Virginia Natural Gas

There’s a band I’ve never seen before
but they’re right outside my window now:
Virginia Natural Gas
reads the logo on their van.

They rolled out dressed
in orange and black
and bright, bright yellow like a pack
of day-glo tigers at a rave.

Haven’t even heard the intro yet
and already I’m a fan.
If the gas line blows
and the bass kicks in,
I know they’ll raise the roof.

EZ Jesus

You like to have Him
and pierced
and ready
for faction,
the dangling savior
on a chain you wear
around other
people’s necks.

You have a spare
in your pocket
and sometimes you
fish Him out,
rub His belly,
say His name,
and you feel
so lucky.

He’ll come running
if you call Him.

“Do you see the way He looks at me?”

Loyal, agreeable, reassuring,
He has a tool for every purpose:

and a quick reference user’s guide.

You circle the important parts.
The rest is outdated and mysterious,
hard to understand.

Eye of a what?
Blessed are the who?

“What would He do?
Why, anything I ask.
Do you really not see
how He looks at me?”

Object Permanence

“Object permanence is the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be perceived (seen, heard, touched, smelled or sensed in any way). … According to this view, it is through touching and handling objects that infants develop object permanence.” Wikipedia

They closed the Sears in Burlington.
The building still remains.
I imagine there are still echoes there
of tickets printing
and customers complaining
and children calling for their mothers
where they last saw them
in the lingerie department.

I have notebooks filled with paragraphs
I’ll never read again.
I’ve loved people
I’ll never see again.

Sometimes it all seems pointless
until I remember how much I liked wearing
that flannel shirt
I bought three winters ago
when the lights were still on
and the doors still opened
around ten ‘o clock each morning.

I still have that shirt.

I remember a few of the things I wrote
and the some of the intense conversations I had.

I remember how we sat in the driveway
waiting for the song to end
before shutting down the engine.

I remember being small
and draped across my mother’s lap
as she gently scratched my back.

I remember more than a few first kisses
and a handful of last ones too.

No matter how much things fade,
some of them feel like forever
and I never mind the echoes.

When I Die I Think I’ll Live Forever

When I die

I think I’ll live forever

as something that really happened.


I will be real

but forgotten

like a moment from your seventh birthday,

buried twenty feet deep

in a mind filled with billions

of unmarked graves like that one.


This cemetery

stretches on for countless acres,

but you’ve lost the address

and cannot pay a visit

to all those who still remain there.


And that’s what time is like,

a sequence of events registered by the cosmos,

some still detectable and measurable

but others too small to retrieve.

I think I’ll be like one of those.


But real.


As real as any explosion

or collision or formation

we still talk about today.

And that is how I’ll stay eternal.


Pretty Things

Right now,
I could close my eyes
and see things

I have this power.
It’s remarkable.
I can raise mountains in my mind.
I can carve rivers in the crevices.
I can burst right through the atmosphere
and trace constellations
with the tips of all my toes.

I can even leave this galaxy
and stay far, far away
for hours,
for days
and weeks
on end

if I have to,

if I need to,

if I want to.

I can cover up my ears
and be swept away,
use my hands
like soundproof barricades
against the noise,
the horns, the anguish,
all those sirens, cries for justice,
and annoying shouts for help.

The trick is-
I’ll teach you.
The trick is to keep your eyes shut
real, real tight
like this.

Keep those ears covered, too.
That’s it.

Now repeat after me.
Pretty things,
pretty things,
pretty things.

And don’t you say another damned word.

Earth Shaker


“She was born dead center in the middle of a burst of thunder, the kind that shakes the floor and rolls on for a while,” the girl’s mother used to tell people, pretending she didn’t know she was just around the corner listening in. “She’s been shaking things up ever since.”

Her mother thought it was important to let her hear stories being told about her to others, stories she could carry deep within her as protection against all the stories others would try to write on her and over her as a means of crossing her out.

