Let yourself float
down the Nehalem, a candle
in a paper boat. Let it be night.
Let the moon pull you past
the gravitational divide, the body.


At Age 10 I Am the Joy of Old Ladies

Their husbands are dead. They’ve continued
their little shingle retirements playing pinochle
and canasta and driving their old Buicks, rusty,
bulbous, and passé as our tired resort town

with its bumper cars and motor courts and no
reason to pull off the highway. I catch on fast,
a clever partner when they need a fourth
and always happy to empty ashtrays, to refill

plates of jam-stuffed cookies served on sets
of ’40s Heisey. My presence is unquestioned,
though my preteen boygirl body—my lazy belly
and unmanly breasts—strains my clothes, strains

Dad’s tolerance, Grandma’s indulgence, other
boys’ ready inclusion. These ladies deal me in,
let me have real coffee and the scoop. I know
about the mayor’s first wife and why Tommy

doesn’t look like his sister. I know Mr. Sims
used to sell homemade booze. I know about
Bobby, whose mom owns the Curly-N-Cute,
how he got arrested in Portland for something

I couldn’t quite hear and was sent to Salem
for shock treatments. The ladies tut and coo,
pass me more cookies and admire my meld,
tell me I’m smart, say I’m a wonderful boy.

First appeared in Haunted Waters Press/Splash and is also forthcoming in Jesus Comes to Me as Judy Garland (Airlie Press, September 2021)


Duo Glide

Duo Glide

The seat was designed for comfort,
for two. A resplendent late ’50s
model, it was a full-dress with suicide
shift and a booming V-twin bass
rumble channeled through chrome
pipes forty years before hip-hop.
Sunny Sundays were not wasted.
Winding coastal roads were made
for Dad’s only day off, and I learned
my world from the back of his black
leather jacket, wet highways
bisecting the quiet towns, beaches
full of driftwood, sunlight blinking
through alder and fir, the Nehalem
River insisting its way through the
willows and dense summer foliage.
And always the comforting thump
and roar through the quiet pastures
and woods, winding up Highway 53,
accelerating into the major curves
where I followed his instructions,
his voice with me even now, saying,
Don’t fight the corners, David, lean
into them. Don’t be afraid. Lean
into them, and you’ll be just fine.

First appeared in The Oregonian and is also forthcoming in Jesus Comes to Me as Judy Garland (Airlie Press, 09/2021)

After 30 Years I Still Like the Idea of Lighting Up

My husband says he’ll have his next one
the day he turns 80, the same way he says
he’ll ram the final idiot car in front of him

the day he surrenders his keys. Old enough
now for what-the-fuck fantasies of older men,
we’re finding our way into later-middle age,

style intact, eyes on the 401(k), Medicare
our highest aspiration. We see Emerald City
floating ahead in a happy blue haze, opium

pipe dream in a poppy-red field Van Gogh
would have painted if he had art-directed
at MGM. He would have loved burning

Atlanta the same year, would have doled
speed to Judy Garland, Here, kid, this’ll keep
those heels clickin’, as Scarlett and Rhett

drove home through murky backlot plumes
to a disheveled Tara, God as mah witness,
I’ll nevah… go back to my office again,

negotiate the parking lot’s fuming-cherry
gauntlet, the Designated Smoking Place,
catch a whiff and wonder if I’d still smoke

menthols (Frenched, of course), lazy wisps
drifting mouth-to-nose and exhaled in rings
of Dietrich ennui, spinning ghost-threads

around faces that twist my resting body
just before sleep, the stuff no positive self-
talk, spiritual work, amends ever quite gets,

such insistent pentimento. Why not wrap it
again in silver-blue brume, watch it float on
the exhale? I’m way beyond legal now

with a wallet full of cash, just what I used
to cruise as a kid, my pack sitting on the bar,
needy-eyed and looking for a light. How odd

to look back and lock eyes with that boy,
to know what awaits him and to wish him
well. Hell yes. There’s a lot I would change.

First appeared in Gold Man Review and is also forthcoming in Jesus Comes to Me as Judy Garland (Airlie Press, 09/2021)