job insecurity

i guess i can see

from my seat in

the bathroom

how an addiction

can begin

to quiet a mind

that will not stop spinning

to calm a heart

furiously beating

to sleep the night

without the waking.

i never want to see

3 am again


no, really,



in the constant grind

of worry and fear

i want something

that cuts the tight

string of panic

and preparedness.

A release,


yes, really,


a sudden relief

to give me

even temporary peace

i can no longer

underestimate the power

of temporary peace.

so in this stifling moment

with all the doors closing

and the fire raging

and the alarms

furiously ringing

i must choose

how i will survive

until god chooses which window

will be our escape

which window will let in

the wind

and the light of day

and maybe,


yes, maybe,


we can keep some of these gifts

like the house i keep fixing

in case someone else

needs to move in

things i once thought we earned

i once thought we worked for

but now i see

we were given

and i hadn’t seen

or understood what could

begin an addiction

until i began to wonder

what could relieve

these constant symptoms

of my lack of control and

my slowly fading security

in an alien world.

tickets, please

i earned my seat

on the self-forgiveness train

after i did my time marching

in the parade of self-blame.

it’s a peaceful ride, this train.

but it’s also urgent

and crippling.

to see a landscape of need

from my window seat-

but i’m irrelevant behind glass,

and left to pass through.

there is so much

i didn’t know

for so long-

so i keep telling myself

over and over and over and over:

with every click

with every clack

i hear the self-indulgent resonance

of the train itself.


the poet

with a disease

didn’t sleep

but cannot be proud:

she has no words to show

for a night awake-

for a pain that

would not abate

and a body that could not rest.


the poets of the past looked down…

looked up?

looked over

and shook their heads at such a waste

of prime inspirational real estate.


“sneak upstairs,”

they whispered,

“play with ink.”

“write at your desk instead of on the clock.”

“read, foolish woman, open a book!”

“this isn’t pornography,

these are real hobbies,

we promise

no grief, no betrayal!”


so adamant were the voices,

so loud were their encouraging demands,

so cheeky were these reminders of the past-


But the blasted pain was so painful

that my heart couldn’t move my legs

and i couldn’t rise above my anger

so i laid,

i stayed in bed

in my puddle of shame

and prayed

the poets would forgive me.

i’m not sure that they could.

bending time

Death does not ask:

she takes

and leads the chase

up any mountain

through any alley

down any rock face and

across her fabled valley,

where our own shadows

distract us from the path:

where we are most resistant

but know that we must go

to support one another-

while we mourn for ourselves,

honor the taken, and intended or not,

to honor the taker.

we’ll scramble to get there

against any odds, as Death

pumps the heartbeat of deepest compassion.

Death does not ask:

she looks us in the face

and demands that we make the space.

“Mind the Gap” at Black River

I read 3 poems at Black River Roaster’s February open mic night!!

If and only if this video works you will experience the whole of one poem, “mind the gap”, save the first line: “yesterday i was crazy”.

You will also experience the complete thrill of equipment failure as the paper stand goes for a niche academy award: best upstage. Seize the day, paper stand, seize the day.

Obstructed and Relieved

The festival of relief

takes place

on a cliff’s edge of

personal grief-

when I’ve managed

to pretend

The Maker of all things

cares for

my daughter’s




In the guilt,

left over from the day,

I looked away and

in the obstruction of my

heart and any

patient, better thoughts,

she ate an

unknown length of

dental floss

and drove me

so selfishly

to say

“Maker, Maker,

please don’t take her,”

I was so sure

I had so long before

this loan would mature:


I so much rather die

of worry than

a grieving soul

and indeed,

I worried

for days.

deliberately. effortlessly.

when i split a log

i tap the wedge

tip tap tip tap tip tap


and once it’s in

the split begins

so i step back to listen

to the crackle crickle crack

of fibers once so stitched

coming apart;

the tipping point

of matter:

permanently altered

as the new log shaves off,

cleaving under the

tickle tickle tap, tap tickle


complete division,

effortless and deliberate:


The friend of your enemy

used to be your friend.