‘Twas feckish, and the irkly grobes
Did fark and fistle in the slade;
All dingly were the rectiprobes
And the dampnuts updrade.

“Beware the Trumplewock, my friend!
The bigly mouth, those puny mitts!
Beware the Tweet bird, and off-fend
The cronious Perkletits!”

She packed her poisal voice and went:
Fat chance the vapid imp she’d spare—
So quivered he ‘neath his Cheeto tree,
And feebly cried, “Unfair!”

And, as the greelish light grew pale,
The Trumplewock, with wits of wood,
Came grabbling through the femly vale
Because he thought he could!

Eins, zwei! Eins, zwei! And quick as pie
The poisal voice sliced fierce and true:
“Go flay yourself, you mawkish elf,
And burn the residue!”

The Trumplewock would rue the day
He left his diddlepot of lack.
The frankish words would haunt him ‘til
He went galumphing back.

‘Twas feckish, and the irkly grobes
Did fark and fistle in the slade;
All dingly were the rectiprobes
And the dampnuts updrade.


“Trumplewocky” first appeared on this blog in February 2017. It was inspired by the monstrous farce (still!!!) inhabiting the White House, and Lewis Carroll’s timeless masterpiece, JABBERWOCKY.

Letter from the Other Side of Halfway

Western Meadowlark

For Robert Okaji

Dear Bob: In one of my former incarnations
as a starving, family-less, twenty-something Grad
Student, well before the advent of emails & texting,
when handwritten sentiments on stationery were still
in vogue, I certainly sent my share of “Dear Bob Letters.”
The recipients thereof, on the whole a far cry from being
remotely “Bob-like,” included a number of real posers,
some of whom now strut & crow on Facebook like
the ancient, hoary roosters (read: cocks) they clearly are.
As for the others (more of them than you might imagine),
they’re all dead, several by their own hands, even—a stone-
cold statistic (the seeming synchronicity of which is tough
to ignore) I frequently grapple with, sorting through conjured,
a posteriori details & associated, surreal imagery by day, &
chasing after egotistical ghosts in my über-symbolic dreams
by night, always with the conviction that some message for me
yet lurks in the dry lakebeds & sunless recesses of the Nether,
a realm to which the tips of my toes & then some are no strangers.

The only window-treatment manning the threshold between
me & my secrets is a translucent-pink swath of chiffon,
which I’m afraid doesn’t leave much to the imagination—
so consider yourself warned, amico mio! Against the current
backdrop of imbecilic plutocrats, psychopaths on trains,
& every other persuasion under the sun, hardly to be tempered
by the incidental, decent soul, it would not take a discerning
eye long to know me better than I know myself, which is just
about the only thing I know anymore…

In my attempts to locate myself, I often look to nature—
these days, it’s among the imposing Sequoias we boast here
in the Northwest, along with the showy cottonwoods, as fertile
as they are indiscriminate, stripping off their seed-fluff every
chance they get, a prospect that doesn’t seem to bother
the scrub jays deigning to my level for a squawk now & then
before ascending to a higher branch. Whatever folks might say
about birds of a feather, well, after a number of my earnest stints
shadowing local hens— their distinct way of wearing those vibrant
petticoats tucked underneath their brown slickers, & their biting
commentary having seemed uniquely suited to the cold & rain—
I’ve yet to locate my flock, & the search has turned southeastward:
Taking a tip from the meadowlark, I veer for the high desert,
my flight path crossing the sagebrush-dotted, volcanic earth,
hoping I’ll soon look down & see you floating
in a sea of ten gallon hats, just beyond the convection
columns braced against the electric blue sky.

I don’t suppose your self-claimed exile looks anything
like I’ve imagined? It’s not with a small twinge of jealousy
that I seek consolation in your brand of solitude on the other
side of that horizon line; as exile, it would seem to me,
involves the condition of having at some point belonged
somewhere. Having spent a lifetime “standing out in my field,”
I’m not very handy at extrapolating any other kind of belonging,
& feel I ought to find out what I’ve been missing, here,
on my side of halfway.

So, I’ll be headed out past the Cascades & the swaggering
sage grouses of the eastern uplands, reaching for that horizon—
green seeping to red, “clouds feathering in” no further from us
than one step beyond our any given station—where you can be
sure I’ll always be no more than a step away from you, & ever
your honest friend, Stephanie.


“Letter from the Other Side of Halfway” was first drafted during the May 2017 Tupelo Press 30/30 Project, and though it has since undergone a few revisions, the sentiments it contains—and the friendship that continues to inspire them—have endured, for which I am immeasurably grateful.


