Cardinals in snow

Cardinals in snow (Photo credit: rkramer62)

Across the dead gray landscape of January
and February’s somber slate skies,
the grating complaint the blackest birds
lodge with steel-wrapped winter is the only
natural sound breaking the creak
and snap of wind bending these boughs
turned old by too many seasons’ snows.
Just when the cruelest month
nearly claims my spirit, the trees
begin to bleed drops of cardinal
from limb to limb and back again.
Urgent six-note melodies perch
on maple and pine staffs, breaking
the monotonous drear and crows’ atonal rasps,
as redbirds flit and spatter a transfusion
of warm hope into this frozen heart. Here,
place your hand on it and feel ice crack
and new life fight to trickle within.


Running Downhill

Running Downhill (Photo credit: michael.heiss)

Where does it go?
This time that just became
that time, my time
that’s become our time?
I try my best to slow its pace,
breathing the air of life more slowly,
learning to accept all that
my senses and soul used to deflect.
You’ve seen me now recording
each tiny movement, thought,
nuance and subtext, just like
a real author drafting
a fictional fight in a thriller,
stuffing each bead of sweat,
all the booms, near-miss whizzes
and heart-splitting slashes
into as many pages as possible.
Perhaps I am an imaginary man
writing this true story,
trying to fill my oh-so-limited
remaining temporal space
with even the most mundane action
on this, my return to a childlike,
unbrakeable downhill run, and with
the thrill of me being part of us.



Dark (Photo credit: England)

I sense upon me the opalescent eye
of the one I’m too close to.
I feel your breath, tempting, on memories
of my once-bare boy-cheeks.
There’s a warm, soft magic to this dreaming
I do with lights on, where I conjure up
an other that might be—possibly, probably,
might as well be—out of the sirroccos
that whirl within the boarded-up windows
of this abandoned tenement where
the not-so-secret artist hides.
And if this vague litany of the
poet’s process, seemingly (though never)
under the influence of some alluring muse,
proves too confusing for you to read,
imagine the bruised face on the vagrant
who strides within. I’ve lost count
of the exact number of steps,
this rosary of words, to that
now-blooded far wall. But we’ve built up
some momentum here, so I know
this one’s going to hurt.
Maybe that’s why I might be smiling.



Toenail Clipping

Toenail Clipping (Photo credit: MightyBoyBrian)

This early morning’s fish hook moon,
streaming those glowing pink clouds,
looked like it was a trout fly cast
by some grand ethereal angler
to catch the sun-kissed silver-
bellied US Airways flight out of
Albany International Airport.

I’ve snagged orange-dappled, Florida-bound
Southwest 737 bass in that pond.
And once I baited my barbed shank
with a little dull gray commuter minnow
to catch a trophy Air Canada muskie
from Toronto to London, where I was
angling for a publisher.

Which brings me back to those
salmon-pink hackles and that
excuse-me sliver of moon trolling
the peachy southern sky this morning.
The USAir flight was one that got away
from that airborne bait. But, son of a gun,
if it didn’t hook me something fierce.

Big News, Big Thanks

This has been quite a couple of weeks or so for the poet/writer/photographer/dog-walker of A Thing for Words.

I’ve been encouraged to post the news of my spectacularly lucky time over that period and those of you who really know me understand that such things make me squirmily uncomfortable. But I owe it to the good folks who made all this possible to spread the word.

On January 18, 2013, the journal The Cossack Review came out in its beautiful new first printed iteration. This issue included my poems Nightfall, Another November and Backstage at the Firmament. A couple of faves of mine.

This week, I got hold of this photo of the leaf-festooned publication sitting among a rather high-class bunch of peers on a bookshop shelf in Santa Cruz, California.

Cossack in Santa Cruz

Even I thought that was cool!

If you would like to purchase a copy, you may do so at the Cossack Review website.

On January 30, 2013, the folks at, upon whose magic aether-traversing machinery you view this blog, selected my poem Infernal Affairs to showcase on the Freshly Pressed feature of the home page.

In notifying me of this honor, Fresh Pressed story wrangler Michelle Weber said of my twisty reminiscence of newspaper days, “We really enjoyed it, and we know the rest of the community will too – we always enjoy featuring poetry, and this piece struck us as particularly unique and evocative.” Oooba dooba, eh?

Michelle also told me to expect new readers. I should say so! So many great new folks stopped by to read, like, and comment on Infernal Affairs and others of my versish burbles! And a massive pile of them have since subscribed to the blog. (I don’t suppose one of you is an agent or publisher who might be interested in a collection of poems—entitled Penumbra—portraying the mid-shadow life of a middle-aged, mid-shadowed poet, are you?)

This week, I learned that the poetry anthology Signal from Static, in which a fistful of my poems appear, has hit the digital and analog bookshelves. Signal is published by my dVerse colleague Anna Montgomery’s imprint, Chromatopias, and includes examples of work by many of my poet friends and colleagues.


You can purchase a copy of Signal from Static in paperback from or the Kindle version from

I’d like extend my deepest gratitude to all of the wonderful folks who have supported and encouraged me and my work over the past couple of years. As some of you know, I never set out to be a poet, but son of a gun, that’s what ya’ll have helped me become. And I thank you for that and so much more.



It is a wonder, the Why of the Y,
the confluence of two disparate courses to one.
It happens in odd congruity sometimes,
where the pure and the muddy meet
in what should be ugly, calamitous clash.
But there comes a moment where the physics,
the gravity of nature, human and otherwise,
have a way of sifting the sin from the soiled
and sullying the clear in silty suspension,
perhaps a chemical suspension, of disbelief.
Birds, pulled from the sky at the magic of it all,
carve their own soft Y-shapes tracks,
curlicue memories, in the mud there beside
the languorous eddy captured at the delta.
Perhaps it is their poetry

Here is my very quick effort for my friend Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday prompt, the photo you see here of the Junction of Rhone and Arve rivers in Geneva, Switzerland.

Five Sentence Fiction ~ Delicate

Baby Face

Black Eye 9

Black Eye 9 (Photo credit: diongillard)

“Sweet Baby Jesus, what’s this?” Nurse Brenda Jarvis said as two 300-pound men in tracksuits lumbered through the swooshing sliding double-doorway of the hospital emergency entrance.

“The bell, the bell,” roared the one whose right eye was swollen shut in what looked like an impression of a purple and red desert sunset and who seemed a little wobbly on his feet.

“You’ll have to pardon my friend, he caught himself a terrible shot — well, I actually I caught him a terrible shot, my bad — downtown tonight and I’m afraid he’s a little loopy and been ranting like this since he looked at his phone,” said the other behemoth, sporting a bruised cheek, scarred forehead, and swollen hands with which he held his friend steady as best he could a ranting bull.

As Nurse Jarvis took the arm of the injured man, with an assist from his wingman, to lead him and to Treatment Room 6, he jerked free from both and bolted for the stairwell, roaring, “Coming, baby!”

Fifteen minutes of frantic, lock-down searching later, security found Mickey Karpinski, who wrestled under the name Awesome Dawson Dare, in the room of his wife Cathy, tenderly their holding hours’ old, pink-swaddled firstborn, Bella.

Here is my latest Five Sentence Fiction offering, based on a prompt from Lillie McFerrin. This week: Delicate.

Lillie McFerrin Writes