Poem from the Vault: I was afraid of strangers

I was afraid of strangers

When I was young,

I looked before jumping

across puddles

or into relationships.

I rarely spoke

for fear of the flood.

I learned to love

those whose eyes loved me

with the bliss of drowning

and now

it is nothing

to slip on moist words—

my legs collapse underneath me

and on my knees

in this rippling pool,

I smile at you.

[Originally published in Jittering Microscope #3, 1991, this poem also appears in my first novel, Pieces of Home.]

Poem from the Vault: How to Bloom

How to Bloom

The Sunflowers sway in the wind,
smiling happily in the sun,
their roots tingling with gratefulness
when the rain seeps into the soil.
Their appreciation for what
God has given them is as full as the moon.
When they die, they accept it, contentedly,
knowing that their remains
will nourish future generations
of plants and people
who will benefit from
the deeds they have planted
in this world.

Poem from the Vault: Sunflower

The sunflower

bursts with fertile, coppery

lust —

his facetothesun

reflects a thousand

seeds of what will be his offspring —

and likewise

Radhi, tall as corn

stretches toward the sun, face


for the blessing of lush harvest.

He plants the seeds,

follows the patterns

of light through the swaying stalks

till wetness drips

from the heaving sky, and

watches his children

dance dizzily

drenched in sun and rain.

They practice

carving, shaping, digging, sowing,

and the flame of birthed fruits.

Like their father, they learn

to bloom.

[Originally published in Jittering Microscope #1, 1990]

Radhi is a character archetype from my pantheon of characters. He is inspired by Papa Legba (the gate-keeper voodoo loa), and Osiris. In my upcoming novels he is channeled into the characters Roddy in Pieces of Home and Perry in Haunted House Designers. These two represent my “well-meaning but foolish father” character type.

Poem from the Vault: Melting Evaporati

Melting Evaporati

Although I simmer

with waiting to be near

your body, unclothed and glowing

in the sweltering summer,

touching anything now

is like smothering, and

as unbearable

as flies that bite in itching

slow motion.

It does no good

to scratch

when my skin


with a film of sweat

and the air is too heavy

to breathe deeply or quickly.

When our skins come together,

there is a sticky slapping, instead

of melting.

So I will thrill myself

by looking

through the open door

to see

the swooning bliss of you,


in the sun.

Poem from the Vault: I Study the Wind

I study the wind

With my gaze I affix

swaying flowers

and  buzzing insects

trying to see their souls—

my vision only blurs.

I sniff the air, waiting

for a sign—

it never comes.

I touch the air

and feel I finally have grasped it—

but it has already blown away.

I taste my tongue—

I’m getting nowhere!

I listen for things which

cannot be heard, and hear

only silence—

and this is the way it is.


[Originally published in Jittering Microscope #5, 1992]

Poem from the Vault: For Jay, at Devils Tower, Wyoming

For Jay, at Devils Tower, Wyoming

Starlit slumber –

the stillness of your face

the curve of the water jar

tucked into the sand

so as not to spill

– a bit of the river

you carry to sustain you

on your walking path

backwards through the suns and moons,

when you swam inside

your mother,

before you melted

into the world.

You shift position

and the horizon yawns,

a drop of water spills out of your eye.

The air –

that fills the space

between the bright black sky

and your closed, quivering eyelids–

you take in like a lover,

with the rise and fall of your chest,

a cascading hill,

a smooth plain that stretches out

for a lifetime.

[Originally published in Jittering Microscope #7, 1991, though I just added the title to it]