Won First Place in The Simian Poetry Contest 2009
First appeared in Shakespeare’s Monkey Review, January to June Issue. Lowell, MA,
Sacrement to the Artistry of Geisha Gaia
I drift toward Stains in a blue box
Schrodinger’s cat, bane of existence, stands
flesh or stone feline Egyptian god’s
proud chest, angular attentive ears, alien
face, blessed Bastet murmurs. I am not
I am blue earth. I am
not Egyptian, still: I love revered
Nile crocodile Sobek born to
goddess of war and wisdom; I am
not at rest
I am the river: fervent Ganga raging
Hindu currents, bearing kismet and ashes,
like a goddess, Kali, her
black tongue devouring villagers’
flesh. I am not life and death—I am
destroyer Shiva dancing many arms raised
whirling as if to a lover. I am
not spinning madly, but swaying the universe’s
shifting rhythm, growing more disparate
more desperate to ages’ lost tribes of technological
I am not Bastet’s worshipers; yet I venerate
remains, save my being adrift in a god’s blue
First appeared in Main Street Rag, Fall 2008. Charlotte, NC.
What You Did
You washed my hair, cracked fingers snagging
on tangles. Dirt and oil mingling in lather. Dumped
plastic tub, ran warm water. Apple cream rinse.
Sat long hours. Caught my coffee eyes in your hazel ones.
You bathed me, no nurse needed, long swipes
down to elbow, grasping fingers. Scrubbed at
IV tape. Belly bath and navel swizzle.
Flaccid legs, flat bottom. Lotion. Gown. Indigo bear.
You chose clothes, pulled up my jeans as I
sat on the bed, helped me balance and stand.
In willful gentleness, pulled up my socks with
April’s apricot tops. May’s marigold tennis shoes.
You lingered by a wall of windows, in an old
silver Grand Prix. Awaited my arrival in a
wheelchair’s embrace. Eased me into the front.
Consolatory plants. Balloons bobbing between seats.
You hurriedly jammed cards into a tired
plastic bag of patient paraphernalia—
sputum tray, bandages, Styrofoam water pitcher.
You never let anything go to waste.
First appeared in Main Street Rag, Fall 2008, Charlotte, NC.
Monkey Junction Waffle House, 2:00 AM
Saurterine over asphalt, a glaring teen stops abruptly and helps
himself to a half-smoked cigarette from the darkening parking lot.
He presses the moist butt to his full, pallid lips and takes a long drag,
settling into an almost painful grimace. Suddenly, he cuts
his squirrelly eyes toward a smiling obese woman shoving the door
open, huffing in humidity as she slowly enters the café.
The teen tosses the spent stub, exhaling as he enters the café.
In a smallish booth, the woman welcomes pecan waffles from the help.
She slices as her breasts come to rest on blotchy table. The front door
bangs open. A shirtless drunk shifts and stumbles in from the parking lot.
Blood drips from his chin, red rivulets through chest hair soaking his cut-
offs. The teen bums a cigarette from the waitress, inhaling a drag
as the middle-aged man spews fricative blood on a franticing drag
queen when he asks for directions to the restroom. The smoky café
suddenly turns silent as the portly woman desperately cuts
her waffles, eyes averted as the drunk turns toward her. The smoker helps
himself to a light, staring wide-eyed at the man’s wobbly gait and lot
in life. The blood-drenched drunk flounders toward the restroom door,
paints poppies on yellow walls with red fingers, and bangs into the door.
The young smoker stammers, “You have to pull the handle,” nursing a drag
as the man finally topples into the restroom. The harried cook flips a lot
of raw bacon on the grill, grease splatters loudly in the quiet café;
he swabs his flushed face and dials 911, “Right away, the man needs help.”
He pours more eggs and flips a red sirloin as the obese woman cuts
another wedge of waffle, wipes her chin, and languidly dips the cut
into syrup. After ten minutes banging behind the restroom door,
the drunk appears with flamingo steps and approaches the anxious help,
“How ya doing,” as though it’s just another day. The juvenile drags
on his cigarette as the bum steps through puddling blood, exits café,
and disappears, drifting beyond the glaring lights of the parking lot.
When the cook tells the waitress to clean up the blood, she mutters a lot,
“They don’t pay me enough to put up with this shit.” The fat woman cuts
the last waffle and the smoker bums a cigarette from the café
waitress before she wrenches on rubber gloves and wipes the walls and door
with a wet rag. Would-be customers turn away repulsed as she drags
a red mop. The cook scrapes burnt eggs into the trash and grudgingly helps
the waitress. An EMT, crosses parking lot, enters the smeared door.
The woman cuts a last slice of waffle, and the smoker draws his drag.
The EMT orders breakfast, scans the cafe, and asks, “Who needs help?”
Won First Place in Main Street Rag’s Annual Poetry Contest 2000
First appeared in Main Street Rag, Fall 2000. Charlotte, NC.
One gray day God carried your withered leg away
shrouded in a white sheet, gaunt and placid,
and I would never speak to Him again
if I could beg someone else to make you well.
Shrouded in a white sheet, gaunt and placid,
you read me poetry and essays on bees.
When I beg the nurse to make you well,
she sews me a white uniform to do the job myself.
You read me and assay my busy being,
then warn me that we are weak wretches.
Sewn in a white uniform, I do the job myself;
I wash your pale forehead, whispering prayers.
You warn me that we are weak wretches
as you worsen under my care.
I wash your pale whispers and grimaces,
waging war against your writhing pain.
As you waste away under my caring
eye, my wavering faith yields to wails of prayers
to wage war against my writhing pain.
You wander away, a wreck on death’s waves.
I waver, my faith yielding to wails
that God carried your withered frame from me.
I wonder what kind of God waved you away;
I will never speak to Him again.