The Spark

I picture you sitting at your desk 
In your room in the apartment 
Or maybe at a table in the corner
By the window. 
It’s the window that’s the key. 
What you hear through it 
Will change you.  

Right now, you are looking at us below
Through the screen 
Its thin metal grill
Pixelates us into small boxes
That disappear to your sight  
As you gaze through them 
At the people gathered on chairs and benches.  

At first, it's just people at a fire pit. 
But then a woman steps up to a microphone 
That you hadn’t seen before. 
You catch glimpses of her words 
Mingling with the roar of motorcycles
Inarticulate distant shouting 
Sirens far away. 

The woman steps away from the mic. 
You expect applause, 
But this audience snaps its fingers. 
You don’t know why they do it, 
But it’s different 
And difference attracts you.  

You lean in closer, tilt your head, 
So your ear is nearly pressed to the screen 
Like an elderly woman
Leaning into her iPhone. 

Still, you only hear shards of words. 
“The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame.”
They rear in front of you, these eyes, 
So monstrous that they are alight with fire. 
They will be with you for days 
Lighting your way with wild rage.  

More snapping.
A woman sits,
A man rises to the microphone.
He reads: “There will be time, there will be time 
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; 
There will be time to murder and create.” 
Murder AND create? 
How can they be in the same line? 

Because of this, you will play with opposites for weeks. 
Love and hate, good and evil, pleasure and pain. 
Until you see the things between, 
The beloved, 
The neglected, 
The destroyed.  

You listen all night 
As each of us rise to read a poem. 
And though you can only hear pieces 
The words glitter 
Like the shattered glass necklace 
That littered the sidewalk 
On your morning walk to school 
Catching the first rays of sun 
As it rose over the skyscrapers behind you. 

You type the words you hear 
Into your phone 
And poems appear. 
Your future begins as you read them 
As worlds unfold 
Rise up 
Crash down
Stretch before you like seas of grass, 
Seas of water. 

This night echoes into your future 
Until one day 
You have the courage to write a poem. 
It is about opposites. 
About sirens and Sirens. 
The kind you run from 
And the kind you run to, 
Caught by an irresistible call.  
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Heron

Blue Heron  

standing in the shallows: 

Stick legs 

Knot knees 

Twig toes 

 

Do you always have one leg raised 

Or is that the way I want to picture you? 

 

The way your body curves 

Into your long neck 

Curls into your head 

Pointing with your beak. 

 

Immobile elegance 

Poised to strike 

Pierce 

Capture 

Eat 

 

Immobile elegance 

Still 

Outside of time 

 

Do you always fly by yourself? 

You are solitary  

But  

The steady, slow wing pace 

Makes me think you are flying in place 

Makes me think you don’t know alone 

 

When you are above me 

You are so many things 

A seamless assembly of geometry 

Cylindrical  

Linear 

Curved 

Body 

Legs 

Wings 

 

Straight and curling 

Never bent or crooked  

You are dignity  

 

Except that one time: 

I surprise you in the small pond 

So close to the trail 

My hiker quiet feet don’t warn you 

Anna’s dog-pad paws hush on the packed dirt 

 

You jump up, water thunder wing crash 

But 

The trees are close around you 

The escape angle steep 

Up 

You labor, heavy strokes 

Slap the air 

Unsteadily ascend 

Somehow find a hole in the canopy 

Escape from me 

With my hand reached out toward you 

Trying to bring you back 

And 

It’s too late let to tell you that I love you 

Once of Hope

This is a poem that came from a student mistake, writing “once of hope” instead of “ounce of hope.”


How an ounce of hope 

Becomes a once of hope 

That once of hope lasts to this day 

Is in these words 

Is in every page I've written

 

This endless dream 

Started with a pencil 

Scribbling inside the blue lines 

On them 

Across them 

 

This true belief 

Belied by reality 

Given the smallest sustenance 

10 dollars 

Poems in print 

Stories imprinted in the cloud 

 

Yet the once of hope endures 

It was hoped so strong 

Multiplying from the ounce of hope

It once came from 

Self of Steam

A student once wrote that she had 

“Low self-of-steam.” 

Even as I circled it in red 

and wrote the right words 

I felt like correcting it was wrong, 

and a vision emerged. 

I see this self-of-steam 

as a different version of her 

and her words not a mistake 

but a revelation. 

She is describing herself, amorphous, 

a vapor caught between window panes. 

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The Garlic Press

For its mechanical ferocity 

Consider the garlic press:  

The most aggressive kitchen tool 

More violent than the tenderizer. 

Peel the transparent husk 

Push the shiny bulb 

Down into the cup 

Pressing its arched back 

Over the grid of holes 

Line up the plunger – 

Hinged silver block 

Created to crush – 

Grip the handles 

Squeeze  

Pressing the bulb into the screen 

Pushing past its initial resistance 

Until it breaks 

Garlic pulps through holes 

Splattering in shafts  

Splashing into the dish. 

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