silver lining

if nothing else,
i have been faithful
to the true nature of love;
and if you’re reading this,
and nodding to yourself,

then you understand-

even if they are truly gone…

there is always
a final
grace note
after these perfect progressions
and harmonics


These Births Now Unto the World

(late November, in flight across the North Atlantic)


I was born in the snow;
I came into the this world
as a heart of fire and of flame
formed within the ice and the rock
by the oceans of the north,
and I stood after some time, and looked out
upon the rhythms of the waters
and the shrugging shoulders of mountains,
thus handed this charge:

“You will rise from the rock
and hear the sea always,
and your mind will contain snowfall,
quiet as death
and sudden as birth,
and dream of white-shrouded pines;
but out of these roots
you will build the fire,
you will tend the fire,
you will keep the fire,
and dance and call the rains of summer
to thunder
under the burden of heat-
to speak of water and grass,
you shall be the sun’s flame
and the snow’s voice
in the heart of mid-night.”


You were born of the sands.
You came into this world
as a heart of stone and soil,
formed within the desert’s embrace
by the mountains of the south,
and you stood after some time, and looked out,
upon the undulations of chaparral and waving tree
and the reaching defiance of red rock,
thus handed this charge:

“You will rise from the sands of time,
and hear the wind whisper always,
and your mind will contain branches and leaves,
pulsing as sure as the beat of creation,
and you will dream of the wild hunt,
you will thirst for the water of life,
and out of these roots
you will plant seeds;
you will call unto the night
and listen for the howl,
your hands will long for silken black dirt
and roughened bark
and warm fur;
you will hear magic cry out in the night-
you shall be the light of a living moon
under the stars of heaven.”


what still
may be written
in this unwritten season?

Waves II

The tides are the same
anywhere you go,
anywhere you might travel,
anywhere you might run-

they roll in,
and over,
and over,
and over again;

they wash all things away.

Yes, my dear.
Even footprints.

They’re very good
at their job, you see.

This is simply
the nature of the sand,
of the swell,
of the ocean,
and of the sunset.

But look-
there are endless paths
on this coastline,
leading even beyond
the end of the world.

(Do not forget this;
it’s entirely true-
I’ve seen it).

The tides take,
and the tides give
in return.

See how
the waves echo
into eternity?

No matter which way you walk,
which horizon you chase,
which star you follow,
where you build your fire,
where you lay your head,
where you search for your treasure,

in company,
or alone,
in the light of the sun,
in the dark of the night…

…remember to watch the coastline
now and then.

Chances are, my dear,
there’s a message in a bottle
waiting for you.


they say
write what you know-

you know?

trouble is,
I don’t know what I know

because the more I learn
the less I know

so let me tell you
what’s happening instead:

memories march into the jaws of stars,
dreams unfurl in the veil of the night
after sunset blood
and gold gun-grey dawn

my heart is wrapped
in blankets of darkness
in shrouds close and comforting

and I can see them all
all the scenes
from the time I was born
on and on

in single file moving past
one by one

into the deathblossom of a singularity

but no,
this is good
this is good
I’m telling you
this is all good

this is merely an examination
this is merely good science
this is a weighing of
causation and not correlation

this is letting the grass grow

this is staring down
the freight train
of an oncoming hailstorm
over a summer field

this is dancing with ghosts
under a winter sky

this is seeing the ocean
for the first time

this is getting lost
in the woods
this is getting lost anywhere
this is getting lost
on purpose

this is having your bones
to see what’s inside

this is crushing your mind
like a tin can

this is hearing
your newborn heart

this is opening wide
to every thread
of every frequency fathomable

this is the night I met you

this is a hard run for the horizon
and a thousand little deaths

this is feast
this is famine

this is love-light
and blood-claw

speaking mercy and pain and fire
and the grace of a thousand seasons
holding the universe in your arms

but as I said,
I don’t have anything
to write about tonight

so this is where I’ll end it,
until I see your eyes in front of mine

and maybe then
I’ll have something to say.


just so you know,

when i use the word
i hate that i have to.

i really do.

i hate that everything else
is a just synonym for it-
i hate that it’s been cheapened;

because when i use it,
when i attach it to something,

it means spark
it means ray of light
it means dance

it means thunder
it means chord
it means symphony

it means snow
it means field
it means wave

it means night sky
it means breath
it means brushstroke

it means eye
it means mountain
it means tree

it means you;

it means what it used to.


