Selection of Poems

from unpublished collection Feather Father

The National Audoban Society’s Singing Bird Clock (runner-up in the 2022 Troubador International Poetry Prize, UK Judges Joshua Bennett and Victoria Kennefick)

Maybe it was the Mockingbird my father heard

dying through the bathroom wall;

maybe it was the Black-capped Chickadee

with its Hey Sweetie, Fee Bee, Listen to Me;

or the Cardinal, blood-red from tip to tip,

its beak poking through its masquerade,

a syncopated shrill, even low, like a drill in his brain;

the Downy Woodpecker, pik-pik-pik, chik-chik-chik;

or maybe it was his grandmother’s voice, somehow

reincarnated, deep down in the Canadian Goose

calling Dickybird in from an approaching storm;

the House Wren,

the American Robin,

the Tufted Titmouse,

or the good ole Oriol

hailing from Baltimore… where now even I must fly;

or maybe it was midnight

and the last bird my father heard

was the Great Horned Owl, calling out through

the bathroom wall, three times in all,

the word who, repeated though forever vague

if it’s asking you or telling you who

before swooping down, the silent masterful


with open talons,

and taking him up into the dark blue trees.

from 5th published collection The Gold Rush (2021)

San Francisco

Maybe it was because we had come through the dark

early morning hours, maybe it was because we had hit

just enough traffic to refresh a hatred for the Rubik’s Cube

of lane changing, that despite the luck of being two we did

not qualify for the car pool lane; maybe because Mom is dead

& every surviving member of the family admits, in one way

or another, a tremendous amount of relief at her passing; maybe

because there was no fog; because the chorus of Born in the USA

stands as a bitterly ironic counterpart to the song’s verses; maybe

because for some time I’ve experienced a deep sense of release

from an unwinnable battle, not against my mother but against you,

shotgun to my right, the choppy undertow of a once buoyant reciprocity

of your skin atop mine, holding me prisoner in an Alcatraz of Jealousy;

but I’ll be damned & sure as hell to wear some flowers in my hair

even if I’m not going to San Francisco; the window down & my left hand out

with the exact change for the Bay Bridge, & two whole days ahead of us;

maybe it was because we would be gone from this place in no time

that there was something magical & triumphal about our crossing.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea —after Jules Verne

the Nautilus is one

when you go far, you make one

where the land is next to the sea

this helps you to see in the dark

this is made of the bodies of little sea animals

to get away from something bad

an old building after an accident

a small, round, expensive stone that you find in a seashell

you can use this to cut wood

when the sea goes round very fast




light, fire







from 4th published collection Earth Castle (2020)

Your Old Bedroom Window

The black and white aerial photograph of your town

was taken from the height of summer eagles,

the highest of storks, their nearly useless legs

dangling over fascist Spain, from above

corn and sugar beet fields, fruit orchards, to the south 

of your old bedroom window;

just enough thread

poking through the eye of a needle.

It was a sunny day; the shadows a myriad

of darker triangles and rectangles just to the left

of the otherwise jigsaw collection of upright buildings:

from the farming warehouses on the lower edge

to the Arabic fortress castle, its crown of battlements,

and the Catholic church smack dab against it

at the top of the gentle flood-free rise

the old town still clings to.

One winter morning, all of our fathers came singing

wake up songs, didn’t they? They would open the curtains

and point to the snow covering the rooftops of our hometown

like a miracle, their arms around our shoulders.

Earth Castle

Maybe we’re the Fags, the Queers, the Catalanas.

I’m the gay American guy who’s been buttfucking

Ramón and Sagrario’s, the Coal Vendors, son, José Ramón

for, what is it, over twenty years by now? as an intro

(in lieu of a known nickname) to who I am along the lines

of the breakfast, lunch, dinner, cafe, bar conversation

everyone in Earth Castle has had at one point or another;

not that I’d take any special offense to any of the titles,

but rather take it as an honor of sorts, to be registered,

publicly engrained in their local white pages, akin

to roots, something I could never boast of in America.

Over the years, your family’s own pre, during and after

breakfast, lunch and dinner conversations have brought

to the table a virtual Encyclopedia Britannica of who’s who

for hundreds and thousands of reasons a hell of a lot

more run-of-the-mill than our own novelesque and risqué

contribution to the tableaux of small town gossip.

