(Previously published in Flycatcher Journal)
I think about Kyoto.
The Kamogawa comes to mind—
the city’s center, a cornerstone
of after-school, late night social
networking—and I compose

a haiku about the river,
the way it made me feel then
when I recall it now:

I sit at the riverside
of Kamogawa and ask
where the ducks have gone.

But when I was there, I never sat
at river’s edge and questioned
the meaning of the water’s name.
Something about ducks and rivers,
if I translated it right.

I just cared about late night sake
forays and amateur guitarists
pouring their hearts out for coins
from the bottoms of pockets.

The ducks and where they had gone
never meant much to me,
nor seemed to mean much
to couples sitting, squeezing hands
on the bank. This boundary between

reflection and recollection strikes me
when thinking about my time sitting
somewhere close to completely smashed
at the edge of the Kamogawa River.


(Previously published in Flycatcher Journal)
The ghosts of Georgia
hold to Fall Line hills, leave
white trails along
the hard, clay ground,
their kaolin essence resting
deep in the earth beneath
the overburden.

Heavy machinery disturbs
Civil War caskets, dwellings
of aching Cherokee.

Ancient sharks lost
only their teeth
in the clay bowels.

Lucky kids, if they wrestle
the ground enough,
can find troves
of these teeth
before dozers dig
the real treasure:
Georgia’s white gold.

The ghosts
still hover among hills
of opened surface mines,
wailing , seeking
their own mahogany.

Yesterday men moved
a cemetery to the back
of Veal’s land; the old,
toothless sharks told
colonels and privates
where they could rest.

The Edge of Our Senses

What happens at the edge of sight
when your eyes can’t turn far enough
to see the darkest corners of your eyes.
The unknown of what do you know
right in front of you.
Each turn of your head sends it
further around until you can’t
turn anymore,
unless you’d like to break your neck
and expose yourself to what happens
at the edge of all of our senses.

What happens at the edge of sound
when you can’t hear what is just out
of reach or out of sight.
Does it happen at all
if you can’t see it
if you can’t hear it.

What if left of us
when our senses are gone?


How We Cut Our Backyards

White kaolin crags
jutt from small, fresh holes

made from bent, plastic shovels
like the kind you use at the beach.

The beach has sand that doesn’t fight
back against the plastic blade

pressing, cutting, slicing
digging, twisting, turning

fighting to find something underneath
worth all of the pain and damage.

Our red clay breaks and bends
blades of shovels that strike

the hard surface baking under harsh
summer rays of sunlight

The thick wet air saturated with heat
cannot penetrate the backyard’s

red clay skin until you find weakness
a streak of white, a chunk of kaolin

When you tell true stories you made up
how do you spin your words?
Do they curl effortlessly around
each other concentric and perfect?
Do they twist and turn and spread,
new sprouts that grow upward and outward
new sprouts that grow out
new sprouts that grow
new sprouts.

How far is too far?
Did you really almost die in your car accident?
Your bumper has the minor scrapes to prove it

How much is too much?
Not enough to drink in your house, you say.
Your empty wine bottles tell us
you have a problem.

I am successful,
I say to you
to myself
in the mirror
every morning
every night.

Everything we make up
stays true in our dreams.

A father crosses the street
his daughter walks beside him
she can look straight into the eyes
of his bending knee.
they drink frappucinos together.

A man points at them
across the street
He points at us.
He points at me.
He says nothing
to any of us.

Beside the Hooters, the chess
master issues silent
challenges on cardboard.
He plays guitar to pass time.
No one challenges a master
when it costs three dollars.

Lately, I have been having rational fears of the irrational. An overwhelming sense of thinking about things that do not exist or do exist without me experiencing them.

There is a great terror in the unknown, in the darkness that coats an empty, unlit room. When the light leaves, that same darkness lashes out and devours you, me, everything in its path. You are there, alone and not alone at the same time. A sound lights a fire in your senses, but you are deprived. Your perception is stilted and halved or just lessened tremendously.

