in China

In China, 
on the subway,
when the train and platform doors shut,
if you’re pinched between both sets when the train departs,
you’re torn in half,
smearing blood and guts down the windows
while folks on both sides
read the morning news on iPhones.

In China, 
with minor mechanical adjustments,
become human meat grinders
which, if they had lips,
would lick them. You can see
their chomping teeth turn.

In China, 
people get revenge by 
dipping effigies of their enemies' pets
in boiling gutter oil before
blowing them up with leftover fireworks.
There is a mobile app 
that does this virtually
for a modest fee,
if you don't wish
to spend time
on cleanup.

In China, when it rains, 
umbrellas, yurts, and those weird-looking roofs
dissolve, and people’s skins slide off like blanched peaches.
Beneath them, you can see computer chips
flexing muscles and beating hearts.
The fish take to the trees
for what the river becomes.

In China, each child is born with 
a boxcar of textbooks, near-sighted spectacles, and 
a master’s of science in quantum physics. 
To accommodate this,
the vagina dilates so much 
the mother turns inside out.

Featured image: ‘Run!!!!!’ by Jan Schrijver.


I wake up in a strange country
becoming familiar. At first,
nothing is different –
the day is well on its way
to ending as usual – a sunset
more or less beautiful.
My neighbor leaves for work,
the gravel crackling under his tires
before the engine groans
onto the frigid, salt-crusted road.

Then it occurs to me as a nightmare
in an idle moment is often remembered –
a sickness is running through
the hardened heart of every handshake, echoing
through the atrium of every conversation
its blue-veined death. Every kiss, every embrace,
could end in remorse. To think this is Christmas,
and it could get even worse.

The Crown is passed
from hope to hope
as we celebrate quietly
(and in fear if we are wise)
the birth of it, as if weaved
from the thorns in our sides
to wrap wreathlike around his head.

But salvation is for spring –
there’s winter ahead.

I have never been born again,
and wouldn’t dare in this time we’re in
take and pass the virus of communion,
but it seems Christ
is as born as ever –

realer now than flesh and blood.
He walks among the tired nurses
dressed in walls of disposable gowns,
within the machines we use to breathe
beyond what would have been our last
and the vaccines coming toward us
at the slowness of lightspeed,
the hem of the garment
we’d trample each other
to touch.

If this isn’t Christmas, then it is
an unusual day like any other – coffee and reflection
in the windows dimming as the light grows,
in the dark rectangles
of monitors and cell phones
the world’s tiresome problems
waiting. A surgical mask hangs
from a coat hook by the door.
Dinner will be more like
the Last Supper alone
if the only choices were scant leftovers.
I didn’t bother with decorations this year
and in the daylight my neighbor’s
look desperate and feeble.

A package has been waiting on my porch:
a new flag I had forgotten I ordered.
I go out in the brisk air
to take down the tattered one
and Google what to do with it.

Featured Image: Coronavirus crisis on the Earth, by Olga Nikitina.

from the centers of each n bleeding rose n blooming from the cracks n an eye n fixed on n the infinity it's told n stays as open as glass. n Behind them n a mist n so thick it wants to drip n dulls the copper light.


a day longer than a month of joy

after joy

ill weather unsent for
man is the author of.

he gains enough
who loses

who loves
will always find

something to mourn.
seldom alone

what the worm is to wood
comes uninvited

dwells on the confines of pleasure
pays no debts to the soul.

like rice in an attic
higher than your knees

birds fly over your head
build nests in your hair.

Featured Image: “Fading Out by Design” by Shann Larsson.

Image used with permission from the artist.

The Step-Widow

Leaves limp. Shade
falls. Spells spin cocoons
to cricket tunes she holds in thrall.
The bent necks of shattered gourds
bloom mold and worms
fester in sour apple cores.

Amidst this mottle, Her many-eyed skull
stumbles on a hoard while scrounging:
bell jars boast pickled hearts and livers,
peeled skins and intestines
stretch in warped frames
leaned on easels.
Encrypted potion recipes
pour curses from Ziplocks’ pursed lips,
crawling up her legs as leaches and ticks.
Dusk bats bleeding out of echoed caves
weave the moon phase, clouds, and Milky Way
into a winter-colored thread
she tightropes through the sky.
Briers wind around to drag her down.
Starving wolf cubs pounce from mesas
missing by inches.

But her burlap of eggs sturdies the wire
while the hourglass branded on her back
slakes off in chaff and sand
wind feeds to the stars
which fall as frost. Her footing
lost, her mind drifts
to Elysian fields
splattered in blood,
kiting over cactus barbs and snow drifts
until her vision finally desists.

