On Dream Street

“In these magnificent poems, it’s as if Emily Dickinson’s compression and intelligence were stretched out over a longer, sinuous line that wraps around itself and searches out significance in observations rendered so intense they transform into vision.”  Gregory Orr
“Brava for this poet’s luscious voice–she seems to seize every word in the ecstasy of its bloom.”  Molly Peacock




Mock Orange




Everything on the tongue goes stunned bird.

Long past the hissy-fit thralls of April,

rashes of phlox, purple thistle snowing a little.

And then, like too much love,

there was altogether too much gardenia

in the huddled yards.  The heat in a flick of wind

picked itself up and dragged off,

old dog, into the damp cane fields, bee drone,

sighing, sighing of highway, hawks’ cries.

A screen door slammed lightly.

A woman hummed nonsense to herself.

The thousand burnt-orange camellias

bent in rot, long past wisteria,

long past bitter kumquat, past the sweet white ache

of mock orange—it was not God,

but those lithe lord gods themselves,

mocking birds, intoning every other voiced thing

form dirt-slicked limbs of magnolias, until, distracted,

they tipped past the waxed leaves the sun makes silver of;

not God, lord gods; not love, insistence,  disregard.


first appeared in  Five Points





The landscape prayed its litany

of dusk, grieved us, did not need us.


Daylight grew fat, grew slack with fatigue;

the pond scum thickened.


If you listened, the limestone sunk beneath

your tired feet told you


you were water before you were flesh,

and wind before that.


Your bones may leave a fine shape, like old fish,

like curved shells; we happen


the way light happens;

after the thunderstorms ride the sky,


day’s skin darkens.  Beneath it, a hawk

quiets.  Pink lizards skirt the window light


and the Luna Moth bangs like an amnesiac angel

against the screen.  Later sleep will weave


the wet through our ribs; we will grow wide,

slatted, unmoored, born by the tide-heave of dreaming,


o body, old boat of time and breath, no less, no less.


–First appeared in 32 poems and then in the anthology Old Flame




From Ten Cures: Found Poems
Cure #1:  If You Live in Georgia and God Speaks Directly to You
for Howard Finster

Listen. Give up your day job:
lay your lawnmower repair tools gently in the cement.

With a stick, scratch the date God said, Be an artist.
Paint as many angels as time allows on all the junk

from all the junkyards in town. Bring home broken down lamps,
smashed-up cars. Stack them. Name your backyard ‘Eden.’

And when your bones begin to ache, and when the end
starts its slow saunter towards you

hew your own white coffin. Tell your long-bewildered wife
the palette and brushes are hers, as are any remaining heavens.

Cure #2:  Unrequited Love

Find an egg a hen laid and left.
Cradle it in your palm. Write his name
over the entire shell. Do not let the shell break.

Find a body of water. It must run.
No lakes. No ponds. Stand facing away.
Toss that well-inked egg over your shoulder.

Listen for the way it breaks
the skin of the water,
the current eating it whole.

You know how this story goes:
do not forget, do not look back.
Walk straight home.
Talk to no one. After that, be sensible.

Cure #3:  Boredom

Put one penny under your tongue.
The whole day, hum

I am a rich man who will outlive
my worry
. Watch out what you wish for.

At dusk, when the penny
has made your mouth taste of rust

and blood, when the wind has stilled,
walk to the nearest train track.

Place the penny on the rail. Wait.
The earth will shake:

a train will come and flatten it.
Carry it, useless coinage, to your grave.

Cure #4: Buzzards

If the roof of your home by sad chance is chosen by buzzards
as a roost, cancel paper delivery immediately—

they will only beat you to it, eat the news.
Install a sprinkler system on your roof.

Then string wires all across it.
More than likely they simply will feast

on the neighbors’ papers, will strut among your rooftop wires
and pluck them. The twang will keep you from your sleep.

Buzzards adjust better than the rest of us.
They will preen in the rooftop rains.

Your ceiling will begin to leak.
Forget the buckets. Give it at most one week. Move.





Country Love Songs


I try to think of the cup of a hand,
of legs in a tangle, and not the thistle
though even it, purpled, spiking away,
wants to be admired, wants to say, whistle
a little for me. O every little thing wants
to be loved, wants to be marked by the cry
that brings desire to it, even blue-eyed fly
to the bloated hiss of death. To love is to be remiss:
the horse alone in the wide flat field nods
its head as if the bridle and bit were missed
or mocked; the cow slung with the unmilked weight
of her tremendous teats shoots a look back over her shoulder
at O lonesome me. I want to say to her need
as if crooning could be enough,
sweet, sweet mama . . . truth be told,
the thousand lisping bees to the milkweeds’ honey
terrifies me. When the stink of slurry season
is over and the greened fields are slathered, fecund,
overtall foxgloves tip with the weight of their fruit.
Then I dream a little dream of you
and me, curled like two grubs on the top of a leaf
wind-driven and scudding along the lake’s surface.
All night we glide to its blue harbor
and back again. The fattened slack of us
singing O darlin’ darlin’   darlin’.



Source : Poetry – (March 2004)