Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Leaving Amsterdam Centraal

My poem "Leaving Amsterdam Centraal" appeared in print literary journal THE CHIRON REVIEW #123, Fall 2021. Buy the whole issue here

Leaving Amsterdam Centraal

Mesdames messieurs your tickets please the train

has left the station we can't go back

altho we're facing backwards in the rain

to where we've been + what we've done on track

ou c'est à dire en train to make the same

mistakes without a chance to fix the ones

we made like running away but I came

to find

                a possibility not run

I tell myself

                        tho but of what or why—

canals + ferries / cobble street bike tracks

I think I'm going to get sick like this

but how can I not look? + how not try?

can you really change yr life w/a click?

we've stopped: the door opens with a hiss


Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Best of the Net nom from Lammergeier!

In addition to my essay "Tower Point Lookout," originally published in Lammergeier, making the "Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2021" in Best American Essays 2022 (not in it, but made their top 100 list!) Lammergeier has nominated it for Best of the Net! Thank you!


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Notable essay in BAE 2022!!!!

My essay "Tower Point Lookout," originally published in Lammergeier, made the "Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2021" in Best American Essays 2022!! (not in it, but made their top 100 list!.) Thankful for this!

Here's the link to the essay:

Thursday, November 17, 2022

The Why Files YouTube Channel review

My review of the YouTube channel, The Why Files, which covers unexplained phenomena, history and nefarious government stuff. Up now at SPLICE TODAY. And say hi to Hecklefish!


Friday, October 28, 2022

Ex-Basketball Player—short story

 Originally appeared in an Alien Buddha anthology, which I never saw, nor did anybody else.


Yesterday a student of hers was expelled for a third-offense plagiarism incident which happened in her lit class two weeks ago. The student a charming funny guy and, it seemed to her, used his charm to get through school, along with his talent for basketball—he was the captain of their JuCo team—and when his charm didnt work he used his anger and she saw the red flags from the beginning when he dropped her Comp II class and didnt enroll in another one, because the same thing happened with another student, another basketball player, who became ineligible to play after dropping and failing too many classes which his coaches told him to take. But she didnt know this student had previous incidents—not that that would have changed anything—but in any case the assignment was a small creative response to John Updike’s Ex-Basketball Player which she’d had him read out loud in class and which he didnt understand. She was trying to say, dont end up like this, but the student was confident in his quote ‘talent,’ and that he still had a chance at playing for the NBA, and the Associate Dean didn’t expel him until two weeks later after he’d already made up the assignment and now the coaches all blame her.

Yesterday in her night class of three women, instead of running thru brainstorming ideas for the new unit—topics in rural living—making lists and freewriting and doing a mindmap—instead they just sat around and talked like adults with a little cool jazz in the background about their lives—one today going to a belated celebration of her dead husband. Another spoke fondly of living near Glacier National Park. The third spoke about her granddaughter wanting to get married at 17 to a guy who reminds her of her awful husband of 36 years.

At the end all she had to say was, —You know, you should write about these things.

And now they are. Which made up for her typos in the assignment handout.

Two yesterdays ago the Dean threatened her with retaliation because she didn’t want to teach an overload class at the other campus 1.5 hours away. He had lied to her about it previously when he asked, mocking her, condescending her, trying to bully her into that damn class which, with drive time, would create an 11 hour day twice a week. He told her he’d take her decision to not teach an overload in mind for her end of year eval. So what else could she do but file an incident report with HR—even though she knows HR is not her friend—so feeling like she wont be around Strangely, Colorado much more. Which makes her angry but maybe relieved? She applied for a job in Arizona yesterday just because. Which made her feel good, like she had some control.

