I Am Smoke

I wake in the diminishing daylight and I am smoke,

rising from red burning embers in a campfire

in an open field on the top of a high ridge.

I rise higher and higher above the red and blue flames and the white hot coals,

leaving the warmth of the fire and floating on the breeze,

feeling the chill of the late afternoon air,

above and over the trees,

carried on the breeze,

dissolving into the wind,

until I melt into and become the wind,

making the leaves on the trees tremble and shake.

I move out past the ridge and over the river,

pushing small blue lines that silently glide across the water.

The trees that line the water’s edge

are leaning and bowing in silent deference to me.

I lift dead leaves from the ground and breathe life into them,

making them dance in the cool air.

I make flags wave and I whisper through pine trees.

I am silence and grace,

I am young and old,

I am familiar and comforting,

and threatening and foreboding.

I am life and I am death.

I am the sum of my contradictions.


I find her,

working in her garden,

and I wrap myself around her.

She bundles her jacket tight around her shoulders as I move through her hair,

lifting and caressing it,

until she turns around,

and I caress her cheeks and fill her lungs.

I brush her skin and make goose bumps rise.

I taste her and she tastes me,

and she becomes fire,

ignited by my breath,

and I am the smoke she exhales from her red and blue flames




I’d give up my sight

rip the eyes right out of my head

just to see you again


and I’d cut off my feet

and sever my legs

just to stand beside you again


I’d tear the flesh from my bones

and bleed every drop of my blood

just to brush my hand against yours


I’d cut out my tongue

and never speak again

just to taste your kiss


and I would die again

a thousand times and more

just to sleep in your arms


but I couldn’t breathe, not even a breath

the morning sun couldn’t rise

if my searching fingertips couldn’t find


the smooth warmth of your skin

Rabbit Hunting

Railroad tracks

on the east side of town

by the bridge over 67th Avenue.

Rabbit hunting.

I’m seventeen years old.

A fresh coat of snow on the ground.

Cold wind slaps my face.

My single shot 20 gauge loaded and cold in my hands,

a half dozen six-shot shells in my coat pocket.

Late afternoon,

sun is sinking on the horizon,

painting the sky watercolor pink

with wide swathes between the grey clouds.

From the top of the elevated tracks

I see a patch of gray moving in the thickets of brush

at the bottom just ahead of my brother.

I raise my shotgun to my shoulder and point it at the first opening

ahead of the rabbit, slide the safety off,

and wait,

no more than a second or two,

for the opening to be filled.

I squeeze the trigger.

The shotgun explodes,

rabbit tumbles over its front legs

In Peckinpah slow motion

and abruptly stops, lying motionless in a thicket,

a drop of red in the snow next to its mouth.

As the echo of the shotgun blast fades

and the gusts of wind pause,

the whole world falls still

if only for an instant,

for eternity.


A group of five writers

sitting at a table on the patio of an Irish pub

on a glorious June afternoon.

Easy conversation floating on the breeze

like an exhausted butterfly gliding,

too tired to flap its wings.


Dark clouds rush in

and chase them to a table inside

where they stay, even after the dark clouds move out,

and the sky grows bright,

when the subject of suicide comes up.

One of them casually mentions a half-hearted

attempt as a teenager,

another describes in detail how Sylvia Plath locked herself

in the kitchen and put

towels under the door.

Another remarks that pills more often than not

fail, leading only to vomiting and pumped stomachs.

The only certain way to do it is with a gun,

and someone else points out

that men tend to use guns more than women do,

as if that were profound.


I contribute nothing to the conversation

because I know nothing about suicide.

Instead I watch through the window

as you glide by on the breeze,

orange and black,

too tired to flap your wings.

Make Me Blind Again

Make me blind again

to the shadows of indifference

that spread across unfertile black fields.

I’ve seen your cold emptiness

and I’ve felt your bitter cynicism

take root in my heart.


Make me blind again

to the ravages of time

in my morning mirror.

Weathered wrinkles of shame

and failure and fear accusing me

of crimes only I know I’ve committed.


Make me blind again

to the white capped waves of regret

lapping on shores of sorrow;

my footprints left behind

in the intractable sand of the beach

of things said and done.


Make me blind again

to the bubbling poisons of disease

and the toxic fumes they emit.

Make me blind again to the inevitability and clarity

with which I see a future

of diminishment and loss.


Make me blind again

to the darkened skies and barren trees

of the black forest of death.

Make me blind again to all I know

because seeing nothing is the same

as seeing everything.

Dreams Do, Too

As I approach the end, time accelerates,
and more is lost than gained.
One by one the functions fall
until I become immobile, a statue,
ensconced in flesh and blood.
Then you will become the moon and I the tide
and in your pale thin light 
you’ll find me,
waiting for you to exert your magnetic pull
to free the steady waves of my breathing
to obey the rhythm of our shared and beating heart,
the music of our souls, our bare feet gliding 
over the wet sand .
And the day is coming when I’ll fall mute,
unable to utter even a whisper,
and when the end is upon me
I will speak your name loud and clear
in a voice not heard in years.
And long after I’m gone
I will return to you,
young and strong again,
In the lifetime of the dream 
we’ve lived all these years
One after another
the nightmares all come true
But you and I, we know 
that sometimes,
dreams do, too.

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