There is nothing to touch or see. You can only hear it. When the moment arrives when you can touch it, it is too late. Maybe it was just a bug. Maybe it was just a pipe with remnants of a shower or flushed toilet sliding through the walls, but then you think about those walls that you thought were nearby. You don’t know where they are anymore. That space between you and the walls is finite and infinite in the darkness.

Everything is alien in the darkness, defying the laws of the universe as we know them while also maintaining those same laws. Everything holds a duality of existence and non-existence. The geometry of the space between you and the darkness is non-Euclidian. It is otherworldly. It is amorphous. It is magnanimous.

I reach for where I think the light switch is. It pops up with a flick. The darkness retreats in an instant, finding corners and crannies that light cannot find. The light itself is not infinite. It stops at the line where my eyes hit the horizon. If I can no longer see where the light is, what lurks beyond that point?

Even if it is nothing or more of the same, those are both oppressive.


We are in my bedroom, watching me sleep, as if through a lens from another universe, a window undisturbing the passage of time here, where I sleep. The TV flashes and glows, disrupting the shadows on top of me. My eyes twitch and clench but stay closed to continue my journey to a deeper, calmer state of sleep.

The TV’s sleep timer counts down to zero, and it darkens the room immediately. I am still asleep. I am still presumed safe in the room I left lit by the television show playing on repeat. When the TV blinked off, it was the loudest muted snap. In whatever state of sleep I was in, maybe REM or something, I knew the darkness had come.

What we know can’t exist before our eyes becomes fully fleshed out in our dreams. The hulking, gelatinous figures that rip through the fabric of my dream’s reality emerge in their confounding presence. Faces nondescriptive, not blank but not comprehendible. If they had smells, they would be acrid, pungent, constricting, putrid, like rotting alien flesh, a smell completely unfamiliar that I cannot process, that I cannot understand, that I cannot prescribe to any other experience. I am overwhelmed just by the smell that pours into the limitless space of my dreams.

Suddenly, there is a woman with no skin on her face, but her face is not a skull. She has skin. It is just thin and almost translucent. It is not fully solid. It is held in place. Her mouth gapes open, and the film of her lips covers gums with remnants of teeth jutting forwards, backwards, diagonally, in all conceivable directions. There are five teeth extending in these directions. Just five. Her hair is white. It is long, and it is short. Some strands look like hard wires. Other strands wave in the hot wind that hits me, her and the shapes behind her.

She stares at me with the holes that would her eyes, but the holes are empty. That horrific maw stays open, and she shrieks in an impossible production of lows and highs. Her thin neck trembles as she screeches. Her vocal cords rattle her shifting, flowing, gelatinous skin. They explode in a mess of gore and violence, but her sounds amplify, coming from her mouth and the new orifice.

If she had legs, she would be walking towards me. But she does have legs. She isn’t walking. She is walking. She is floating in the air, drifting closer, as if propelled by her flailing legs that snap and crack. Her bones pierce the gooey skin and reset as they rescind back into the skin, and they break again. They reset again. And break again. And reset again.

Her nearing proximity does not change the volume of her uncomfortable sounds.

I wake up. I turn the TV back on. I lie back down. I go to sleep. Again.

The smoke stacks lead double lives.
Not far from my house they spew not
smoke but steam. On overcast mornings
I cannot tell what is steam and
what are clouds — chameleon’s camouflage.
Hot air surges upward, through tall
concrete cannons. Clouds burst out,
rushed and desperate to escape,
like a hungry baby alien freed
from your chest but affixed now to your face.

Maybe the steam squeals like it does
trapped in a hot kettle on the stove.
It could be silent and rapid, the tiny speck
nicking the shuttle’s hull thousands of times
until the surface is broken. All inside sucked
outside by the infinite vacuum guided by
no hand and every hand.

But it stinks when the steam starts its morning rise.
Today I will just stay inside.