She was a child of thunder, a mover of clouds, an earth shaker. Whenever anyone would try to take from her, she knew she could open up the sky and make it rain.

There Was One Who Tried to Save Me


She was holding my face in her hands and she lifted my lids to have a look underneath. I stood still, watching her, as she searched for loose connections, busted hoses, worn out parts.

“I’m worried about you,” she said.

This was serious work and she squinted as she held her beliefs between her teeth, shining them in criss cross patterns over what she thought was darkness.

What she couldn’t see were eight years of Catholic grade school, four years of public high school, a hundred and seven conversations, the untracked hours spent pondering late at night when all the preachers had put the final touches on their sermons and turned off their lamps

My heart sputtered for her. I had no owner’s manual, no maintenance history she could glance over. I’d pitched the former long ago and the latter was only stored in memory, a series of tune ups and inspections all performed in a private garage made of random associations and startling epiphanies.

She hadn’t been there the day I rolled the windows down and opened up the engine. She had no idea what it feels like to conclude there are no road maps, that love’s the only thing you have to guide you, that here is the only place you need to get to, or that your ETA is now if you can just let go of the steering wheel.

I wanted her to join me and thought about telling here of the promises of present rewards. “I’m right here,” I wanted to say, “Come  be here with me.”

But she was busy searching….

for secret compartments

and passageways

to another place

and another time

where she’d never find me.


That’s When the Dogs Came Over


Having finished their grieving for the day, the others stumbled to their rooms where they placed their hearts on pillows beside their heads. But after wading through a flowing stream of arrangements and condolences, I still had loss in my boots, so I sat on a love seat in the living room to pull them off and pour them out.

The pulling was slow and the pouring was too. My head sagged and my chest heaved as I felt alone in that way you only do when the ones who raised you leave. It’s all you, you know? And you’re trying to remember the things they were able to get in before they got whisked through a door that only swings outward.

And there I was knowing I was already forgetting a third of it.

That’s when the dogs came over and put their faces in my lap.

“We’re here, fella.

It’s okay.

Who’s a good boy?” they said.

Cake and Ice Cream


There’s a party in the next life,
but not all will get an invite.
That’s what a man with stacks of pamphlets loudly told me.

He was standing on the corner.
Asked, “Would you like to be reborn, sir?”
Then he began to castigate and sharply scold me.

He told me I’m a sinner,
but I could end my life a winner
if I’d just agree to ditch all my worldly ways.

There’s a land of gold and honey
and another not so sunny.
He urged I make my choice before we meet the end of days.

When he described a lake of fire,
I felt I must inquire
how the honey could be expected to taste so sweet?

With all those people burning,
would the others not be yearning
to give water to those suffering from the never ending heat?

Would they all eat cake and ice cream
while listening to the crowd scream?
If so, I’m afraid I’ll have to “lose” the invitation.

Or I’ll have to RSVP,
“Sorry. This one’s not for me.
Sounds far too much like daily life in pick your nation.”



Found a key
on the floor
of the attic,
then started searching
from the rooftop’s shingles
to the basement
where I found
not a thing.

Out the door
into the yard,
there I ran
in twisted circles
around the fenced green world
of my home,
but I found
not a thing.

Kicked the gate,
swung it open,
hit the sidewalk
with a skeleton key
in my left front pants pocket,
walked through town,
and I found
not a thing.

Every key
has a lock.
Every answer
must surely have
a question waiting to be asked.
So I stood
by the road,
hitched a ride.

Walked the coasts,
crossed the land
with the key
‘tween thumb and finger
and a hope for chance discovery
of that lock,
if there was
such a thing.

Took a plane,
searched the globe
for that sweet
and simple click sound
a mystery just released makes.
A billion locks,
a single key,
not a thing.

In the end,
I decided,
there are keys
just meant for trying.
They’ll take you everywhere, show
you everything,
while they open
not a thing.