I shake a bucket of grain and whistle through my lips
under the summer sky
and the horses thunder in from the south pasture.

I lose favor with a teacher
because I beat everyone’s score
including hers.

I grow up,
but really I don’t.

She tells me I’m weak.

My folks never hold hands.

My sister is popular,
and skillful, and still mostly humble.
My sister is successful.

I live in the shadows.
I love from the shadows.

My truck breaks down.

I am selfish.
I give up everything.

You take me in a night of rain and darkness
and the universe opens to our cries
and we enter the kingdom of heaven.

I am in hell.
I drink the flames.

I work overtime.
I work two jobs.
Life is a third.

I apologize to my grandmother as she’s dying
because she won’t live to see me get married,
I’m not even with anyone,
and she shushes me and says it’s ok,
yes she will.

Before he passes,
my grandfather agrees there is nothing after death.

Her eyes pass over me.

I lie in bed and listen to the storm.

I tattoo my body with text.
I tattoo my heart with your memory.

I drive down a dirt road.
I fish in the dark.
I sharpen my knife.
I am strong.
I am unbreakable.
I cry alone in the night.

There’s neon.
There’s drifting smoke.
There’s a hole where you should be.

I sell my soul.
I let my heart get ripped out and eaten.
I grow a new one.

He threatens me.
I don’t care.

I listen to windchimes.
I load 1,000 bales of hay.
I stare into the arm of the Milky Way.
I want you but I don’t know who you are yet.

She doesn’t understand.
They don’t understand.
I don’t understand.

You tell me you love me.
You mean it.

I drop out.
I write.
I tread upon paths of stars and faint imaginings.
I live.
I die.
I breathe.

My mother teaches us.
My father teaches us.
They still never hold hands.

You see my soul, undressed.
You tell me of its shape.

I dream of mountains and oceans and deserts.

I wander the museum at 9 years of age
and wonder why everyone else isn’t here.

You’re gone.

Light moves through the trees.

We try to tell each other of the light
we see in the other
and we don’t believe a goddamn word of it.

I watch people destroy the goodness we’re all born with.

You show me your demons.

I punish him because he deserves it.
Then I realize no one deserves it.

I watch children and dogs give freely
from hearts bigger than we’d ever admit.

My nostrils are filled with red dust
and I make money at brandings.

I sign a petition for equality.
I join no party.
I write for the paper and document campus protests.

On Saturday night
I break bottles against old brick and howl at the moon.
I am saved.
I am damned.

I abdicate my throne
and they don’t understand.
I’m late
because leaves and grass fill me
where shiny parades of nothing cannot.

My family wonders what I am.
I wonder what I am.

I wonder.
You wonder.

I’m not confident.
I don’t join the Master’s program.
I’m too confident.
My horse stumbles on deadfall and rolls backwards over me.

I sit in the pickup bed with my dog
and we watch the sun set.

I take you in a night of fire and thunder
and we burn and die and are reborn.

I write a research paper on biological science.
My life is a country song.

I am not practical.
I don’t want to be practical.
I should be practical.

I burst into flames.
I immolate the darkness.
I fan my wings and fly out of reach.

I am invective incarnate.

My fist makes a hole in the wall.

I bury my dog.
I bury my horse.
I bury my flame.
I bury my heart.

I run.
I hide.
I give my old saddle away.

I love.
I dream.
I shouldn’t dream.
But I do.

I love the way you dream.

I work too hard.
I don’t work enough.
I move too fast.
I don’t move fast enough.
I help too much.
I don’t help at all.
I love too hard.
I don’t love the right way.
I care too much.
I don’t care about the right things.

I don’t understand;
but I hope, I think
you do.

I shake a bucket of grain and whistle through my lips
under the summer sky
and the horses thunder in from the south pasture.


(found among my grandmother’s letters)

So dance, then-

on the sidewalk,
in the backyard,

under the naked lights,
in the depths of the dark,

awkwardly, utterly, ridiculously,
or as smooth as you are

(or think you are);

after work,
on vacation,
on pavement,
on grass,
on sand,
on water, if you’re that good;

dance alone,
or close with another;

whether free, flowing in the air,
or guilty and perhaps weighed-down…

dance with no alibi.