Today staring at her computer screen all day—seven hours for a State Faculty Curriculum Committee being held somewhere on the east side of the Rockies because this is the 30% service requirement for her job. She doesnt even really know what they/re doing—approving classes that will never be taught at her school. Like winemaking. She doesnt feel like anyone on the east side of the Rockies really cares what someone from this podunk community college even thinks. Fortunately her camera and mic are off—she cant do any real work or even apply for other jobs but she’s got her mandolin to noodle on and occupy her hands, though this will only get her thru the morning. Meanwhile the Arts & Sciences Department is having a mandatory ‘brown bag’ from 12 to 1—meaning she’s working on her lunch break, her friday now eight hours long, at least four hours past her 40, because she teaches night classes four nights a week. Maybe she should be like The New Yorker editor and masturbate during the meeting: he got caught because he ‘forgot’ to turn off his camera, but didnt even lose his job and in fact the New York liberals came to his defense because masturbation is natural. She guesses you’d have to rape underage girls to really get fired except—oh yeah —the Democratic governor of New Mexico and a prince of England got away with that. And, like, two presidents. Too bad Jeffrey Epstein killed himself (cough cough). Maybe someone could ask Bill Clinton about this. But not her. She’s staring at a screen sipping hojicha tea thankful that yesterday the Community Colleges of Colorado Chancellor was unable to impose vaxx mandates on the ‘rurals,’ tho he wanted to. But the college’s new president is black and she was like, uh uh. Imagine blacks and poor rural whites having something in common.

Today she started writing for a poetry chapbook contest but she probably won’t win because the judge is probably liberal therefore wont like any vaxx mandate criticism because there’s nothing liberals like more than telling others what to do, except of course for abortion in which case hands off my body. Liberals think they’re the left when they’re the center—‘nothing will fundamentally change,’ said Dementia Joe to his rich donors in a rare moment of lucidity. Yeah, she knows his wife teaches at a community college—a big one with money—but his son Hunter made millions being on corporate boards who wanted influence with his dad, except Hunter seems to have smoked it all away in a crack pipe. But don’t worry you can ‘buy’ one of his paintings for a million dollars. The point being, poets are liberals and listen to NPR. Best American Poetry is infused with NPR, sponsored by EXXON Chevron Boeing Blackrock The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—but dont listen to her—she wants a threesome with Harley Quinn and Black Widow. Today she will be too braindead to take a run or even play her new fiddle bought on impulse down in Junction many yesterdays ago—the one thing she told herself she’d buy with this new job, thinking she could form some nügrass band here even though maybe soon she will be houseless if she quits or gets fired.

Today the people involved in discussing and picking apart proposed new courses are really involved—all five of them—They dont even need a majority to approve anything, just a motion and a second, while the 20 others dont care, muting cameras and mics as they do other things. She could be out hiking somewhere tho its raining, or going to rain, and going to rain all day, which is nice—she could use a little rain on her face right now. She could go take a nap later and she probably will. Right now she is remembering the harmonic minor scale, though mostly when noodling and soloing she just uses the blues scale—the flat fifth Devil’s note of blues and metal, tho the major seventh in a minor scale sounds evil too—Bach used the major seventh in minor all the time to build tension—with always a resolution. She just prefers it without the resolution, like in real life.

Snow in Vail Pass already. The baseball team couldnt get thru though basketball slipped by. The baseball guys have to sleep four to a hotel room. In january they’ll go to AZ for three weeks and basically drop out, then expect to come back and have instructors accommodate them. Travel expenses for sports in general here are in the 100s of thousands. She doesnt understand how her school stays fiscally solvent.

Today she’ll take a nap! Because the SFCC Committee just got out early! And its raining and maybe she’ll masturbate—perhaps to office lesbians unless her neighbor is home, because the walls are thin and he is loud. But: with the miracle of no essays to read this weekend! Freedom! Maybe a long muddy run later. She finally connected with a therapist down in Junction, because she feels her anger building—already here—not at her students, or not all of them, but admin. If they could just be honest and communicate better. She knows she doesnt communicate well, but she tries to be honest.

She puts on Thelonius Monk’s I Mean You to drown her neighbor out. She knows her anger is an effect of stress and loss of control, though sometimes anger is anger and a self-defense response. And there’s the blue note—the Devil’s note! In jazz too! Hail Satan! Maybe she’ll read some Nietzsche and Bukowski, cultivate her inner irreverence. Which angers the admin. This teaching job: she meditates less now and writes less now, plays less music. She talks to herself more, but masturbates less, so maybe her relationship with herself isn’t just sexual.

