the year in poems 2013

Early morning
awake three hours
and it’s not even 6.30
arm around our son

You are a blur
of preparation
appear and reappear
in various stages of dress

The air outside is warm
for January
this winter of constant fall

Sun and slow wind
no hat, no gloves
bare trees
a mud flow by the baseball field
and a train to take me to work

A single gray hair on my head
torrential snow and rain
a friend died
after a year of ovarian cancer

This morning a meteor
exploded over Chelyabinsk

I see her as I last saw her
in her office smiling
and I see her as I imagine her
on the operating table
unconscious and slipping away
eyes closed

Vapor trails in the sky
blinding white
flash of light

In the middle of lunch
he gets up from his chair
runs into the other room

I hear him playing
I tell him there are grapes
I hear him running

then a thud
a pause
a breath
a loud cry
instant tears

I pick him up and blood pours
from his lip
onto his shirt
and my shirt
cries and cries

touches his blood
looks at his hand
and cries some more

I hold him in the bathroom
try to get him to suck on a wash cloth
try to put pressure on his lip

He refuses

His lip is swollen
but the bleeding slows
I hold him close
and his breathing calms
his cry is less intense

Do you want to watch a show?

quiet, weak

We sit on the couch
he sees blood on my neck
tries to wipe it off
with the wash cloth

As he calms
and begins to heal
my body and mind relax
and I try not to cry
fight tears
as tension, fear, worry, love, relief
release at once

Early afternoon light
reflects off snow
we sit close
the tv on

Early lunch interrupted
blood, a split lip
tears and safety
while we sit on the couch

My stomach
always takes my attention
I feel it as a physical thing
a weight
it feels large
or it carries my anxiety

I feel it hang over my pants
my belt squeezing against it
in the windows of buildings

As I walk by

I see it hanging over
in and out as I breathe
do others see it as I do?

Then –
why does that matter

It doesn’t
it does and it doesn’t
self conscious

Accepting my body
its changes as I age
weight added
noticed only by me
but noticed
every night in the mirror

Smell of cut grass
sitting on the train
alive after work

awake in bed
looking into the dark ceiling
you breathing
on the other side of the bed
we don’t touch

Standing on the train
on the way home from work
humid evening
garlic breath

Streak lightning
across night sky
the window across the alley
with a wreath on it
talking on the couch
while our son sleeps upstairs

Slow train morning
eyes fluttering with sleep
drifting in and out
while reading a book

Sitting on my lap
this morning while eating pancakes
with applesauce

He stopped and looked at me
and gave me a hug
this he said
I gave him a hug
holding him close

When I started to release him
he said
and kept hugging me

I held him close again
my chin on his head
when he had enough
he turned and grabbed a piece of pancake
dipped it in his applesauce
and put it in his mouth

Wet heavy clouds
the smell of grass and weeds
in the air
my feet damp inside shoes
lilac petals on my shirt

Cool and damp
I didn’t even know
I missed this

Trying not to take it personally
while you throw yourself to the floor
and refuse to eat the lunch I made

Sun through windows
observing anger and sadness
you are so tired

Friendship depth
should we have hugged
before you walked away?

Cool afternoon
full stomachs
a book given a book received

Trying not to fear
the bike ride home

Sun morning
tree seeds in the seams of the car
my son singing along to
ring of fire
dancing to slow ride
more this he says
more this dada

This weekend was
mowing the lawn
and errands
a possibility of making out
the park
our son singing and dancing
our teams tying and winning
beer and wine

Turning the corner
in the bathroom
at work
narrowly avoiding
the puddle of piss
in front of the urinal

Lingering smell of shellfish
in the halls
from yesterday

Pointless leaving work
the lines for the train
are deep
in the humid afternoon
three or four
will go by
before I can get on

Spending the day
with our son
walking to the hardware store
what’s this?
what’s this?

