On That Day

It will be so much smaller than you thought.
No seas will part, no tempestuous maelstrom will consume, no sparking flames will engulf.

It will devour nothing and frighten no one.

It will be smaller than that.

The splinter coming free,
       the damp impression your socks leave above your ankles,
the part where the horns come in.

The serrations that edge a blade of grass,
       the horrible tenderness of a bruise,
and the enmeshing of feathers’ barbs
       because without it
       there would be no flight.

Like watching yourself take your first steps.
Like coming in from the rain.

It will be like this.
    Small, precise, and palpable.


bone mills, candy bars

I had always thought that when death came I would want my body cremated, reduced to between five and six pounds of chalky ash.

Now, though, I hope to be enrobed in chocolate.

I’ve always wanted to be someone’s crunchy, nougaty center.


Dear Lucy,

Though within recent weeks that hussy Ardi has stolen your limelight, for me you will always remain the one.


An Admirer


Of Hands and Backs and Feet

There’s that thing I want
the one that’s so simple

and elusive.

The one that has your weight on my back
pressed and much too warm
until there’s no space between us
but there’s the warmth and that laughter that comes out hard and sharp
because I can’t really breathe.

The thing I replace with things that
are much too complex
but far easier to reach.

The ones that sully my hands
and busy my mind
and leave my heart alone.

There’s that thing I want
that has me talking about hearts
as though they are something more than gory pumps.

That thing, the one that has me
thinking about bare feet in the rain
you, perched atop that low wall so you were taller than me

the way your hands on my shoulders weighed nothing.


The best thing about my day

Sitting on the benchtop - me at the tail end of my popsicle, he just nursing his. Long shadows stretched across the field. We talk about the birds, the black ones.
They’re called crows.

    Yeah, crows.

You know, they’re really smart, crows. They can recognize people’s faces. Like if they saw you a lot they would know it’s you.

    Why do they bother those small birds, then?

I don’t know; maybe they’re trying to keep their food to themselves.

    Well they’re not smart if they kill those little birds, then.

My popsicle stick, now partly chewed into splinters reminds him of a cigarette. I worry about locking up and about his mom coming late to pick him up. He’s been the last kid here for fifteen minutes now and I’m just subbing so I have no numbers to call, no key to get back into the room. We just wait together.

    I’m so lucky.

Why do you say that?

    Cause I get to be here with you.


Corny Love Poem v.1

It’s now, he thought.

He had been in bed,
half-covered, entirely naked, and fully awake.

The water ran;
she was up.

It's now, he knew.

It wasn’t when they awkwardly met through Judith.
Awkward because they could each see the other look away
and hear the other fumble
and trip over tongues.

It wasn’t when they first made love
or when they first fucked,
when they could feel each other fumble
and trip over tongues.

It was almost the time he saw her at the store, unexpectedly.
She was scrutinizing the shampoo aisle with her arms crossed,
one leg kicked out, heel planted – exasperation as tableau.

He slipped behind her,
kissed the nape of her neck as his hands slid under her jacket
and wrapped around her into familiar warmth.

He felt her tense – an involuntary spike of panic.
But it was so brief, so sharply and immediately curtailed
as his fingertips and lips pressed into her.

She just stood there as her heart slowed and eyes closed.

They walked out palms pressed desperately together.

It was almost then,
but it wasn’t.

It was this morning in bed,
when the running tap had pulled him from sleep.


Micheltorena & Bath

The top of his face was clipped by the bulky lines that described the window’s frame. Perched atop my bicycle, waiting for the light to turn, I saw him pull up and look over. His chin and cheeks were mottled with white whiskers, trimmed and neat. He wore navy blue coveralls and at his neck a fresh red handkerchief peeked out.

His window rolled down and I missed what he had said as I was focused on the red, waiting for green.

“Pardon?” I wheeled closer to the car, an early eighties Volvo four-door that looked to be well cared for; loved even. I could see his soft, kind eyes now, and the muted smile covering teeth that may or may not be his own.

“Is that a racing bike?”

My humble scratched and dented flat-barred bike is a terrific commuter, as utilitarian as a nice pair of scissors. I live in a city where every weekend hundreds of bicyclists take their ultra-lightweight carbon-fiber and titanium racers to the streets, sheathed in lycra, boasting calves the size of small cooked turkeys. Their wheels cost more than my entire ride; I pedal a Toyota Camry among F1 cars

“No, it’s basically just a commuter. It’s fun, though,” I answered honestly, if remarkably dully.

As he smiled in response the light turned green and my spindly legs carried me through the intersection much more quickly than the old Volvo’s drivetrain could. As he passed me he waved.

What strikes me is that he rolled down his window and asked; he asked a simple, benign, pleasant question at a red light. In a world that can provide a person with so many reasons not to, this man’s experiences had led him to something else. His seventy-some years of life had left him with this lesson: reach out and smile.

He drove away gifting this lesson to me, the steel blue of his car blending with the sky.


Seat 3A

The turboprop thrums outside the window; the blade tips churn feet from my head.
As we boarded one of the crew slowly inspected each of the prop blades with a flashlight, presumably searching for evidence of impending failure, of nascent fissures, signs of metal fatigue.
I sat and imagined what that kind of failure would mean. How the blade would instantly and explosively detach, fling itself toward the cabin, shred the aluminum like vellum and spray debris into what would in a moment become unrecognizable as my face. In the moments that would follow, I would quickly die from blood loss, diving toward the earth in this riveted coffin, lobotomized and dully unaware.
I’m not sure what it was about flying into LA tonight, but I had the swelling sense that I had never before seen anything so beautiful in my life. It being LA, that clearly wasn’t the truth, but there was something different about how I saw this descent: I had never seen something so ugly look so beautiful. I’ve always been awed by altered scales, by the unceasingly remarkable disparity between human settlement as viewed from above and as viewed through living it, but I’ve also always viewed these expanses of development as blights, as ever-expanding scars, hiding the real beauty and possibility of the soil and water underneath.
Well tonight it was different. Broad constellations of light created massive, divine continents divided by arteries of headlights and taillights that flowed like surging platelets. At points these stars are shrouded by miniscule clouds that hug the ground in small huddled groups. The stars expand outward, climbing into blackness at the foothills, drowning in the Pacific.
I watched in awe as the halogen white and arc-sodium yellow stars shifted and burned. My view at once obscured and illuminated by the polished aluminum cladding of the engine, the pulsating red underwing bulb, and the immaculately spinning propeller…carrying me home.