Believe Me

Believe Me” appeared in Arroyo Literary Review.

Listen while I bare my soul, I say. I lie.
With at least one word each day, I lie.

A friend’s triumph wakes the worm in my heart.
Wonderful, hurray, I lie.

The white-haired sea heaves itself toward the moon.
On a wave-worn rock, face toward the spray, I lie.

I love his thick fingers, the emerald snake
inked on his back. He loves the way I lie.

Bills blizzard down, erasing our home. My
son clutches his bear. Everything’s ok, I lie.

My mother thinned to wind. When she whispers,
goose-flesh dots my arms and branches sway. I lie

in bed past the alarm’s blast, dream-drunk
and heavy. Blankets in disarray, I lie.

May I be excused? the children ask. May
I peel you off like corn husks? May I lie?

To each animal its nature. Birds fly,
cats grab things that dangle. Children play. I lie.

You ask for my true, hidden self, your arms
open like wings. To my dismay, I lie.

On a stone-strewn path, I pause and kneel; recite
words of surrender. Even when I pray, I lie.


Dust Ghazal

When the gods left, people prayed to dust.
Their children grew unafraid of the dust.

My brother threw farther, hit harder. I
competed, then quit. Stayed in his dust.

Mother, stop your silence. I know you would
never leave me though you masquerade as dust.

Shopkeepers hawk honey, lemons, lamb,
silk scarves. I have nothing to trade but dust.

Rainless summer with my cousin. Trail rides.
Kisses in the hayloft. Lemonade. The dust.

Merlin emerges purring from the cellar
festooned with spider webs, arrayed in dust.

After the trespass, the war. After bombs,
the planted flag. After the parade, the dust.

Don’t cry, Come back, Alison when I
fly downward on wings made from dust.


Naked, Driven

When religion fails, try pleasure.
We study history, math—why not pleasure?

My first crush had Ziggy Stardust hair.
A girl in every club. An eye for pleasure.

Shipping to Iraq tomorrow, soldiers
hold their wives tight, fortify with pleasure.

Nap, stretch, pounce, eat. Lie on window ledge.
My cat’s day—one long sigh of pleasure.

Teen runaways clot on the corners. Men
roll down their windows to buy pleasure.

Nylons in her teeth, she aims
for blood. Willing to die for pleasure.

The shy boy disappears into books.
Their words offer a safe, dry pleasure.

Tantrics got it right—Fucking for hours
to find God, they sanctify pleasure.

Midnight. Shadows sweep the streets. Full moon
sings her silver lullaby: Seek pleasure.

Naked, driven to the peak—
whose name will you cry in pleasure?


My poems have appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poet Lore, and many other journals and anthologies. I was awarded New YorkQuarterly ’s Madeline Sadin Award and Poetry’s Frederick Boch Prize. My first book, They Sing at Midnight, won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award and was published by Many Mountains Moving Press. My chapbook, From the Fool to the World was published in 2013 by Parallel Press. I had two collections published in 2014 – Dangerous Enough (Presa Press) and the chapbook Borrowed Logic (Dancing Girl Press). My new book, Ordinary Magic, was recently published by NYQ Books.