June 30, 2009



The first night, I felt a tightness in my chest,
the heart fluttered, and I took a deep breath.
My mind raced, not knowing this alien
sensation. I ignored it, and it went
away. The morning after, sugar spilled
over the counter; pouring down Corn Flakes.

I called my mother, telling her about
the dull pain in my stomach and the night
before. She told me to relax. “Maturity
is a gradual condition of decline.”
I breathe deeper now, every night and watch
the brightening of the east. My hair is

gone, falling out in large clumps. Since then, I
have invested a fortune in Drano.


The doctor holds the X-ray to the light,
pointing at the blurry spots. He frowns as
he turns towards her. “I’m afraid it’s returned,”
he said. I pull her close to me but can’t
speak. “Remission” was the happiest word,
but “relapse” silences all active tongues.

She turned away from science & from me.
Her gaze rested instead on herbalist,
acupuncturist, new-age charlatans
giving her hope where others had failed.
Every day she would pray, and eat bean sprouts.
She grew thinner, and the lines on her face

Illustrated the resignation she
had finally acquiesced to this cold fate.

He wouldn’t go near her casket, wouldn’t
even look at her lying cold and still.
I tried to tell him that plasticine face
amd those waxy hands were not hers, were not
anything but the mortician’s own craft.
“It’s all artifice, you see. She’s still here
with us as long as you hold her in your
heart.” He didn’t listen, or didn’t hear.

Everyone was there, a homecomming no
one asked for. Maybe it helped all of us
move on and accept our fate in the world.
Or maybe we’re all lying to ourselves.
Maybe this fate is impossible to accept;
then we all must cry with empty arms.


We stand hungrily in the trees. We are no longer complete. Our humanity has been ripped from us by the unfeeling rip of metal and black powder. We hand listlessly, wind chimes in the fog of war. No one will grant us what we need. If there is a god, we have yet to see him.
What we have seen is the horror that befalls young men when the old men have disagreements. We were studying to become engineers, lawyers, and doctors. Hans Costrop’s grandfather had already set him up in business. He came from a long line of successful men. They all died before Hans, but now that line is broken. I think I can see part of him in the lower branches.
This is not the end that we expected. Poets have spoken beautiful words about warfare. Half a league onward. If only half a league. In three months the line shifted and changed, but after those three months only one hundred yards were gained. I saw my first bodies, they were the bodies of my friends and colleagues. We had played boyhood games in schoolyards together. Now those games are no more. No more than half a league, and the five hundred were the ones that fell on one day.
These trenches are the valley of death. God is my shepherd, but he has misguided us all. He who sacrificed his only begotten son has sacrificed thousands more of his children. What folly has this brought us? I shift in the wind, and my comrades walk on, not looking at the horrors that we are. I cannot blame them. I have stopped looking and closed my eyes myself.

fishin (1998)

My family has enjoyed many experiences together. We’ve had many good times, but the most memorable time I’ve spent with my family was one that was the worst for me. I felt horrible the whole weekend, but the fact that I was with my family made the whole event worth it.
It all started when my parents came up with a fine idea. We were all going to the zoo! I couldn’t wait. It was last year, and I hadn’t been to a real zoo in ages. I was all prepared to go to Pittsburgh, and as we drove, I became more excited as each mile passed. We finally got to the hotel, and checked in.
As soon as we laid our possessions down, we went out to find a place to eat.
We ate at T.G.I.Friday’s, a place I rarely get a chance to eat. I took full advantage of that chance. I stuffed myself so full, I started feeling sick. My family was going to the Monroeville Mall, but I felt like doing nothing of the sort.
I walk the short distance back to the hotel, and immediately fall asleep in my soft comfortable bed at the Hampton Inn.
The next thing I know, my family is making preparations to check out of the hotel and head for a wonderful day of enjoyment at the Pittsburgh Zoo. All that I can think about is how bad I need to vomit.
Being sick is no fun, but through personal experience, I can safely say that wandering around a zoo for an entire day makes matters even worse. I tried to pretend nothing was wrong, but I stared at my shoes for what seemed like an eternity. It was only occasionally that I looked up to see the exotic animals that presented themselves to me. Truthfully, I think I was more transfixed by my shoestrings than the majestic African lion, and my swooshes had more power to hold a stare than the unusual kangaroo.
On any other day, I would have enjoyed the experience, but the pain of my stomach made everything just too much to bear. It was a bright, beautiful day, but my cold chills made the day feel as if it was in the dead of winter. Each heavy step of my foot made my stomach churn a little more each step I took. How I survived the day, I’ll never know. Getting into the car, I felt as if I had accomplished something grand, but in reality, it was a minor victory. The car ride home was one of the worst that I have ever experienced, but I made it home, safe and sound.
I was finally home, and the last thing that I remember from that day was a mad dash for the toilet. From there, I washed my mouth out, then went to sleep. The next day, Monday, we had a track meet. I didn’t feel any better, but I still ran, but that is another story…
I don’t get to spend much time with my family, so I treasured the weekend at the zoo. The fact that I was not at my peak is no issue. I had a good time, despite my illness, and family is what really matters, isn’t it?

Fear Of Drowning

Fire, Ice and water
Falling, sun receding
Darkness takes over
The breath. First
Taste of liquid in
The lungs. Blackness

and then a light, Brain
firing, last gasp for life.
The epiglottis spasms and
oxygen disappears, the fear

is real, knowledge of death
freezes man, burning
anxiety at the end, but:
If we are ever to return
to Ithaca, the ship from
Troy must be boarded


Loving thoughts seldom articulated,
But known they are there.
Stoic gaze in my mirror
I see his face,
as it was,
before we ever met.
Which I hope I may someday be
My father.
My hero.

What happens when a roommate asks you to write a paper for them and they're being lazy while you're being manic

As I watch the people around me, I question the motives they have regarding their manner of dress. I see many different kinds of people, each in the garb of their own “tribe.” Over here are the sorority girls, their hair done all up, and their pants as tight as they can possibly get. Next to them are the frat boys, easily identified by their hunched posture and the dragging knuckles. Also they exhibit an odd sense of hubris as I watch the “upper class “ try to engage in some odd sort of mating ritual. I do not quiet understand this, but I will move on to a group that has some value. Over in the corner there, I think I see some “nerds.” We characterize the “nerds” by the old ill-fitting clothing that they wear and the foreign language they like to converse in. A colleague of mine has studied these “nerds,” but to understand them you must assimilate fully into their culture, a chance he was not willing to take. Next we can see the feminist/lesbians. They are easy to spot. They’re a bunch of what would normally be hot girls who have it in them to cut their hair shorter than mine and then spike it all up. Then, they don’t talk to any guy, because in their religion, guys are the physical incarnation of Satan himself. Scattered out among the other tables, we can find a group of people we’ll call “freshmen.” The freshman is and odd species. They seem to sit alone, and not socialize with others. This is due to the fact that they have not been assimilated into a tribe yet, as they have just broken away from the familial bonds called the “hometown.” The freshman is a benign creature, but it can be easily confused with the “dangerous psychopathic loner.” The dangerous psychopathic loner is just that, a dangerous psychopathic loner. They are usually too smart for their own good. They have ideas implanted in their head and they think they know what the perfect government would be. The dangerous part is that they usually have fantasies about bring this perfect government to real life.
The tribe that interests me the most has many names. They’re the ones you see everywhere, wearing the leather, the big chains, and rainbow hair. For argument, I’ll call them the “Punk-ass Mother Fuckers.” They seem to me to be trying to run away from social moors and responsibilities. Also they seem to want to be without any society whatsoever. The funny thing about Punk-ass Mother Fuckers is that they gravitate towards each other. In theory they want to be away from everyone, but in the end they form their own society.
Any society however needs its own form of Punk-ass Mother Fuckers. Without the Punk-ass Mother Fuckers, society as we know it would fall into ruin. Without them, we would have no one to look at when we are feeling bad about our situation. These people make us feel good about ourselves. Without this people in society would have a much smaller collective self-esteem, and the crime rate would skyrocket as people tried to make themselves feel better through the use of hard drugs (crack, heroin, aspirin, etc.). These drug-induced rages would eventually work themselves up to our world leaders. These world leaders, many of them at least, have control of nuclear weapons. The world does not need cracked up world leaders bombing the fuck out of countries (unless it was Canada, they just deserve it, eh?)
Thus, to conclude Punk-ass Mother Fuckers are the best group we have in society, because without them we would be living in a post-apocalyptic world where the dollar would have no value and all sex would be safe because everyone in the world would be sterile. So thank you, Punk-ass Mother Fuckers of the world, society owes you one.