Up and down the aisles
are you ready to go?
no, what’s this?

heavy clouds open
it rains
he splashes in puddles
squats, puts his finger in a small puddle
tastes the water
he laughs when the drops hit him

Alternates between walking
and me carrying him

He leans into me on the couch
my head rests against him
holding him close

The door handle rattles
and the door opens
he walks over to our bed
and crawls in
and we sleep
for a few more minutes
five o’clock

Holding him close
his legs grip my stomach
we rise with the waves
and fall with the waves

He smiles

A large wave
rolls us
I grip him tight
no thoughts
just action

We come up
but calm
hair sopped
in our faces
water dripping
in our mouths

Sunlight still

Focusing on my breath
in and out
the words
to not believe in 100 years of happiness
come from nowhere

Shit smeared
running down the garage door
an open diaper
on the ground at its base

Waking up
his foot in my face
his foot in my neck
pale light in pre-dawn
turning him around so
his head is by mine
my arm around his
small body
he burrows in
I doze
hoping he will sleep
for a little longer

Following my breath
and nodding off
while I sit

A burned out
cicada droning
alone in the
summer evening
as I walk home

That fat pigeon
looks like an owl
caught me by surprise
when I first saw it
under the overpass
at Irving Park

Old man
singing minor
with an out of tune guitar
as busses go by
waiting people at Jefferson Park

Fast moving clouds
cool air damp with rain

My hand on your thigh
while we talk
at night too tired
to move

After work
humid sun
smell of electricity
and smoke
two men talk
I’m aware of my teeth
and how they feel

A delayed train
children’s voices

Stifling heat on the train
after work
eyes glued to a book
high altitude clouds
summer dresses

(happened July 2013)

Small sunburn
on my shoulders
my big toes torn up
slices like gills
sand burning my feet
giant waves, no clouds
knowing my family is there
on the beach
but I can’t see them
without my glasses

The body of a pigeon
into the deep impression
of a foot
frozen in cement

Cool air this morning
as I walk to the train
that will take me to work

Last night
I could feel
the mass of my body
attention to my stomach
touching my legs
my son eating grapes
while writhing and squirming
in my lap
bringing more awareness
I couldn’t stand it

I can’t stop sweating
slightly dizzy
out of the corners of my eyes

These two
this couple
sitting at the back of the train

Revolt me
with repeated

– short and sweet
but every ten seconds

Unwarranted disgust
but true nonetheless

two for

February 20, 2015

Today in the car, my son said, I will not die. Seemingly out of nowhere. I will not die. 

Everyone dies. I said.

No, not me. 

It’s a part of life. Everything dies. When people get very old they die. 

Only plants die. Kids do not die. Only parents and dogs. And cats die. 

Well, this isn’t something you need to worry about right now.

I do not want to die. kids don’t die.

You have a long long time before you need to worry about that. Let’s talk about this another time when you’re older.


Then he went back to singing along to What’s This? from The Nightmare Before Christmas. 

February 26, 2015

In his pajamas he sits at the table. Laptop in front of him. Watching people open toys and stockings and eggs and backpacks while he eats Honey Nut Cheerios and vanilla yogurt. Legs folded underneath. Eyes intent. Diffuse light through thing curtains of dining room. I prepare to shovel snow.

the year in poetry 2012


Spontaneous morning
it is cold
frozen breath and dusting of snow
noisy guitar improvisations
on the radio
driving my son to school

Buildings and sky blend together
behind snow
beer and wine in my bag
crossing the slippery bridge

An ongoing list of things that I enjoy –

When it’s hot out
walking past the air conditioner and getting chilled
just before getting into bed
chills on my back

My son saying done after eating

Morning sun
blood on my shirt
from my son’s split lip

His lips covered in blood
sucking on his pacifier
and laughing

Yesterday. Sunday

Walking in the park behind our house
up and down the steep hill
down to the bike path and the river
my son quacking at the ducks
smelling flowers
touching trees
fascinated with bees
my partner in a tank top
cool out

He woke up at 6.30 this morning
my hand on his back
stroking his head
messy hair

He ate a peach
without me cutting it first
a mess of juice on his pajamas

Smiling and laughing
when I kiss him on the neck

Reading earthsea
and a strange feeling of having been before
comes over me
when I see the upper corner
of the page creased where I had folded it over
to mark my page
twenty some years ago

I don’t remember the plot
but I know I’ve been here before

Haze in the lamplight
damp crisp air
a chill
leaves burning
smoke from a fire place