Anatomy of a Fustercluck


It’s thanks to crime scenes like this
that I sometimes dread people,
particularly the way they flock to orange pylons,
fluster in clumps like maimed birds,
and hatch out stories,
which are always either parboiled in half-truths,
or scrambled by hypocrisy. 

Take that camera-laden busy-body, for instance,
piqued there, barely disguising her hope
of spawning a murmuration—
donning her intrepidly purple polo,
she’s the self-declared ruler
of the pecking order that’s been bred into us
for the engendering of our chronicles:

Clearly, she knows how to swaddle her offspring
with ample pageantry
to ensure the stork’s swift delivery
of her inchoate prince.

Like Cronus, her Titan predecessor,
who swallowed up his own children
to thwart the prophecy of his time-driven demise,
she’s devouring a flood of raw peptides
from the sea-thick breeze
wafting right past the preoccupied deputy,
to sate her enduring appetite
for stone-cold lies.

Meanwhile, that blond-haired man
in the short shorts and flip-flops,
fixated on his faux-gold wristwatch,
has been pacing this whole time
on the cluster’s fringe,
completely cracked.

If you ask me,
he’s as guilty as the day is long.


“Anatomy of a Fustercluck” won the Rattle Magazine January 2016 Ekphrastic Challenge, and appears in my forthcoming chapbook, THIS BEING DONE (Finishing Line Press, available for pre-publication order February 2018 — stay tuned for more information!!). I’ve been thinking a lot these days about crime scenes, guilt, and the fraught task of sorting out sensationalism from the horrors of reality… That’s all.



     Today I used a piece of toilet paper
(ingenious how the squares are perforated)
           as a bookmark,

     to mark the beginning
of a story in a journal
           I pretended to mean to read soon.

      My own pretensions in the bathroom, I’d guess,
are no more elaborate than those of any other,
           but we prefer not to confess them,

     which is why confessionals nowadays tend to be
outfitted with porcelain & brass conveniences, & vanities
           of granite stacked with prayers, or leastways

     paperbacks (suggestive of prayerful reflection,
a well-regarded, liturgical means of bargaining one’s way out
           of bondage to repugnant functions),

     all to function as a colossal ruse—for truly,
we know no sleight-of-hand swipe performed (however
           adroitly the unrolled squares are wadded

     or folded), nor our most adroit illusions of luxury
contrived of bodacious poses over prodigal devices,
           can justify such unnatural exertions.

     Nature’s call is much like that of the cleric’s behind
his proverbial curtain—indeed, a loaded business
           we can’t but answer.


Who, me? Employ a fallacy of equivocation? NE-VER!

Moon Cake

Moon Cake

For Mike

My sixteen year-old daughter wants
dessert at ten o’clock on a Friday night,
so right there & then, her dad tells her to grab
the baking recipe book, has her check
the cabinet & fridge for ingredients,
helps her assemble the list, & proceeds to haul
their two derrieres to the grocery store.

I come home, a bit cranky, from a mandatory
parents’ meeting at the kid’s acting school
about things I’ll be hard-pressed to remember,
to the exuberant sounds of eggs being cracked
on a mixing bowl’s rim, bags rustling, a ring
of plastic measuring spoons clacking together,
an ancient, unwieldy electric mixer splattering
sugared butter across the kitchen, & two voices
bantering in their exclusive dialect of contentment.

The oven signals the completion of its preheating cycle,
& the girl capably slides the glass bowl filled with
white batter—yes, they’ve even separated the egg yolks
from the whites at nigh eleven o’clock at night—to create
a cake in the shape of a half-sphere, which will, of course,
be covered with frosting (covered, to my mind, generally being
the operative word)—though, not just any frosting, you see,
but a certain grey shade of frosting, because this is not just
any cake now baking at long-past-eleven o’clock at night…

& so it remains for the half-sphere to be tipped out
of its Pyrex to cool in the vacuum of space; next, to be
bombarded with ice cream scoopers of multiple sizes
to simulate the impact craters on the satellite’s surface
(while wry husband offers me bites of “ejecta” to snack on);
& finally, for the halved planetoid’s pocked regolith to receive
its lifeless lacquer—at which point, awash in the lunar sunrise
of my daughter’s one o’clock in the morning smile, I will consider
the myriad aims of which I’ve spent my decades falling short;
that is, until I suddenly have the presence of mind to realize,
by god, I’ve done something right in this life—

the precious girl I brought into this world
has a dad who can give her the moon.


“Moon Cake” was drafted during the May 2017 Tupelo Press 30/30 project.

On Seeing

Moose Lips!

