from The Seed Thieves (2006)


Tonight I leave the white electric hum
of streetlights, those killing globes that cause
moths their last thrusts of faith and delirium.
Dumb believers, starving for light, the gauze
of their dead wings covers my fingers with dust.
I’ve learned from them a daring trust

in darkness saves a life. Tonight I leave
the tease of light’s bright lies—
that led me, by its touch, to believe
I see. Walking through a dark field, my eyes
give in. Behind their lenses, in absence
of light, another aperture opens—the same sense

with which I watch in every sleep a life
inside my life take shape—as if another light
goes on beneath: a ship’s lamp scanning reefs
that reveals a cave once lost to sight.
In that world shines a silver streaking eel,
the real light, that burns by what it feels.


from American Prophet (2009)


Standing on the diving board in his black shoes
and suit, he casts his hand’s shadow on the curved globe
of the huge party beach ball, but no-one heeds.
Enough of this blind reverie…he shouts,
but can’t outdo the pink radio on full blast,
the diva’s citrus wail. Hoisting a bruised apple,
he offers: The gnawed heart of this nation
but fades, momentarily lost in the oil-slicked curves
and belly rings, all the licking and jiggling,
the tattooed machismo, the orgiastic thump
of thundering bass, tangled teen lovers rolling
like carp in the shallow end, the cannonball splash,
the squirt gun war. As he booms: This false palace teeters
on a rotten foundation
…he fights the fleeting
thought that life is short, that maybe they’re right
to splash and giggle, right to be blind
to the clouds of ash billowing from their burning
cities, soon to swallow the sun, right to ignore
the lifeguard, the glaring signs. Poolside, a dropped
Bomb Pop sits stick-up in the stain of its spilled flag.
And on the pool’s surface, the dance of flickering,
marbled light, the glazed citizens bobbing
on inflatable dinosaurs, out beyond rescue.


from Our Sudden Museum (2016)


—for Thomas A. Fanning (1960-2005)

Praise to the basement beam
that held the noose you made.

My brother of bones,
it still took strength to hold you

the way you chose to be held
your last moment on Earth—like a dangling flag

on a rope in a tug of war between gravity
and God. Years ago, before being split

and hewn and made part of the frame
of this house you loved, this beam

was the core of a branch or trunk
of a tree that knew the air and rain.

It stood in a forest the way you once stood
under the stars, and breathed in light.

Would that you had heard
as it must have creaked

one winter night while you crossed
your living room floor.

And would that you had stopped then,
as if your spine were struck

by an axe—hearing that beam
beneath your bare feet speak

with its low and growing whine
of something breaking in your house.


from Severance (2019)


As a puppet after the show
goes into his box, old Grief laid me
down in a coffin-shaped boat

for our escape from the play.
Unwound one, unwound one,
little stopped clock. Now you’ll have

no need of time, croons Grief,
unhinged.There’s No Time there.
Where we’re all now and nowhere.

As I, new-severed and bare,
lean over the hull and drag my wood
fingers in Dark River,

the ripples of old Grief’s song
bluethroated ever and new.
Grief, my captain of icemelt

and uncrossing, who fingers the keys,
who rings one note and pipethroats
on his toy piano, blue.

Grief, toward where? I pipe up,
unsure where, uncrossed
as we are, we’ll go.

Toward Far Shore, says Grief. Where you’re
evernow and wear the songs you wore
before, before, before. When you sang

all blue unstrung, and sang no Script and sure.
Where you sing as who you throatwise were.
Where you sing as ever you are.



Here are links to some published poems out on the worldly wide interweb:

“Say Each Day Your Body Wakes Another Body” at The Baffler

“The Drop-Off” at Waxwing Literary Journal 

“Philadelphia Rooftop” at Waxwing Literary Journal

“A Deer in the Target” formerly published on The Writer’s Almanac, NPR.
Now featured in Our Sudden Museum

“Crooked Wisdom” and “The List of Good Names” formerly published on The Writer’s Almanac, NPR. Now featured in The Seed Thieves. 

5 Poems on Fatherhood, from Our Sudden Museum, featured in STAND Magazine

“On Learning I Should Have Been a Twin” and “In a House Swept Away by the Sea” at The Cortland Review

“The Bird in the Room” at The Cortland Review

“Staying the Night” at The Cortland Review

“Song of the Sea to the Shore” at Poetry Magazine

“Song of the Shore to the Sea” at Poetry Magazine

“Watching My Daughter Through the One Way Mirror of a Preschool Observation Room” at Rattle

“The Prophet in Flight” at

“The Prophet and the Summer Fair” at

“Man Flying Corpse Flying Man” at The Collagist

“The Release” and “Paper Dolls” at The Collagist

“Light’s Bright Lies” at The Michigan Poet

“The House We Almost Bought” at Pea River Journal


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