Liam couldn’t stand it anymore. It had been too long. He disagreed with the strike called by the union, but he was a good union man. He stayed with his brothers in arms, and he stayed away from work. Some of his friends crossed, and certainly he wouldn’t be associated with them anymore, buy they had families, like he did himself.
This morning he was going to cross. No one wants to be a scab, but if it means food in your mouth, and the mouth of you family, a man can lose sight of his ideals.
He rinsed the soap and the hair off his face in the washbasin, tied up his boots, and nudged his wife to give her a quick kiss. She told him to be safe today. Before the danger of the mine, he had the danger of the line to face. Old friends would be his enemies this morning, his best friend his worst tormentor. Grabbing his lunch pail, he walked out the door, his shoulders heavy with the anticipation of the worst.
Several times he wanted to turn back, but all he needed to think about was his family. His wife, once all plump and beautiful, now all emaciated. His children, reduced to walking into town to beg for anything the good people would give them. Liam supported the union, his “brothers,” but he had at home something more important to support, those who truly loved him.
As he approached the mine, he noticed something he didn’t expect. The line was not barring the shaft, no one was chanting the rally cries, and no one yelled the battle call. The entrance was buzzing with activity, but nothing subversive, it was the activity such as that at the entrance of an anthill, all the good workers diligently working at their assigned task, from the loaders to the “moles.”
He entered the boss’s hut and punched the clock. A fellow worker embraced him, and congratulated him on their victory on another battle won. Liam could only produce a sly smile. He had crossed, but he was the only one who knew

Le Premiere Jour

I undid her corset, and let her breast fall free. I had never seen any so big. I could see both of us in the mirror my chin just above her left shoulder. She kept saying about how new this all was. She had decided to leave the convent to get a secular education.
Our clothes lay in a pile on the floor. My camouflage pants and the combat boots, the red suspenders entwined with her plain black garb.
The university had made an obvious mistake. I wasn’t about to say anything. She was the hottest nun I had ever set my eyes on, and she was my roommate. I have no idea what she was thinking as I told her that everything would be ok, and she would make plenty of friends at the university.
I woke up in a cold sweat. Damn that Catholic school. I figured I would have stopped having that damn dream when I graduated. Fucking nun followed me to the university. I couldn’t dream about the plethora of hot girls I had seen that day. Some I even gathered the balls to talk to. No, no, no, Sister Julie is here too. She haunts me.
Other than the freedom from the oppressive parents, today wasn’t much to say anything about. I spent the whole day unpacking. I brought way too much stuff up here. My roommate called and said he was moving in tomorrow. Hell, I hope he only brings what he’s wearing. There’s not room for another person here.
I can’t believe how much I drank. I heard about those parties. Try to get the freshmen girls drunk and willing on their first day up here. It was a total sausage-fest. There were like four girls and a hundred guys. Chances there are not that good for me. So, I left, totally wasted. I must have had like, eight beers. I could hardly stand up, let alone make the walk back to the dorm
That’s ok. I still have Sister Julie. Now where did I put my baby oil?

On The Streets

I heard it was the best small town around. The people smiled, and jobs were easy to find. After Chicago, after Miami, I needed something different. I never thought I would fall into anywhere like this place. I haven’t been to other pure college towns, but I have seen small towns, with the decaying storefronts and no pedestrian traffic. There are always people here. I know all the local riff-raff, and even they are nothing compared to the other places I’ve been. The homies and the G’s hanging out on the corner, or in this town, the church and the local dry-cleaners, are a nice bunch.
I’ve only really come across one thing I might say makes this town more than simple. Somewhere along the line, the town had this public works project for mass transportation. I’m not talking about the El, or the subways, but think Disneyland. The town didn’t need trains, not enough people, but they needed this monorail. I’ve been on it a couple of times, and I’m always expecting to arrive at the Magic Kingdom.
There is no Magic Kingdom. All I’ve found here are many more stores, mostly restaurants. It’s like the downtown. I’d say exactly the same. The only difference is at the end of the line; the street you have to cross is busier.
And it is these streets I roam. I liken myself to a lone wolf. No, wait, wolves run in packs. A coyote maybe, they’re solitary. At night, all the college students pack the bars and the holes they call home, drinking in unison. Every night, around here, not even Sunday is sacred.


Alone. The darkness surrounds me. I am left with no other choice. The pills spilled. Doesn’t matter. I took all I could. I hope they do the trick. I’ve had enough of this. Compelling? I’ll give them compelling. I’ll give them fireworks; I’ll give them something to celebrate. Nothing could compare to the pain, the agony I had. No plot? How can I type, slave away at the computer without a purpose? There are so many stories to tell, but no roads to travel down. Where can I find the destination if I must wander in the woods, no light to guide me? This reeks of a crisis, the tortured writer, and no subject. I can’t do that. I might accidentally weave in plot elements. I can’t do that. Not allowed. I want to start over again, but I know I’ll get to the same point, lost in the woods, with nothing to guide me, and I’ll have no better reference than that.
I’m looking for a line, le bon mot. But none find me. Oh, muse, where art thou? Hover over my shoulder; tell me what I must do. The conflict will remain, and I will have nothing of substance, only concluding until I can fill the page with this meaningless drivel. I will have completion, but no finality. Even when I stop the typing, the thinking, I will wonder about my audience. Is this what you want, if not, what do you want. I cannot tell. It’s all so vague at this point. My eyes are becoming blurry, my words, just little bugs upon the screen. The cessation is near, but the finality is never to come, just my wondering, is it enough?

conversation drifts

Conversation drifts upwards.
“We need to write something that is playful and fun. I cannot think to do anything else. It would be a shame to use my talents as a shady humorist, but if I must fade into the background once a stone marks my place, it shall be. To live and enjoy life is my task.”
It drifts to the ceiling.
“…Once there was this moocow and it was a very good moocow.”
Where it mingles,
“Or maybe it was not. Reject modernism. Turn on your fathers, and return to the ways of their own fathers. Reject Christ, the postmodern condition. Become the Jews of Zion, warble around Malta, or Venice, the beautiful old world cities built upon the rubble of the old lands, the old ways, and the marble and the friezes and the classical busts staring at you from their cold stone eyes. They’re dead, and we are all dead, just waiting for the inevitable end that will enshroud us all.”
and becomes noise.
“I swear to God, she had to weigh over two hundred pounds. I know, I know, she carried it well, but there is some innate fear of being with someone that big.”
There is a chattering
“I am not going to live my life in fear. There is a war on, you know. There isn’t any thing that is going to stop it. We all know, there’s always some sort of war. There is no golden age of civilization, there is just cycling.”
amongst people where the words
“…and I really think she gave me herpes. I’ve never had anything like this before, but as I understand, she’s been around. You know her, I think. She works at the coffee shop down the street from where I live. Why are you smiling?”
we say drift out the door
“I should be going home. I can’t drink too much tonight and I’m running short on cheddar. Maybe we can raise hell some other time, when I’m more available.”
with the cigarette smoke
“She wears so much makeup that she goes around looking like a whore. I tell you, its not attractive. There is no way that she looks in the mirror before she goes out. If she does, she needs to see an eye doctor.”
as we stumble into
“There’s no way the Red Sox can lose this season. The Yankees have nobody. They’ve lost that attitude of certain victory that used to surround them. The aura is dulled their flaws have been exploited. They are no longer God like. They’ve been humanized for god’s sake, and humans die”
this early morning.

Contemplations on Finals Week: Modest Proposals (Published in the Muskett, Fall 2002)

• You find yourself awake at six in the morning, trying to finally grasp the complexities of thermodynamics, or the deeper meaning of James Joyce’s Ulysses. I know the boat you are in. Test at any time in the semester can be a hard thing to deal with, but finals carry an additional weight. Perhaps you have a professor who weighs the final at forty percent of your grade, or maybe you have an eight-thirty final in a class that meets normally at four in the afternoon. The stresses of finals week is enough to crush even the hardiest soul.

• To combat the stress of an overwhelming collection of facts that you must squeeze into your taxed brain, I have a few suggestions. For starters, I have found that self-medication is an excellent choice. No matter what poison you choose, this is a superb route to take. I am not offering this suggestion as a way to improve your test scores, but I can guarantee that if you take enough of your medicine, you simply will not care about said test scores.

• If the prior suggestion leaves a bad taste in your mouth, I am fully ready with more ideas. I have witnessed several individuals who have gained confidence in conversing with invisible beings. I am not in the position of endorsing any particular being, but I am close with the Christian God. When compared to possibility of eternal damnation or the pursuit of nirvana, a simple two-hour test looses its significance. The prospect of failure on a test is a far lesser demon than the prospect of failure at life.
Finding religion puts the minor triviality of finals into perspective.

• Another idea about finals stress is that you don’t need to worry about them. You know the weird punk rock girl in your class? The one who wore her Doc Martins with shorts way back in August? I have it on good knowledge that while you were procrastinating, and enjoying time with your friends, she was studying and keeping up on her homework. If you can, sit as close to her as possible. She may have the veneer of rebellion, but she knows Nietzsche, Kant, and Jung as well as their closest friends ever did. The bonus of the situation is that her handwriting is large and flowery, a hand that is easily read from five feet away. Cheat your way through finals week, and buy Christmas gifts instead of studying. Your friends will love you for it, and your parents will laude you for the excellent marks. The only downside is that you have to be conscious of the professors. They tend to frown on this activity.
• I wish you all a happy finals week, and may you all find success in your endeavors. To graduating seniors, good luck in your respective fields. To those who follow my advice and fail, I am truly sorry. To those who followed the advice and succeeded, I expect flowers. I particularly like daisies and lilies.

