The Face of My Cat

I open my eyes to see eyes wide, staring into mine

above sunken cheeks astride her pink button nose

and upturned mouth, with whiskers between

that are long enough to measure exactly

the width through which her body can squeeze

when she is chased by an enemy.

The whole of her face rests on two paws,

claws curled under, but I know they are there,

sharp as fangs waiting to rip asunder

any who dare to breech a contract

or cross a stream of consciousness.

As I watch she creeps up my legs, over my belly,

onto my chest, opens her mouth.

Her tongue comes out to my left jawbone.

She begins to purr and lick with gentle ferocity,

with the incredible rasp of a craftsman’s tool.

Once, I let her lick as long as she liked.

Finally in pain, I slipped from under her tongue,

consulted a mirror to see the blood of our bondage.

She looked at me with those eyes,

those eyes so loving, those eyes wide, staring into mine

above sunken cheeks astride her pink button nose

and upturned mouth, with whiskers between.

First Storm

I was eleven the first time

I felt the big wind and hot rain.

The creek was a river.

It rushed like a madman.


On the rickety wooden bridge,

toes curled over the edge,

hanging out,

waving my arms,

I welcomed exultation’s flow.


It was my first

full-bore, full-blown, hyper-manic;

a welcome discomfort,

scary, beyond control.

I loved it.


“Let’s go!

Let the wind blow through me.

Look at that water chugging along,

spinroiling, roaring, chortling,

laughing past rocks,

throwing big limbs up in the air.”


I heard crashing rocks,

rumbling that was the whole world

singing itself bigger than life,

groaning: “I am not Mother Earth! I am The Father,

bringing life to all that will live,

flowing My will into everything,

leaving no stone unturned,

lifting each root up unto these hills,

bearing the presents in all things to come.”


Old bitch Baxter teacher witch came

screeching like the banshee she was.

Said she was going to tell my Daddy on me;

meaning to put fear of The Father in me.



I sent threat down the river.


She put disgust,

distrust of humanity

in me forever.


I remained


high on the bridge.


Wordsmith Unlocked

words that had been lorn, alone,
burst into flower,
gathered new life,
again filled my mind.

words that had been locked inside
trickled past brain cells,
slid through fingers,
tumbled over keys.

words that had been lost in space
covered blank pages,
flew through ether,
trembled with meaning. 

words that had been left unsaid
found voice in darkness,
fell on keen ears,
gave substance to love.

Codfish Dinner

On a cold, gray 
Michigan winter evening,
we sit to dinner.

Codfish, mashed potatoes, canned corn; 
all cold.
The fish is old;
fried to leather, 
it smells like rancid ocean.

No one speaks.
I push fish flakes 
among corn nibblets,
unable to clean my plate.

My grandmother giggles.
My mother titters.
I look to my right.

With brown eyes dancing
above his solemn face,
my little brother wears
a mashed potato beard

Surfing in Love

When I married the first time,
we went body surfing.
I thought it was like 
making love;
riding waves, 
being in control. 

When I first met you,
I thought about body surfing.
I felt it was like 
being in love.
We rode the waves; 
controlled each other.

We rolled and tumbled, 
cavorted and rode on waves,
were lost in them as they crashed down upon us, 
threw us into the sand at the bottom; 
gritty, full of kelp, 
broken dreamshells, 
stinging jellyfish.
The strands of our needs, like kelp vines, 
wound round and round our legs. 
We could not flee;
threw ourselves upon yet another wave, 
cried out that we wanted the ride. 

We needed each other. 
The ride was all we needed: 
to be you and me together, 
high upon another wave, 
one more time. 

Your heart stopped beating.

The riptide tore you out of my arms. 
Oh! My darling!

I ride the surf alone.
On the shallow waves, 
your shadow ebbs away
in the still mirror.