Dining table gossip that begins with something like

“Guess who I saw” on the way out for bread or the news,

and runs the entire gambit of blood ties and associations,

an endless array of curious nicknames: the Frogs, the Toads,

the Pacifiers, the Spring Onions, the Piss Drops, the Shit Sprays,

the Carpenters, the Coal Vendors and so on; some for the obvious,

others for the more oddball, possibly one-time anecdote

that stuck and became, lo and behold, public domain,

far from any endeavor to insult or harm, but simply to name

so-and-so, since we are all still here in Earth Castle to do so.

from 3rd published collection A Mountain on Jupiter (2020)

The Flames of Fall

I remember the initial idea was to protect the art

we frame and hang on the wall of our living room,

bank down the wooden shutters to the sun to keep

the oils, acrylics and watercolors from fading;

the weathered slats usher in a bright naked rib cage,

inching across this theater of souvenirs


the truth about color.

How true indeed a Venetian canal gilds a twilight mist;

or, vermillion red, canary yellow

and the resulting flames of fall

some time ago in the foothills of the Pyrenees;

the intended twinkle and turquoise of miniature mosques

on a thin sliver of ivory; the blood

of an old quarter marquee in the pearl sheen

of Parisian rain.

Day after day, all our art at the mercy of the sun,

the protection we should be providing neglected.

It’s the light that strikes what you once thought were

the simple brown eyes of a stranger, more beautiful

than the day you came across them, pondered them

and took them home.

Post Tenebras Lux

I don’t want the devil tiptoeing through our living room

anymore, everything

from the framed pictures on the walls to the white tablecloth

humming along to the red neon in dim fog,

standing there with his toolbox on arched billy goat heels,

the tips of his horns just short of scraping the ceiling,

the starving edge to hips, the swing of cock and scrotum

when the paper cut

glowing void pivots just right.

I don’t need subtitles

to translate what he’s saying anymore but I don’t want

to continue to be the author of damp bones for vultures

to pick at in the desert.

I don’t want to say I’m not thinking of anything special anymore

when you ask me what I’m thinking.

I want you to swallow me but I want to swallow you too

and belch each other deep in our slumber.

It doesn’t matter how many years the night grinds on its axis;

at daybreak, we can start to make out

the stick figures we once sprayed on the roof of a cave,

how I loved you more than a mountain on Jupiter. 

from 2nd published collection Billy Goat (2019)

The Open Door

This is when the evening sun comes through the open door,

a couple of months’ worth the house having twisted

just enough like an extreme yoga posture and

you’re supposed to breathe but I’m not sure

what to do with my arms.

It’s been years since the thought of the door,

apart from its practical use of coming and going every day,

has made its way so abruptly into my line of vision,

like an old tree all of a sudden

waving its blue branches.


Twenty-two is the number the calendar gave us the night

we met, seventeen the day I was born, twenty-eight you;

otherwise random numbers nobody really cares about;

eleven, twenty-five, thirty-one. In our little world, ours

means milestones. Twenty-two today means Sunday

and if it weren’t for the clouds, it would be sunny.

Enough light to see things. I woke up before you, you

having come to bed a good hour and a half after me,

late Saturday night bullshit talk shows followed by

porn. Our orange juice maker doesn’t work, maybe

I push too hard. Solution: I turn it off and just shove

and twist the halves down. Newspapers, Ronaldo’s

pointing at his jersey, his open mouth and gelled crest

like a triumphant iguana, controversy still over the king

apologizing to Spain for killing elephants in Botswana

and Italians dropping like flies in skyrocketing suicides.

All that without getting past the front page, waiting

for the father and son down on the street corner to fill

a paper cone with 300 grams of churros, and sugar please.

A special breakfast. Twenty-two, again. Before we rip off

the current page from the spiral, black ‘n white Malaysian

boys this time adorning the months. And there he was,

that familiar Moroccan guy, in real life, in first place, running

alongside police on motorbikes hailing blue siren lights;

followed by an unfamiliar man, maybe fifty strides

behind; and like harbinger drops of rain before a storm,

there came a sprinkling of rubber soles on asphalt and

the downpour of numbers inundating the boulevard.

Washing the coffee cups, I`m surprised the purple river

of marathon T-shirts still runs through the spring trees.

from 1st published collection Suicide, 1964 (2018)

Brand New and Eternal

Maybe the first ash has already arrived

during the night to these floating cities

yawning a celestial, titanic, zircon dream,

decks soaring above the hulls; an awakening

trick of magic, confirmed promise of a new day,

moored in the early morning baby-blue port,

and has started to collect. One after another.