Compression (a short play)


Trying to twist something out of Aristotle’s Poetics is a difficult act indeed. The main question I find in examining Aristotle’s work is if the Poetics is either a more descriptive work or a prescriptive work. This is a question of interpretation that plays heavily in trying to write a work based on his precepts. If the work is purely descriptive, there is much more leeway possibly given to the poet in this modern age. The poets of Aristotle’s day were working under limitations of how they could represent action within the confines of their stage.
If Aristotle were to be able to examine the works of a modern dramatist or auteur, it is highly possible that he could work out different sets of dicta to proclaim what is good in modern drama or film. If the work in Poetics is instead more prescriptive, the limitations are not set by the stage, but by the philosopher. My feeling is that by the use of examples, Aristotle is more descriptive by showing what works best within the genres he examines. Embracing the idea of mimesis, where this representation is not only natural but pleasing, Aristotle claims that spectacle will necessarily be part of tragedy [1449b] but late claims that it is also the most artless part [1450b] of the work as a whole. The artless nature of spectacle is why I chose to begin my play at act five, and not include the highly spectacular account of the battle between Sparta and Crete on the Plain of Marathon.
The character development of Beatrix, Minos II, Falstaff Falstaff and Jerecles are left to the dustbin of history because “plot is the origin and as it were the soul of tragedy” [1450a] as Aristotle says, and character is a secondary concern. I did decide to call the play Compression since it is what I did for the plot play. Hopefully it is a play on the idea of compassion, which I tried to present Jerecles as having in abundance from the very beginning of act five, and I think would show through in the first four acts were they to be included. These four acts include the intro, courtship, pledging love, battle heroics, and finally the dialogue and action seen in Compression. I tried to connect to the envisioned plot with connective dialogue, but I am not sure how well that was done in the course of one brief scene, even if I found need to fall into self-consciousness. The connections were needed to help the idea that plot should be whole, with a beginning, middle and end so that it is comprehensible [1450b] and that tragedy should be composed of a single action that is whole [1451a]. The action is an account of Jerecles’s love for the princess Beatrix and takes place over the course of one day. This is more a preconceived notion of Aristotle’s unities than what he sets forth in the Poetics.
Even though it is a secondary consideration, I believe the idea of character is important. For this play, I relied heavily on archetypes instead of creating new characters. For the archetypes I mined Shakespeare. Either the characters are named after the reference, or they speak lines from the archetypical character. I see Jerecles as somewhat of a Hamlet type, something like the English version of the tragic hero who is “[s]uch a person is one who neither is superior [to us] in virtue and justice, nor undergoes a change to misfortune because of vice and wickedness, but because of some error,” [1453a]. With him being more like the audience, they are more able to meet him with recognition when he goes through his own recognition. In this case, I see the “error” as being of one of compassion and not being able to meet the expected role of general in the Army of Crete. Instead he is womanish, but this is debatable as a flaw but makes Jerecles a more sympathetic character. As for the other characters, I relied on the archetypes of King and Fool to make the characters as represented to be good, appropriate, life-like, and consistent [1454a] as Aristotle points out is positive.
I consider the catharsis two fold, based mainly on recognition, “a change from ignorance to knowledge” [1452a]. The first part where Beatrix is announced as pledged to the king of Hibernia is more a false catharsis, as the audience knows that a King’s and father’s promise is often broken by the one being promised. This is the false catharsis. Once the audience learns that Beatrix has killed herself, there is no hope for Jerecles, as he has already denounced his post as general and taken the vow as lover. Without the object of affection for his love alive, his life is meaningless. Jerecles gaining the knowledge of his beloved’s death renders his existence as a lover pointless, thus he must kill himself.
Again, working through the bounds of the constraints of Aristotle is hard for a modern writer to do, as I have a highly “cinematic” imagination for what the plot of a tragedy should look like, so I have a woven tapestry of what is good in pre-modern drama in my mind which I refer to often. In this case it is Shakespeare, and my natural mimesis reacted accordingly.

A play by J. Edgar Mihelic

Dramatis Personae

King Minos II of Crete
Jerecles, Commander of Crete Military
Falstaff Falstaff, Jester and Bard to the court of Crete

Act V

The setting: The three characters sit at a table, facing the crowd. The standard proscenium arch frames the stage. The characters appear as if they have just consumed a large meal, which in fact they have. Chicken bones and serving plates litter the table in front of the characters.

King Minos II: (raising a goblet)
The winter of our discontent
has been made glorious summer
by this radiant sun of Zeus.
And today is the greatest day,
Persephone comes from Hades
lighting the earth with Apollo’s
golden chariot, and this son
leads the way, brightening the day.
People of Crete, we shall all
give praise to this hero of Crete.
Falstaff Falstaff: (Standing and facing Jerecles)
Hero, the people demand a speech!
Jerecles: (Turning to Falstaff Falstaff)
Fool, I hear no cheers, no laughing.
People mourn husbands and brothers
playing now in Elysian
meadows and not resting their feet
in the warmth hearth of home fires.
The children of Crete are orphaned
and newly wrought widows weaving
at their looms weep silent tears.
Their grief is in the warp, the weft
full of heartache as they piece
together the weeds they will wear.
Speak not to me of this triumph
which will surely one day echo
in the petty scribbling of bards.
King Minos II: (Interrupting)
This day is surely bittersweet.
Do not mourn for those who have died
In the service of the nation.
Falstaff Falstaff:
You call yourself a warrior?
I would call you a woman, knave.
Or maybe a crying child.
Nor woman nor child am I!
I am a general who has seen
thousands of men of this country
carry the standard in battle,
and this gaze has rested over
the bodies of my countrymen
bleeding and dying on the plain
of Marathon. The dead are not mourned,
my good king. The living grieve me
more than the fortunate fallen.
The fallen now idle amongst gods.
The living will return amongst
their countrymen as maimed cripples
The dead are heroes, no matter
their bravery on the battlefield.
The living will drain the coffers
and turn their heads downward from shame.
Beatrix is among them now,
Tending the wounded at camp.
My beloved has such a strong heart!
King Minos II:
Beatrix is your beloved?
How is it that my daughter fell
into the hands of my general?
I admit it has, my good king.
Falstaff Falstaff:
Neither warrior nor lover be
If a man allows his heart
Split twain woman and his country.
King Minos II:
Falstaff Falstaff, enough of that.
Gentle general Jerecles pray
tell at what time this has begun.
Today my King, about act three.
Apollo rose to his zenith.
Beatrix and I pledged our love
And embraced under the noon sun.
We have not met since. The battle
Against the Spartans was act four.
The last lines of that act saw me
boarding a ship to return here.
King Minos II:
Why was I not aware of this?
The answer is simple, my king.
King Minos II:
Tell me as soon as you can then.
The simple fact is that no one was.
Look up King Minos. We began
with the fifth act. Who would believe
I could possibly fight a battle,
court your daughter and sail half ‘way
across the wild Aegean
in the span of one single day?
It was better to begin by
paraphrasing Shakespeare, to show
your royal erudition , the great
mind of a true king, not like
Minos who allowed the traitor
Dedalus to flee even though
His son perished in the treason.
King Minos II:
Forgive me if you confuse me.
You lack consistency at this,
A great feast honoring triumph
against the treacherous Spartans.
Your mind might not be at ease now.
I, your king and your whole country
understand. War is a struggle
in the mind, not just of body.
Jerecles, my army’s general,
with victories at Syria,
Iberia, and Albion,
upon your head rest the laurels
of victory at Marathon.
You can have the feast and laurels.
I cannot be your general ‘more.
But pray let me now be your son.
I have n’more battles to be won.
You daughter’s love is the greatest
laurel I will ever put a-head

King Minos II:
Jerecles, while my son always
will you be, for you to marry
Beatrix will you never see.
Her hand is promised to the king
of Hibernia. Her fate sealed
just today, as was the letter
I sent to her by my fastest
ship. Careless whispers in your tent
slip to the ether when compared
to priorities of kingly
conduct and international
politics. I grieve you my son
for love is not easily gained
and yours is lost soon it is won.
Take not heed these womanish things.
(Knocking at the door, stage left)
Falstaff Falstaff, Check who that is.
Perhaps my messenger returns.
(Exit FALSTAFF FALSTAFF, King Minos Turns back towards Jerecles)
My messengers are faster than
Mercury and more trustworthy.
Falstaff Falstaff:
It has been done. Beatrix,
Rosencrantz, and Guilderstern
Have been notified of the pact.
They were going to bring her back
to Crete post-haste but she has been
cast on the pyre with other fallen
heroes of today’s great battle.
She fell differently however.
Learning she had already been
pledged to the Hibernian king,
she grabbed the nearest sword and fell
on the weapon. It pierced her heart.
Jerecles: (Rising, lamenting)
Neither warrior nor lover be
Since I have allowed this frail heart
Split twain woman and his country.
All is lost, nothing more to gain.
I too shall idle with the Gods.
(Jerecles draws his weapon and exits stage right, followed by Falstaff Falstaff)

Falstaff Falstaff: (Stopping before leaving, Turning Towards KING MINOS II)
He’s stabbed himself straight through the heart
Jerecles: (Heard from the wings)
The continuance is a void
(CHORUS Sings)
A man has fallen into woe
and from this life he will now go.
Some men will say love is a flaw,
but this is not the women’s law.

Columbia (for a Poets Against the War reading Feb 2003)

Columbia, Columbia, fire of the skies, you are but one
That we look up to:
Congress, Court, President; Your powers three
are there for
Us. We cry for our five
intrepid explorers. Not since 1986

Has curiosity been so costly. Two hundred and sixty
Million people shed tears that day. With this, the crying should be complete, should not one
more tear be shed for those who we hold so dear. It is no longer 1965,
the world has changed and war is not an option. Now not even two
years removed from those four
deadly attacks and the lessons have yet to be learned. We are grateful that only three

hit their targets. Three
manned missiles, each containing less than six
enemies apiece, and the huddling mass of scared America could only subdue one of four.
The ones
that hit created heroes in foreign lands, still towers fell. Hit were two
symbols of commercial strength, and one of military might, but now must we unleash our forces five?