Anger too from sadness at this student getting expelled. And ending two friendships this past year. Which she’s ok with. But still there’s an emptiness. Actually three friendships: she was dating a woman here which she never expected. But they drifted apart and/or lost interest in each other. Which is to say the woman lost interest in her? She thinks? Maybe? Not that the woman is a bad person. But.

Twenty-one yesterdays ago the student in question caused a scene in class and, out in the hallway, pulled the race card, even though there were other black guys from his team waiting for them in the classroom. (She thinks ‘even though,’ but maybe it was ‘because.’) And all that week he sent emails ordering her to change his grade, though that was for participation when his overall was 88%. Coming to her office to say he’d talked to others in class about their participation grades and how they didn’t say anything, how he had read Ex-Basketball Player in class, that she just didnt appreciate his quote ‘talent’— which at first she thought he was somehow talking about his writing talent, but of course it was his talent at basketball. She realized that that was how he’d gotten through school. That and his charm and anger and desire to play in the NBA, which was all happening around the time that black players from the NBA were coming out against any vaxx mandate, speaking more lucidly logically intelligently about their reasons than any talking head or politician for the last year and a half. (Liberals still wanting to believe that only Trump supporters are anti-vaxx).

But—and she admits—that she felt the class would be ruined. And then he plagiarized. And the bureaucracy rolled out: she was not allowed to talk to him or show him his work until the Associate Dean could be present to give ‘restorative justice’. Which took a week and ended up being her talking to the student while the Associate Dean sat there with a satisfied smile, after telling her he had seen no evidence of intentional plagiarism, even though half a page was copied word for word from Wikipedia. But, despite all that, the student and she came to a certain peace.

Today she will make lentil soup as the clouds roll in at 3500’—she is in them—mesas hidden in drizzle. On her run, a flock of birds sit on a wire singing. Cool drops cool on all their faces in cool blue air. She will not slip and fall and get muddy as she feared—she’s had two major injuries to her right foot in three years. At 42 she doesnt think she’ll get back to 100% but today while the lentils are burbling she can play her fiddle—Monk’s Blues or at least the intro as a tribute. Bluesy chromatics which she also likes in metal. The soup good though not as great as anticipated. She is about sick of all the food she makes now. She spends a good chunk of her paycheck eating out—She feels like she needs to treat herself for living in Strangely, population 1500. Not that the food the students eat at the cafeteria sounds good. The athletes eat McDonalds on the road or Olive Garden. She’s thinking of this student expelled right before the team left for a tournament in Denver so no one was even around when he left, probably today, an ex-basketball player. She kind of wants to be an ex-writing instructor if this goes on. Tonight she’s going to watch some kind of international film, go for a walk after in the dark rain around La Mesa, the rich neighborhood across from the campus. Get barked at by dogs and look in people/s windows, look out off the mesa at Strangely and Chevron oil fields. She’s not convinced this school will be here in 10 or five years. It survives on student athletes—give out scholarships, receive money for butts in seats—plus rich donors. No one will go on to play professionally. They will all be ex-sports players in a year or two.

This new policy of restorative justice—which one of the (three!) Vice-Presidents came up with—taken from prison reform, which she is in favor of, but not in the context of a community college in a rural town. Liberal buzzwords wont go over well, especially not with rich donors (one of them has a room in his house of ‘mounted’ animals, including two monkeys named Barack and Obama—known b/c the women's basketball team last year (all black) got a tour with their black coach.)(As a side note: the coach slept with at least one of them so was fired and they all quit, along with the softball team who were being bullied and harassed by their coach.)(But sure, low enrollment is the faculty’s fault.) But justice implies that a crime was committed—in the prisons absolutely a crime has been committed against the incarcerated, but the students are not prisoners, the instructors are not guards. Justice also implies a victim, and she is not comfortable with viewing her students as victims, or with students viewing themselves as victims. With this student being expelled, nothing seems restored either, though the same thing would have happened with the old policy. Now the school has just advertised its liberal ideology, showing conservatives that they were right—colleges do have liberal agendas and the lawmakers will come for them. (Maybe—because Colorado is a purple state even if not here on the Western Slope. Though she hates to talk in blue and red, left and right, anymore. Marx said there is the working class, and the rich, who drive national and state policies of mandates and shutdowns. Middleclass liberals unable to admit we need a revolution because they might lose everything and want things to stay the same. If we could ever get the poor whites and poor blacks and latinos to unite, neither the Hamptons nor Boulder are defensible spaces. But the rich-owned MSM keeps the Narrative dividing us.

