In my sixteenth summer

a girl named Beatrice
taught me what to do with my desire
while lying on the concrete apron
beside the town swimming pool,
eyes turned skyward watching
boys mount high, sliced cream
across the sun, standing, arms wide
contemplating their dive, thinking only
of stride, nip, tuck, turn, while I lie
sweat sliding down my side, lips glossed,
thighs touching, belly bare, thinking-
oh, god! the curve of his arms,
the shine of his hair, the way his lips
puff out-  and then he’s off, into the air
feet clear, body arching, jackknifing down,
shear into the blue-green, rising
with a shake of his head, hand quickly
slicking back hair, then striking out
to the edge where he lifts his body
and twists to sit, leaving two
wet half moons before he grabs
up his towel and finds me and Bea.
She shields her eyes and calls, “Hi, Mike!”
and begins to banter while I watch
her style, always holding his eyes, words
sliding like oil over skin, never penetrating
beneath the surface, only hinting at
what really is on both their minds,
tossing jokes like sizzling rocks,
sitting on the edge flirting, leaning in,
schooling me in this most
heat driven style,
learning to lick with my eyes,
to put common names
to my intense desire.

Published by:
Apparatus Magazine
February 2010


I saw you there, perpetually dreaming,
your arm thrown back, resting on fur
draped rocks, the day’s bright rays
licking your nakedness.  Sweet Selene
left you on display as if she thought
no one would notice you so artfully
arrayed, so ready for any wanton
woman’s caress. Soft cream limbs,
chest raised, throat bare, I wonder
what inhabits you there and if, perhaps,
I could tame my own forest god as easily,
lay him out in the back garden, come to him
at night, stroke his thighs, and keep him
always, my wild James Dean, soft,
young, away from chain saws,
clogged arteries, and the north wind’s raw call.

Published by:
Apparatus Magazine
February 2010

What we found in West Ripley the winter of 1970

Snowdrifts crowded beneath the sagging roof
of the porch, thick mounds that we slogged through
in the spitting cold of February, the four of us drunk
on owning an actual house, a house tired and roughly used,
smelling of tobacco mixed with the hard nip of night air,
worn with the memories of all those Bane children
birthed and shouldered out into the world, the floor
nothing but bare boards where we laid our sleeping bags,
settled our Coleman lantern, arranged ourselves
in a circle, broke open a bottle of champagne,
laughed with our white breath and, finally, slept
knowing that we had found our own place,
however crooked, in this restlessly tilting world.

Published in:
Bangor Metro
Jan/Feb 2010


That first day, when the water was clear
and the line sank to the sandy bottom,
it was your hook that pierced the fish’s mouth,
your hand that pulled him panting to the deck.

How could I know what I wanted?  I was young
and already you turned from me in the night,
preferred the cliff at the edge of the mattress
to my arms, the lumpy straw to my own

dark caves.  All that hunger settled in my belly,
so when you came home empty-handed,
with that tale of a princely talking fish, you
frightened me.  I saw only sorrow

in the lines of my hands, only old stains
on my marriage bed.  You should have heard
the longing in my eyes instead of the words
that fell like stones from my lips.

Published online in:

Rapunzel’s Mother

I hold to darkened rooms, and when I must,
I creep through back alleys in the shadow
of bricks.  Forgiveness is a rich cake I will
never eat.  Alone now.  Blame has fallen
from me like wet leaves.  My husband only
a name, with the taste of bitter roots,
gone to an early grave.  I drink cold tea,
try to conjure the rounded face, the small
commas of hands clutching sunshine,
the girl child’s scent.  I feel an ache
in the curve of my arms, rub them
till they bleed.  My heart lies
in the succulent green-arrowed rosette
of rampion, a withered fruit within
the springtime plant.  I pin a shawl
around my pain and watch young
mothers in the market slicing radishes,
white teeth biting firm, hot meat.

Published online in:

Some things girls know

The slow thrashing of the rope against the pavement
spit out a pattern, a rhythm that we counted in our heads, before
pledging ourselves and plunging straight
into the swirling center of the rope.  Wrap her up
in tissue paper, send her down the elevator, first floor-
STOP.  That starts the easy one, the beginner’s game,
where we stood and got our ankles slapped.  From there
the tricks progressed to turning, touching, and finally
slipping away through the worm tunnel of air.  We learned
all the heart stamping tricks in those days spent beating
our feet on concrete driveways –  what to do when robbers
came knocking at your door, how to grit your teeth, take
the blame for all the broken bottles – as you’re pushed
faster and faster, the whip and laughter spreading
like a stain, your feet keeping up, keeping up, keeping up,
until you can’t handle it any more, stumble, miss the beat, stop
it all and there is nothing left to do, but take the end,
turn the handle for some other girl’s jammed feet, watch her in
longing, waiting to trip her up, make her scream, punish her
in that whirlwind that left everyone panting: red hot pepper.

