a sky with just one aperture
would fit in a briefcase

you’d hear it in there
clacking its beak

i miss the flesh of my flesh
lost during the pandemic

i have been drowning lady beetles
in the toilet in the sink

the oaks are dangling blossoms
before every passing breeze

green and yellow like snakes
in the old folk song

i argue all sides of a position
and call it prayer

i am sung to daily
by my followers the flies

Stone Aged Man

found in peat
part-way to coal

the hide under his fur
has weathered further than leather

and his rib cage still holds
a deathless canary

he’ll never fix that leaky faucet
you know the one

a chip chip chip
off the old flint

adamant under pressure
something gleams


the green of moss on an oak
three years dead

the green of greenbriar
on which a deer has grazed

the green of a bench in the woods
where vows were once exchanged

the green of garlic mustard
before it becomes too bitter

the green of ferns that have borne
the weight of snow

the green of winter wheat in the distance
when the sun comes out

the green of lichen on a rock
finding everything it needs

the green of leaves that won’t return
to a toppled witness tree

the old green of trailing arbutus
rushing into bloom for a few cold flies

Plummer’s Hollow, PA
March 17, 2024

Winter storm thoughts

It’s below zero Fahrenheit with a howling wind just two nights past the longest of the year. The juniper tree I planted next to the house thumps against the eaves. In my youth I’d be living it up, blasting the stereo while getting roaring drunk and feeding wood to a stove some visitors once dubbed Ol’ Sparky. Now I am apparently grown old, it’s sit hunched over a keypad and worry about what to do if the power goes out.

Every winter I vow to winterize this old plank-wall farmhouse. Every summer, foolish woodrat, I forget. I blame Janus, that two-faced bastard. Resolutions aren’t solutions.


Just about every decade, I re-read the Norse sagas, I’m not sure why. It’s hard to look away from their grimy brutality and insights into human and inhuman character. Today: Eyrbyggja Saga. I’d remembered it had some horror elements but had forgotten just how many walking dead there were—holy hell. It’s the world’s first folk horror novel! Complete with a haunted cow.

A Backward Glance

i was your beast
of unburden

the arctic and its
crickets of ice

grew on me like fine
hairs of mold

i mistook a molt
for metamorphosis

but once we all knew
how to make change

now they round us down
to the nearest hole

and hand out wafers
of ukrainian jesus

my poems are ladders
that lead nowhere

i could be on a jet writing
contrails across the sky

instead of these two
scrawny lines

Wild Apples

giving my apple core a toss
watching it arc

and land in a forest clearing
i think of you Dad

saying where should i plant
an apple tree today

a habit from boyhood summers
at your uncle’s orchard

continuing into your college days
on a motor scooter

with Mom exploring every mountain
and forest in Pennsylvania

the fall and only the fall
was for apples

culminating in your favorite
the stayman winesap

but after all those cores
for all those years

you’re in the ground
now yourself

and i keep looking
for those wild apple trees

Three Miles, Uphill in Both Directions

the sun was a letter
of the alphabet then

my stomach could pronounce it
better than my mouth

on the walk to school through
two centuries of wreckage

past a ghost village
and the end of town eaten
by the interstate

along train tracks we knew
to get off of when
they started to hum

up over the wooded hill
in the center of town
with its water tank and cemetery

past hidden rooms
with walls of wild grapevines
whispering truancy

down into the industrial classroom
a prison of numbers

where zero seemed to hold
all the keys

Hollow Folk

without issue i can feel the forest
thicken within me

build up fuel and hunger
for that incendiary spark

ah to slash and burn
plow and harrow with my ancestors

or cut down the old giants
and replace them with windmills

deadly flowers scything
the air for migrants

our doom laid out
like a meal for ravens

fates intertwining like fingers
at a lovers’ leap

a mile and a half up a mountain hollow
under the green banners of the sun

I live above a crawl space
too poor for a cellar

my garden is a banquet
for slugs and meadow voles

the wild mountain mint hums
with solitary bees


Never having believed in happiness, it occurs to me, might have had something to do with why i never actively pursued it. If it showed up regardless, well and good, but in general, day-to-day contentment seemed enough. And you know, maybe it is. For far too many around the world, it’s an unattainable dream.

But what about love, Dave?

And you call yourself a poet!



river in November light between bare woods and mountain


ruby-throated hummingbird
fresh from the jewelweed

hangs in front of my mouth
like an unhoused question

I spread my fingers wide
skin wrinkles like old bark


I grew up climbing trees
hugging the trunks for dear life

or digging for treasure
at the old farm dump

that green- or purple-stained glass
that once held whiskey


buzzing from one bright
flame to the next

what rain-soaked radiance
precedes a fall

and where might petals unfurl
if we ever woke up