USAF, USMC, Army, Coast Guard, Navy, we have unquestioned might. But these five,
if unfettered, breed more adversaries than they stifle. A nascent nation, the 13
independent states, Signed an oath that we shall be free. One reason for this birth was to
establish justice. Hope that in 1776,
justice had a different definition than imperialistic warfare. If so, be afraid for Amendment One.
anxiety is justifiable; our inalienable rights have been forfeited before

In uncertain times. Lincoln took similar liberties, and he would still speak of an idealistic time, four
score and seven years ago. For integrity, we look at a man over five
hundred score in past memory. Columbia, you are still one
nation under God, and it is his will you serve; Him and his body three.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, he that in six
days created all that we know. He made man in his image and gave this terrestrial paradise to

us. When was this entire realm granted exclusively to
Columbia? Never. We are but solely the guardians of these four
little corners that he has allowed us to inhabit. Our will shouldn’t stretch over the six
inhabitable continents. Five
millennia of written history, and three
spirits in steadfast watch know all empires someday fall, perhaps even this one

Christmas Letter 2005


Another year has passed us by. What have we accomplished? Children of the revolution, now is the time to show your powers if ever there was a time. Once upon a time we all though that we could change the world, now all we do is look for happiness inside the one world that we inhabit. Maybe it is possible, maybe not, but this search is as important as the eventual point that we will reach. For an example, and to avoid speaking in generalizations, I would like to bring evidence my friend; we’ll call him Billy Tudor. He though that life was an empty shell of bleakness, and that there was no solace to be found. Eventually he found heroin and contracted sepsis from a rusty needle. This is not the positive example, but old Bill can teach us a lot about ourselves. When we finally decide to pack it in, we can always rely on a rusty needle to finish the job. He didn’t feel any pain at the end. The heroin dulled all his senses, and he left this world not fully cognizant of the realm of possibilities. Education had failed him. Love failed him. His parents failed him. But he persisted until he found drugs. I don’t know where I’m going with this, except for the idea that drugs are not the answer. Or don’t use rusty needles to shoot your drugs. In fact, avoid drugs that need injected. You know, or even avoid drugs as a patent concept of your character.
Yet, it is the holidays. All of us will partake in something that would make baby Jesus cry. You know, the familiar cast of characters: gluttony, avarice, lust, sloth, and their friends. It appears that they hang out in groups. Being born into sin as something outside of our choice, I am advocating an embrace of sin as a conduit to holiness. Indulge your fantasies. Overeat. Buy too many presents. Expect too many presents. Feel pride at your new acquisitions. Sleep in late. Don’t worry about school until 2006. I won’t see any of you guys for a while, so pour some out for me.
But remember those who are not with us, whose numbers will increase throughout the years, but thankfully stayed static this year. I would appreciate all of you living until the next time I see you, or else I will feel a tinge of guilt for the last letter I sent to those of you who I love so much. And you can know that I love you by the your receiving this mail. Hold my love for you as a sense of superiority over the people you encounter in everyday life that annoy you. That cashier at the supermarket who is taking forever? I don’t love her. In this context, she is nobody except for the happy fact that I was able to imagine her existence for a minute. When the revolution comes, she can genuflect at my feet as much as possible, but she will be no one. Remember this. It will allow understanding of her plight. It just might elicit a pity response, if you can sympathize with her position.
Most likely, not, and someday she will be a hunk of carbon forgotten by all but those who are close to her. Whatever. It doesn’t really matter to me. She’s so dead to me she might have never needed to exist. Small matter. What matters is that I love you guys. This is a strong, redeeming love; so don’t take it too lightly. Package it in small vials that you can bust out at the most urgent time where my love can be used. It’s helpful to know: even if you seldom need to make use of it, it will always be there for your consumption.

Christmas Letter 2004

Dear friends,

Another eventful year has passed us by (Almost). If I can remember, things that happened to me: I graduated, got a promotion at work, and lastly a car hit me on the crosswalk. Not too shabby. As an old man, I may somehow look at 2004 that I passed further on the road to becoming a man than in any previous years. You never know. To obtain perspective on a course of events, you need to distance yourself in time from said events.
As an example, when we say goodbye to our high school friends, hugging and crying, saying that we’ll be “friends forever,” we really didn’t know what that meant. I personally hoped that I would remain as close to everybody as the day we walked to “pomp and circumstances,” with uncertainty and hopefulness in our minds. The realities of time and place, along with our own ambitions and the cruel hand of fate (unseen plan of God, etc., choose your poison) have presented each and every one of us an existence that couldn’t have been imagined five years ago.
And so it will be. We will each grow and change; becoming more like the person that we are. In the end though, in four short years we all grew binds that will hold us close together forever, if it is impossible for us to be physically proximate, we have the advantage of always being somewhere in each and everyone of our souls. There is a small part of each of you inside me. Being friends with you have shaped me and helped me become the man I am.
It is this time of year that we do reflect on those that we love and care about in the world. I don’t know if it’s the weather or the incessant Christmas songs that they play on the radio, but it has become fact. This is not the season of glittering silver, and green plastic trees, the real meaning of the season is in remembrance of those you love. Hopefully those you care about surround you all. Not only at Christmastime, but the whole year through. Sadly, that isn’t the case for all the people I’ve grown to love over the years. But remember sadness cures nothing; rejoice in the fact that she lives still as long as parts of her memory live within us all.

To those that I love,
Merry Christmas.

John Edgar Mihelic

After "Birdsong"

Levi walked Stephen towards the opening of the tunnels as the other men went back to recover the body of Jack Firebrace.
At the opening, Levi threw Stephen’s fatigued body to the ground. A twisted smile drew across his face, and he looked Stephen deep into the eyes. The sun overcame Stephen’s sight; his pupils were unaccustomed to such vibrant light. He did not see Levi pull out the Maser.
His sidearm was of superior make than either the British Webley or the American Colt. They had a pneumatic strut designed to dampen recoil, and beautiful burled walnut stocks. Only the German officers received such elegant weapons. The enlisted men were only issued rusty, unreliable relics dating back to the Franco-Prussian War. Levi was lucky enough to have the officer’s pistol. In the sun, he could make out the fine lettering where the silversmith in Dresden had inscribed the words Gott mit uns on the slide of the gun.
All Stephen was able to see was the silhouette of the German officer, and the gleam of the sun reflecting off the brass of his shoulders. He did not see the raised Maser, or Levi’s fingers slowly squeezing the trigger, emptying the magazine in his own emaciated corpse. The last embers of twilight burned against the backdrop of the western front, and Stephen Wraysford’s sight went white.

Patient 031571

Case study 002586.2/5

Bethlehem Hospital, London

Attending Physician: Dr. Mihelic

The patient seems to be responding to the stimuli that have been presented him, albeit in an unorthodox manner. His blood pressure responds in an inverse pattern against what would be experimentally expected. In the last test, we sent him out to collect some items from the scraps of his house fire, which is the inciting incident in the patient’s psychosis. He gathered a small handful of items, which had no seeming connection, but my colleague, Dr. Seelbach, wants to find patterns in everything, so he gathered some wild hypothesis about the connection between the items. (For further reading, see case study 002586.2/1)
Under observation, the patient gathered what was closest to him, relatively intact. We would naturally not expect him to collect the charred remnants of his bed, nor would we expect him to bring out something unidentifiable, but the stimuli was to enhance sentimental emotions, trigger nostalgia for the better times, but this had no effect. He gathered, in order: a pair of black aviator sunglasses; an empty package of Marlboro Light cigarettes; a twenty-four pack of Crayola Crayons; a novelty set of glasses, complete with a large nose and fuzzy eyebrows, in the Groucho Marx mold; a tin button in support of the ACLU; an empty can of the energy drink RedBull; and a full pack of matches, advertising the local sports bar BW3.
Upon questioning about the relevance of the items collected, the patient could not identify the impulse behind the collection of the group of items that he grabbed. We suspect that his malaise created a lack of impetus in him, and that he grabbed whatever was closest, and easily identifiable as a cultural item, since five of the seven items were advertisement of some sort, and the other two involve the eyes, we think the patient’s subconscious is making some sort of statement about the reality of perception in today’s cultural marketplace. We will follow this case in detail, as the patient is of mush interest to the researchers here.


After stein

Cigarette Package
Is not the sun shining in the corner here? Do we not feel the haze created by the fire engines as they extinguish the blaze burning in the trashcan? Maybe not, but we stand still at this corner waiting for this light to change so we can walk maybe home. You throw the rubbish on the ground and I walk away

Aviator Sunglasses
I remember a friend of mine, closeted as a homosexual in such a way that he was the only one that was able to see it, tell me that there were a lot of homoerotic elements in the movie Top Gun. Now I tried to remember my viewings of the movie, way back in time when I had a girlfriend who loved the movie, and tried to think of something in the film that kind of made me tingle and confuse me about just who I was. I really couldn’t. So, either I’m straight or he was wrong, or something along those lines.

There was a joke in elementary school, about the kid that would eat paste. In elementary school, this seems like a horrible thing to do, you wonder if your insides might become glued together, the tack of the substance tying up your digestive track forever, and you would then die a horrible death of starvation. We never saw anyone openly eat paste, but there were a few that we suspected to be among the paste eaters. The topic was open to discussion on the playground, between the games of tag and kickball, where all the cool kids sat on the railroad timbers separating off the monkey bars. They never saw me doing it, and in retrospect, it wouldn’t have mattered if they had.

RedBull Can
A ten-ounce pyramid of Aluminum tops the Washington Monument. You see, the extraction process is now relatively simple to reduce aluminum silicate to the pure metal, but when the monument was made, aluminum was more expensive than gold.

