He was 3 years old when I unloaded,
Flailing my arms like a cinema cliché,
Spanking and reciting…

A smack with eve-ry an-gry syll-a-ble.

It happened all at once – I became like my mother,
as though I were programmed to rerun,
And after… he looked at me like I was a stranger.

That night he flinched when I tucked him in.

For the price of a broken VCR,
I taught him to fear me –
to trust me less than the dog.

Dear Lord, – Rewind.


Momma had said she was coming,
momma had said he was dear,
momma had lost her way home,
momma had said not to fear.

The words they came to him softly,
the words they came to him light,
the words he slowly recited,
when he lay his head down at night.

The doctors said he was dumb,
his hands were large and kind,
a bump on the head made him slow,
forever with mom on his mind.

Momma had said she was coming,
momma had said he was dear,
momma would never have left me,
in his slow mind this was clear.

Each day would come and go,
each year would pass too quick,
momma she didn’t come back,
maybe his momma got sick.

Toy soldiers and playthings got withered,
his hands were now wrinkled with time,
his reflection went grey and tattered,
then his eyes went clear and blind.

His body grew old and tired,
his mind would always be slow,
the days were now just a burden,
one by one his friends had to go,

He felt for his momma one morning,
his mind finally said he’s alone,
momma would never come back,
momma would never come home.

That night he wept for his momma,
the angels they gathered near,
Momma had said she was coming,
Momma had said he was dear.

Seraph wings carried him lightly,
the way they carry the kind,
angels wiped off his tears,
and cleared the fog from his mind.

A voice cried out to meet him,
a voice he remembered so clear,
Momma is coming my baby,
Momma is coming my dear.

A Bronx Picture

I checked on her this morning,
with hidden happiness,
and a hospice ribbon.

Frank smiled at me – again,
always there… silent… patient –
a smoking volcano.

“It’s almost time Ester”
spilled from my lips,

…paying my promise to tell.

I shrunk aside, waiting,
while their hands embraced,
paper-thin and ashen-white.

He rose, like a mountain,
opening the green bag,
and pulling out the pictures.

Holding out each memory
for her to see, one by one,
fighting his shaky hands.

The dancehall and first house,
marriage, babies, Christmas –
every promise fulfilled.

We’re done here, my love,
wait for me in the park
and she went.


Bashō Bash (Winning Poem)



rare winter lightning
cold and thunder share the sky
one perfect snowflake

50 Years with Grace

Mary Winklebleck Award (3rd Place Winner)

50 Years with Grace

Grandma’s eulogy was the naked truth,
in church no less; Charles told it all,
how he met her during the Palm Sunday
tornadoes – right there in the third pew,
soaked in her too-thin spring dress, thighs
pale, panties the color of plum butter
sparking fugitive notions between prayers—
to hear him tell it, they were greedy
magpies stealing glimpses of each other
as the storm boiled over the ridge-line
confining them to each other’s embrace
for 50 years — they were both contented
birds in a cage with an open door, watching
a blurring thresher harvest thousands of days
while Grandma remained timeless, forever
seventeen in the third pew – peaceful now
as a sleeping honeybee in amber. The choir
rose, singing Hallelujah as Charles dipped
his hand into the water, made the sign
of the cross, put on his black derby
and walked out into a hot August downpour,
heat lightning and potato-juice rain.