Composing poems
and phrases in my head
while I walk home

I never remember them
the next day

Getting used to the cold again
no hat yet
just red cheeks
and hands in pockets

My son smiling when he touches
the first powdering of snow
on the back steps

Cold he says and mock shivers
holding his arms
close to his chest

Cold this morning
my son woke up at four
my throat is scratchy

an old man pees next to
the off ramp at irving park

A young woman bobs her head
and mouths the words
to a song on the train

Coffee is not enough today

the year in poetry 2011


Geese tracks in the snow
this morning

Snow in the air

Last night
you smiled

When we gave you a bath

Things enjoyed today

My son’s smile and his proto-laugh
the smell of burning wood
the pattern of the dress
of the woman who walked in front of me
on the way to the train
tree branches

Clear night
basketball in the alley
plastic flapping in the wind

My son is four months old today

Sun out, birds and squirrels
slight smell of spring in the wind this morning

Yesterday – sun and warmth
kids in the playground in the park
the girl learning to box under the trees
warm, but no spring in the wind

Last night –

sitting in the wooden rocking chair
watching you change his diaper
you both smile at each other
in the lamp light

Meditation sitting at night

Breathing throughout the day
washing dishes
doing the laundry

Walking into the evening sun
swallowed up by the light
it’s cold
green shoots in the ground

A rusted can under a bush
the house on the corner
with peeling paint on the white window frames
and rotting wood swing behind the fence

In the park
a man and woman kiss
on the tennis court
rackets in hand

Two seagulls surrounded by robins
in the grass
sun through trees

I’m tired

Rain last night
hail and thunder
a lake in the street
holding my son while
looking out the kitchen window

The building by the hospital is being torn down
every day the steam shovel eats a little bit more

Today it’s gone
piles of rubble in the mist

Yesterday morning –
two geese on the sidewalk
blocking my path
large and silent

They take a few steps as I approach
surrounded by seagulls in the grass

Last night
reading on the train
eyes glued to the page
look out the window –

This morning
my son talking in bed next to me
trying to sleep
my hand on his chest
his hands grabbing my fingers
he smiles

He slept on me
over the weekend
in my arms
for an hour and a half
we sat on the couch
the sun was out

I couldn’t stop looking at him

My son’s laugh is beautiful
when I blow on his stomach
and he grabs my face

The lilies are closed in the morning
when I get my bike from the garage
sun, sweat, the kids at the park
coffee, lunch, the routine of work
and the lilies are open in the evening
when I return

The old women
drinking hot tea
from tiny cups
as ivy grows
up the bricks
covers windows
in the sweat hot
summer sun

Hot as fuck

Soccer in the park
an oven in the kitchen
all the food we have to make


After work
the day’s humidity reaches its peak
the cicadas follow suit
building to climax

My son and my partner
laugh on the floor in the other room
as I lower his bed six inches

She sings that she loves you
and you stop crying
while we get you ready for bed
and my heart breaks
with joy

At Lula. 8.30. Night.

He draws in a book
and then embarrassed
when a story is told
about him skating
and being a man

Blue sky and clouds
touch of metal in the air
blonde hair and blue jeans
he throws up on the sidewalk

He says
remind me never to eat
chicken alfredo

to his friend
as our paths intersect

Geese in the park
a small bumblebee flying
between spent flowers

The sun rising
music on the stereo
my son looking out the window
his back to me
a tiny leaf suspended
from an unseen thread
in the tree outside
it spins in the wind
I’m sitting on the floor
and all of this is part of me

the year in poetry 2010


our breath hangs in the air
in the morning sun
steam rises from the river
as we cross over the bridge
you are barely visible under scarves

riding my bike
flurries, red cheeks, nose bleeds
my eyes tearing in the cold
gray morning
the streets bleached white

sunday afternoon
january sun
ducks in the river in force
bloodied pigeon wings
open for flight on the sidewalk
clouds of breath
trees white under snow

frozen fog
a fine powder on the ground
trees all white
sun shining in the air
enchanted morning
illuminated air

