Solitude

Sometimes

there is no sound

more lonely

and beautiful

than that of a pen

scratching upon a page

with a world of silence

as your neutral accomplice.

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Waves

At the faltering edge,

where possibility

meets a stolen glance,

and guilt whispers

discreetly to us

the manner in which

we must transgress,

we traded breath

for flame,

and burned through

every last vestige

of decency,

beneath our bodies

shameless lengths.

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Fly by Night

Longing

does not require a precedent,

or even a known catalyst.

It is, in its purest form,

the solvent call of homesickness,

which is why our hearts,

in their cause and breaking,

claim the smallest birds as stars,

and the longest flights as rememberance.

Image by Heather Ross

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There Was a Time

Coiled

within the echo

and ceremony of longing,

I tremble between memory’s

flitting tease

of my belly

and hers,

how they almost touched,

erring a slow burn course

by which the word

made flesh

could stalk itself,

from a favored distance.

Image by Heather Ross

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Directions Home

Excerpt from No One Dreams in Color, a novel-in-progress.

Bob Dylan, Carl Jung and Leonard Cohen walk into a bar in heaven…

Dylan was dressed like a tramp clown, wearing a battered calico vest, baggy trousers, and a dusty bowler. He carried a rusty harmonica.

Jung was decked out in a double-breasted dark suit, with a bright yellow handkerchief folded squarely into the breast-pocket of his suit-jacket. He carried a small black leather notebook.

Cohen was wearing a long blue raincoat. He carried nothing.

Dylan, drunk and blowzy, falls off his barstool and hits the sawdusty floor hard. Ow, he grimaces. Then he raises his head slightly, brings his harmonica to his lips, squeezes out a few bluesy bars, and lets his head fall back to the floor.

   Jung, perched on his barstool, asks Dylan what he sees from down there.

   Stars, Dylan responds on beat. Lots and lots of stars.

   Interesting, Jung says, and writes something down in his small black notebook.

   Cohen falls off his stool next, wanting to imitate Dylan. Or make Dylan feel better, less alone.

   Cohen lies on his back, side by side with Dylan. Cohen’s nose sticks out. As does Dylan’s. It’s hard to tell whose nose is longer, more formidable.

   What do you see down there, Jung asks Cohen.

   Dreams, Cohen responds with a small smile, a child’s guilty pleasure of a smile.

   No, no, not dreams, Cohen amends. Birds. I see birds. Lots and lots of birds. All different colors.

   Interesting, Jung says, and writes something down in his small black notebook.

   God, having given Lucifer the night off, is tending bar. He asks Jung if he intends on falling off this stool. Jung says no. He plans on staying upright.

   God smiles. Jung quickly replaces his spectacles with a pair of dark shades, shielding his eyes form God’s thousand suns smile.

   God comes out from behind the bar. He picks up Bob Dylan, places his bowler back on his head, and seats him on his barstool. Then God does the same for Leonard Cohen.

   What are you drinking, boys, God asks.

   Dylan, whose head is wobbling, as if several screws in his neck have come loose, says to God—You haven’t got any eyes.

   You’ve been drinking, Mr. Dylan, God says.

   Yes, Dylan agrees, rising rubber-legged from his stool, index upraised. Very astute observation, barkeep . . . it’s true, I have been drinking, but your eyes . . . what the hell happened to your eyes? Did you lose your eyes? Did you never have eyes? Never ever?

   Dylan belches into a cupped hand. Then he plays a few bluesy bars on his harmonica. He opens his mouth, as if about to sing, but nothing comes. He has forgotten the words, or they him.

   God, towel-wiping a beer mug, responds—I have eyes, Mr. Dylan, you just can’t see them. You’ve been drinking.

   You mean to say, when I drink, eyes disappear? They just, poof, go away.

   Dylan claps Leonard Cohen on the shoulder.

   Leonard, old boy, what do you have to say about all this? Does the bartender have eyes, or does he not?

   Cohen gazes, slightly askance, in the direction of the bartender, of God.

   I can’t see a damned thing, Cohen says.

   What do you mean, Dylan presses.

   I mean, there’s no on there. No barkeep. So if there’s no barkeep, then it stands to reason that the barkeep has no eyes.

   So then you agree with me that the barkeep is eyeless?

