New & Forthcoming

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Web:

Click titles to link to poems on the web.

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Penny Horse” and “Measurements” appear online at Literary Mama

Evening Song,” “The Box,” “Fractures,” “Instructions to a Child on a Swing,” “On Finding Maggots” are forthcoming online at Semantikon: A Community Based Art Journal,  May 2009

Wild Flowers” (Reprint) is forthcoming in American Life in Poetry, Spring 09

Hide and Seek,” and “A Question” appear online at Public Republic

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Print:

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Poem at Sulphur Hollow

I don’t need to tell you,
I have claimed the biggest,
moss-covered rock, to sit

with my son and watch
the black and yellow bird
who brought me here

dart from tree to tree.
What does she know,
I wonder, of the back half

of the Ford I found buried
in the hillside, the lock
of its trunk still shining

among the rust and decay.
All around us, mast from oaks
and maples waits to be

scavenged, stored, peeled.
The skin of the oak nut is scored,
divided like the fruit of an orange

into so many sections.
My son wants to gather
as many as he can, wants

to throw them into this small valley,
wants to add one small sound
to the winter roar of wind

blowing against a thousand
dead dry leaves all at once.
Now there’s a low wailing

across the fields, beyond
the tree line that borders
the edge of Sulphur Hollow.

I stand and turn my head.
I want to know the animal
that would cry like that.

–This poem first appeared in the September 2009 Issue of The Journal of Kentucky Studies

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The Willow

We awake to find the willow
laid out on the wet grass,
where once she welcomed us
into her still green canopy.
Within hours, the landlord’s
husband is out front in boots
with chainsaw, hacking it
into pieces and dragging them
to a brush pile behind the house.
You are alarmed for this
is another loss, which we
cannot control. So I tell you,
“Here is wood for our stove,
and warmth.” But what
does it mean to gather wood,
to load it into a black iron
stove, to burn the tree?
I refuse to answer fire,
as I refuse to investigate
the willow’s sudden collapse.
Termites, strong winds, lightning?
It is with ignorance and apathy
I confront tragedy, if only
to allow innocence, if only
to let the joy and sadness
of small decay enter me
slowly, gently. Let it bud
and blossom from my body,
saying, “Wood, Warmth, Burn.”

–This poem first appeared in the September 2009 Issue of The Journal of Kentucky Studies

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The Shapes of Leaves

I want to know the shapes of leaves, if only
to make a place for you among their umbrage.
This is one thing we can do: erect sanctuaries
on rock formations and creek beds,  wipe away
landscapes, their persistent clutter and debris.
As the Sassafras covers her branches with mittens,
the Sweet Gum showers the earth with green stars,
and the Redbud drops purple blossoms before
it can hang hearts from its limbs.  I would rather
lay you down here, in the shade of these shapes
than on the bathroom floor, locked against
our son’s short, swift, insistent, knocking.
He has something important to tell us, he shouts,
about the earthworm, about the blackbird, about.

–This poem first appeared in the September 2009 Issue of The Journal of Kentucky Studies

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Holler

Not the eeny, meeny, miny, moe,
catch a tiger by its toe, if he hollers
let him go. Not the holler

you give me when I’m still laid up
in bed at half past ten in the morning,
with the boys’ breakfasts uneaten,

both of ‘em tearing through the house
like the mad bulls of Pamplona.
Not the holler, not even the hollow

of a small valley between two hills
with a little creak that runs through it
and four red-winged blackbirds

flying into the wind, unable
to get anywhere for a moment, before
perching on the branch of a maple.

No. This holler, your holler, with
the weight of my body crushing
into you, with the boys asleep

in their beds, a line of toy fire trucks
turning the blue carpet of the playroom
red. Not a bellow or complaint but

something between a scream and breath
like the sound of one bright bell, then
another, and another, then hundreds

of bells, so that it is impossible
to hear them separately and impossible
to know the reason they were rung.

–This poem first appeared in the 2009 Issue of Inscape, Morehead State University’s art and literary magazine

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Semantics

My promise to you is this:
I will teach you the names

of things but they will be
the names of my choosing.

The moon will be yellow.
The field will be a dark scar,

the river a deep highway.
The rocking chair will be

a womb, the silent winter
sky a blue smudge on a

greater invocation. I will
teach you nothing and

nonsense for nothing but
selfish reasons. But know,

I will hold you close as
I whisper all the little names.

I will gather you into my arms
and walk out into a clear

night to gaze across the
pasture in the yellow light.

–This poem first appeared in the 2009 Issue of Inscape, Morehead State University’s art and literary magazine

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Lunar Eclipse

February 20, 2008

I like how you throw your cigarette to the grass
and leave me with the wooden rocking chair,

the wetness of you breath lingering
in the frozen air after you have shut the door.

I imagine you, going from room to room,
turning off lights, shutting the cabinets

I have left open. See how stones from the river
enter the eyes of our children? What beautiful

stupor sleep ushers. What will I give them?
The night is theirs, this shadow passing

over the moon makes everything around it
explode. I will not pray tonight. To pray

is to confess solitude. I am not alone.
To pray in gratitude is to confess coincidence,

to admit to luck or chance, but everything
here I have made, or helped in the making.

To pray in exaltation is to celebrate
that which is not your own. To pray in

petition is to beg. I will not pray tonight.
I beg for nothing. I have seen the light

between each star brighten as the red moon
goes dark, then bleeds, then goes dark again.

–This poem first appeared  in Midwest Quarterly, Fall 09

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Wild Flowers

At fifty-six, having left my mother,
my father buys a motorcycle.
I imagine him because
it is the son’s sorrowful assignment
to imagine his father: there,
hunched on his mount,
with black boots, with bad teeth,
between shifts at the mill,
ripping furrows in the backroads,
past barn and field and silo,
past creek and rock,
past the brown mare,
sleek in her impertinence,
never slowing until he sees
the bull.   He stops, pulls
his bike to the side of the road,
where golden rod and clover grow,
walks up to the fence, admires
its horns, its wet snout snorting and blowing
its breath, its girth, its trampling
of small wild flowers.

–This poem first appeared in Issue 63 of The Louisville Review, Spring 08. “Wild Flowers” was later reprinted in American Life in Poetry and nominated for a Pushcart Prize by The Louisville Review.

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Additional Publications:

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“Ode to Tchaikovsky” appears in New Southerner: An Anthology 2007-08

“The Workshop,” “Hunger,” and “The Fruit of The Roach” appear in the Fall 2007 Issue of Coe Review

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