Today the announcement came—as part of the negotiation with the CCC Chancellor in Denver, the rurals proposed going online after Thanksgiving to mitigate anymore risk from the OMFGvirus. So they’re still doing it: acting like the virus will go away if we keep performing. But she’s grateful because she would have not complied. And Dementia Joe is making all federal employees get vaxxed, even a republican president probably wont revoke anything once in office. She just wonders how liberals can continue to believe the Narrative, which has changed so much, and not be outraged at how the federal government (both administrations) has lied to and treated mericans. But the answer is that liberals werent affected by the shutdown like the poors. They won’t believe the american government helped finance the Wuhan lab from which this virus escaped, because to believe that would be to believe our government doesnt care about us. But all she can really think about is the student driving back today in the rain—maybe having to stay in a hotel because Vail Pass is closed. Alone, heading back to Denver where his team will be playing. But, he fucked up three times. Even in his make-up assignment (which she didnt ask for but accepted) he wrote a sort of poem, the first line saying most students don’t plagiarize intentionally—which she halfway thinks he plagiarized, but she didn’t have the heart to google the sentence. But could he still think that? Why did the Associate Dean even cc her on the letter of expulsion to the student?

Tomorrow she will search for more jobs in states without mandates. Tomorrow she will send out reminder emails to her students. Tomorrow she may take a hike in Fruita if she has the time. Tomorrow she will spend money on books to add to the pile next to her bed—which she does gradually get thru. Tomorrow she’ll talk to her friend (old girlfriend) Melissa about meeting up in Vegas either over t-day or x-mass b/c its cheap, not to gamble. Tomorrow she may research outdoor activities around Vegas. Tomorrow she will still think about this student. Tomorrow she will still be angry at the new Deans. Tomorrow she will send off info to the therapist in Junction, which may end up costing lots of money because her insurance sucks. But she can feel the anger and last time it got this bad she yelled at her supervisor in front of the other GAs at PSU—some looked at her with fear afterwards as if she were a psycho bitch and she doesn’t want that, though neither is she going to take someone retaliating on her ass. So tomorrow she will do the things that make her feel better: Tomorrow she will continue to scribble in her notebook. Tomorrow she will play her fiddle or mandolin. Tomorrow she will walk outside preferably away from buildings. Tomorrow she will sit on a pillow and stare at a wall quietly. Tomorrow she will drink plenty of water. Tomorrow she will read books—fiction philosophy poetry. Tomorrow she will take a long hot bath. Tomorrow she will take time to stretch her body. Tomorrow she will brew some hojicha tea. Tomorrow she will breathe.

The day after tomorrow she will go for a hike. She will drive east along the Río Blanco. She will look at the changing leaves—aspen and cottonwood. She will accumulate splatted bugs on her windshield. She will pass the JESUS IS COMMING! graffiti, which someone has erased the tip of the O on. She will pass the reservoir which Denver has its sights on. She will admire the magpies beautiful eating carrion. She will drive 45 miles and lose phone service blessedly. She will drink hojicha tea and forget past and future. She will arrive at the trailhead at the same time as someone else. She will let that person and her dog get ahead so she can be alone. She will be alone. Because being alone is very important to her. She will follow the trail thru juniper and piñon pine. She will hike up thru the gamble oak, it too turning orange. She will sidehill up a canyon away from town. She will curve up onto hills overlooking town. She will move out of the way for a runner and her dog. She will briefly feel guilty for not running this trail. She will forget that and enjoy her feet moving slowly. She will enjoy myself moving slowly over rock and roots. She will look across the valley at the Flat Tops. She will think fondly of backpacking them with the woman she was dating. She will be grateful for that experience no matter what. She will be grateful for this experience here now. She will descend the hills back into town. She will walk the neighborhood streets back to the trailhead. She will drive back to Strangely along the river. She will be content.

