Above A Whisper

I walk on blades of grass
around my father’s grave,
avoiding sunken markers,
careful not to wake
the dead.

I want to say
I found a teaching job,
my own apartment,
a patient woman
who loves me
as I am.

But if such things
still happen,
they haven’t happened
to me.

When I tell him it’s spring
and Vegas likes our Cubs
to win the World Series,
my voice breaks like mist
above a whisper too soft
for sparrows perched
on marble headstones
to hear.

Too Much Information

I sleep too often
alone. I slip
into my sheets
like a knife inside
a sheath. I skin
my knees in falling
dreams.

I’m a freelance
night priest. I write nun
fiction books to fall
asleep. I trace
strongly worded
letters. I mark
typos on my toes
with red felt pens.

I fix comma
splices, I hate
comma splices more
than gondola rides
and square root
canals.

I sleep too often
alone with my phone
on gyrate slipping into
dreams like a knife
inside a sheath.

I wasted four years
in military art school
drawing blood baths
then reversed course
on my high horse mid-
stream of consciousness.

I’m so fucking
alone. I told a priest
my tongue is sharper
than a knife
between my teeth.

Either I

Stuck in the past, I go from happy to sad and back again in a flash. I feel too much, much too fast. I have poems to write but not enough rhyme.

Robert Frost is on my mind. There are two trains at my station but only one for me to ride. I can’t for the life of me decide between them side by side.

Beyond the blue horizon lies a sky within a sky. I can’t see myself on either train with either I.

Language Artist

When I was teaching, I tried to induce among my students a functional understanding of the distinction between “lay” and “lie,” or between “who” and “whom.” I tried to show them the advantage of learning grammar and using a dictionary. But many of even the most intelligent writers in my graduate workshops, and for that matter many of my colleagues on the teaching staff, could not take it in. Why? they would say. What’s the difference?

When I told them that love and devotion are the root of it, they merely looked askance.

You choose correctly between “street car,” “street-car,” and “streetcar” not because the choice makes a substantive difference—it doesn’t—but because you care for language, you are in love with it. A good carpenter cleans and puts away his tools properly, so does a good gardener or a good cook, and no one will ever convince me that a worker who ignores his tools will do satisfactory work.

–Hayden Carruth, Reluctantly: Autobiographical Essays

Like Carruth, I choose my words carefully. As a writer, I’m imperfect but never sloppy. Every human(e) word I use, in the end, is the Word of God. In my writing, however, I’m not seeking the Truth but speaking my truths.

I’m Not A Robot

The cable company
faxed me a chain letter
about smooth operators
spoofing my home
phone number.

They fear my laptop
suffered a silent
keystroke in the middle
of a critical update.

Have I tried turning
the TV on with my pinky
toe then shouting
the Lord’s Prayer into
my voice remote?

Have I waited
ten seconds before
dropping my drawers
and shaking
my fist at the Wi-Fi?

Have I stopped
sucking my thumb
drive or piercing
my rabbit ears?

As a full-time
confessional poet
I know nothing
about password
protection or open-ended
secret questions.

I can’t prove
I’m not
a robot.