comps proposal without bibliography
November 17, 2011

I know what you want
i know how your limbs
fold twist turn bend break
i know i want you
i know my vocal chords need to be
pushed to the limit
i know there are no limits
i know you
i know the feeling of your skin
i feel the ground underneath my soles
my soul wants to lie next to your soul
they want to sip coffee together in the mornings
they want to wake up next to each other
in the middle of the dark night
for no reason except to kiss
you will put your hands together
and clap out a rhythm for us to dance to
and my feet will feel freer than waterfalls
on the carpet on the wood floors
on the stone staircases
there are dead flies in our light fixtures
but we are too busy sweeping
dust out of the corners of the bedrooms
too busy fluffing the pillows
too busy boiling rice and
microwaving frozen vegetables
set the table
lay out the forks and knives and spoons
and fill the glasses with wine
and we will drink and eat and
put our hands together and
pray before it all
and thank god that we have made it this far
closing our eyes to see the impossible better
closing our eyes to hear what we normally ignore
the dripping of the kitchen sink
the creaking of tree limbs in the wind
it is a hard silence to bear
as we wait for the moment to end as we
wait to pick up our sharpened utensils
and dig into sustenance
and let the sound of our own bodies be all that is
that is all i want there to be
pounding and pounding of our muscular heart beats
in the empty space surrounding our beings
rushing blood rushing water
through our throats
through our fingers past rocks
in rivulets in streams
in waves of ecstasy and nervous twinges
of arousal between comforter and bedsheets
between the ceiling and the floor
who knows where we will end up
in the end who knows how we will
get to where we need to be
go with me to the super market to the
drug store to the gas station
we will buy doughnuts and orange juice
and pain killers and everything will be better
and we will sleep and wake up to a breakfast
of almost-champions of runner-ups but
that will have to do
for me that is all that is required of life
and when i go home i will lie and say
i was the prize winner the glory seeker
achieving everything that can be sought
and i will spend my nights sipping
decaffeinated tea and surfing the internet for
unfound words that will tweak my brain
in unforeseen contortions
i will give myself up
my self seated on piano benches
at kitchen counters
in car passenger seats
i am wondering when life will begin
when my preludes will turn
to main courses to body paragraphs
to the robust palpable pulsing realities
of which we all dream secretly
when the stars have gone out and we are afraid
and i would call 911 about the car
driving backwards on the highway
but i follow the example and i hope
the whole world turns backwards and upside
down and inside
out until we know nothing
and then maybe i will slither past your chair and touch
your hand and kiss you and we will
make love and the sky will tell us
that we are right
and that is all we will need
in our world that is not a world
worshipping a god that is too weak
to tell us what to do and
by then the orgasmic explosions of the cosmos
will reach our little planet our little
universe our little sphere of mundane existence
and we will be incinerated and we
won’t see it coming and i will embrace
every part of you so much that before the end
i won’t know my self anymore
before the end i will be in love with you
for the first time


Sacre Coeur
November 15, 2011

this is a century of speeding up in slow motion
of slowing down quickly
of biting lower lips in dark alleyways
of kissing strangers behind half-closed doors
ours is a generation of dreamers and
false starters of second-guessers
we have maps but don’t know where we’re going
we have dictionaries filled with foreign words
people stop us on the street
thinking we belong to the city in which we find ourselves
we mutter we fumble with the change in our pockets
everyone is shrugging off our insecurity
everyone is moving on to better people
people with answers people with shoes on their feet
as we realize that we have lost the keys
to our bike locks to our apartment doors
to our post office mailboxes two blocks down the street
that never have any letters in them anyway
we are the ones without umbrellas in the rain
we are the ones whose parents call on sundays
when there is nothing to do but sleep
and ask us if we are still losing weight
if we are still writing
if we are going to move closer to home
we don’t think so but we say maybe
we say that we are meeting people
we say that the sun is coming out for summer
and we are getting tan on weekend afternoons
we are visiting our cousins at the shore and
getting drunk and setting off fireworks on the sidewalk
and running from the police
so fast our hair flies back off our foreheads
so fast we let our thoughts trail behind us
and crash into cars parked at the curb
this is a century of bruised knees
this is a time for falling down
but at least we are good at standing up
we are experts at dusting ourselves off
we practice falling off front steps
off back porches off two-story rooftops
and one day we won’t land
and then something else will start