The day after the day after tomorrow she will be back on campus sitting in HR listening to the HR person—who is of course professional—tell her that the email exchanges on both sides of this incident are heated, to which she will think, No shit. I’m being threatened with retaliation and lied to by my supervisors—of course my emails are heated. But she will smile politely and say she understands, because of course she understands—the report of the incident will go to ‘System’ in Denver, someone there will make a judgement based on that report, written by the HR person who is friends with both Deans and their supervisor, the Vice-President of Instruction, and the bureaucracy will protect itself. So, she will look out the window, and see the student walking with the Assistant Basketball Coach out of the Vice President of Instruction’s office and over to the Admissions office. And she will say, —Of course.

And the day after the day after the day after tomorrow the student will be in her classroom.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Letters To Wakoski (epistolary essay) in SDR!

My epistolary essay, "Letters to Wakoski," in the new South Dakota Review, volume 56, Issue 3. Print. Order here. My letters to poet and mentor Diane Wakoski.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

When You Play The Electric Bass—poem

"When You Play The Electric Bass." Psalms of the Alien Buddha, part 2. Anthology of music-themed writing. ALIEN BUDDHA PRESS. pp. 175. Summer 2022. Buy the paperback version here.


when you play the electric bass

play it hard

let the sound come from your fingers

not the amplifier

let the band follow you

set the pace

set the groove

take fills

but never let the bottom drop out

lead into the next section or movement

sometimes it doesnt take much

a note or two

which most people wont even hear

its not hard

to be better than most

but remember there/s always someone better than you—
be like them

play every day

listen every day

learn to read

learn to improvise

learn to trust yourself

if a song isn’t good

make it better w/yr contribution

but dont waste time w/beginners

unless its a paying gig

develop calluses

wash yr hands

remember a fifth string wont make

a better player

practice scales


but make sure you can lay down

a steady eight-note groove

dont lock yourself in one style

explore your curiosities

listen to other instruments

especially the cello

listen to Bach Hendrix

Jaco Billy Geddy

take bass solos

demand them

but support others

even stop playing sometimes—

the silence between notes is important

during sound check keep yr volume knob

set at half

for the gig turn it to full

let the guitar players and singers

enjoy the spotlight

but go ahead

dont be afraid to walk to the front of the stage


Friday, June 24, 2022

Cerro Pelado Blues

"Cerro Pelado Blues" appeared in SOUTH DAKOTA REVIEW. Winter 2019.  Issue 54.2. Here in its entirety. Order the print journal here