Old cartoons show old men lighting ups cigarettes, not thinking that in twenty, fifty, maybe a hundred years that just such a act would be impossible to do, unless locked in the safety of your own home, huddled into the bathroom while on the outside the Environmental Protection Agency, which was barley a glimmer in anyone’s eye, gets reduced to the dust that it once was, and now smokers have to buy expensive filtration devices from the Sharper Image.

Groucho Marx Glasses
There is supposedly somewhere, a movie called Duck Soup. I don’t know what its about or who’s in it, but I was interviewing my Grandfather for a school project one time, and he said that it was his favorite movie when he was a child. Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy was a close second in his book, but I don’t think anyone’s been looking through his book in a long time.

ACLU Button
No, it is not I who thought of the day that I must die, but it is us who believe that someday we must finally go to church even in spite of our loudest objections against it that we have been exhorting all our lives. Now think about this one time friend, you do know where you go when you die. But the question that has plagued philosophers since the dawn of thought have, have not worried about the body, that temporary passage way. It is just a conduit, not the intangible soul.

"The Little Burnette is MIne"

“The little brunette is mine, we have all settled on that,” Leigh boasts haughtily.
She smiles as she looks at the assembled gathering. They were in the library discussing the post modern quandary that is modern life, and instead digressed into picking out the most attractive females struggling over organic chemistry, or the historical precursors to the Russian revolution. In every group, there is at least one.
The one who wants to be the center of attention.
The one who will hold court and address the proud, perfumed courtesans as almost her equal, but only slightly under her.
The one who all look up to.
The one who everyone desires in their sexual fantasies.
In this small, intimate group, Leigh was the one who stood out and filled this role. She did so admirably, but without any small bit of that compromising humility that is sometimes found amongst those who fortune’s light has shone upon. Being the only female in the group helped this desire out. The others, Dan, Steve, Jerry, and Brian were of the class possessing too much intellectual acumen and too little skills to persuade any of the feminine persuasion to accompany them to bed.
I knew them from here and there, no specific point of reference, but I would amiably nod my head when I saw them, in the hallways, walking the street, struggling through the too narrow hallways that accompany alcohol drinking establishments. They are few years younger than I am, and their naivety on the ways of the world made me smile one of those little bemused grins that have been passing my visage more and more as I grow older.
I could not help but look around and try to find who the little brunette was who objectified the little ramblings of the group positioned behind me, closer to the door of the library than I was, not ensconced in such large piles of books and periodicals trying to find infinite knowledge amongst a staggeringly finite number of words, no matter how many they might be, eventually all will be digested. I stick to my studies. I am curious though. I am also, as I understand, a connoisseur of the female form, as Leigh is.
Perhaps this little quandary is the point of attraction those boys with generic names have with her too. There is something about the impossible that makes it so alluring. I know this as I have had my share of impossible dreams. Sir George Mallory, if that was his name, is quoted as saying that the reason you climb the mountain is, simply, “Because it is there.” He died on Everest and they found his remains some eighty years later, his survival gear fit for a blustery Scottish winter, and not for the blizzards of the Himalayas.
I grow rambling and incoherent. I can no longer understand myself. This woman is no mountain. No matter how the cold wind blows, she is the light in the east, through, well, yonder window breaks. Leigh is the sun. No, that is poor metaphor, better suited to Elizabethan teenagers than my Leigh. No matter the manner of erudition, in it still lie the seeds of disillusion and cynicism. I know she is there from her voice. It betrays her beauty in ways that a simple glance could not discern. No! To stare at her for hours one would not know the depths of her soul.
You have to look inward, and see the radiant shining clichés the fill all her being. I’m not crazy, hell, I’ve never touched her that way, but I know how soft and silky her long raven tresses would feel brushing on my inner thigh as she…
But no, I’m not going to become come sycophant appeaser, lingering around her to laugh at her jokes, and return her spiteful smiles. I know the impossibility of it. There are lingering doubts, the hints of some thing or other that make you wonder. There are the drawn out glances you give to her, and you realize that she knows you’re looking. There was that one sweet peck on the cheek that should have been accounted for and wiped clean off the slate, but instead I applied to it infinitely more meaning. Oh, but it is there!
Why not die, cold, gripping an antiquated axe, and taking shelter in a small burrow on the side of the greatest mountain man has ever known? Is it the attempt that we celebrate? Few people remember Mallory. What mankind remembers are the successes. If you don’t have intimate knowledge of the field, you know Hillary, but you even forget the Sherpa accompanying him on his famous trip. How Cyrano is soon forgotten, that man so instrumental in the process but relegated to the dustbins of people’s pasts.
I look around and wonder whom that brunette could be. There is a fine specimen of the early undergraduate variety browsing the referencing shelves. The fleece sweatshirt she is wearing does not disguise her pert breasts. If anything, the baby blue accents the female parts, as the overhead lights cast shadows on the kangaroo pouch where she is resting her left hand, scanning the titles with her right. Her jeans fall flatly against her rear, a decidedly negative aspect if one is fishing for an ideal of perfection. If anything, she needs to gain some weight and fill out to more Rubenesque proportions. It cannot be her, as she is little, but her hair, in my assessment, is more of a dirty brown than anything that can be called brunette

ars poetica

The artifice lies in the deception. We do not know where it truly lies. In a small country house on the outskirts of a poor rural village, perhaps? I don’t know, I need a fertile muse to strike me with her knowledge. Will I ever have a dream again? We are said to write to someone in all the works that we do, I haven’t found that one person I am supposedly writing to. Why do we write, paint, and compose? Is there something altruistic to it, something about creating more beauty in this world? I think much of it spring forth from man’s own vanity, wanting someday to be adored by masses of people, and to be cared about by strangers. It sure has fueled the celebrity culture that surrounds Hollywood.
There is a picture somewhere with Vladimir Nabokov sitting in a bathroom composing some work or another. He states that this one space was the only one in his own apartment at the time where he could sit and work. There is a pile of snuffed cigarettes in the tray to his right. Wolfe said that all one needed (women in particular) was 500 pounds a year and a room of your own. That may not sound like much now, but it seems to be something of a substantial income at the time she penned it. I wish I had my quotes straight and could attribute the next quote, but it fails me off the top of my head, but it has been said that “happiness isn’t very aesthetically pleasing,” There is nothing in the art that makes us want, there is no want. It goes back to Tolstoy, opening one of the most famous novels ever, saying that in despair we are all unique, but Happiness (with the proper noun status that is conveyed by the capitol) is an uninteresting emotion.
Lets see, poverty, squalor, despair, loneliness, and all general conditions of unhappiness do not make a great artist by way of fact. There are just as compelling arguments that the conditions listed above are precursors to many such things as addiction, mental illness, violence, and voting republican. Generally, it seems that in the past (and my knowledge of the literary past is admittedly Anglo-centric) one has to come from at least the middle class to make any kind of real living off the works of the mind. It is hard to consider basic fundamental truths of the human condition if you are excessively worried about how to fill your belly on a day-to-day basis.
It is with this knowledge that I write

And then there were two.

The competition had been a furious wreck of disorganized, but well-meaning people.

I hate to generalize, but there was a sentiment that what we were doing was for the better good of the humans. What we had failed to realize was that all the infighting and the maneuvering against each other would prove to be the downfall of the last settlers here.

If only we had the strength to withstand our own selfishness, we might not be in the position that we were in now. As it was, we were out numbered, out manned, and out gunned. These savages, these less than human humanoids, they had held us to the bay for months, and now our insurrection against them was proving futile.

There was just too many of them, and we were not supported, we were not backed up. We were without hope. All the promise of the “New World” had fallen against us, and I was the only Englishman left.

I knew Sylvan. I knew he felt the power, the absolute superiority of the Empirical European powers, and that in the power of his country, he had no equal. I know what he felt. The power of my empire had never been questioned.


eigh bee sea
dix ie eff
guy ajh eye
jay kay ell
emm in oh
pee que are
est tea you
vei you you
ex why zee

Abdicated king

I stand, an abdicated king,
at my old castle’s
ramparts. I have fallen, an old apple.
Now I stand and watch the splinters
of twilight fall around me.
This is better than being king,
crushed by two hundred tons
of sunlight streamed from across the sky,
flattening the mightiest regent in all of Christandom.
Now, as I fall, I make my way down to the water’s edge,
the old moat that protected me from invaders
I hand my septer, my crown,
all my regalia to the guardian at the gate.
I look down into the muddy water of the moat,
and I try to see fish.

A Soldier’s Song

Scoop me up
Tag my toe
Box me in
Send me home
Fold the flag
Play the taps
Lay me down
In the grave
Mark the cross,
My last name
Forget soon,
Years from now
This striped flag
Is a shroud?

"A man told me"

A man told me
Beware of alienating your readers
Whoever they are
The idea of audience is alien
To me.

I must avoid the abstract,
the intangible

and focus instead

on something that other people could relate too,

maybe families, life


not your, or my job to ask the BIG questions, those that sit
outside of the world and reside only in the
realm of human cognition.

I can see my hands, but does that make them handy?

The absurd and the abstract have many point of intersection

something that mathematics is decidedly at odds with.

I have had grandfathers. Mothers,
both grand and middling

Family, life experiences, but

My life has been spent inside the covers of books.

I want to ask the big questions, the abstract, and
Not live in some other world where the rest of the people work and play

It is something I cannot write, right*.
(*meaning, correctly*)

My grasp of the realm of today is something,
that I hold like a child learning

A new language.
The fresh tongue fits awkwardly at first, and they
Cannot feel out the words.
In a word, uncomfortable.

