimes they ooze from a golden cup in a godly hand.
Sometimes they bust in with guns gripped high.
Sometimes they dart from the sky like blind birds.
Sometimes they are revealed by reverent servants.
Sometimes they are hammered out hot on a workbench.
Sometimes they are gifted by grinning demons.
Sometimes they just bud and bloom in our eyes.
Sometimes we must come to them, the smug bastards.

(First published in Beatnik Cowboy, January 7, 2023 – thanks to the editors.)

Ash Thursday

Ours was a sadness that had to wait,
We could not see the calendar, but we could feel the days,
Smearing ash across the broad bone of our foreheads.
How many shadows did not belong to someone?
They seemed beyond counting, a refugee darkness,
So close no tear could drip between them,
And still we wept like cows lowing.
We cannot recall the first grief that made our heads bow,
We cannot recall the dates of their deaths,
What each blurred face did for a living, who they loved,
The last madness that jerked in their heads before the peace,
The ancestral stories they bore like smoking coals.
Ours was a sadness that had to wait,
And it died in that waiting, and, numb as we were,
We mourned that late sadness too.

(First published in slightly different form in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, June 25, 2022 – thanks to Editor Marcus Strider Jones.)


We enjoyed reading it,
Maggie our intern in particular,
Who brought it to our meeting in tears.
It was the awkward but earnest wit of the thing,
How the odd font made us remember –
Nothing specific, just remember,
Even the typos were delightful accidents,
Serving their metaphors like clown butlers.
Thank you so much. Unfortunately,

We must pass, we must pass at this time,
We hope it finds a home,
A place to be, even far from our own.
We wish you luck. What is luck?
Luck is you, writing poems every day.
Please send more. Unfortunately,
We must pass, always. Life is a sadness.
Still, regret is a kind of poetry –
We hope you have enjoyed ours,
Thanks so much for sharing yours.

(Unpublished, and never will be! Editors aren’t going to respond well to an ode about their rejection notices – although there’s now a literary magazine inspired by the formula rejection notice. Of course, with acceptance rates typically around 1%-5%, rejections are part of the deal if you try to publish. Poetry editors have to wade through hundreds or even thousands of poems a year to find a few dozen that fit their needs. It’s not easy for poets, or for them.)


He and his wife treated us to baseball,
Good seats on the first base line.
We cheered home runs with them,
Shared popcorn, joked, talked family.
Gaps opened in the years,

Until I saw them just now in the drug store,
As his cool spotted hand gripped mine
With a “heyyyy …”

And we wavered in that pause,
His hand letting go slowly,
His eyes roaming helplessly
Through the friendly wilderness of me.

(First published in slightly different form as part of the Hidden Peak Press Artist Spotlight, July, 2022 – thanks to Poetry Editor Kyle Newman.)