Cerro Pelado Blues

Chorus I

Big dark thunderstorm extreme weather came thru

Virgin Mesa + Redondo tracking east over Caldera

to Española + Sangre de Cristos toward Barb

way over in Pecos in Barillas Lookout

She called + invited me over to visit when I want

working on a book for Forest Service on history of lookouts

knows Tripod + Aztec + Cerro Pelado too

this morning woke in a cloud socked in + cold

lightning off + on all day but with rain + hail

maybe when things dry out some smokes will pop

but already another unusual season here so wet

normally would be dry + windy tho windy

now sun setting behind the Sierra de Nacamiento + clouds

lights down in the valleys twinkling on in Jemez Springs

Albuquerque + Santa Fe + the I-25 strip

thinking about poor Schopenhauer + his gloom except he's right

except I guess when things go wrong we at least know we're alone

small consolation but a least when we do something

it's because of who we are which sounds destined

but I guess is a form of higher freedom

since who we are causes our destiny therefore we choose it

except Shope seems to think only one outcome possible

in any situation because who we are there must be only one

but who we are seems to be could determine multiple outcomes

so I think not giving us enough credit but I'm not sure I care

though not caring might be choosing illusion + not reality

i.e. letting the cat be killed so put a shoe on yr head

Chorus II

Everything needs to be tied down + fastened + battened

+ secured in a lookout tower otherwise you get

rattling + ringing + moaning in yr world + in yr mind

like the time the zen sensei took me aside in the zendo

+ told me not to wobble while meditating

because if the body wobbles the mind wobbles

+ so the mind rattles + rings + moans in this wind

and you need to take care of feet + hands that dry out

a little Queen Helene cocoa butter does the truco

even when rain + hail come in in big dark nubes

and you gotta watch the rock squirrels + mice + chipmunks

little fuckers will climb up in yr car and nest in the vents

one time driving down from Aztec to Glob a mouse climbed out the hood

clinging to the windshield wipers at 70 miles per hour

+ later in Salem during an oil change the guy found a big nest

right on the air filter so I'd been breathing mouse piss all winter

everything must be if not tidy at least under control

like the mind + body which is what meditation teaches

your fire lookout tower is after all a taoist temple

because we're a little too crazy to be zennonites

those people don't have a sense of humor at all mon frère

we're all just a bunch of skin bags to them meaning ugly

meaning they have body issues + the world sucks

just like Schopenhauer and even tho they're right

the world kinda doesn't suck we just notice when it does

but all these moments of beauty + even just contentment

they happen they exist + we are beautiful

our imperfections are what make us beautiful

Chorus III

Because zen monks are very proud of their shaved


Because reincarnation is just as unbelievable

as God

Because Japan is very far away

As are China + India + Tibet

Not to mention Jerusalem and Rome

Because the weekly dharma talk is the least useful

yet most attended

and because you conveniently don't have to sit as long

Because sitting is good

Because sitting at 4:30 in the morning brings neither

more nor less

Because chanting is kind of silly

Especially multi-syllabic translations of monosyllabic


But because any group of people coming to sit

quietly is better than any church or anything

Because sitting alone you start to worry if you left the stove on

Better to sit + watch Game of Thrones + eat Doritos +

tweet w/friends

Because sitting still w/one's thoughts could lead to something

or not

+ either/or that's dangerous

sitting still

still sitting


Chorus IV

People ask don't you get lonely up there

but I only ever get lonely when I go down into Santa Fe

around people but separate

w/only polite conversation w/baristas and bank tellers

which is why I always fall in love with baristas and bank tellers

tho sometimes loneliness follows me up to my tower

and a day or two is necessary to purge myself

with mountain air and milky stars

playing a blues or two on the guitar

up in the blue sky picking my nose

reading imperfect but perfect B. Traven novels

seeking smoke and fire or nothing at all

Chorus V

The Dry Line is where

moist air coming up from the Gulf

collides with dry southwest air

anywhere from Amarillo to Santa Fe

and causes rain + hail + tornadoes

+ why sometimes the wind comes out of the southeast here

whereas in Arizona at Aztec it always came from the southwest

+ so even w/a drying trend predicted next 10 days

out east past Pecos + Barb in Barillas LO

a huge thundercloud burbles w/lighting

+ could maybe form over here

w/high cirrus clouds coming from south

signals some kind of moisture mañana or day after

or not up here at 10,000 it's all cold + windy

even w/the sun shining directly through the windows

setting now + I'll have to throw on a hoodie

and the full moon rising in the east

will do the same later tonight for me + the wolf

I think I kept hearing tho sometimes it's a coyote

but one night it howled like a wolf

which I wonder has come up from the Gila

+ even if coyote welcome up here if nowhere else

but what I want you to consider is this:

to be aware of the Dry Line within yourself

changing location + storming + raging

not that you can suppress it or would want to

but to be aware of those currents within

Chorus VI

spotted two smokes today from lighting days passed

or even the lighting from last night

w/moment of John Henry satisfaction that air attack

at least didn't spot one of them

+ spent all day guiding firefighters in

when all along a big rain system built over Albuquerque

+ moved north dousing the whole forest

'firefighting activity hampered by rain'