I want to write high and lofty, and
easily recognizable as such,

not these seemingly simple things.
Frankly, I am in love with the subordinate clause.

I cannot relate a story to my friends, because
Of this love,
I am constantly interrupted, and my thoughtfulness
is mistaken for the opposite, because I am trying to make people understand

a sentence full of polysyllabic words

is hard to understand
when the gin sets in, and the

fraternal slaps on the back increase
and all real concerns are about
the football team

I should have been on, or the running back that has been

It seems the abstract is out of fashion, becoming lost in the
Society overloads on us.

Maybe I need more erudite drinking buddies, or

I should

Acquiesce, accede, accept, accommodate…yield

(thanks, Roget)

And write like Hemmingway. (as a poet, understand?)

Declarative sentences
What comma?
No comma
All gone!

But there is truth somewhere, where is this eternal and everlasting truth

That I long to kiss and hold near to my breast?

It lies in the past, somewhere we all stumbled upon it,

But we were too young, too naïve to recognize what a gem we had found.

It was like this:

One day, not too long ago
(clichéd flashback scene, the music, maybe its Chopin. Add a wavy screen effect, showing the image of what you, the reader, think I would look like nearing the explosion of puberty.)

A cookie-cutter subdivision
In a nondescript town
It is the summer in the American
South. I have few friends that
I would tell anything to,
let alone anything dark.

Much of my time, I read
The encyclopedia or
The dictionary or
Something literary.
I’m looking for an escape
to somewhere where I’ll have
the superficial things that
I want or that I have
been told that I want by
animated figures illuminated

in a shining cathode ray
tube. But this is not most
of the time. This is one
time I am thinking of, one
distinct time and place
definable within the
bound of our understanding
of how the universe works.

I am ambling through
a wooded lot lying next
to our house. This lot
is too narrow, the hill in
front is too steep for the
developer to build a
sellable house on.

Young pine trees inhabit
the place a house may someday
rest. This area is really no bigger
than the apartment I will someday
live in, but it is full of mysteries,
full of refuge. The undergrowth
is full of briars and thorns, but
this has not slackened the ambitions
of inquisitive neighborhood children.
There are tunnels running through,
A complex system, with several
entrances, many a place to flee.

In one place, we had, at one time,
endeavored to dig a large pit.
We accomplished this, but we
are unsure of what to do with this
cavity. It was the act of digging,
and not the goal, that we found
so pleasurable. This crater has
many permutations. Foxhole,
army base, anything that could
be militaristic. We carry our
plastic guns believing someday
they will be made of metal.

This day though there is no
faux gun explosions, no familiar
sound of a child laughing.
The sun is setting towards
the base of the long shallow
hill the neighborhood is built
upon. I am wearing red sweat
pants, a dirty cotton shirt,
and most likely no sort of
underwear. I know
it is about the time that
my mom will be worrying
about what I am doing.
She will first look into
my room, maybe thinking
I will be in my bed,
but I had pondered why
X, Y, and Z were alphabetical
outcasts in the encyclopedia
earlier in the day. Why are
the last letters the least
important ones? Or is
their importance just
overlooked? So, I am not
to be found there. Instead,
I am outside.

I sit not in the protected
undergrowth, or fighting
imaginary enemies out of
the foxhole, but instead I
am sitting on the hill of
the vacant lot, in the eroded
gullies of packed red clay,
and various rocks. Ambitious,
foolhardy weeds have taken
root, but they will soon be
washed away by the next
heavy rain. I imagine myself
being in the desert, surrounded
by nothingness. The ambient
sounds are of people and
traffic, but I hear the coyote
and childishly, the roadrunner.

I shift through the rocks,
hoping to find something
interesting. I have recently
received a rock polisher
as a gift. You put a handful
of rocks into a tumbler
running off alternating
current. These rocks in
the tumbler rub against
each other, and in concert
with the sand you apply,
the sand becoming ever finer
and finer, you have almost semi-
precious jewels. You glue these
stones to pieces of gold
colored tin supplied in the
box, and you have fabulous
jewelry. So says the box,
and the gullible believe this.
All I have achieved so far
was polished granite,
But even for the grossly
curious, this is not enough.

I long for everlasting beauty
a “Eureka!” find, even though
I hardly understand who
Archimedes was, and know
less what that means. I want
diamonds, thinking that they
will be cut and highly brilliant
from the tumbler. I think
of the cartoon diamond mine,
the caricatures of African
excavators finding a sparkling
gem amongst the dirt.

This day, as the sun hangs
low in the sky, casting
oblique rays towards this
young geologist, I see a
metallic reflection amid
the dull and drab contours
of the earth. I reach for
this find, this golden nugget
and rejoice.

I pick it up, and try to
remember when I have
ever been happier. I believe
I am richer than I have ever
imagined. I have found a
hunk of gold, and I can buy
anything that I want. This
means any book, any video
game that I can imagine.
My fingers curl around it,
and I grip it tighter than
any plastic trigger I have
ever wrapped my hand around.
I do not understand density,
but this rock is heavier than
it appears it should be.
It reminds me of picking up
the cluster of rings my mother
leaves by the sink when she
washes the dishes. This heaviness
means the world to me. Ideas
rush through my mind as I
rush the short distance to the
front door. I enthusiastically
hold the grail out to the person
who knows more than anyone
in the world. And my mother says,

“That’s a nice piece of fool’s gold
you’ve found.” And all my hopes
and dreams and ideas are crushed.
Even for a child, it is crushing
to be called a fool. I again
tighten my grip, and keep the
disappointment inside my heart.
I have not yet had my heart broken,
but I have received my first taste
of disappointment from one who
I love. I look down at the luminescent
rock in my hand, and resign myself
to being wrong. The nugget in my
hand is special, but not valuable.
This is a very important distinction
I have picked up in the years
since, but the younger version
of myself struggles with this
moment. I am not often wrong,
yet alone humiliated by a
very common mistake. I
do not hold the truth in my hand,
only something interesting,
something that, to this day, hangs
with the varied bric-a-brac in
a frame my parents keep to show
curious visitors, who number in
the small digits, the numbers a
young child can comprehend
even if he cannot discern mica
from the golden flash of truth.

I wouldn’t have the hubris

to call narrative poetry
or without certain difficulty or anything
of that sort.


It is not something that I can lie in bed at night, after a hard day of writing,

And sleep is all I want.

Fools Gold

In a cookie-cutter subdivision
in a nondescript town, it is the
summer in the American South.
I have few friends that I would
tell anything to, let alone anything dark.
Much of my time, I read. I’m looking
for an escape, and I am ambling
through a wooded lot lying next
to our house.

This lot is too narrow; the hill
in front is too steep to build a house on.
Young pine trees inhabit the place.
This area miniscule, but it is full
of mysteries, full of refuge. The undergrowth
is full of briars and thorns. There
are tunnels running through, a complex
system, with several entrances, many
a place to hide. In one place
the neighborhood kids had dug a large pit.
This cavity has many uses. It is a foxhole,
army base, or anything that could be militaristic.
We carry our plastic guns believing someday
they will be real.

This day though there are no other children.
The sun is setting towards the base of the long
shallow hill. I am wearing red sweat pants,
and a dirty cotton shirt. I am sitting on the hill
of the vacant lot, in the eroded gullies of packed
red clay, and various rocks.

Ambitious, foolhardy weeds have
taken root, but the next heavy rain will soon
wash them away. I imagine myself being
in the desert, surrounded by nothingness.
The ambient sounds are of people and traffic,
but I hear the coyote in the distance. I shift through
the rocks, hoping to find something interesting.
I long for everlasting beauty, a “Eureka!” find.
I want diamonds, thinking that they will be cut
and highly brilliant in my hand.

This day, as the sun hangs low
in the sky, casting oblique rays towards
this young geologist, I see a metallic
reflection amid the dull and drab contours
of the earth. I reach for a golden nugget
and I rejoice.

I pick it up, and try to remember when I have
ever been happier. I believe I am richer than
I have ever imagined. I have found a hunk of gold,
and I can buy anything that I want. My fingers
curl around it, and I grip it tighter than anything
I have ever wrapped my hand around. This rock
is heavier than it appears it should be. It reminds
me of picking up the cluster of rings my mother
leaves by the sink when she washes the dishes.
This heaviness means the world to me.

I enthusiastically hold the grail out to the person
who knows more than anyone in the world. And
my mother says, “That’s a nice piece of fool’s gold
you’ve found.” And all my hopes and dreams and ideas
are crushed. Even for a child, it is crushing to be called
a fool. I do not hold the truth in my hand,
only something interesting.


I find myself sitting in a dark room,
afraid of human contact. I am shivering,
even though the heat is turned up high.
perhaps the insulation in this centuries
old building is not sufficient to keep out
the portent of winter settling down
upon our heads. I shift my weight a little,
as my position leaning up against the wall
becomes numbing. I am in some sort of prison,
but by now I have become so accustomed
to it I cannot remember if a foreign agent
has put me here, or if I am in some exile.
Nothing comes in, save for a bowl
of rice shoved at me from the narrow chink
of light that shows under the door. I have come
to know this benevolent hand as Jeff. Its venation
betrays a soft feminine touch, the small hands
gingerly remove the bowl, and slam small
door shut with a clinking sound. The nails
are nicely trimmed, and very clean.

I have taken to defecating in the opposite
corner near the air vent. When I first arrived,
I had hoped that removal from this place
would come shortly. I held in my animal urges
for days, only to relent. That first time,
I felt faint, as the circulation is poor
and the fumes that sat feet away from me
had been sent to porcelain depths for all
the life that I can remember.
I don’t have that now.

