selected poems

seven for anne

I’m splitting at the places that you

Taught me not to show;

It’s more a tube-fed kind of inward shove

Of knowledge than a hunch, to still remember how

Even little schoolboys know

There’s no such beast as

Everlasting love.

why we rise

What is it

That wakes you in the daytime

And stirs you to say:

I must?

Do you not know

Your arms are too short

To box with God?


I picked up smoking.

My mouth will be a smoked cave of the ancients

And the tears in my eyes will have a cause.

But believe me, that it is no good this way.

That i would rather smoke incense or moore

In an ancient temple.


I walked into a foreign home

To light a match

Devil's Advocate

She’s so lovely, the translucent lace scarlet

Braces at her knees. Prettier than me, so much

Softer in the light,

No wicked mirrors twisting her ecclesiastic skin Into grey-pink scars, arms Free of verses, only hushed and silenced goings At the metal, heat to heat, I’ve never Seen a prettier girl. I’ve never seen a prettier girl in my whole life. I am ugly, then, but I have The words, and I have made a saint of her because it was Her Bed That was undone, are you sure this is What you choose? And who brought you here To this bridge? So many words Cut and bleeding on the sidelines of the path My broken fingers take From your calves to your core—like soldiers Astride a terrible fence in a terrible war, Seemingly living—upright—but in reality, Dead, their blood thick like a birthday cake. Words that I whispered to you but Disappeared in my deep pounding’s wake: She’s better If they stretched her out at 10-years-old Like the Vaganova girls She’d pass the test, And I would fail-- I’m not as lithe And not as frail. She’d be a graduate, and I would Go back to my village, Disappointing my mother, And regurgitating ink All over the walls. So Choose Carefully

Ars Poetica

Keep your poetry

Far from decoration; it’s past the time

For sweet love songs and similes,

Like graveyards dug

By those who fill them

They are dead and gone.

New grass has covered them

And now

Couples weaving hands, weaving hearts,

Walk upon them, opposite direction

From the wind, planning

Their future

Atop the bones

Of 62 years ago

Keep your poetry

Away from frills,


Is no longer wanted

In this ring of jiving,

Smoothing fingers

Pressing in

Against words,

Keep away from alliteration or you’ll

End up all alone;

Rhymes are to be avoided at all costs,

Even if the syntax

Is calculated, and the accosted

Understood; even if the structure

Is sophisticated, carries

What’s lost the way

No other forms could.

Place a swear word

In your poem, somewhere

In the middle—keep it scarce,

And connect it to reclaiming

Pride for your tribe that was prodded and stolen away,

Make sure to say

That the clearing was yours before it hit them.

That the buckling, undoing of peoples

Would never occur in your realm.

My grandmother

Is a gypsy—Roma—that’s good shit

To put in a poem. They were nomads

And tracked the woods

Looking for resting places, selling

Tokens and organs and sex

Compelling tales of hooded

Witches, eating scraps

Of childhood, spreading broken glass and blood

At the opening of doors, to bring

Old lover back,

Spells to lull the rich

From the sinned mouth of the poor

Not Jews, though.

That would be bullshit.

They wouldn’t even send you

A goddamn rejection letter.

Don’t say you’re a Jew,

But don’t cry out others’ injustice either

Lest it become

Your story and not theirs.

As if sorrow has kings and queens

And an owner and heirs.

The rulebook is strict, but

It is very clear. And you can’t undo

Anything that’s been done

To rob and to rape, and it’s been

Long enough that’s it’s you who has won

Even though Treblinka seeps through generations

Like a faucet you cannot seem to turn hard enough

To keep it from trickling.

The maddening minds

Fine and ripe for the picking,

You’re not a dead poet,

So speak not of love whether death struck or kicking.

You haven’t the right

And not the most recent of agendas in your words so—

Sorrowful partings, it is not per our

Publishing policy, I fear,

Not quite exactly

What we were looking to hear.

If you could, just remember that they’ve

Got the story, and if we tell their story,

We’re knaves, only here to be rid

Of our forefathers sin

Not that we’d listen

We would listen, we would,

But to honour the brave and the heaven

By telling our brethren

How to behave

Would be best, is what they said.

And it works: Everyone’s frightened,

And a girl with bright eyes was shot in the head

And the world is moving,

But it’s not Frost and Woolf anymore, so

You don’t get a word in here, darling

On what it is that lives

And what it is that is dead.


I saw your storytelling

In another row

Of living;

You were kind and receiving,

You lived,

There was never this poem.

You were breathing and calm

In your stride and your smile.

On vacation from college, you got to go


I wanted to tell them

But on second thought,

We’ll be pleased with the back-and-forth rocks

We’ll be all dressed in flowers then

And in cassocks and in frocks)

I pledge my allegiance to the flag,

I pledge

To the Republic—

But you cannot stand

As you chant,

You try again—

I pledge my allegiance

To the lands that I stole

To the girl I have murdered

To the miners of coal

And the minders of gold

Who lost air


I pledge my allegiance to the gift of the sound

One nation, indivisible—

One, two, rushed, harsh breaths

One nation, two deaths,

One Nation, you choke to speak

One World, indivisible?

No such luck

One land,


Under no God—




Tell me

What courage is, she


Because you seem to



My body is a beautiful country,

And the words of wisdom it makes are



would you make of me a devil or a saint, for

hungrily lusting after flesh?

These sinners seem to lose momentum.

Better get it while its fresh.


you flatter me, i


seethe at the sight of these

tangled nights

coming to an early end,



Every time you say,

It will be worth it.

You are breathing

a brand new world