may not last the night tho both put in monitor status

i.e. let'em burn a little + clean up the underbrush

which everyone wants to do more of just not in their backyards

but more lightning with this cell so may do same mañana

watching wall of water + electricity move north

jagged glows in grey mist

looking down on rain from here or across

learning the clouds—cirrus on up high w/cirrus streaks

cumulus midrange from fair weather to cumulonimbus

stratus the low level flat game over for fire season

along w/mammatus cloudbreasts about to rain

+ lenticular meaning high winds over mountains

locked in my self-love shack reading about sexual perversions

+ discovering myself + a lot of other people too

a sizable minority in a majority that sets the morals

so glad to be up in the cloud socked-in

nothing to see nothing to say really except

some Whitman-like hello to the future

the human world goes on if you step outside it

+ it doesn't matter when + if you come back in

no one cares + it saves you a headache

Chorus VII

at sunset after the yellow orange pink red

far mountains turn blue

and clouds turn blue

and rain even rain that never reaches the ground

flashes of lightning in the blue

+ I curl in my blue sleeping bag

blue sky + light blue stars

still in the blues listening to the wind

even the smoke from fires turns blue

at the end of summer letting them burn

like we all should let our fires burn

unless they could really hurt somebody

but if in the wilderness of the heart

let them go and burn in the night

someone will see them + think them beautiful

and you may see their fires

+ tho you may not believe me all fires are beautiful

even dangerous ones especially the dangerous ones

fire has a purpose in the world

it keeps the wild healthy

+ cleans up the dead stuff in the forest of yr heart

but I'm just melancholy sad to have to leave Bald Mountain

having spent many nights up here in the wind + rain

lightning storms off to the west

lights of Albuquerque + Santa Fe where normal people are

I feel the moth tug to be with them + their lights

but I want to stay + fly to the moon too

or into a fire

Chorus VIII

time to burn

burning time

after weeks of rain + lightning

Virgin Mesa Fire

all the firefighters that haven't headed north to other fires

fire time

fire is time

over time

beyond time

rock squirrels are time

flying stars are time

riding mountains into deserts is time

just like Dogen's time to ride mountains in deserts

so fast you can't see

or it's all bullshit anyways

just as there is not bullshit

and no not bullshit

but fire

+ time

+ hummingbird blossoms

and a combi to dig out the mudholes off the road

so cows in time won't have waterholes in time

+ wind in time

time wind

time to put on a coat on the catwalk

tune out the radio

time to put fire on the ground

Chorus IX

even if/tho bell hooks is right

+ love is a choice

you can still be wrong if you go looking for fire

all the fires I've ever seen were w/my naked eye

my naked plum blossom eye

it's when you go looking for fire that you fool yourself

get fooled by shadows + waterdogs

use technology like binoculars + online dating services

you have to let fire come

enjoy the lightning show in the meantime

(+ no fires may come at all

in which case you head down the hill on Wednesday

like a fool into Santa Fe

for books + groceries + hot yoga

feeling like you're in a Tarot card)

then of course the decision:

put it out or let it burn

or even help it burn

put fire on the ground

pull back + watch it

or there is not fire

no time

or all the time in the world

fire time

fire in time

or there is not love

or all the love in the world

Chorus X

many nights on Bald Mountain

many ghosts

but ghosts are just ghosts

you sit with them

they appear + disappear

up to you how you react

or you could just simply invite them in for tea

morrocan mint or jasmine pearls

I like my tea green like my men

the most difficult thing about sitting up here

is feeling the mountain move

southwest into the desert

+ the sound

the nothing

the space in the symphony makes the music

the space in the head

+ even in August there are fires

small and may fizzle

but important to know they're there

hold onto your fires

sit with them

they don't even leave like ghosts

but you don't want them to

+ for that I'm a zen heretic

zen women don't stop wearing sexy underwear

but you don't want them to

even if far away

even if ghosts

Chorus XI

freak on the peak ok

I end this summer like I began

w/my head in the clouds

socked in

all I need now are some bagpipes

aspen turning gold

grouse clucking around the tower

elk bugles

or men pretending to be elk in heat

and I still love the idea

of men bugling in heat to each other

thinking the other a stag or stud

men out in the woods exploring their true natures

not that there's anything wrong with anything except denial

but when I say I like solitude

it doesn't mean I like solitude

it just means I like solitude

+ enlightenment isn't sudden it's a process

+ a bullshit western term anyways

like emptiness instead of maybe space

tho that conjures visions of sci-fi adventure

even if zen could be called Lost In Space

I always liked the younger daughter w/dark hair

+ wondered if she'd try + hook up w/her sister's bf

+ how that would go down in space

plus those gloves that could squeeze water out of rocks

Chorus XII

all the Johns that accompanied me on my moving mountain:

