Laid out on a slab of broken tears
I rolled to my side feeling the shards
Piercing the emptiness in
My back
My arm
My neck
My thigh
It shouldn’t have hurt
A hollow vessel
But each wedge
Each grain of ice

Instead of crying out
I lapsed into the beauty of feeling
To fill the casket that bled
Onto a white beach
And washed into the Gulf

Void of color
Seeped into my remains
And the light that burst
From its abundance
Lifted my ruins
Into the sea breeze
And delivered the fragments
To the sun.

His Music

When crickets chirp to soothe the nightmares he
Combats each time in darkness lays his head,
His dreams unravel trailing words and notes
Upon the mattress. Sliding down the bed,
The melody sails swiftly into night,
And taking flight the air its chords embrace
Til floating into windows open wide
The music lights upon her brow awake.
Her heartbeats match the rhythm of his sighs
Now woven into tapestries of sound,
And blanketing spirit and body, songs
On flushed skin flood desire, almost drowned.
But gasping in her hunger she draws breath
Together souls wend towards a petit death.


Was I touched
When I hummed a tune
I had never before heard,
When I swayed in a dance
I had never before seen,
When I plucked strings on an instrument
I had never before played,
Or when I loved a soul
I had never before known?

Empty Hand

I opened my hand but found it empty
Until I saw the woman from church across the parking lot
Who needed help with her groceries
She had an old cart whose wheel stuck
So I picked up the two bags and slung the cart across my back
Like a guitar I used to have as a teenager
I smelled apples and cherries and pecans in one bag and told her so
My gait slowed to match her shuffle as the sun warmed our heads
Blessing our conversation til we arrived at her door
When she invited me into her house
I crossed the threshold and was bathed in coolness like Southern sweet tea
Which she poured as I put away her goods in cupboards and an old icebox
That sat in the corner like Methuselah waiting for the flood
We sat at her table, linoleum floor peeling a little near the leg of my chair
Ice cubes clinking as they melted and hit the insides of the glasses
I stood up when she pushed her chair back but
She told me to set and wait a spell
On the counter I noticed her pocketbook and thought to tell her
She shouldn’t leave it out in the open
Where anybody might come see it through the window
In her hands was a beat-up little box which she laid in front of me
Taking off the lid she showed me one by one
Four photographs, edges curling
As she gently extracted each one
Tears pooled in my eyes
The same face swam in front of me in each picture
Sometimes smiling, sometimes serious-like
But always in a crisp, dark uniform and cap
I know she was talking to me but I couldn’t hear the words
Cuz my ears pounded
Next thing I knew she placed in my hand a star hung on a blue ribbon and
Curling her fingers over mine to close my hand
She kissed my cheek and told me to come back any time
And she’d make me an apple pie
I’m not sure how I made it back home next to the rail station
But when I arrived I pulled back the curtain
Rummaging through my bag I pulled out
A cap
Just like the one in the pictures
And putting it on
I lay down
Listening to the trains pass
And held on to that star
My hand empty no more.


Accustomed to the quiet sounds of night
That bleed into the morning hours, I wake
Upon the changing rhythm of a breath
Caressing skin. My lips I part to take
A sip from wells that quench the fire within
And harness promises murmured in thirst.
But waves of dawning emptiness I sense
As windows to the soul reveal a verse
of ghostly sorrow, tear-stained clouds of pain.
The breath now choking back a sob so deep
Inhales instead the stale and smoke-filled scent
Of reckless sex and harsh regrets I’ve reaped.
I slowly lift the money from the stand
And clothe myself for my next sarabande.