peculiar children

My cousin Doug and I
on the streets of Daytona,
Florida: he’s artistic,

hands me a deflated, red
balloon without a word and
takes out the camera- I

haunt dark streets
pinning his look to my
white, Keds with dirt/ later,

we scream in the attic
because we think there are ghosts

and he films it all, the way
I run out of the house and through
the surrounding woods like

something still chases
(he can keep up)

then we bang out some Hitchcockian
melody on the piano as our overture.

When it is too hot

sometimes he plays his guitar
in the room my mother grew up in
where all the family claims

an old man died terribly

who hid the liquor beneath the bed
and tripped down the spiral staircase
drunk, into the sunny kitchen.

And many mornings more, my grandmother
who still cooks three full meals a day
makes me cantaloupe with sugar on top

or cheesy grits, before I help her
by snapping the peas for dinner that night
or watch in anticipation if she is making

peach cobbler. My cousin was the first
of peculiar children I learned to see

why growing up in this family
when ways are strange and
strangers are friends

who could take us away.
We     like     black roses
though and sketched

constellations of our own in
the night before there
were words

so we could see, so we could speak.


Young and drawing in light
‘to grow up,’ holds the
moon’s shadow, swallows
the sun, too slowly
and it’s better than soup
warming the lips/it

burns | move along
or maybe this burning
place will hold on

to gravity of the
heart, slumbering stone,
eyes like a cup

of black tea. But, a human
cares against common sense,
same way a star sinks

into nowhere and gives
a world and gives a name.


I believe in the soft, distracted smile
turning my way and the girl who
draws vines on her white Keds
in permanent marker.
I believe in stately trees and turning
pages beneath their boughs
with searching hands.
The adept hand signing, “hello”
when there are no words to be heard
or knitting colorful yarns on
telephone poles. I believe
in gardenias that bloom between
the alley and the sun, the sounds
of Cohen from someone’s kitchen.
I believe god
is held in the mouths
of philosophers and children:
that beliefs are dangerous without
love and art is an act of goodwill.
I believe in ethics and the
responsibility of leadership but even more
in the resiliency of the human spirit
like a ghostly pounding heart
as we sleep.
I believe in the spaces between:
in pauses and think-backs and could be’s,
especially in “perhaps” and
I believe in the dog’s paw
that smells like sugar cookies
now that we are family.
I believe we should be careful
of words like, “inconvenience.”
I believe in the storytellers and song-
makers and especially in grandmothers
watching mothers turn the page.
I believe in simplicity of
needs: the hand that must be
held and the mouth that
must be fed. And, the
needs that go untended,
the boy clutching his teddy
as he dreams.
I believe in the untenable
breadth of the universe
and the starlit dust
inbetween it all. I believe
‘god’ is in the trees
and the wave tumbling
towards the shore and
the eyes of strangers.

unfinished credo

We, built like river reeds

wrench the heart, holding on

who      root claws

upon rock & between crevices

like orchids hold the very air

they need/ here in the jungle’s lungs

and must pull       pull hard

as feels unnecessary

when everyone says it should be easy,

but the air is thin

broken air, the slaying/ Oh,

of man’s sadness for what?

many worlds

All the reasons the heart couldn’t form,

a humble stem/kitsch in your mother’s attic:
there’s a hundred hours left

still,and the sun won’t really set
just sway into someone
                  a world away, 

looks like you, looks like I,
holds a star like space holds/


Even how love, was the baby frog I kept
in my pencil case to bring 
along to school,

‘little buddy,’ because the softness
of empathy is there before words
get in the way

but only realized when we talk about it.

It’s likely not many notice
the beauty of someone young
holding their space fully/

or how         outside of god
we hold the words of many gods
we have loved in our memory:

I still will sing
at the end of the world
walk into storms the same way

a ghost can only be ghostly.

Eat the cake! I really think it is fine
and to love peculiar things
like tiny frogs and funny-nosed sloths:
because love informs when chaos
gentle at the gate is hot
and all-to-ready.