Johann Sebastian, Johnny Cash, John Lennon, John Coltrane

all the afternoons singing to the grouse and cows

coyotes singing at night + playing in the meadow sometimes

the wolf I swear I heard back in April or May

or do we hear what we want to hear

cloud lightning silent in the wind a flash

but no—thunder even this cold

they're filming a western or firefighting movie down in Santa Fe

I've called in their smoke twice they've changed locations

one lightningstruck tree still north near Deadman

+ lightning in the Rio Grande Valley high desert

wanting one more fire before I go for closure

+ to prove I'm useful still

make up for all the false alarms I called in

even tho firefighters don't care they'd rather be out in the woods

sunset summer another miracle I'm here I'm alive

to see heaven every day in solitude

I'm not Wordsworth I don't need a companion

tho if my sister were here we could make guacamole

watch the storm + fading light + talk Michigan

so damn you Wordsworth maybe you're right

but it's beautiful anyways it's beautiful because I'm alone

being alone is beautiful I wish you'd let yrself be it

I wish you'd let yrself get out of town

drive + get out of yr car + walk

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Leaving Amsterdam Centraal

My poem "Leaving Amsterdam Centraal" appeared in print journal THE CHIRON REVIEW #123, Fall 2021. You can purchase it here.

Windy Gulch

Originally appeared in WAVING HANDS, the literary journal of Colorado Northwestern Community College. Spring 2021.

windy gulch

for my sanity

I sometimes

pull off a paved road

to a dirt road

go a while

pull onto a two-track

follow it to the end

or until I get sick of driving

get out

start walking

to an arroyo


follow that

up the sandy bottom

climbing slickrock dryfalls

no other humans

just the occasional deer track

or coyote or cat

go until

tired + find

a shady granite cliff

to sit under

listen to wind

cooling my sweat

stay there

watching trees + clouds

breathing sage juniper pine

look for Dillard bugs

maybe nap

attract buzzards

or a hawk

fill myself

with gracias

w/these moments


Friday, April 15, 2022

Wildcat Dreams in the Death Light by Reagan Sova

Just got my copy of Wildcat Dreams in the Death Light by my friend Reagan Sova, from First To Knock books! 

It's a turn-of-the-last-century Odyssey with tones of Cormac McCarthy and Kurt Vonnegut. Order here.



Friday, April 8, 2022

Snake Mountain Hotshots short story

Honored to be in the new Cowboy Jamboree tribute issue to Breece DJ Pancake with so many good writers! Check out my short story "Snake Mountain Hotshots" on page 38! #gritlit

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Three flash at Terror House Press!

Nice to come back from a hike and find some of my flash fictions have dropped! Come for the aliens, stay for the zombies! Check them out at Terror House Press:


Friday, March 4, 2022

the laughing heart by Charles Bukowski

the laughing heart

—Charles Bukowski
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

They Are Few

My short story "They Are Few" now up at A Thin Slice of Anxiety online journal. I'd like to do more stories like this, and it reflects my current political mood. Other editors didn't want to touch this. Thank you Cody! 


Monday, February 28, 2022

"your silhouette" at Outcast Press!

The latest issue of Outcast Press has dropped! Honored to have my poem "your silhouette" included amongst such good poetry. Theme is 'hung out to dry' and relationships. Some lovely erotic photos too.


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Cement City (flash fiction)

My flash fiction, "Cement City," (different from my short story of the same name) in the new MINISON PROJECT literary journal, on page 24:

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Pekolah Stories by Amanda Bales

My review of Pekolah Stories by Amanda Bales from Cowboy Jamboree Press, now up at
"Bales’ style is minimalist—Cowboy Jamboree Press markets itself on these qualities."


Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Nudes by Elle Nash

My review of Elle Nash's short story collection, Nudes, now up at SPLICE TODAY! Short Flight/Long Drive Books. Hobart Pulp Press.