Ocean liners that crept in, walking distance

from bed. Weathered crows’ feet of the sea

feel brand new and eternal. Cranes will lose

the fine evidence of night, their pulleys licking

their flanks and the new quest for cargo is on.

Bread, or anything along those lines. Taxis

out for that solo passenger heading home

with a forehead full of yeahs and whatevers

or out-out like maybe today will be the day.

We’re supposed to move. We’re not supposed to

come to a halt dreading not only our own death

but the irresponsible assassination of love,

to discover yesteryear fountains of water

in alleys where there had never before been

a reason to stop and lean against, to kill half

an hour before the hour the clinic tells you

to come. The prick on the finger tip, the blood.

The ten-fifteen minutes it needs to creep up

litmus filament prove enough to travel the world

and back. The nurse, the kindness, the statistics.

Human intimacies coined with Latin: fellatio,

cunnilingus. I say the words suck and fuck

and she nods her head like we might one day

imagine an angel receiving us at the gates

of her Peruvian mountain civilization. No time,

and I’m on the other side of unshattered glass,

walking through this city and into the woods

where this evening’s effigies of wandering lust

take their place on the altar of endearing demons,

their horns like party hats among overgrowth;

the myriad of sustained breathy hoot of birds

here and there piercing the canopy of nature,

to my pool. Today is not the day. The halogen

metal light flooring me to the concrete poolside

-a chlorinated offering of immortality – as I reach

the end of the first sit-ups of the rest of my life,

bracing myself for this particular magic to wane.

A fine layer of ash may already be accumulating

on the deck of those floating cities in the port

and no one will surely notice, not even the captain.

I wonder how long the volcano will continue to erupt.

The Golden Sheet

The golden sheet they throw over you shines

like a jackpot even in the dark. It says,

Look at this thread of light I’m gonna rat.

Look at how crackled and marvelous the bat

left the windshield you hitherto looked right through.

Pee on me, melt Fort Knox on me, anything

in the name of gold. Bulldoze down the screamingest

Shiite temples no one dares dance around, all the Ooms

dangling on international flights, all the bullshit

24-karate leaf that ever occurred to a Swiss 5-star chef

to garnish chocolate cake on the shores of Lake Geneva with

and nothing, absolutely nothing will steal the show like me,

little ole crinkled me, upstaging every glorious ounce

of light from your dead body.

from Blinking at Survival (collection unpublished)

A School of Fish

It was officially over. The lingering

final evening’s light, a matter of hours

before turning off my own light and calling it

a summer. The sun had left my back, the hill’s

shadow already reaching the wet sand and I

was about to call it quits when a school of fish

had something to say. If I could say they were

sardines or minnows, or an even more precise fish

word in a language, would it give any deeper

sense to the way they shot and fanned

out of the sea, first one and then that second

display of electricity? They were the mackerels

in somebody else’s poem; mine were alive,

flashing a relayed message to me from the sun,

sitting there alone on that beach of ours,

a handful of naked men at the end of the season.

I will keep up my own search, nevertheless,

for words; sometimes the most exquisite

lifeguard is a poem. To put words to

the chemical equation between scales and feathers

helps; but when I leave you on the shore and go

swimming past the dip and rocky makeshift reef,

the nuder I am the more defenselessly charged

I feel diving below the warm swells, eyes closed.

When I bring my goggles I get a better look

at the attraction, coming face to face with a stranger

wordless world, pulled into the vastness and awe;

though even there things still pertain to this world.

A rusting pipeline’s presumably full of sewage.

The message went something like this: a flower

or a colorful plaid print dress on a little girl running

beneath a Shiite mosque dome of zigzagging

mirrors going in and out, in and out, of the water.

That is, of course, if I had actually been close

enough to appreciate such a display of the color

I trust is there. What I did see, despite the end

of that particular summer, was the electricity.

I walked home. I soon came to the conclusion

that I would never leave you.

The Edge

The kite surf is up

in a flapping howling stitch

of dragon chartreuse,

kamikaze lime, ripping sky blue

apart. These tangles

of cord, harness and buckle

snap taut and light as tendons

and flicker the booming bright

and briny gale. Hands gripped

to the baton and running, they

slip their feet into the straps

of a polished board and razor

out upon this cellophane sea

and they’re up – gone off

the edge of the world not out

but up up for just a moment

enough to haul like major knots

and twist and turn – and man,

back down to this ocean going

on and on as if no kid could ever

look away, sitting ashore

with head too palsy to keep

looking upwards at the show.

