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

kansas city barbeque

men toss split logs in the pit,

fire and smoke and sparks,

forks, slicers, and knives


at the barbeque joint,

the ancient desire

for fire in the night


the man at the register

pickles, slaw,

and piece of a pie


fries, ham and beef sandwiches

sausages, short ends, long ends, chicken—

quarter and half


customers in worn boots, neckties,

exurb voyeurs, families,

tourists, and executives


meat piled high,

drowned in sauce,

swallowed in minutes


we stretch bellies taut

eat until our eyes roll back—

surely this is prosperity