a philosophy of language
November 13, 2011

preceding essence

I believed in falling into being and
her and the way her mouth moved
when she said the word tomorrow
and I loved her eyes in the morning
and we fell into step on the sidewalk
we breathed together in the midnight light
we knew when to talk and when
not to talk and when to hold each other’s hands
and there is language immanent in every
movement of her arm though we don’t know
how to speak really because we are still learning
the most basic vocabulary of this foreign language
living is a foreign language these
touches are an unknown dialect
I am learning I am trying to learn
I am wondering who speaks this fluently
wondering if I can fall in love with them
so they will teach me their first language
nothing is so easy nothing is natural
to me to my limbs and in the depths of my being
there is nothing there is emptiness and so
I can be anything I tell myself I can fill myself up
with anything I can hold on to
anything I can keep between my fingers
what is this I am trying to find nothing
nothing but that’s okay I can live
I must live I am inevitable

Love is a Humanism
October 11, 2011

Hide and Seek

Who knows why God won’t let me in
on my own secrets?
What is this world-space-time?
What are all these blue mondays?
What are all these green-grey afternoons?
Who is this being I have felt?
She is without apologies.
She is smiling with her straight teeth.
She is running through red lights.
She is smelling of hand soap.
She is kissing my mouth.
What is this wonder she has left
in my pocket, under my finger nails?
What is this word she is letting slip
past her taut vocal chords,
past her loose lips?
What are all these rose-colored mornings?
What are all these dancing dawn lights
and brightly cosmic whisperings?
God wants his secrets back,
but she is hiding them in me.
They are warm and sweet-tasting.
I hope he does not think to look
here, in my body, for the stars
and the smell of magnolias
blossoming in the spring.

Parts of me are made of words…
October 7, 2011

Parts of me are broken records.
Parts of me are thunderous applause.
Parts of me are empty coffee cups.
Parts of me spill into other parts of me.
I have velvet seat cushions on bathroom floors.
I have dirt splatters on cathedral ceilings.

Parts of me are unknown to me.
Parts of me live within commuting distance.
Parts of me live ten years behind.
Parts of me are gone before I get home.
I have hallways of locked doors in me.
I have keys to locks I do not want to open.
I have boxes of novels in languages I do not speak.

I am my own God.
I am my own Father.
I am my own Lover.
I am my own Friend.
These parts of me are all switching roles.
These parts of me are confused about the nature of me.
These parts of me do not know how to interact at parties.
These parts of me get drunk and disappear.

Parts of me are winter parkas.
Parts of me are dead white men.
Parts of me are twin mattresses.
Parts of me are sugar substitutes.
I have a house full of things in me.
I have a garage full of junk in me.
I have fake plastic Christmas trees in me.

This is a yard sale.
Take what you can carry.
There is no return policy.

friday’s self-reflections
September 30, 2011

Things that float

there is a heart beat
sending out ripples underwater.
This heart is a manatee
encased in its mother’s womb,
dreaming of murky waters.
It moves and the waters tremor,
she breathes and
her bubbles disturb tranquil surfaces.
(let it out, let it out, let it out)

there is something held in a hand:
a chestnut,
smooth in its oils,
touched by the same fingers
morningly and nightly,
over over and over.
It is sometimes in the pocket,
sometimes nestled in the palm.
(let it out, let it out, let it out)

there are things within other things.
I am one of those things.
I am between ribs and fingers,
between mirrors and bathroom doors.
I cannot breathe underwater
but I can swim.
I have air within me.
(let it out, let it out, let it out)

Gail Sheehy found poem
August 20, 2011

In addition to writing poetry this summer, I have been doing independent ethics research.  This research has confirmed some things for me: 1. I do not want to do research for a living; 2. Ethical frameworks that are provided by religious beliefs, family values, and the communities in which we find ourselves can be at times constricting but without them, we have nothing to live by; and 3. Poetry is a much more interesting way of communicating philosophical ideas than most scholarly texts.

