first memory

At the event when I couldn’t help but stand up and talk too much,

I opened myself up to judgment in order to speak the burning necessity that was bubbling up my throat, determined to be shared.

Taking my seat for the forth or fifth last time, a woman two rows back lifted her head and her hand to get my attention. “Hey”, she said. “We need to talk”, she said. “We’ve met before”, she said. Continue reading “first memory”


IMG_1837Some days I wake up to the alarm-
groggy and irritated,
I crack my mind open just enough to unsheath the eraser end of my consciousness,
gruffly scrub out one or two or three of the items on the to-do list that my optimistic prior self had assigned,
and press “snooze.”

Some days I wake up restored-
I turn on all my senses before I lift my head
to the soft filtered light curtaining into the room
on the back of a cucumber breeze sprinkled with birdsong,
to the feel of my hands nested between my thighs, soft-on-soft,
to the awareness of my self,
with gratitude, with peace.

Some days I wake up afraid-
to leave my very bed, the prospect scares me.
I don’t trust myself to get through the day
without bringing harm.
In bed I am safe, out there, I dash my earnest hopes time and time again
with a thoughtless moment that drives others to follow, bringing me deeper underground.
Impulse, indulgence, waste, despair:
it happens to me like the weather,
though it is I who forms the clouds.
I know I can do without it
But I don’t know how.

On these days, I regard the ground warily,
still until..
the inevitable rise.
And face whatever the day may bring

It Takes a Flint

When it started hard to say

Couple hundred yesterdays

Simple system growing cracks

Auto business, off the tracks


Getting mine means getting gone

Whites flight from the red line zone

Money tighter, feel the strain

Pull the plug, choke the drain


Safety net becomes swiss cheese

poor is spreading like disease

Trickle down aint spreading shit

No more flow from the faucet


Do you want a drink today

Or would you prefer to stay?

Pauper’s prison, in your home

Only choice is move along


In the country, people know

How to build a fire, slow

Let the wood get nice and dry

Kindling on the underside

Stack it up, support the beams

Maybe squirt some gasoline

But if flame’s what you desire-

It takes a Flint to start a fire

The Lee of The Stone

IMG_0600I love chaos
I thrive in it
I create it
and then I hide in it.

I ride the tide of the rapids, edging the hazards in a wall of sound echoing so loud that there’s no room to wonder
or What Else
or At What Cost?

When the big day is over
and the phone stops ringing,
the backwaters eddy in the lee of the stone,
the silence has its own echoes.
I am alone.


The Right Size

in Detroit, Michigan, United States on November 18, 2014.

They used to call it downsizing
-but that wasn’t very popular-
So then they called it “Right Sizing”
-but everyone knew it was the same thing-
And then they started calling it “Future City”
-but still we knew better.
And so, they didn’t say anything.
Silently they issued yellow tax foreclosure notices
And water shut-off trucks by the thousands
Like a drone strike time bomb.
“That’ll do the trick.”
You can’t hear them but if you’re paying attention you’ll know
that there are active forces of relocation and de-neighborization and gentrification
And this is not eminent domain, there are no relocation checks,
This is “your fault” and “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

Tear the buildings down once they’re gone and now we’re on
to a fresh start without those pesky people.
The perfect plan for a city trying to lose a little weight.

Now wait, this wouldn’t be so frustrating if it weren’t for the fact that there is a way out.
A really good, really reasonable way out.
You can buy it in the auction.
You can get your home and a fresh start for $500
But not if you don’t know about it.
Not if you don’t even know to look
Because you don’t have the internet and if you did, how would you buy a house with it?
Because your landlord wants to keep getting that check every month so he tells you “it’s all taken care of”
Because you’ve been paying your mortgage every month so why would there be any kind of trouble?
Because you never got a tax bill to begin with let alone a foreclosure notice,
let alone a solution
Because every time you went downtown to get answers they pointed to a number with four zeros behind it and said that was on you to pay
and that’s the only way

In the auction, there is no guarantee
You might get outbid in the first minute,
You might get a lesson in reality estate:
“didn’t you hear this neighborhood is hot?
didn’t you know Detroit is coming back?”
But at least this way
you had a seat at the table
at least this time
you were a participant in your own fate.

So that’s why we’re out there talking.
We start on the doorstep with some Good News.
Not that kind,
but the kind that says you could own that house
that you call home.
You could break that cycle of a landlord who doesn’t give a shit
Or the bankers who, like wizards, change their LLCs or their T&Cs and leave you no choice but to sign or walk
to an uncertain future maybe in a city that will treat you better
your baby’s toys left behind in the winter snow
We’re out here because there’s a way out
There’s a way to stay put instead of move out

There’s a way to get a deed with your name on it and some pinch of security
That you do belong
And yes enroll your kids in school,
say hello to the neighbors,
touch the earth of the garden
and for god’s sake fix those stairs.
You don’t even need good credit.
But you do need to know.
And I sure hope you answer when we knock on your door.

Houses full of families?
Families safe in homes?
Small faces at the windowsill
warm bodies in the beds.
That sounds like a Detroit worth staying in.
That sounds like the right size to me.

Road to Rhode Island

IMG_2991 (1)

Written in honor and memory of friend and colleague Steven Kolberg, whose battle with cancer and and dance with life ended today.

We drove to that strange state
packed tight in the car and buckled in
with greeting cards and a somber air.

There in the back yard,
I was surprised that he could see me,
and that he looked like himself
and that the lawn was lush green with life

It had the strange feel of a graduation party combined with a wake:
An uncle here, a high school friend there,
“Amy says hi” and “What’s your favorite beer these days?”

But there was a gurney on the yard with a thick body bag over it,
which turned out to be a kayak but oh my god, the thought!
And there was his comment about not being able to taste sugar or feel temperature or read anymore.
And there was a mountain of pill bottles just across the counter from the spread of submarine sandwiches and brownie platters and veggie dip.

We told stories,
and laughed
and paused awkwardly because what do you say?
This is his last party. Continue reading “Road to Rhode Island”

Let It Out

I shouted today

Alone on the bridge,
coasting downhill at a clip

I wailed- lungs taut-
as loud as I could.

I smiled to myself and
called out again

Just trying to let it out.


IMG_4252Under my bed is a box filled with notes.

Precious letters, far-flung postcards and silly valentines
accumulated over the years
from family, friends, exes, and former strangers.

Before even reading their words, I feel the pinch of yearning-
from the sight of someone’s handwriting, the postmark of a former home
a name that doesn’t get said any more.

They are time-stamps on old emotions.
But joyful or painful, every letter written is a snapshot of a truth:
“Somebody cared for me once.”

Beside these letters sent are cards-on-deck
blank notecards, fresh stamps, and undressed envelopes
waiting for an emotion strong enough to conjure them up
and spill out on them in ink.

After I’m done with nostalgia
I may notice those blank cards
and pick up my pen,
to send a pocket of feeling back out to someone I care for right now.

Then I stow them back beneath the place that I sleep.
Where they will sit
stationary, the sentiments of the future wait to be written,
keeping still with my old loves gone by.