the edge

home.  mississippi delta.

the line,
the tightrope,
the razor’s edge.

whatever you call it,
we’re all walking it.

hopefulness and the absurd,
confidence and arrogance,
compassion and self-righteousness,

freedom and the ego,
awareness and judgment.

most of the time
i can’t even tell
which side
i’m on.

or if there are
even sides?
or lines?

and if it is

to know?

do we lose
in striving?


the undisciplined tongue



you remember records

home.  denver.  3.23.16.

the snow swirls, the tea steeps, and i’m wrapped in the cozy sounds of sinatra’s velvety croons emanating from my grandparents’ vinyl.  i close my eyes and conjure up the joy of their 5 o’clock ritual.  of husbands and wives and sisters and brothers gathered together and celebrating life.  scotch splashing, ice cubes tinkling, as they glide merrily across their newly installed and oh-so-trendy linoleum floor with their highball glasses filled all-too-generously.

papa in his monogrammed golf shirt.  gama, in her smart red nails and superbly chic polyester suit and pearls, carefully selects another cigarette from her case, and with a flick of her floral brass cloisonné bic, she inhales relief.  tricks are won, tales are told, ivories are tickled, and everyone’s glasses and hearts and bellies remain generously full.  they.  are.  living.

and with a drop of the needle, i’m living right here, right there with ‘em.

the undisciplined tongue

joe & fran, aka papa & gama.  mississippi.  1940’s.


the hunger

home.  mississippi delta.

fierce is the longing for my home place,
an intangible ache marrow-deep.
shaped by her fields and her bayous,
her mysteries and misfits and beasts.

borne of her soil,
married to her seasons,
my rhythms shift and change
in her absence.

her likeness haunts me,
ablaze in the kaleidoscope of colors at sundown
or the song of the red-winged blackbird.

a hollow yearning swells,
and i cry out into the void.
to see the last glorious improbable light
of a delta day
bathe the alluvial plain
with shades of me.

the undisciplined tongue