Dr. VonSprout’s Device

Dr. VonSprout’s Device

Dr. Felix VonSprout created
a device to generate ultimate
pleasure. Electrical wires
are connected to a large
contraption that wires directly
in the pleasure center of the brain.

However, the button can be pressed
only twice every ten minutes.
Those who have been connected
marveled about its amazing power.
They speak of something more though.
They tell of the burst of pleasure,
the release of tension, along with
the intense craving for more.

This burst only last two minutes,
and Dr. Felix watches people greedily
press the button immediately after
the first burst, as a result, they have to wait
a painful six minutes until they can press
the button once again.

Felix watches these people scream for death
in these hellish minutes without the high
voltage of the machine coursing through their


I smile when strangers die.
Knowing as I flip the newspaper to the back page,
It will be me, on the by & by.

I can’t remember when , I think it was last July,
when it was I imagined your smiling face gracing that page,
but I still smiled when strangers die.

I could not find a way to cry,
standing, you were still so alive at that stage
because I know it will be me, on the by & by.

I thought, I could not bring myself to watch you lie
lying so cold and still, the hand of fate brought me rage.
It’s so much easier when strangers die.
And now after a graceful death, your soul will fly
straight to the creator you loved, your body in an oak cage.
We still wished you could have waited for the by & by.

And I am left dumfounded, looking at the sky and asking, “Why?”
The meaning of this existence I still cannot gauge,
Even when we know it’s going to be us, on the by & by,
it’s so much easier when strangers die.


with your own death,
you are consumed
by the awesome firelight.

The moon is troubling
me. Each night we have
watched it together. I hold
your hand and we try to see
all the constellations
outside of your window.

City lights and haze,
bounce off the streets,
obscuring most of the stars.
The one time you pointed out
Orion’s belt, you were so happy,
but I didn’t have the heart to tell
you it was the wrong season
for him to be loitering
in our twilight.

And when I hold your hand,
this hand, in the early morning,
you have been asleep for hours.
I watch the moon fading,
giving way to fiery Phoebus.

Every morning in these last
two weeks, it has grown

thinner, and so have you.


apart his
the one
by the
of his local
league team,
a young
child spends

he discovers
ball, within
those miles
of fibers, and
in his
wasted hours
all he
learns is
of destruction.

there will
be more
a whole
lifetime of
and fractured

The Antique Store

It is my day off, and I feel anxious.
Needing to do something, a neighbor
introduces me to the antique store
around the corner.

It is the first time I set foot
in the place, but I see the building
that houses it outside a window
in my apartment.
It’s one of many such stores.

The neighbor, Gabriel
is fascinated by the old;
the obscure. The proprietor
greets us with a smile, and
an attentive eye. We are
not hooligans, just bored.

The accoutrements of days
gone by clutter around us.
Breathing down our backs:
gilded mirrors, ancient bedding,
and chapeaus of all imagination.
But what it is we are looking for
lies underneath our feet.

Descending a rickety staircase,
we enter into the treasure
awaiting us. Vinyl recordings
of all shades, old newspapers,
and bric-a-brac unimaginable
are hoping to be found and loved
just one more time, one more chance
to be loved before it becomes dust.
The mold and the damp hang
in the air. Three lonely bulbs illuminate
the cold concrete beneath our feet.

Thumbing through the racks, I find Alvin
and the Chipmunks Sing the hits
of the Beatles. Sometimes treasure finds
its way into your hands before you know
what you are looking for.

Teutonic Nights

The thingy thing
and the shiny shine
all come together
as they are mine.

A local carpenter uses
a file that files the fine
round edges on the wood,
oak, or even on soft pine
boards to build a table
at which you will dine
with a Viking Chieftain
or something of the kind.

The thingy thing
and the shiny shine
all come together
as they are mine.

Maybe a Teutonic warrior
who dreams of the Rhine
land where his father
would drown in his stein,
breathing deeply the nectar
of the intoxicating vine.

The thingy thing
and the shiny shine
all come together
as they are mine.

At this suggestion he looks
at you, a drawn battle line,
and yells an accented,

And the thingy things
and the shiny shines,
they all come together
as they are mine.

A Cigarette Package

Is not the sun
shining on the corner
here? Do we not feel
the haze created
by the fire engines as they
extinguish the blaze
burning in the trashcan?

Perhaps not, but we
stand still at this
corner, waiting for
the light to change
red. Only then can we
walk. Maybe home?
You throw the rubbish
on the ground
and we walk away.

Cigarettes and Coffee

The smart woman in the Parade
magazine often runs a contest
where readers send in their
definitions of some phenomenon
whose prime mover is poorly
understood. Often, these contests
arrive with some pun readily employed.

One, which must have run years
ago by now, was about the Theory
of Relativity. As I remember,
all the responses printed
had something to do with inane
familial relationships. There
I was, reading the Sunday
funnies, my mother smoking
cigarettes, and drinking Folgers
coffee. She laughed at how true
one of those replies was. She read it
to me, saying that the theory really was,
“The older you get, the more you
become like your parents.”

Today, while I smoke cigarettes,
and ignore a cup of stale coffee,
I thumb through an old textbook,
looking for the right equations
to help a poem I’m trying to write.
With this act, I wonder how
correct that long ago submission is,
and I wonder
also, “Should I be afraid?”


It was my dream and not that Russian’s working for RCA. Well, you see, the inventing game is not an easy one. Some people have a knack for such things. All I had was a dream. I was fourteen and living on our farm in Utah, had to ride four miles each morning, and back again. We lived in an age where science was changing everything. Why, I remember seeing the Sears catalogue advertising an electronic washing machine! ‘course, my mother still hauled in water from the well, and washed our clothes in the big metal tub out back, but it seemed so bizarre that a machine could do such hard work. We lived in the possibilities, the world of Jules Verne becoming reality. I remember my father talking about the picture shows and radio programs and telling us how lucky we were to live in such a time. Thing is, God’s will is hard to predict. You never know where inspiration is going to hit. It hit me one day out in the potato field. I was plowing, turning up the Earth so we could plant some of last year’s tubers into the ground, when I looked behind me. I don’t expect you to understand the science, but I had been reading a lot on the cathode ray tube, and the manipulation of an electron stream using magnetic fields, theory your friends accept as commonplace and never think about as they watch the television. It was new then, and I had to go out of my way to find the material. So there I was in the field, and I look back at the acreage I had plowed. I thought it might be possible to transmit images sequentially through just such a pattern. The simplicity made it effective. I didn’t have the ability to see this all through, but I found people, after I dropped out of the university, that believed in me as much as I believed in the idea. They gave me money to pursue the dream. So about eight years later, after working through a lot of money and time, I had my first image, the first transmission of light sent over wires. It was a miraculous thing. One of my investors sent a telegram; people still used them, to another, saying, “The damn thing works.” The electrons were fired against the screen, igniting a beautiful dance of electrons. We were well on our way. ‘Course, the first image was just a vertical line, but it was something. We finally got all the bugs worked out just as the big war was coming up. Those jerks from RCA stole most of my idea, and took all the credit. Just railroaded me because they had the money and the power. So, when the World’s Fair was in New York in ’39, and the image projector was the biggest draw, I had to pay to get in and see the fame of the contraption. I had invested twenty years of my life to it. I had won the patent rights in ‘40, but the War Department took that away from me in ’42, as they took all patents that might have had a use in defending our freedom. No sir, not once did I ever really receive credit for all my hard work. Not until it was all in the past did any people know I was responsible for the daily break people have in their lives. I’ve been living here for ten years, and no one knows who I am. They call me the crazy guy. Actually, if you want to know the truth, I don’t own one of those god-forsaken things myself. There’s never anything worthwhile on. I look around and I wonder if maybe it wasn’t the best thing to do. Lord knows what I could have done, but he works in mysterious ways. I remember hearing what Marconi wrote, for the first transatlantic telegraph. “What hath God wrought?” I think about what it means often. It comes from the scriptures, you know.


The serpent is eating
an autumn’s lunar
eclipse and the village
shaman stands at the ready
with his staff in hand.
The villagers cower,
and he chants the saving
songs. The songs learned
from the old shaman as a naked
boy at the knee of the wise
old man, learning the secrets
of the gods.
Now the people wait and watch,
wide-eyed as the serpent
retreats and the giant egg
in the sky is released to shine
down on the apprentice shaman.
The novice has been watching
with awe as his master shows
his command of the world.
The apprentice is no longer
afraid of the serpent as he
knows that when his time comes
he will know the right words
to save his people.
That time will come,
and the cycle will repeat.

Fumbled Intentions

Fritz Wilhelm owned
the company that
made Zyklon-B,
the gas used at the
camps. Showers
they would say,
and march the prisoners
off to be gassed. Onto
mass graves to where
no one will find
a cross over their
head. Men like Fritz

controlled the German
industrial machine
and hoped the world
would soon follow
in that gilded
Nazi Pathway.
But when a man thinks
he is in power,
the world permits
that he willfully
submits to Nuremberg

and persecution by the
victors or the man will
amble into Argentina,
raving at Bethlehem.
And along the sky,
shivering at thoughts
he should not have had,
bats fly out of the belfry
but none of his churches
ever had any bell towers,
only broken crosses.

