Selected Poems



Questions fell

down from the trees

the summer my sister lay in bed

each one a delicate boomerang

a pair of pale green wings

Lucent sap thick on our thumbs

as children we split them wide

pressed thin blades to noses and chins

flaunting sudden protuberances

A pod had taken root in her belly

and unfurling its haughty head

hissed capricious commands

to her indentured being

I was a seed with pale wings

spinning on wanton wind

falling to gravel or pavement

questing for moisture below

On the ground, the wing serves little purpose


in an August of no answers

my family daily swept the walk

hoarding dried piles of query

barter for respite or rain

On the ground the wing serves little purpose

You will find it in the stillness

You will christen him with saline
wash the noise and tape away

acetone ghosting from the room

you will wrap his tiny form
in the sheet they call morgue pack

only pale white morning moons remain

when ventilator’s incessant
waves of breathing come to rest

when persistent pulsing
monitor is done

when the shining beads of moisture
inside his breathing tube are gone

pale white morning moons remain

It is then that you will feel
the ancient mantle

on your chest

drop like sodden wool

yet light as infant’s breath

it is then that you will bow
you head and mumble ragged prayer

silent awkward praise



To be dissolved into something complete and great
− Willa Cather

As that stunning release
when your newborn pushes
head first into her life, yells
at the sharp snap of lung-sails
unfurling, the cord still pulses
and she is unfolding
already too large to return
to that cushioned grotto.
You are both covered in salt,
she, the amniotic brine
you, the tears of your labor.
She is offered to you
a coffer of living myrrh
and as she mews and searches
the truffle of your breast,
you pull her close and whisper
to this future you will suckle –
you are most welcome.



Storm Hymn

for Lou


One thin crack in the plastic sign

on the locked ward door

winds its way through

Authorized Personnel Only

like a branch of the Hackensack River

where we used to play.

Dried mud thick on our shoes

split in so many places,

our mother’s face when she said,

We just admitted your brother

He told us his crystals are melting.


Waiting for the orderly to turn his key

I turn back to our winter childhood refuge

under the cellar stairs.

We were base camp

guardians of snow.

Charted drift and temperature,

graphed hope for Sunday night storms.


Now grey clouds

and thorazine doses increase

he wanders the blizzard alone,

no guide rope tied to the door

unique as each stellar dendrite

no two of him alike.


We were base camp, guardians of snow