snowing today
riding my bike through large flakes
the sound of my tires over fresh snow
wind in my ears
fog and slush on my glasses
I can barely see, but it’s warm
and I hear birds

purple gray sky half lit
with the glow of oncoming headlights
underneath it

silhouettes of buildings
three men speak Arabic
holding tiny Turkish coffee cups
on saucers outside ofthe restaurant

snow this morning
phantoms in the distance
the tree with all of its leaves
dried brown and shrunken
rasp like seed pod rattles
in the wind and snow

my feet plod heavy
disappearing under light powder

tracks from tires and other feet

whirl of stars in daylight
as I wait for the bus

seagulls over the abandoned warehouse
two workers in flannel shirts
holding a piece of wood over their shoulders
my heart beating fast

laying in bed last night
thinking about raising our child
while you slept at my side

this morning thunderstorms
my hands cold in the damp air
birds sing, my mind skips around

clock ticking
kids playing in the parking lot
breathe in, breathe out

cold again
mist this morning
damp and cold, gray sky
a morning bird sings
a three note minor melody

yesterday –

smell of pine outside the school
on my long walk home
in the shade – birds, song
waiting to meet my son

the heat thick with humidity
the apartment building just south of the park
surrounded by trees
like a palace
french doors look out onto sidewalks stained with mulberries

this morning –

rain in trees, leaves heavy
the long walk to the train
cool rain drops on my body
the park is empty
my heart is light

rain this morning
this summer is either hot as hell
or rainy and cool

haze of sun through trees
and after morning rain
flowers float in summer heat

in the cool morning
dry leaves blow across the grass
a man runs circles around the compass
in front of the pumping station

insect drone
walking to work
breeze through humid air
robins in the grass
searching for food

last night I dreamt we had our son
I held him and tickled his feet
making him laugh

This morning
gray light
clouds and a steady rain
small white moth flying
between leaves of grass

rain on my umbrella and my shins
pants rolled up
the quiet roar of raindrops on the leaves of the trees
in the park

last night
yoga, then felt our baby kick
while we held each other on the couch

clouds over the skyscrapers
lights glow along the river
umbrellas out
soft morning
cool air on skin

feet in the grass
cool breeze on skin
what will you look like?

fall approaching
the axis has tilted
and the sun is in my eyes
in the morning
while the old woman
waters her flowers with a hose

yoga last night
a surge of emotions
excitement and fear
happiness and the world heaved
as I lay on the floor on my back
in the dark
outside the moon obscured by clouds

sun this morning
clouds high and in straight lines
cool air, clean
and the smell of garlic

the old man sitting in the doorway
hunched over
hand on his knees
a ragged baseball cap
and a flock of magazines
blow through the street
under the train tracks

two geese honk in chorus
on a concrete pylon
they glide over the river
the homeless man wrapped in a blanket
along the river walk

yellow moon hangs low in the sky
the young couple kisses in polish
riding home on the train

what did you say
that night on the train
when you leaned in close
whispering French
in my ear
when I was sick
with love and fear

folding myself up into a lotus
cold morning
bruised light
a small centipede on the wall
breathing and counting

all the leaves on the ground
and the gang of geese
in the schoolyard
my hands are numb
in the November air
breathing and counting
alternates with our son
floating closer in my mind

the morning wrapped in
close grayness
crows caw caw in the bare trees
you are home
wrapped in bed
and our son sleeps with his mouth
quietly open

walking home carrying groceries
my feet crunch and squeak
on frozen snow
early evening black as night
I have to pee

and I think of that
childhood night at the house
of a friend in the country

the toilets broke
and we peed freely
off of the deck
into the black
summer night

he cries and cries
walking back and forth
through the living room
carrying him in my arms
my eyes shut
each step is a chore
falling asleep while standing up

night is interrupted
broken into three hour chunks
one hour of feeding and soothing
two hours of sleep

the sound of bison
heavy feet in the stairwell
otherwise silence
this early in the morning

the year in poetry 2009


Morning gray.
Almost june, still feels

Rainy and cool this morning
Sun peaking out and humid when I rode my bike
smells like water and grass

Cool and damp
puddles on the street
water drops on plants
splash me in the face on the arms
when I brush them