My nephew is looking down

at Gumby and Pokey rubber

dolls trying to make them stand

up in the sand. I don’t know how

he has taken the kite surfers in

as his drool and wet smiling lips

seem more to do with the simple

novelty of another bright shiny day

and so many pictures. Maybe it is

a bit of everything. After all,

didn’t we all do what we could

with what we had, strapping

young and fit, snapping taut

at the edge of sunny days?

from The Lint the Moon Leaves (collection unpublished)

The New Models (Diagram Press)

We’re parked in the hills overlooking the town.

There should be a hurricane around here

for so many rainbows.

Everyone ought to compress kittens

before attaching them.

As well as breathing exercises

to be at one with the world.

Neither son nor brother nor friend

just a link in a chain of jokes.

The Mother of All Bombs

is not that naked obese woman

straddling a ballistic missile

my father e-mailed over the Atlantic.

Roll her in flour and go for the wet spot.

The Happy Hours

a wall of TVs

working stomach muscles

and deserving it.

Let’s forget all of this.

Actually, I come here alone but

we’re still parked in the hills overlooking the town.

Most people these days are able

to flip right past it with the new models;

a movie, the shower scene,

a threat to national security,

armed teenagers you’d better duck for,

a hot one you’d gladly bend over for,

the herd you have to stop the car for,

a busload of dreams and car-less Mexicans,

the mantras that hypnotize them,

the accident that nearly ruins them,

billions of tax dollars spent on something

or just the commercials getting in the way,

but the snow will always be there.

Not the white kind, not the cold kind,

just that loud nothing

between channels.

There’s been this guy dismembering people

so our friend keeps the couch next to her door.

I just wanted to show you where Barbara Streisand lives.

She’s “overweight” – our friend that is –

quit her switchboard job but

kept the keys to the gates

and knows all the rangers by numbers,

all like totally cute.

The beer having drained into the oceans,

the dirty ions of the night now crash

down in tinkling waves of amber,

our backs to the observatory.

Hope for Lincoln

For however many burritos

to go and Che Guevara T-shirts,

we hate them. Of course we don’t

realize it, nor is hate really the word.

We’re driving and eating to music

made for driving and eating, hard

plastic bumps hammered into freeways

make you wonder if we could drive

anywhere with our eyes closed.

Heading north you want your body west

so you command your car up and over

an arc of asphalt as others want east

heading south, and when it’s home

you’re heading or out and you’re doing

good and it’s almost dark, a treasure

sparkles like your needed and valid

love for yourself 360º. No, hate

is not the word. Of course we don’t

hate anyone. We hate things like

stress, war, rape

or flies.

In fact, if you let a dirty penny soak

in a Taco Bell hot sauce

it comes out shiny.

Rainbow Trout (Diagram Press)

I come all this way alone,

did I make that clear already?

Call it therapy. You’ve got yours

and I’ve got mine:

                              a line,

faint gray and numberless,

leads from this hospital room.

A side-effect of fluorescent lights,

these long cold city nights

and animal documentaries.

Anesthesia has come between us.

You in a blue paper gown and me

the top of a snow-laden pine tree.

Once the dogs have chewed

off the opponent’s ear,

it snows.

                Snow white egrets

in pockets of sulfur springs;

tiny cannonball eyes caught ditching

a million miles of calisthenics

in another indifferent winter to

canine warfare, just barking

distance away. Unable to sway,

evergreen giants watch

all the trying keep far from dying

amidst a frozen winter’s weight.

It’s summer now and I’m

tickling your good knee and

Yellowstone National Park is bigger than

the Province of Zamora.

How long will you be spending here?

On Earth? a Grateful Dead van may joke. Or,

How much for just driving through?

The Chemical Brothers’ foot on the choke.

Just before the continent broke off

legs were being added to buffaloes.

Bumper-to-bumper recreational vehicles

stare into the opposite not-nearly-as-pathetic extreme

of our evolution.

                            A growing population

ever-more inclined to meditation

dares not be responsible

for beheading

the best rainbow trout in the world,

and thus more peacefully opts for

a salad bar and shrimp scampi

sitting beneath a family

of dead roaring grizzlies.

Where are we going?

This is our landscape now. It will not kill you

but it’s our third time here this fall

and it’s hard to keep track

of all these nurses.

We’re driving into the sunset of life.

To your left, clear drops catch

fluorescent light and cascade

into an arm that has lost its tan

and someone’s dog

is barking outside the window.

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