Sheet Spelling


Early am.

I look down on your bare skin

Imprinted, creased

By gravity and untidy sheets

Spelling a ‘y’ here

An ‘r’ there

Can I make out more?


Where is ‘love?’




Daughter, I’m Talking To You



Do not grow up to be the sort of person who

Wakes up late

Leaves hair on the bathroom counter

The toilet unflushed

Shower grime unseen

Sinks brimming

Dishes scattered

Molds undiscovered

Meals unplanned

Food depleted

Laundry heaped


I need you to be the kind of person who gets

Shit done

Needs fulfilled

Ensures she knows how

And what where when why

Strives for the top

And gets there

Without sacrificing character




And all that is good


And make sure you are the type of person who

Knows how to love


You must do it for me, daughter

Atone for your non-existence




The Artists’ Retreat


Things were going

Well or better

A place found for everything

More than everything in its place

Papers sorted, laptop humming

Thoughts collected, words flowing

Into the allocated position in the outline

Born only that day.


The problem was the kitchen.

The first day or two

It was all I could do to enter

Rustle up some porridge

Or desolate sandwich


When over there Ambitious Artist Couple

Transforming a heap of vegetables

Into one curry jambalaya goulash affair

Six-hour bread on the side

Dessert is tall and multi-hued

Wine requisite and good


And I with my pb&j on brown.


Creatives temperamental and moody

I can play that too

Friends in the hall turn surly by the fridge

Hello to one is returned with

The briskness of

Move please I’m looking for my tahini.

Ten agonizing minutes

Of drying the dishes in silence.




For T

Your tender words of love

Given freely like flower seeds tossed on ready soil

You sometimes worry about them.

Are they too many? Too often? Too effortless?

I want to lay the question to rest

For fear of losing the spontaneity of it

I will take as much as you give

The container as wide as the source is abundant

I hear it all and take it in.


What else can I do?

This: Turn it around to its flip-side:


Your love, a gift of water

Spreads about, down, and through

Clear to the eye

Runs rampant to fill every void

In me.

As sure and welcome as spring.


Your touch, a shock of fire

Without the paradox

A kind of perfection

Leaves me with nothing to say

Except the singularity of your body and what it does

To me.

As deep and hot as summer.


Your friendship, a swirl of air

Cushioning my every day and night

A strange blend of ordinary and extraordinary

All timely moments converge

For me.

As present as winter.


Your support, a temple of earth

Warm to the hand

Cool to the foot

Everywhere, but often invisible

Taken for granted except when I need it always

Under me

As beautiful and moving as autumn.


These are the things you do

With me.

The things you have

For me.

The things you give

To me.


And I accept

Their prism-like loveliness.




People Say


People say

That near-death experiences

Renew zest for life.

That there’s no love

Like that for your child.

That people are essentially the same.

That the weather is chaotic.

That you can do anything you want to.

That the world won’t end any time soon.

That there’s nothing new under the sun.


Me? Can’t say for sure.


I can say

That pleasure is

The sight of you (my furtive eyes).

The feel of you (my eager hands).

The touch of you (my expectant skin).

Proximity to you is an excellent thing.


People say that true love lasts.

Me? Can’t say for sure.

I can say

That my true love for you

is lasting.


How lucky

To contain forever in my pocket.






What’s your secret?

I ask of him

After one month or three

Of sharing time, food, beds.

He smiles wryly.

That’s for you to find out.

And I do.


The quiet red-haired man

Whom I admired for his knowledge

Mickey of whisky hidden in the door of his car

Compulsive swig at lunch, mid-afternoon, any old time.

He drove down the highway straddling the lanes

Like the aircraft he used to navigate

Before he had to stop.


The tall open-hearted man

Whom I admired for his authenticity

Built a fortress of his home

Collections of artifacts, monuments of paper, paeans to discounted appliances, towers of boxes

A move was immanent, or ten years off

He kept people away from his door

And the chaos off-topic.


The diminutive smiling man

Whom I admired for his passion

Competed for moral points

His father’s grief greater than that of my people.

His uncles’ acts of genocide excused

Incessant use of foreign language when we travelled

As he championed his identity.


The big hairy man

Whom I admired for his strength

His claims of talent in music, dance, scholarship

Demonstrations of which not through enough

To fool the children he pretended to teach

Or the women

He fought hard not to hit.


What’s your secret?

That’s for you to find out

But not until being fooled into naivete

For one month or three

Sharing time, joy, skin

Vested in trust.



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