the first time

the first time i noticed
i wasn’t from here
was before heaven
ever hurt anyone,
and the sun’s
music didn’t
have to break
through dark land
just to get attention

i understood filtered
fingers plucked
our hearts up one
ray at a time
through native
free-range animal clouds
who liked to travel
with us on the way back
from Milford lake

i felt God,
or an angel,
or something I didn’t know
pulling my head
out of the Bronco window
in the heartland of it all
while Cheryl sprinkled
two drops of vanilla
into our Pepsi cans,


for Real Toads


I think of you once a month, Cheryl

at communion

I have to tell you
that the sweetest
dumbest girl
in front of me
swallowed her bread

and I wondered
if she waited
for the juice
she was like me
who couldn’t stomach
the stuff

if she
needed a Cheryl
to pinch her nose,
ward off gags
and upchucks
and whisper
“blood of Christ”


Playing it again with 55 for Real Toads

Go Back, My Friends

The crisis is we’re porcelain.
Go back to 1980-something.
Cheryl delivers a baby boy.
It’s embarrassing, how I mix
happy-for-you with my fears.
Go back. 2000-something.
Becky says it’s leukemia.
I’m losing it, I’m breathing
in &out, (again) re-living
the breaking, the chipping,
the living &dying
my friends &man.

(for Quickly)