I am the Laughing Air

Lee finds himself
thinking he is a ghost,
passing through worlds
he doesn’t understand.
All the clinical coolness
surrounding him is juxtaposed
with the airy ethereal god
figure he had imagined
a figure forced into him
since youth. Since the birth
of his young son he has felt
the surrounding world
to be out of his control.
He soon wondered if it was
his fault, maybe he could
do something. Maybe he
could have kept Lee Sr.
around. Or he could have
controlled his taste for booze.
But he knows now that
he cannot will the world
into being as he would want
it to be. So he grasps
at the laughing air,
telling me, “All the spirals
sail away from me.” I look
him deep into his eyes,
and I understand.

Gin With a Small Twist of Lime Juice

The other day,
over cocktails
my friend Rupert
told me how he
puts away his soul
every night.

“I used to hang
it up in the
closet, but last
winter, we had
a moth problem.
Now I have to
fold it up and
put it in the
underwear drawer.
It is full of
holes and pulling
apart at the seams.”

“Billy,” I said,
“Have another.”

Unpublished Blues

No, I am not a poet.
I am a typist,
a scrivener
of experiences which
in my eyes are the most
These words I see, someday
flowing from my fingers, and
alighting innocently on the page,
not knowing of their inherent
or the flame they conjure
to the awed reader
who will defend my words
with the zeal of an
evangelical preacher.
I know though, this is not
the case, and I look for solace.

A man of infinite jest

You sat in that
bathtub with a gun
to your head, drinking,
sobbing, and
That bathroom was full of mildew,
and used tampons littered the trash.

You sat in there with tears
blurring your vision. You were
unable to recognize your father,
standing before you. But he
could not be there. Lodged in your
mouth, your father’s service revolver
reminded you of the metallic jolt
electricity from a 9-volt battery.

You wanted to pull it away,
stopping that acid taste and
to address that phantasm
hovering before you, but
the electricity running
through your body took
all control from you.
Your muscles contracted:
Around the barrel,
your lips;
around the grip,
your fist;
and around the trigger,
one lingering thumb.
Your eyes clenched.
Your ears braced
for the explosion.

The body relaxed,
and the gun fell with
a splash to the pool
of water near the drain.
The lips were turned up
slightly at the corners.


This transmission
is assembled
thousands of times,
but I only turn three
screws and I have no idea
what this automobile
looks like after we
both leave the factory.

It goes on to distant
cities, shipped on
the back of diesel
trucks. Its new owners
park it in the garage,
their teenage son
begging to test
my craftsmanship.

I walk the blocks
home, massaging
my wrist, waiting
only to fall down
before I have to rise
for another day.

My wife looks at
me, and her pale
hazel eyes, nearly lost
in the blossom
of her nose, hold some
unexpressed sorrow.
I wonder what she
is going to say after
she forces a smile
and ask me about my day.

Casting Your Lot

Yesterday, my family
received the news that
my grandfather was dead.
Each preceding week, his

prognosis had worsened,
and his death
came as no surprise.
And today, I grieve

more for my dog,
dead for six years,
than for him, who
isn’t in the ground.

Death reminds man
that he is still alive.
It reminds me
of my dog and

the trouble it is
to love when death is
always hiding. In the dark
alley, or inside yourself.


I sit in a small room
awakened from a daze
by the percussion of glass.
A small bird has been
drawn in by the splendorous
light of illuminated bulbs
wrapped around the plastic
branches of my family’s
Christmas tree.

But this bird couldn’t see
the barrier between
itself and the tree.
The promised haven
being denied by a thin
sheet of translucent silica.
Now she lies,
flailing in the bushes.
I bend over to pick
her up, and her eyes look
of trepidation. Or maybe
ecstasy. I am too young
to know the difference.


This town reminds me of
her, as does the soft scent
of freesia in the wind I smell
passing a woman on the
street, and I turn my head.

Maybe if I had never
let that magical thing
pull away from me and
the strength of such a flower
distilled into perfume,
atomized into a fine mist
and falling onto the thin
blonde hairs where her neck
and her shoulders mingle,
sharing gossip long
since passed around about
her pregnancy scare when

I crushed her soft body
between my arms and felt
her in such a way I had
never experienced.
My heart beat against
her chest, and hot tears steamed
into the chill night air.
I pulled her chin from
my armpit, and I
fell into her from the
gravity of those majestic
blue planets staring at me,
imploring me to know
more than I knew,
and to have strength
where there was only

I took a deep breath,
and smelled freesia,
this reminds me
the freesia was only
floating in the air.

Candy Store

Here at this neighborhood store,
the children wait on the floor
and shiver & shake to their core,
while their parents patiently wait by the door,

A rotund jolly man named Billy Tudor,
wearing a knee-length lab coat made of velour,
stands by the mountainous bins that pour
forth jelly beans, gummy bears & candy corn.

A laughing man with one eye, the local bore,
tired these parents with impossible tales of the local lore.
Yet , near the children, they spoke not of this man, nor
could they have even cared. All they wanted was more,


A friend

A friend
dies early.
Or a living
one passes
out of your
life before
you can

And when
you turn
your head
as if
to sneeze,
not noticing
what you
have lost.

No one
will see
your tears.

in God

You believed,
You always believed

The future, with its great uncertainties
is bearable when in your heart off hearts,
you know that there are no Questions
to be asked.

I don’t, I never, have believed, and
this future, with its great uncertainties
is incomprehensible when in my mind,
and heart I feel that all this questioning

Is insufficient.
death and tears
are both imminent.

We both gesture with
our hands;
I shake my fists, and
you open your arms.

mumble (Bad formatting, sorry)

…minds of my generation destroyed by apathy, starving, hysterical and full of nothingness.
And now we think we hold the key to world peace, to pacification innumerable
And man, be he the first or the last now can only hope that he is at best nothing, nothing becoming no one
Who desires is ever truly satiated in this thirst. All that is hoped for is the one single drop of pure unadulterated goodness. What is this thought that in men we see the cowards crawling in the street hoping for something to come
And save them from themselves, the rain never stopping as it pours through their eyes and expels itself in the urine that will see, someday the great coast of the Gulf of Mexico, mingling with thousands of millions of other molecules, all and each
Who have been expelled into the same fate. We are like the water, drifting aimlessly mingling with others but never being changed in our constitution, washing out to sea through a long and arduous journey. But
Our journey is an inner one, through our own mind, and we each seek our own way to ease the path, we walk on nails, broken glass. But
Who wants to walk on nails and broken glass when we can, or at least hold out hope for, the rose petals, or down feathers to walk on?
Who knows how to find these though? We all search for something; there is medication to be found somewhere. At the bottom of a bottle many have looked, but that is just one of many linings. Have you heard of an Amazonian tribe, they take flowers that grow high up in the canopy of the forest, and grind the petals to snort for its hallucinogenic effect?
Who knows what they see up there high in the trees, living for subsistence and fighting back the consumerist will of capitalistic culture?
Who knows what it is like to be one of them, but it is known, by heresy mostly, that it is not an easy life. We live in the era of ease and ergonomics, the new deal and the end of the cold war, terrorism and tax cuts,
Imperialistic rule, the return of the aristocracy, the gentry, minimum wage jobs, not a living wage, poverty, discretion is key, equivocation everywhere, the ideals of a nation once free being questioned, the enemy is everywhere, even in your own
Who knows the path? Men have been thinking since they arose from their forelegs, and there has been nothing consummate in their thought.
Happiness is just a release, not an answer. Why look for god, the bottom of the bottle, the sex, the men and the women to make you feel good, the temporal pleasures that we deny ourselves in the name of salvation, of the diving good that will hopefully come after the inevitable death that will befall everything with a pulse, everything that
Relies on something else for its survival is doomed to death. The tiny protozoan to the blue whale, to man, to the dog at my feet, to the great nations and empires that have soared, now and in the past and in the future, to this world, and
Man, primitive and modern, will despair, at the death of all these things, or none of these things, yet remain reflective, knowing that life is not easy, the end will come, and no one can be really sure about the after, the uncertain future…


I will not kill myself.
not kill myself.
kill myself.

I shall not kill myself.
not kill myself.
kill myself.
I should not kill myself.
not kill myself.
kill myself.

It is a bad idea to kill myself.
not kill myself.
kill myself.

It is an absurd thought
to even think,
about killing myself,
killing myself.

The shadow of a possibility,
the shadow of a possibility,
that there is a god,
there is a God,
and suicide is a mortal sin,
a sin. Prevents me from believing that

I might kill myself.

A Fence in Wyoming (for Matthew Shepherd)

Two men found you sitting
at a bar in Laramie. Those

two men only know what
happened afterward. But

That night they became
predators, and you, prey

only because you happened
to be homosexual. Later

two men found you draped
on a fence in Wyoming.

And now you must taste
the earth of this State, because

they happened to murderously

My Jesus is Porcelain

Riding the bus the other day,
while my eyes were scanning unfamiliar
houses and oxidized mailboxes,
a stranger wearing a moth-eaten
smile and a devious brown sweater
erupted alcohol in my nose as
he told me what the world looks like
behind those deep brown eyes of his.
I cannot recall all the details of his
worldview, but he asserted strongly,
“Jesus Christ, Our Savior, is a black man.”

I made the decision not to argue with
this declaration, or his conjugation
of the verb “to be,” whose present
tense leads to quite slippery questions.
Instead, I simply nodded my head
as if listening to music I enjoyed.
The nodding was just to appease
the too-close alcoholic, but when I
think of Jesus, I think of grandma’s

house, the musty scent of decay in the
air and the west-facing window over
the sink where her hands pruned up even more
as she cleaned the dishes from her night’s cooking
and a porcelain Jesus stood, his arms
illuminated by a setting sun.