“What we say we see says a lot about who we are.” – Ocean Vuong

“Why is no one ever looking when I use air quotes?”  – Matthew Harper

Sunspots through cloud-cover
Moose lips
Butterfly fuzz
Honey bees kissing lavender stalks
Spring breezes blowing cottonwood seeds into drifts 

Convection popcorning in the flame-blue east
Summer shimmering hayfield-rivers
Dust-devils whirling out of a midday calm
A dragonfly poised above a stagnant pond
its wings “wiggling—they don’t flap” 

The spider     like Godzilla’s more graceful cousin
terrorizing the webcam’s livestream
of pedestrians on a bridge over the Willamette
attended by the oblivious
broadcasts of a classical radio station 

A mother skunk trailed by three kits
emerging at midnight from the greenspace
across the street—their bottle-brush tails
going vertical    as my son    quivering
encroaches with his camera—
& erring on the side of sweet mercy     again 

A one & a half twisting layout somersault
from a trampoline—lights swirling in figure-eights
fifteen feet above the ground

Moose lips     & butterfly fuzz

The ease of every convoluted moment

The relative difficulty of ease


Butterfly Fuzz 3

Photos by Matthew Harper 


elegy (20171129)

Out of the ashes of heartbreak rises the phoenix of poetry. A brilliant piece by the illustrious Charles Payne on the recent loss of his pooch, Bodhi.

Words and Feathers

i pass through a cold spot
the paranormal experts
tell me this is a sign
some formerly corporeal being

is absorbing energy because
it wishes to communicate
or otherwise engage
with a world of mucus-leaking
sacks of wobbly flesh

who’s a good boy?

i don’t discourage the flickers
at the edge of my vision
the sound of jangled tags
the clacking of long toenails

happy to ride a bus
i’ll get off only when they make me
without a known destination


lately i gaze
out the window at a soft horizon
and feel the need for heaven

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The Rabbit


Once upon a midday gleaming, as the sun perched, eager-seeming,
Above my homestead’s weedy patches of forgotten sod,
Whilst I sighed, wondrous with gloom—oh, how that sky did fiercely loom!—
Upon my yard’s bedraggled flora a brown-grayish rabbit gnawed—
With a certain pluck & gusto, chose its clumps, & briskly gnawed,
Ever mindful as it trod.

I presumed it was a visitor from lettuce fields abroad,
For it was fuzzy, quick & small, cute as a little cotton ball,
But unlike any other rabbit that I’d ever seen before…
I distinctly don’t recall if it was springtime, or late fall—
Where I live, these stark environs kind of always look like fall—
Lacking features to enthrall.

Soon, my feelings started seeping—the way shadows take to creeping—
From their places of safekeeping, ‘til they lumbered into view
(As for that moment’s peace I’d sought, when with my sanctuary wrought,
I’d crawled inside to stay—& stayed much longer than I knew,
It could’ve dried & blown away, for all I really knew…)—
& there was nothing I could do…

Now, the rabbit, on grasses chewing—my soul eschewing—is my undoing:
My vain attempts to woo it hither churn up far too much ado,
So, I’m here, just sitting, stewing, my years accruing (they keep accruing)
Of the untold days’ ensuing—garish sunlight streaming through
(When all is said & done, I’ll bet that sun just seeps right through!);
I’d also swear that fur-ball grew!

With this craving so unnerving, I will wither undeserving
Of even one, small, savory serving of Hasenpfeffer stew…
My wee compadre, to be sure, won’t soon be rapping at my door:
I could with doleful tears implore, writhing prostrate on the floor
(It wouldn’t give two shits if I dried up right on this floor…),
Yet to hunger, evermore!


Here’s to art imitating poetry imitating poets imitating life—or something like that…


Wild Turkey

The birds have been beheaded, stripped of togs.
 The winter squash has made it to the store.
Cranberries left behind Wisconsin bogs.
Potatoes are appreciated more.

We’ll gather at the table for our spread,
& hungry mouths will start to salivate:
“Please pass the butter!”––“Don’t forget the bread!”––
“I’ll take a breast!”––“Pile taters on my plate!”

To celebrate abundance with respect
for those who till the soil & reap the wheat––
we’ll drug them up with tryptophan’s effect,
& top it off with pie to call it sweet…

Then, pants unbuttoned, lying on the floor,
we’ll muster up the strength to eat some more!

I stepped into the Wayback Machine to retrieve this one! Wishing you and yours out there in WordPress land a blessed Thanksgiving recovery! Since I’m decidedly NOT thankful for the genocide of Native Americans that is an irredeemable blight on our Nation’s past (not that we’re doing so hot in the present, either), I’ve been thinking of  this day as a remembrance of everything that’s wholesome, just, good purely for goodness’ sake, and enriching in this life! Thanks, fellow bloggers and friends, for your abiding, positive presence in cyberspace, and for making a difference for me, and for each other! With love to all!