Cool breeze through window
light from lamp
legs stretched out
books on the coffee table
kids yelling outside

Dreamt that it was winter
that summer was gone

Erasing boxes in the morning
a pinch in my back
rattling in the vent

September, tall grass, sun
riding my bike through early morning wind
contemplating a baby

Steps up the back porch
a white flower blossom
a neon yellow lighter
evening in the air

Midnight late summer moon
the slope ofyour shoulder
the curve of your hips
against the street lit blinds

Summer night free jazz
sky stained by ink wash clouds
in this moment I am small

Mist morning on bike
leaves explode, birds chirp
an empty playground


On a footbridge over train tracks
trees on either side
gray clouds
wind blowing ripples in a puddle
reflecting a fence


A girl waving at my train
while waiting for her el
one station to another


Walking over the bridge on Lawrence
the trees
leaves on fire – red orange yellow
explode over the river
the white pumping station
its crumbling columns and pier
stained with water and time
gray sky and clouds

Rain gray skies
brown leaves on pavement
muted colors
winter smells in the wind
I remember what cold hurts like

Morning mist and rain
damp air against my skin
the girl waiting for the bus
the man smoking his cigar
smell of wet fall and gray light
I breathe

she skips and dances
when she’s been drinking
points her toes
legs straight
small leaps from toe to toe

mexico diary 10/3-10/13 2003


Mexico Diary (colonia el vigía, zapopan, jalisco)

4.15pm. Went to el centro. Té de manzanilla con azucar y limón. Walked around with Ignacio. Bought bread from the vegetarian/integral panadería. Got soy burgers. Heard jazz from what he said was a municipal academy. It gave me hope. Trumpet flurries drums from upstairs. The second floor windows. Us underneath walking in the shade. Living life like the retired. Nothing going on. Music. Sitting around in the middle of the afternoon. The kids outside playing in the street. The donut kid. Donas! Donas! Llegaron las donas! The other kids chanting the same thing after him. He carries them on a tray resting on his shoulder. Sunny. Dry. Low 80s.

No good dreams. All of them terrible. So far. Waking up in the middle of the night. People killing themselves. Shooting themselves. Gun at head. A jolt. Half their face off. Neck hanging open. Sitting on the ground wondering what happened. Breathing. Chase anxiety dreams. Unknown terror dreams. Lonely dreams. Wake up from all of them at 2am. 3am. 4am. Calm down. Calm down. Try to sleep again.
The ipod died today. Two weeks and it’s dead. Fucking technology.

The ipod came back today.
Listening to Lungfish.

Filled with doubt. Questioning everything I’m doing here. Not knowing what to do. Doubting everything. Insecurities in isolation. Wondering what’s true. What’s not. What will last. What will not. Feeling alone. Cut off. Unsure of everything. My future. My right now. My feelings. Unsure. Feeling unsure. My chest and stomach. Empty. Drained.

The Pupils. 10am.

TV on in living room. 4.21pm.
TV on in living room. 5pm.

5.15pm. Storm. So much rain. Thunder. The street at the corner a river. Water flowing fast. Cars plowing through it. Against the current. Paper, garbage carried along. Lone stragglers caught in it are soaked. Walking uncaring. Too beyond wet to care.

The boys at the tlapalería clap and cheer when the rain gets furious comes down in sheets. They stand in the entryway and watch.

The water pummeling the sky light by the bathroom. Intensifies the situation. Wind.

Wind blows the rain through my window. Into my face. Smell it. Taste it. Lower the window a little.
It comes down straight. Direct. Now. So constant.


Trees still except for the rain hitting the leaves.
Heads peering out windows in the houses. Every so often curtains brushed aside.
A few people on bikes. Water filling the backs of pickups. More debris in the temporary river.
Rapids form at the speed bump in the river. Rain pummels the clay roofs. The splashing creates a thick mist haze.

Thunder. The boys at the tlapalería improvise a tiny boat and set it on the river in front of their store. Watch it float down the street and it’s carried away. Its little white sail.

7pm at KFC. Plaza Patría. In his 50’s.
Avenida Mariano Otero. South West.