Please, judge a book by its cover.
An artist or designer
was paid to refine some of the messages inside
and distill them to the images
that beckon from the shelf.
It is not their intent to smother,
rather, they wish you’ll want to discover
the meaning behind the gleaning
that resulted in that outfit.
A good jacket,
light for crisp weather,
or heavy with the dripping of
a thousand fashionable colors.
Succinct or lavish as a succubus,
the choices were not up to us,
but to a professional.
I fall in lust
with a well-designed cover
every time I walk through a bookstore.
Revoke my Literature degree, and decree
that my support of local businesses
is sorely lacking.
No one will argue,
and now we endeavor
to hunt in the pulpiest weather.
Noir clouds will part and a ray of light
will break through paper spines
to relieve my decrepit wallet
of its materialistic tendencies.
Burn all the pockets;
if only all bank accounts emptied
to fill bookshelves
with curiosity and love.



I’ve got to plan
my words in advance,
’cause a poem a day
makes more pressure than I enjoy.

I’m not gonna say too much,
but I’ve got at least
one map in the works,
and it’ll lead us right
into the future.

I’m some kind of fucking
new age explorer,
never mind that I almost wrote
before I vomited in my mental mouth a bit
and watched my shame dribble down the folds in my brain.

There’s just something unbearably grotesque
about semi-chunky liquids,
and semi-chunky anything for that matter –
it’s all too funky,
and I never thought I’d say that.

Now that I’ve thought it, though,
the idea makes a ton of sense.
I’m sad it doesn’t make cents,
and it’s all right that it doesn’t make scents.

Will those lines land when they’re spoken,
not read?
I sure hope so.
Will these lines lend credence
when they’re red,
Will they lead readers to avoid lead,
even if they’re led to believe
that it’s fine for a leaf to leave?

Where was I going?
Oh, nowhere at all.
I may have mapped out some upcoming pieces,
but here’s my secret:
all my maps
are merely
There’s no X marking any spots,
and every step I tread
is under no obligation to the end.
The devil’s in the details,
and these hinterlands are now a holy place.
So come, walk with me,
and let’s be cartographers



Process (Snippets from a PowerPoint I Made Today)

How to Conduct a Case Study

Observe the snow crystal
Analyze its shape and complexity
Think about temperature and humidity
Take a big ol’ breath
Eat a big ol’ sandwich
Don’t eat the sandwich
Note the size and intricacies of the crystal’s branches, if any
Imagine the crystal’s journey from seed to snow
Pinpoint the conditions that created the snow crystal
How cold was it?
How wet was it?
Use the morphology diagram, you’ve got this!



Late night
next day
preparation rag.

Put the dishes in the washer,
put the garbage in a bag.

A slice here, a slice there,
the sandwich literally chills in the fridge.

My bridge from today to
is too long –
I should really learn to
sleep on the way.



Ode to a lost pen,
cylindrical and black like all the others,
maybe a monolith
because its words were full of pith.

Memory of a left-behind pen,
placed on a table
next to a blank sheet of paper,
anxiety playing at preparedness.

Memoir for the life of a pen,
myriad journal entries and random thoughts
and important signatures and forgotten notes,
all clothed in ink the mother produced.

Movement toward a new pen,
more journaling and recording,
embracing the anathema to memory,
did it really happen if it didn’t happen
in ink?
Try to not forget her face.



She walked through the open doorway,
and I perked up
’cause I didn’t think I’d see anyone show up right before lunch
and I had just met her at a meeting a few days ago.
Uh oh, I’ve got to go, I thought to myself –
I told Ma I’d return her car around one o’clock.
Embarrassed, I packed up my bag,
put on my jacket,
and headed for the door –
she stood right there.
I don’t remember
if we made eye contact,
or if I opened my big mouth first,
but I said something about
vacating my seat
before I blushed, mentally and emotionally (still not sure about my face),
and spoke these words aloud:
“I’m sorry, I forgot your name.”
She shared her name with me, I shared mine with her,
and we shook hands.
I’m not always one for shaking hands,
but this was an unexpectedly great handshake.
She grasped my hand,
and after what I thought was a professional and decent amount of time,
I moved my hand back a fraction of a millimeter –
and she held on.
She asked if I got a haircut. (I had. Long hippie hair gave way to a short, clean, professional haircut.)
She said it looks good, as she pulled me in a little closer and
put her non-hand-shaking hand on my arm.
I said something silly
about wanting to look more professional
(author’s note: I’ve used the word “professional” four times in this poem thus far),
and she reiterated very excitedly that my hair looks good.
A little after this the handshake ended,
and I was reeling.
I felt valued.
I was listened to.
I was noticed.

Insecurity be gone!



The same songs play,
the same food digests,
the same beverages percolate,
the same paths wend away,
the same sky orbits above,
yet tomorrow is a new day,
and it is

Here is
a tiny prayer for success.

(Don’t pray for things, feel gratitude for more moments.)



must have
walked that way
at least ten times
before I noticed the lines
careening ’round the corners so fast,
every hallway looks like a space race.
Now I meander through the building,
absorbing every sight I see
in front of me
so I remember
my little



You once
stayed outside in a storm
in the middle of October
and it took
a lot of waiting by the bushes
to coax you into my arms.

You were never in distress,
though you were a princess,
the tough independent sort
who liked to be left alone.

How many head scratches
and chin rubs
does it take to show love?
They were never enough,
they were

You grew tired of head scratches
and you pulled away,
and I wish I’d spent more time
letting you run outside.

Years passed by,
“I have a cat, well, I guess
she’s more like my parents’ cat,
but I lived with my parents for a long time …”
Our sentences jumped to different pages.
Different lives, different ages,
if only I had paid you more attention.
I’m sure everyone says something similar to this.

It doesn’t make it stop hurting.

Once black and sleek,
turned to brittle, bony, and rough,
your fur told bitter histories I would never repeat for anyone.
Four pounds is a lot to lose in just a few days,
and that last lost pound,
I think I can blame it for the whole mess.

You are a beautiful mass of quick black fuzz.
I will always hold your memory close against the rain.
Playing your knight was a privilege,
and I would do it all over again
just to feel your head bump against my heart
once more.