Case in point: a passage from Gail Sheehy’s 1970’s book, Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life.  I’m not reading this particular book, but in the piece I’m currently reading, Charles Taylor’s The Ethics of Authenticity, a section of Sheehy’s work is quoted.  The following is a found poem (or a poetically-configured quote of a quote in a book that is a quote of a radio broadcast, if you will):

You can’t take everything with you
when you leave on the midlife journey.
You are moving away.
Away from institutional claims
and other people’s agenda.
Away from external valuations,
away from accreditations.
You are moving out of roles.
You are moving into the self.
I give everyone a gift for the send-off.
It is a tent.
A tent for tentativeness.
The gift of portable roots,
there, the opportunity to emerge
reborn, authentic, unique,
loving ourselves, embracing others;
the delights of self-discovery are always available.
The capacity to love remains.

blank verse
May 12, 2011

Philosophical Fragments

I’ll tell you now what (I think) is most sure,
above all else and even beyond god:

This moment, now, is all that we can hold;
it’s all that is most real to searching hands.
And do not try to reach out past yourself,
for self alone is all that you can grasp.
Embrace it, hold it close to you, my love,
hold you to you and never let you go,
and I, by all the most unchanging things,
I swear to keep me close to that in me
which most of all is mine and me myself,
and so, when we in double sureness touch,
your self and I can know we are, in truth.
So kindle your own deepest eager youness,
and in the moment, I would have you glow
so I will see the trueness that is you.

So wander wild if you must
and stretch out past yourself to find the World,
but know that when absurdities and terrors
haunt the night and when you’ve lost whatever
truth you thought you had, know that
you are always there within yourself –
know that such a loss is just a way
of losing self to self and heart to mind
and know that in your labyrinthine soul,
you are the path of every maze you walk.

free verse
April 16, 2011


Tell me I’m a windmill.
Tell me that you know my design
and how nature was meant to move me.
Tell me you know the words to say
so that I will turn exactly the way I’m supposed to.
Tell me that you can move me in the wind of your breath,
then prove it.
Speak the words that have been welling up inside your lungs
like storm clouds.
I am not afraid of your bad weather,
and that’s saying something,
because they could name hurricanes after you.
But instead I am calling every flower by your name
and kissing every petal that opened after your rains.
I am licking every rain drop off my skin
and I can taste you in all of them.

Tell me I’m a library.
Tell me that my soul is lined with Shakespeare.
Tell me that you want to check out all of my volumes
and read them in the dark under a sheet with a flashlight.
Tell me that when I breathe in my sleep
you hear pages rustling.
Tell me that you have walked between my bookshelves
and have found the back corner where I hide all the stories
that no one is allowed to read,
then read them.
Read me and speak my own words to me so that
I know that you know who I am.

Tell me who I am,
because some days I forget that I have memorized my own lines,
and I feel like a foreign country to myself,
and my fingerprints look like street maps
to cities that I have never visited.
But you have left footprints on all of my sidewalks,
so walk down my main street with me
and hold my hand and remind me of my self.
And when I remember the feeling of my own skin,
I’ll take you down my alleyways and past my city limits
and show you the creek in my backyard,
and we’ll catch minnows in plastic buckets with yellow handles
and whistle at barn swallows.

I’ll tell you I’m a cello.
I’ll tell you that you are making
every part of my being resonate
in swimming startime springlight music,
and I’ll tell you that if you bring a bow
and if your hands know what to do,
you can tune me by ear
and play me by heart.

free verse
March 31, 2011


I give to you my Sunday afternoons
and the stillness of my 4ams
and my silent awakening at sunrise.
I give to you the wave of my hand
and the sureness of my feet going uphill
and the pausing of my lungs under water.
I give to you the trembling of my faith
and the light of my candle on the altar
and the melody of the hymn whose words I have forgotten.
I give to you the smell of 50 cent lavender soap
and salt water
and the sound of books opening for the first time.
I give to you the earth on my palms
and the warmth of my neck
and the color of my arms in the summer.

Do not be afraid to unwrap them and take them out of their boxes
and to feel the weight of them in your hand.
Do not be afraid to wear them around your neck or keep them in your back pocket
and to hold them between your fingers when you are walking home.
Do not be afraid when the colors have faded
and when the edges have worn down
and when you leave one in the garden and the dog buries it in the corner.
Do not be afraid of the day you forget.
I give them all to you, still.