   Cohen cradles his chin in his hand and considers Dylan’s branch of reasoning. He then proceeds to undo the belt sinching his raincoat. The two sides of the raincoat part, revealing that Cohen is completely naked beneath the raincoat. Naked, and projecting a radiant swath of light from the six-pointed star branded just above his navel.

   What do you think, Cohen grins, modeling his light.

   Jung, who has put his dark shades back on, is fiercely scribbling in his small black notebook.

   Please close your raincoat, Leonard, Dylan says. You’re getting light everywhere.

   Cohen sinches his raincoat, cutting off the light.

   Dylan belches, moist and metallic, then slaps his hands against his thighs, and requests—May I have another, barkeep?

   Sure, Mr. Dylan, God assents.

   Please, call me Robert.

   Here you go, Robert, God sets a tumbler of whiskey onto the counter.

   You, my dear fellow, are a bartender after my own poor broken heart. Cheers!

   Leonard Cohen, and Carl Jung, who has taken a break from writing in his notebook, watch Dylan ferociously gulp down his whiskey, and then fell off his stool, resounding with a thud on the sawdusty floor.

   Now what do you see, Jung practically shouts, as if Dylan is deaf or faraway.

   Dylan mumbles incoherently. There are X’s branded onto his drawn eyelids. God once again comes out from behind the counter, picks Dylan up, and sets him on the barstool. Dylan slumps forward, his face pasted to the counter.

   Job, just back from running food, looks at God, shakes his head, and says—Why do you keep serving him? And picking him up?

   God smiles, his entire eyeless face aflame in brilliant light, and responds—Because, Job, who am I to judge?

   Hallelujah, Cohen says, raising his glass.

   Jung resumes writing in his small black notebook.

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Kirkus Review of Jackdaw and the Doll

Excerpts from Kirkus’s just released review of The Jackdaw and the Doll.

“Kafka becomes a winged storyteller in this picture book’s loose, biographical fable. K leaves his family just as his illness gets worse. In a summary of his life, readers learn that for years his “night-flights,” hidden from his strict father, have enabled him to spread visible, feathery wings as a storyteller even as he works as a clerk by day. K is stalked by The Shroud, rendered as a formless, dripping dark hand, which has pursued him since childhood and manifests, K thinks, as the sickness taking over his lungs. In a vivid image, K hides from the hand beneath a bright yellow umbrella. But relief from this dread is possible through two figures—Dora, who, holding hands with K as a bird, flies to a new city, and Frieda, a small girl whose lost doll becomes the focus of K’s mythical, last, long-term literary effort. Best for young readers with a taste for the gothic, Yokoyama’s graphite illustrations with flashes of yellow show a White cast. They fashion an understated, symbolic elegy for a famous literary voice … Poetic descriptions of Kafka’s storytelling deftly capture the relationship between existential terror and creative production … Accomplished, graceful mythmaking for children who intuit artistic inspiration’s dark side.” — KIRKUS REVIEWS

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No Man’s Brooklyn Reading

For those who wish to tune in and take a trip through the ol’ neighborhood, I will be reading from my novel, No Man’s Brooklyn, as part of the Southern Colorado University reading series.

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Inspiration Runs Warm

A golden mantra of a passage from David Mack’s KABUKI: The Alchemy:

“I find that to accomplish anything, you need initiative, persistence, discipline and will. And most of all the decision to just do it. And to set it in motion. The conventional idea of talent is an illusion. So many people have a natural talent and do nothing with it. You must do something in order for your talent to show up. You don’t just wait for it to show up and do nothing. And some people know they have a talent and passion for something but do nothing with it because they are waiting for someone to validate them, or to give them a job, or guarantee them some kind of security before they pursue it. So they never do it. It doesn’t work that way. You do the work first. And then you get the ripple effect. Not the other way around. You have to set it in motion for your talent to emerge and shape itself. You start something even if you are not sure how to finish it. You see the first stepping stone and you jump to that. You can only see the next stepping stone after you get to the first one. Not before. At each jump, the next stepping stone comes into view. But every creative endeavor begins with a certain leap of faith.”

Artwork by David Mack

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Seeds

The heart is the first organ which develops in embryo.

Remember that, next time you have sworn off inspiration,

or the marvels abounding in that speck of moonlight you swallowed

on the day your heart met your mouth, and you hungered

for divinest means.

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Rise

Infinite potential

is a glimmer and a wink,

a nod from the moon to the tides,

where you agree to go under

a spell,

and sing yourself to rise,

in the poached dark.

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