The woman at the counter attracts me. She is tall, bulky without being heavy or overweight. I don’t love her and never will. I love her desperately.

Like many other men, I want to sleep with her  but don’t. I want her to walk away from her work to the back shelves of this bookstore and reveal herself to me. My wife is a beautiful woman who would never harm me. I will never sleep with this stranger at this bookstore because I will not hurt my wife. I want to sleep with the bookstore woman all the same. I want to take a journey into the far corners of desire, not because it would feel good to me but because it would feel awful.

I am middle-age and overweight. The notion that I have not accomplished what I should overwhelms me. Copulating—the impersonal clinical action that would happen in the stacks—with the bookstore woman would stir an adventurer in “me” who goes to unknown places and returns with a different vision of the world. I know this adventurer well. He is the roller-coaster rider, the man who climbs up on things because they frighten him.

I also know the man who won’t undertake this bookstore adventure. The moral core is too solid, too immutable. It will not let me walk with this woman, even if she was willing, into the back of the empty bookstore and sate physical desire that I don’t and have never understood or come to terms with.

I talk of me and him. I am me and I am the characters I create and recreate. I understand myself as characters as well as me’s. I look back on myself and construct myself us as people I think I am and once was. I sleep with her. I don’t sleep with her. Two different characters. Two different me’s.


i don’t care much

whether humans have souls

or if death transforms us


heaven, hell,

and the in between

don’t concern me


i must atone for my original sin

and this sinner pays penance

doubt and self-recrimination


i seek the solace of breezy days

in early spring when the crocus

pushes through fallen leaves

and reaches for the sun


so i toil purgatory days

struggle for the light


i’m redeemed when

i find myself free

of me


who could know

where the feelings came from


compulsion, broken heart,

a fractured life


without reason

a kiss on a friend’s mouth

a hand on pudenda


desires unknown

until that moment

at the bar


when no one was looking

when lilacs bloom

we lost hope

winter seemed forever

spring so far away


we cowered inside

our faces turned from windows

and hidden in blankets


while we looked away,

frightened beyond reason

that cold would surely end us


lilacs bloomed like surprises

whipped out of gardens

on winds through front doors


then we knew again

lilacs smell better after winter

on days sodden with rain and lightning flashes


lilacs aromas conjure horizons

where green wheat meets stormy skies

thunder shakes creation


tempests rip flowers

into still-cold spring

but gales can’t harm them


they’ve reminded us

how far we have come

into the light

typographical errors

i noticed flies’ absence the most

between sunset and dark


it was as if gods watched

over me as i read beyond seeing

into squinting, nodding, and the cacophony

on slumber’s doorstep


i hooked my dreams to shooting stars

and understood by saturn’s rings

that flies have tastier victims

than drowsy readers


a man dreaming

at the tails of meteors

really can’t say much about

flies, books, stars, or sunsets


but he knows the relevance of flight

in endless spaces between words on a page


so we tell ourselves

students with mushy minds

need convolutions


it’s in their natures

to seek that something greater,

human, sleek, abstract


but that’s not true in the least

frightened, they want us

to fill their heads with

lustrous affirmations

that their lives won’t fatigue them


we walk around prideful that

we only offered questions,

pried the lids off of young minds,

poured in all kinds of poison,

and showed them a wider world


at night, we berate ourselves

and think of the immorality

of ruining their chances

to become happy spaces

into which we pour ciphers


i’ve put my head in a box

to carry around

and take out when I need it


safe, under my arm,

my head in my box

thinks about dangers

heads are exposed to

out in the open


the box creates its own noise,

dims the lights,

softens the jangle,

makes my days less harsh,

easier to take or leave


i hear what you say

but many times

music fills the box

images flicker,

a new show every minute


that’s about what

i’ve accomplished so far–

a warm, secure container

beyond which cruel emotion

washes against other shores


i get no safer

than when i’m not me

i suppose that’s quite enough

bike ride

cottonwood fluff

gathers on the pavement.

it settles in whorls,

traces wind eddies


down the block a dog barks

at the last of the day

its owner stares at the sunset

and dreams of past lovers


this is spring around these parts:

half easy, gentle breeze,

half torpor and memory

and a measure of forgetfulness


the rain helps a little

though it’s been sparse this year

cool rain takes away your loss

lets you remember


it’s tricky stuff this cottonwood fluff

clogging up air-conditioners

blocking car radiators

and rolling heavy up on curbs


it makes you think it’s more than air

until you stick your fist in it

and the dog barks and the lover dreams,

and you feel that rain


this corner and that


a past


too many stories,

corners, disappointments,



the emotions

lead to melancholy

where none should be


a dream,

a new town, more stories

a new world