Ashes to Ashes

 Ash built up on the end

of the cigarette 

in what seemed to be 

an engineering marvel-

how did it not fall off?

It grew untethered yet attached

as he held it between

thumb and forefinger 

like he must’ve done

long before he knew me.

But something else was going on.

I could only fixate on the ash

while he held onto the moment

before a drag would knock it off. 

His eyes on me. My eyes on ash.

A deliberately long puff and 

the ash fell to the concrete.

It was not dramatic like a glass

spilling contents of a drink

and breaking into sharp pieces

that could cut.

It was quiet. And swift.

The particles were lost

without actually touching ground

in the softest whirl of air

that came from the door 

opening and closing.

For It Is Spring

The cold that steals a path still

into my house on the exposed corner 

of the street it sits on

isn’t aware of the date, instead

pushes through on a gulf stream

still running down from Northern climes.

But the sun, uncompromised by drifts of air,

balances the chill with a sideway stare

through the blinds that has altered

how the day begins, confirming that

the season has changed, moving

light from dull to bright.

Just months ago, I wanted for dreary

when now it feels too heavy;

gray and gray and gray has tempered

any color that imagination inspires

and kills the flower, wilts the green,

and pulls all energy underground.

On this morning, the sun illuminates

all of winter’s debris found in dust

on table tops and corners and among 

the bric-a-brac that accumulates, 

the chore is happily attended to 

Clearing the way for its landing.

Months from now as the sun drones on

showing itself as summer’s dog days,

I’ll wish for shorter days to return

to dim the light so that work can stop

and I can bundle up again to ward off

the inevitable cold and darkness.

But today, on this first day,

in the excitement for a new thing,

I will revel in the fantastic turn

of the Earth as it gives a closer look

at the Sun and what it has to offer,

for it is Spring.

Last Days of November

Dark fell quick and
a dead of winter wind
found a pitch and blow
that screamed as it
squeezed into small cracks
in newish combination windows.

The howl of it

circled round and pushed

supernatural energy into

tight places that

hide the deepest secrets,

pierce sleep and tell all.

The three nights that end

the month are suspended 

between the day of the dead

and the birth of a savior;

quiet on the books yet

pull old souls into dreams.


Like Dickens’ characters,

one is dead and gone,

another alive, omniscient,

the third a whisper

who lives beyond 

what might be.

Morning raises the shade,

legs twisted in pillow

and blanket knots,

withered tendrils of 

dying greens rooted in soil

but dead on the ground.

Time Change

The clock turned back and I caught a glimpse  
of the photo that sits on the table next to the bed.
Forty forever years ago I recognize myself,
fresh freckled face buried into the cheek of him with a kiss.
It captured us then.
His loft of blonde hair blown off of his face 
leaning in, the corner of his lip pulled into a smile
looking to something else that was off scene and
not ever explored in the years spent in each other’s company.

I roam around inside my memories of him trying to find love,

a desperate ache that held me captive for too long.

For the life of me, I don’t know where I put it. 

Too big to hide, the elephant was with us every time

we walked clutched handed to the car to return me

as he whispered, miss the flight.

The scene covered my heart with belonging in our good years. 

The bad years, I don't recall as well. 

After years of quiet and living busy away from him,

his tears confess that he loved how I loved him, 

A week later, he died. Not fifty. 

In this fall back as I change the clock next to the old frame,

his half smile seems strained. I have to put that picture away.

The hour may have turned back, but I can’t anymore.


A bowl of popcorn tipped over to

release hundreds, maybe tens, 

of hot, white clouds of corn 

over the woolen area rug.

The broom, last used to dust up

after a long haired cat, already

overburdened with irregular sweeps, 

pushed nothing into the dust pan.

On hands and knees then,

loose fibers from the rug and 

life shards shred from the couch

became alarmingly conspicuous.

Vacuuming over the daily life

a few days before meant to

pick up the dirt, failed miserably.

It appeared clean. And company came.

Corralling this spill carefully not to disturb

the delinquent debris visible just now,

perhaps, was meant to live in perpetuity as

a reminder that not all that is left 

is meant to be forgotten. Clean is wiped out

as some dirt clings so as to cultivate

hybrid strength and a new varietal

from what had been left behind.


Door knock  Push  Fittin’ to fight

You took  You owe  Hold the gun

Wrassling to the floor  Pulled punches

Do something  Shoot  Slump  Run

Thirty seconds.

That face. Filled with smile, 

big, boyish, fuzzy cheeked.

“I was born to be a good  

role model for my younger siblings, 

I was steered away 

from being a family man

to a fighting and angry man.”

I won’t know him as a man,

See no anger in him as a boy.

Unformed. Uninformed. 

A seedling only beginning to sprout.

Those thirty seconds,

now thirty years.

The sentences weigh heavy on me,

not the seconds or the years- 

the sixteen, 

seventeen turned eighteen

spent being a boy 

sitting at a desk

writing a song of himself.

Thirty years.

I was born 

to be a good role model,

I was steered away 

by someone else’s beef,

she gave me the gun,

told me to shoot,

I’ve got no fight in me,

he won’t be a  family man

I won’t either.


Not So Fast Spring

The morning’s wind marched
through the atmosphere 
on an expedited mission.

It howled through the small
spaces along window sills
shifting last season’s dust.

Unrattled by unsettled panes,
the gale force was a comfort to
Winter huddled up before its leave.

In a regroup there the idea 
that one more mighty blow 
would give warrant to curl up.

When the wind waves gently,
it is easy to float between
clouded thoughts and inclemency.

Clearly not ready to dismantle
the rath built to withstand dark, 
I’m not ready for bright yet.