Other Selected Poems

Image 3

If Not For Winter


It is the morning of the darkest day.
The red dogwood is stripped to the drift
where rabbit tracks gather and end.
Noisy birds are at the withered choke cherries
and the wintered oak whispers utterances
of buried acorns threading in spring.

I brush snow from the cellar door
open to the dank dirt floor
to layers of scattered onion husks
kegs of sand stored carrots
sacks of apples unchanged in months
dull and darkened to a chapped red.
I reach blind into the burlap sack
choose only the firmest
bite into one—watching the
juicy white flesh change colors
the way a dog’s bark is brown.

In the end it’s all about survival
the things we bury to make it through
the fox holes we find shelter in
and the facades we hide behind
all essential like a goat’s second coat
a cast off snake skin or a Mardi Gras
face mask kicked to the curb on Ash Wednesday.

—awarded Honorable Mention in WFOP Triad Contest  2012
first appeared in 2015 Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar

Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

cardboard jalousie windows
parked on a street corner
graffiti dented fenders
December already a guest
plastic bags and old newspapers
slap the cyclone fence

a walking stick in stilettos
totters clip clops to the bus stop
she talks to herself
where to find a steam grate
a shopping trolley a washroom
why he threw her out
the miscarriage the shoebox
everything she owns tossed in the trunk
if she can become a wintered skunk weed
she’ll make it through the crunch

—first appeared in April 2012 Red Cedar Review University of Wisconsin
Barron County


When Stars CollideIMG_0079


I knew it was you
at the lakefront on the 4th
boats lined up at shore
you looked at me the way
blindness walks through a crowd
one piece of a cloth

we were younger then
fireworks everyday
before the graying
only black and white
idealistic fast track

I sit on the curb
count the dull repetitions
echoing starbursts
circuitous sulfur vapors
crimson shattered glass

elbows on knees chin in hand
I watch the platform empty

old pain knocks gently
enters hangs about
intends to stay says nothing
won’t go away
—first appeared in 2013 Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar


Artwork by my grandson, Jacob Kerkhoff

long end of the bone


divining rod
the two ends
held firm until
the pull

tuning fork
the strike
a perfect pitch
resonating in
the key of A

the long end
we fought over                          
flesh removed
dried and brittle

Y incision
the image at autopsy
wide stitches
without precision

fork in the road
a gamut of thoughts
the pull the pitch
the snap the stitch
and yet— I know
without a doubt
I will always halt
close my eyes
make a wish
and veer left

—first appeared in Lake City Poets on Line Anthology January 2015 #13


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