A Pint and the Brooming Hillsides

pint of bitter.jpg

Not everyone who lifts a glass

can do so with hands made

for prayer to the new gods.

The stolen reserves

of forgotten men

and their women of renown

steep in basements and gutters,

and tenements with shuttered windows.

Still, the backward glances

help remind the waffling ones.


It was near ten o’clock before the fellas

found their way to the table

of friends,

of insiders,

of wagging tongues and nodding heads,

of tacit agreement on disagreeables;

of the ancestors.


That’s when the best stories were.

That’s when I saw the words

most intended for song and not

for crouching in little doorways.


What was it you said before

we sat down to drink the air?

Something about

not enough garbage cans in laybys

or those fucking American hamburger joints

stealing from the coffers of your grandfather’s

croft house memories.


One more then, to close the wounds.


Climbing up Arthur’s Seat

Arthur's Seat 5 copy.jpg

I took the long road today.

I scrambled up slow steps of the jagged, upward path-

leading to the thinner air and thicker place,

the craning neck of her yellow crown.


Then, for the first time, I saw.

I saw what others saw,

and failed to see.

And wouldn’t see.


I saw the rest.

And it was good,

so good that I came back down.


Sometimes he gets stuck in the dictionary so

long that his brain becomes alphabet soup.

He wears his skin tattooed with another’s thoughts.

And he waits.

No, he frets – and sour apprehensions

swim atop a slowly scumming pond

of wilted words, reeking of lost sleep.


And, if reflections in the coffee shop window

are meant to serve as metaphor,

they only spur on the edict

of secondary pictures mirrored from

another’s doubting face.


Come then, if you must,

shadows from a cold mist to

rattle and rustle the bones.

Come, take up residence beside

one with a plasticine pencil,

pliable to cautious hands –

worthless in sweaty palms,

squeezing desperately against

the inevitable.


In this reverie to a ghost –

vestibule in an empty house,

birthing only the vestige of coffee-stained

intentions, a writer paces –

penning wordlessness.


We are eucharist

You and I – we are eucharist.

We are the slow quench and

burn of wine made well from

flaming water.


We are from yeast – all that nourishes

made perfect in a moment,

but only after stealing a well-oiled

gaze into the mouth of dreams.


We are the holy cloth, drawn lightly

upon the lip of the cup, still damp

from shared spittle and wine-made blood.

It is the kiss of the saints

blended well in silver,

refined, reflective.


In the comfortable day, boasting

hours poured into containers shaped by

mystery, there can be no other.

Only a thin breeze of moments –

under your fingers.


Dedicated to my lover and friend of almost 30 years – my wife, Rae Kenny. 

Pushing breath from blue

By Valerie Dodge Head
By Valerie Dodge Head

We push out, breath from blue,

like the breaking waves, alone with their thoughts,

and catch ourselves among the reeds.

Passing alone through districts of enchanting knowledge,

we cough up our meal of bones, still hungry to drown

inside a conundrum bigger than our shoes.


Our little oceans, best of our times, rimmed ‘round

with shortening days, the noose of our shrinking

humanity; allure, the currency of dreams.

Still, one swims in what one drinks and drinks

what washes down and around all that looks

for more horizon. Let the four-quartered moon

sing what is only heard when deafness prevails.


The tragedy of the good, the irony of evil, foisted

upon hearts ill-suited for the journey in.

So it seems that the only way to bleed to life

is in the unmooring of our punctured ships.

There is more room to bleed when splintered lie

our longings, long held, and drawn and bloodied

souls buoy once more upon


the silent, soothing sea.


Special thanks to dear friend and colleague, Valerie Dodge-Head for her masterful artwork which inspired this piece. 

Life lessons at Starbucks

It’s okay to let the terry-cloth

wind blow itself through your thinning hair.

When the leaves fly past

your brow in that dismissive way they leave

a glint of naiveté, a good benchmark of

personhood. Only then are you safe

from their burden of proof. It tells me you’re just passing

through these moments without

the careless disregard you hear in the stifling

words of the never-enoughs.


They bounce in like clumps of collagen sadness and

pose at the Starbucks long enough to trumpet

their middle-age gym accomplishments. They lust

after glances but disdain the stares as somehow

presumptuous. In their strategic peripherals, table

reflections, and body language, they burn up

the fuel of appreciation. They like

to look at everyone but speak to no one,

especially the ruse in front of them just

hoping to lock eyes even once.


One skin shed in favor of a second, otherwise known

as yoga pants, they reign supreme

while supplies last of crunches, collagen, and

the deceitful quagmire of wealth. Maybe

there still lay rumors of rootedness deeper

than the soles of their Nikes. If no one looks,

do they disappear? But these stolen sideways glances come

in the luster of indulgence cloaked

in the risk of diminishing returns. Gawks become stares,

then looks, then glances, then indifference,

soon to fade in the diminishment of

apathy. The well-fitted tools of acceptance

turn to mock an unpracticed self-respect.


He runs his own Internet business. We’ve heard him

talk about it through his phone from across

the room in his well-thought out random attire.

An overly helpful demeanor, especially as door-man for

elderly ladies, helps with the compassion capital needed

to seal the deal: successful, built, kind – what more

could one ask? His secrets perhaps. How his wife’s

breath always smells a bit like mint and gin.


The one on her own stages

a similar performance, from the adoring

glare of her iPhone. It buys us all

an invitation to look without penalty, the detached

appreciation she’s come to know as attention.

The bubblegum ennui fools no one. In this tiny

15 minute window, short bursts of indulgence, the silent

praise of others passes for friendship. Maybe release can

happen soon, but through the derailments of a life

forced to surface through pain. Then, instead of adoring stares,

she can see back into the blinded eyes of another,

and finally exhale.


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