Published in:
The Monkey’s Fist

humming on home

sun gone to clouds
my spine wild as yarrow
rattling down Files Hill

drifting in a black blouse
white flowers on a black blouse
white flowers with comfortable shoes

ring tapping the wheel
song of tomatoes in my ear
sun gone to clouds, but warm

ring singing any old song
Files Hill pattering leaves frame
slanted light still remains

comfortable shoes
a blouse hanging loose
a fork full of trouble
trouble jerked free

white flowers loose stream
ring, ring, ring tapping
shoes blooming, blooming yarrow
sun gone to clouds, but still warm

Published in:
Puckerbrush Review
Spring/Summer 2007

Webb Cemetery: Class Trip – May 2002

a hawk circles the tree tops
the notes of a flute
bright tufts of sound among
lines and young leaves of poplar

Tam sits head down
eyes on paper
looking for words
Jared stretches amid
a splatter of sunlight
Corey on the edge of the path

I wonder at the stillness
dead leaves huddle among
young green ones
that thrust from the earth
like soft arrows
a boy’s sneaker rubs among them
the leaves crumbling and
all around us
the stones

Leah, Lavinia, Elvira, Rosendal
a small white stone carved with the letters MMG
initials that shed their meaning long ago
a secret now
a mystery

sitting among the stones
Jennifer, Robert, James, Joshua
the names go on and on
I’ve lost so many already
can’t even remember the names
of all the students I’ve taught

the boys in blue shirts and
baseball caps lean in and point
scratch their heads, whisper
a bird keeps chirping and I
turn over in the crisp dead leaves
Brendan reaches up
touches the thin slivers of
green needle above his head
and a child calls insistently
Mommy, Mommy, Mommy

my mother died
I have not been back to see the stone
my mother         not in that stone
but in my mind
the steam rises
potatoes roil in the water
small droplets condense
running down the window
outside she balances
a basket of clothes on the rail
hands reaching up

Justin wanders over
asks me a question
I say No my voice getting stern but I think
why do I say No
when I should be saying Yes
why  do I say be still
when I should be saying
Take your restlessness and rise with it
until you  feel the soft
feather of the wind push your hair aside
until you see shadows of willow branches
wavering in the grass

I should say
Yes Yes Yes        move         do it all
before the names fade from your mind
before your mother’s voice slips away
a thin stream of water
among dry stones
before the hawk circles again
above the trees

reach out and touch the names
trace them with fingers
as soft as the earth

Leah, Lavinia, Elvira,

published in:
Wolf Moon Journal
May/June 2007

Lettuce woman

At the farmers’ market this morning
I saw the young woman who sold me lettuce last week-
a head of buttercrunch that she pulled from a bag
as I stared at the limp loose leaved plants
she had on display.

“It’s hard to keep them happy in this weather,”
she told me, smiling, holding the head
cradled in her hand, an offering.  Certainly I accepted.

I imagine her back curved like a slender sunflower stalk
pulled down with the weight of its blossoming, the flower
a confusion of gold, as she tends her garden.

With regret she roots among the feathery shoots of carrot,
playing goddess, plucking small plants to die in the sun
so the others may grow long and plump and tender.

This is the hard part, this weeding out,
not the harvest, the shearing and pulling of maturity,
when sun-spilled hands reach out to fill up the basket.

In my mind I see her life wrapped in the earth,
smiling at her lover across a table, white dishes,
cornflowers, fire weed, asters, and always

smiling, as today at her table, a tableau
with fiddle in background.  I can’t meet
her eyes as I pass by looking for my beets,
wishing I had some need of her lettuce.

Published in:
Off the Coast
September 2007

poet’s apology

I wonder about my neighbors
what they would say
if they knew I was
typing them out
fleshing them on to paper
pinning them there like
butterflies unmoving
their stiff wings fragile
kept away from the light
to avoid fading
their lips are there
the clothes they wear
their hands spread against the backs
of their children
their cars breaking down in gullies
their words splattering
like glass on the ground
the knives they hurl
the smell of them
under the covers at night
the way the light falls
through the window
on their cheeks
the door slamming
the cows moving their haunches
chewing up the fields
black letters strung out
fisted together in bunches
I cannot help it
I gather it in fitfully
afraid it will all
drift away
if I don’t
get it

Published in:
Showcase Press
Issue One  2006