in the breath
under my fingers
is all I could
of you I could
Each sentient blade droops under the weight
of this rain, this snow, this ice,
Which one do I pluck to my breast and carry first?
Before saving any of the others.
In every dogwood blossom his face
smiles too perfectly.
He never yelled about
my forgotten homework; never
buried my first dog by the fence
in our backyard; never
with a used car salesman
to get my first car.
He’s a photograph now,
an old one in gray scale.
Only I remember
how the dogwood bloomed
the last time he leaned from the train
to wave goodbye.
~Note: Written to honor Technician Fifth Grade F. Peden who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on February 13, 1946. All events but the dogwood and the train are fictional.
This early rain laughs
at our windshields and headlights,
floods happily across street corners.
It knows, it delights in knowing
that after all the water
The first time I invited him in
I was fourteen. I waited all afternoon
but nothing happened.
Four years later
in a lonely car on a dark, dirt
backroad, I opened the door
and let him ride along.
Only a pair of intervening headlights
coming at us changed the course of events.
After that I kept him hidden,
behind alcoholic wildness and stern,
absolute uprightness and brilliance
and genius and I don’t know what else.
Now, he shares every sidewalk with me.
We trade off using my cane.
I’ll glance at him
and the corners of his mouth will turn up,
his hair, as white as mine,
tumbles into his eyes,
and with that soft, enticing voice
he’s always had, he asks: was it worth it?
Turning me down, sending me away,
Was it worth it?
Yeah, I say back to him
then pause to consider all the things
we’ve done together, and I say,
Yeah, it was.
Would you give,
trade, or exchange
it or hang on
tightly afraid of never
seeing it again?
After drenching rain
Sun flickers over drowned streets
choked with broken hearts.
Fallen from brow to
stout bottom, brittle laurels
wither in shamed hearts