Category Archives: Poetry

“Book Club” poem in the latest Uncanny Magazine

Black and white 35mm photography of a dandelion gone to seed

I’m deeply grateful to Uncanny Magazine for inviting me to contribute to their current issue. I was supposed to write an essay, but I ended up writing a poem called “Book Club” about reading Dandelion Wine to my mom during her last weeks. Here are the opening lines:

Your mother is dying
What do you read to her?
During the pandemic, she started an online book club
For her school-aged grandchildren
Now they’re lounging in the cool, dark house
But she’s too tired to run the meeting
That’s become your job
Pick a book

The poem is free to read at https://www.uncannymagazine.com/article/book-club/ — along with many other stories, poems, and essays from this issue of the magazine. I’ve just realized it’s my first new poetry published in someone else’s publication since high school. Whew. I hope you’ll check it out.

Emails, 2021

thank you so much for your patience
    pretty bad month
fell behind on correspondence
    rough couple of weeks
little behind on everything
    tough few days
hugely appreciate the kind words
    worst fucking year of my life
appreciate you so much

slowly getting back onto this kind of work over here
finally getting back in the swing of things
finally back at it
at long, long last
please find attached
more soon

so sorry for dropping out there for a bit
huge apologies for the radio silence
still running a little slow over here
absolutely understand if

oh no
I’m so sorry to hear
please accept our deepest

best wishes and
big hearts and
all the best and
stay safe and
thanks so much and

please best hearts safe thanks
please hearts thanks
please

can you stop being clever

can you stop being clever
stop making connections
cut out every simile and metaphor
no more rhyming
no more rhythm
just let it fall from your mouth
heedless, formless, and true
like rain from the–
aw shit

I Cry All the Fucking Time

I cry all the fucking time

I say it with a growl so it’s funny
Like an aging hero in an ’80s action movie
Vulnerable
But still a fucking man ha ha ha ha

seriously though I cry all the fucking time.

No hawk, no squirrel

Lord help me, I’m writing poetry again. It’s a terrible year, and somehow verse feels like a proper response, a way to grapple with emotional turmoil with the most efficiency and directness. Today I’m thinking about haiku and giving myself the challenge to focus on the classical elements by including a reference to the natural world, an exploration of a specific, tactile moment, and a instant of quiet revelation.  Here’s today’s result, inspired by what I saw on my morning walk.

squirrel tail

No hawk no, squirrel–
Just a bushy, severed tail
Curled in fresh cut grass.

How to remember what you already know about the things that matter

How to remember what you already know about the things that matter

This poem
is a quiet room
and a mirror
and a simple word like “grief”
limned with gold thread, tied to a brick,
and thrown down a fairy tale well

you have to listen so hard
just to hear the echo

after all this drama
it must come back transformed
infused with new meaning
the poet only used a hundred words
he must have chosen them so carefully

but it’s just “grief”
only softer
and clearer