There are little things
in the rooms of wood and brass and string and spotlight,
in between the rock and the roll and the jazz and the jive;
little things with no price-tag
that hammer together the house of the soul.

Did you know
you’ll most likely attend an equal number
of weddings and funerals?

Yes, you may have to tidy up afterwards…
but dance in the kitchen, for heaven’s sake!
What exactly do you think you are?


To dance,

this does not require wings.

for when you ask


it’s so easy,
so very, very easy to love you

alright, then
let me tell you some little stories–
and they’re not true, nor false;

but they are real.

some days you sound like a metal guitar,
some days, like a jazz piano,
some days, like the wind in the trees
or the rain on dry dirt

we walk on the sidewalk in the days of autumn
and i am the sidewalk
and you are the leaves
(take away the amber, umber, ochre, crimson, gold
and it’s just a sidewalk, you see)

sometimes you feel like snow on a barn’s roof
sometimes, like the light of the sun in a summer field

and because
is what makes the sound of

i hold you
and you fit
we sprawl down on the bed
and you fit
you gather my flame into yours
and i fit
we dance in the kitchen
and you fit

because there was a star that died
so long ago,
giving up the atoms of its heart
that made you
and me,
and sidewalks,
and leaves,
and guitars, and pianos,
and trees and rain and dirt and barns and fields

because you are not the pledge,
nor the turn;
you are the prestige

(i watch so closely but i’ll never figure it out;
and since magic is built
into the fabric of the universe anyway,
why would i want to?)

because your defiance flashes
always with reason
(and i like the way you swear)

because you chose to learn from the earth
and all the wild and growing things

because you didn’t grow up;
all you did was get a bit older

because you look up at the stars
the same way i look up at the stars

because you think out loud

oh, yes,
and because the curve of your back
is the spine of an old book
and your mind
is the scent of the pages
and your soul is the protagonist
and your heart is the words

and i can’t get paid to keep writing this,

(not yet)

so i’ll have to end it here,
even though
(just so you know)

i could go on

The Demon Rose

And her demon rose out of the shadows behind,
unfolding in the night,
twice her height,
his breath a pale fog of nightmares.

The monster stopped in shock.

She stood.
The weight of the darkness she had labored under,
years ago born,
now watched. Waited.

The monster’s eyes widened
as the demon hunched down over her,
pillars of arms knuckled into the pavement,
pinpoints of flame deep in the eye,
jaws in blackness dripping onto the ground.

The monster’s mouth opened.

“Not possible.”

The demon’s voice rumbled in the ebon air.

Many things are impossible.
Yet they are.
Is it possible that you will exist tomorrow?

The monster froze.

Deem it death, little brute.
Deem it what you will-
for thy soul smells like a tasty snack to this one.

The monster smiled.

“I’m already going to Hell.”

There is no place for you where this one comes from.
There is no place for you

Not among the eons and spans of distance
into the ink of heaven
and the worlds between worlds
is there solace for one as you.

The monster looked at her.

She met his gaze.

The demon faded through,
re-forming in the space between her
and the monster.

This one’s eye sees farther than you can fathom.
This one’s sensing reaches past dimensions.
This one does not sleep.
This one does not dream.

The monster looked up into the demon’s face,
and opened his mouth to speak.

The demon’s fists left the pavement,
embracing the monster’s head.

This one hungers.

The demon leaned his face in close to the monster’s.

His voice was the thunder of death.
The monster wandered off into nights of half-sanity,
broken further than the word itself allows for.

The demon turned to face her as she dried her eyes.

“Thank you.”

This one has seen many strange things
in the world of men
since you called me into being.

This one cannot tell you all he has seen in others;
yet he believes humans
to be among the most fascinating.

You invent shades of darkness
we never thought to create.

“I suppose… we’ll never be quite parted, will we?”

He smiled.


Her mouth twitched into a smirk.

But this one is learning not to feed on you.

The stars danced in life and death over the city.

She breathed in, and out.

He held out a nightblack rose
plucked from the vale of worlds beyond.

I am here when you need me.