Winter’s Wing

Speaking of travel and snowy owls,
white wings of this weather,
the dishwater sky awaiting heavier
clouds than these, another round
of snow; we are pulled into
the polar vortex again and again.
It’s because we’re heating the seas,
making soup out of creatures
we have no interest in eating.
Still, there’s something about
winter again, the real winter,
how it puts you someplace else,
like the inside of a closet, muffled
and warm when your parents are
having a party, and you are a child.
The laughter and the clink of ice,
present, distant. It’s like that,
under winter’s wing—your blood
thick and quiet, hungry for meat.



Check out Open Link Night at dVerse Poets every Tuesday p.m.!


Man Dead, Woman Missing from Chicago River Accident

Whatever it is, it isn’t worth it, though it seems so at the time.
A little climb on the rocks by the lake at night, in midwinter, or
a January midnight lunge into the river to retrieve a falling phone.
It only looks calm, navigable, shallow, that water. It only looks
placid, like it will happily receive you, help you find what you lost.
It will receive you. You may perceive that it is glad. You might find,
as you are fading, that nothing more is lost. But now your family
dredges up from some other depth this fact: You died at age 26
for a phone that is now waterlogged and frozen, no longer
sending any signal, no longer searching for you.



If it’s Tuesday p.m. (which it’s not right now), check out Open Link Night at dVerse Poets.


Publication Spotlight: Graze

Here is the second in a series of posts in which I call your attention to some great publications (that happened to publish something of mine). This time, we’re taking a moment to appreciate Graze.

Graze is shaaaaaaarrrp. And food-themed. And on paper, bless them (fingers crossed there, because I have been in two publications’ final print issues now, and—great as online publications can be—I don’t want to kill another beautiful, tangible object).

From a tongue-in-cheek but informative gardening how-to for old punks (“Suddenly, you question your plan to wing it and let nature take its course. And you do have a life outside of this freaking garden. You have protest concerts to organize and a cellar full of punk rock anthology cassette tapes to transfer over to MP3.”) to a poem about an eight-sided taco truck on a vague mission of vengeance (oh, hey, I wrote that one), Graze’s Issue Four has something for everyone.

Graze is an incredible labor of love by publishers Cyndi Fecher and Brian J. Solem, along with their art director and associate editor. Everything about it is so crisp and professional, so buttoned-up and perfect (but still very fun—don’t get me wrong), you’d think it has at least double that staff and is being hosed down with sweet, plentiful creative writing MFA program money.

But in fact, it seems to just run on the energy of its publishers and staff. And donations, subscriptions, and single-copy sales. (By the way, you can also buy Graze at many independent bookstores across the country.)

If you live in Chicago, lucky you! Graze hosts a lot of great events pertaining to its food-and-drink theme, as well as music. You can also keep up with those via Facebook and Twitter. I happen to know—from the Issue Four release, which involved bands, DJs, costumes, and a drink or three—that Graze throws a great party.

Wherever you are, please enjoy—and help feed—Graze! (And if you’d love to be part of Issue Five, submissions are open for written work until December 20, 2013, and for visual work until January 20, 2014.)


Previously in this series: Hobo Camp Review.
Next up: Fickle Muses.


On Broadway (for NaPoWriMo, Day 13)

You could buy a full-cap wig or
get a weeve, or your ears pierced,
where there’s a barber on duty.

In the window at Rainbow is
the blank, naked white torso
of a child awaiting clothes.

Iyanze Bolat West African Flair
is right next door to Thai Uptown,
fufu competing with papaya salad.

City Sports sells Adidas of every
color and description; a pair or two
might change your life forever.

At Gigio’s, try number 22 out of
the top 25 pizzas in Chicago. If you’re
handicapped, knock on the window.

Cross the slanted street to the Wilson
station, on gang turf. Say hello to the man
who pauses his mop to let you pass.




NaPoWriMo, Day 13 prompt: Take a walk and write about what you see.


Rip Tides

So, July came to an end, and I had fulfilled my self-imposed commitment to write three poems a day. (I skipped one day and then made myself write six to catch up. I’m a taskmaster.) And now it’s August, and I’m poking along aimlessly — or, more accurately, being pulled in a million directions at once.

Big event at work. Third anniversary of my mom’s death. Concert by my favorite band ever, ever. The slow, yet hurtling wind-down of summer. Impending start of school (after Labor Day — we go late around here) for both kids. Lots of loose threads; lots of things in transition. Also, I’ve discovered that watching a couple-three hours of TV every single night for multiple weeks is not conducive to writing great poetry (though maybe I’m storing away great moments of human drama to write about later?).

I’m tired. I’m getting tossed around a lot. I was not at all surprised to read that it’s rip tide season for our portion of my beloved Lake Michigan. That’s how August feels to me. It always does — and maybe that’s OK.

I’m going to ride it out and not make any huge commitments … and know that September will come. (Do you ever lose that back-to-school feeling?)

If you’re feeling like I am, here’s to a restful close to summer and renewed energy in the fall!


Cliff Dwelling, for Open Link Night

Cliff Dwelling

In a niche,
by wind,
only by
the bravest
of bees.

like brick.

Dirty glass.
There are

into nests
of softness,
park visits,
not to touch
wiped daily
for lead.
This is not

This is a

At night,
a soft crumble
of concrete
in the walls,
a whisper
now and then.

Some lights
some lights




For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets.


Beach Glass, for Open Link Night

Beach Glass

Not very tumbled.
Not yet opaque, milky.
Still retaining the clarity
of what they are, or were.

Holding the laughter
or anger, hot romance
of a beach night on the rocks
before bottles smashed.

A fight, or an errant toss;
someone too young, too urgent
to attempt to find a trash can
(to say nothing of recycling).

What words passed between,
among the sweet evening air
as swifts replaced seagulls
and bottle rockets flew?

Drop the bottles where you are.
There are more important things.
Maybe someday, someone will
collect the broken shards,

tossed just enough to no longer
cut. See? She tests each one
on her finger; blunted edges
make treasure out of trash.




For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets.


NaPoWriMo, Day 20: Notes During Transit

I didn’t play it as straight as I have been with most of these prompts. I had an experience today that I really wanted to write about. In a way, I was traveling, and so was the other person involved …


Travel through the glass doors
out to the walk that overlooks
the river, in which there are

police boats beginning to
circle, near the water taxi,
which has gamely put down

its ladder and a life ring,
as if whoever is in the river
could grab hold, scramble

aboard, find safety through
the mist and cold, the heavy,
heavy water that called to him

from the bottom, as it has
called me, too, if I’m honest;
I have calculated such things

as how much it would hurt and
for how long, and how long it
would be before anyone knew.

And what happens then? Now,
there is a diver with something
in his arms, something draped

across the front of his wetsuit.
Something becomes the jumper,
dragged onto the deck of the

police boat, where an officer
leans over him, up and down
on his chest, the unmistakable

rhythm of CPR. Ten minutes, or
fifteen, since I first came out here,
stopped on my way between one

thing and another, lower level
to twentieth floor, cut through
the lobby. But I took a detour

today, to go out to the river,
wrap my sweater around me,
wonder how cold the water is,

how this will end, what it means
that I came out here instead of
continuing on and up. The man,

in black clothes, is wrapped in
a white blanket, hauled onto a
yellow stretcher for a journey

I’m guessing he didn’t want.
He’s taking a detour between
his plan and its end; whatever

else happens, he won’t die
this morning at the bottom of
the river while all of us watch.