Planets of mothballs
strung as pearls along her journey’s length
we harbor in heirloom chests,
trying our best to treasure,
yet at the thought of them
around a child’s neck,
the heart shudders.


a golden urn
that can never be stolen

a kind of natural food for the mind

a weightless treasure
easily carried

no thief can touch

like rowing upstream
knows no frontier

no shame in sour roots

no royal road to pleasant fruits

comes through work
a little dangerous

after all else is lost.


Note: all lines are borrowed from the “Learning” entry in the Routledge Handbook of World Proverbs.

Featured Image: “Introspection” by Jacqueline Faubert


crosses are ladders that lead to
vengeance slow but sure

he who always looks to
stubs his toe

who is ripe for
falls not before his day

even one hour of
is worthwhile.

do your best
and leave the rest

to rain pearls and jade
the cold and hungry

cannot use
cannot buy with money

cannot stir one inch
without the push of.

many a man leaves for Hell
on principle

where better to rule
than serve

where sharing with a sage
is better than a fool.

the net is coarse
but catches everything

along the road
no one travels.

within the heart
wherever we die

when it weeps
the earth lives.




Note: all lines are taken from the ‘Heaven’ entry of Routledge Book of World Proverbs, ed. Jon R. Stone.

Featured Image: “Engel with the Scales”, by Isaak Feldman.  

a stone kicked
into a wasp’s nest

hurts your foot more
than the injury that caused it

has no eyes
so clouds the mind

cannot perceive the truth.

never without a reason
but seldom with a good one

do not let the sun set on
this force broken by a soft answer –

better to cross fragile ice
than a fasting man.

do not trust with a sword
folly without power

an expensive luxury
hunger and delay stir –

its physician

its remedy

and silence
the answer.


Note: all lines are taken from the ‘Anger’ entry of Routledge Book of World Proverbs, ed. Jon R. Stone.

Timely Visits


The President’s in town.

Aside from a smug crowd in the town square
wielding posterboards of witty vitriol

and their counterparts waving baby flaggies
like preschoolers playing with their wieners

a passive gloom mediates
the rest of everything.

Fermenting trash cans
drool into sidewalk cracks
in front of small businesses

open but empty.
The insurance broker bustles
behind closed doors
his windows dark with Internet.

It feels like the Saturday after
Good Friday must have felt
back when people pretended harder
to love Jesus.

Cue a windblown Walmart bag
tangled with a tumbleweed

the pickup waiting at a red light for no reason
other than not getting caught.

The pavement swelters. The outlet mall
twists and shimmers. Any moment

the motorcade will roll through
to wound its ghosts with kind words
to staple receipts to wandering holograms
trying to return something
they never meant to buy.


The President’s in town.

At an empty TGI Friday’s
the waitresses packaging takeout
watch his limos slide by
like Christopher Columbus
through the Bahamas.

The bartender steps into
the security camera’s blind spot
to sneak a shot of 1800 Gold.

Next door an excavator pauses
demolition in its jaws
like a child’s claw caught in a cookie jar.

The lights turn green. Yellow ribbons
the murderer colored between
flap in the same breeze
that unfurls the half-staff flags.


The President’s in town

to check Death’s pulse

to check a eulogy off his bucket list

to exercise his freedom of
teleprompter. Meanwhile

(which hasn’t showered in weeks)
coughs beneath a shred of foil
so atrophied it’s brushed like dust
so deep within the big empty brain

even if its cries were heard
even if they traveled as far
as the Pharaoh’s hardened heart

who could find it to drag it out
into the light where
in all honesty
it might die?

Equipment Failure

The summer dumpster’s slow-cooked stench
hit before sinking in
          realization the rip cord didn’t pull
roaring into our ending nerves.

Forbidden foods flashed
            before our eyes
– black donut holes in abandoned handbaskets
– effigies of Twinkies nodding no
                whispering over
             the triple bypass to hell

shimmering with mirage.
A blue pickup hooks up downtown
with a cute used
        bloodless coupe.
History dies in its making

While the shoot won’t open
we shoot the shit
         as immortal
         as forgotten:

the martyred manicurist
of King Midas

and Medusa’s stone-faced


A blue and red
widow’s wig
       barely floats
       just its lips
touch the water’s
still meniscus
       and without will
       out of boredom maybe
though there’s no wind
her flowing locks
       a solemn twitch.

She would not have let
the eggs hatch
       to this stagnant fate
       of pet shop prisons
so she has been
    for her nature’s
    cruel mercy.

No opportunity to save
the future
     their suffering
     her stolen hoard inherits
barren plots of rock
plastic plants
       nutritional supplements
       to bounded nothingness
their only way out
the sky they sip.