Published Poems

For Sergio

To be a gardener spellbound.

To stand a vigil, listening to cabbages, potatoes,


the crescent moon.

Your brother is lost, she says.


The priests are gone.

Where are the trade winds?

Your brother is lost.


Lost as the bandoneon

that likes its sad and


necessary music. The sea

is lost and found and lost. . .




Time’s ticking, the stranger said,

eyes watering.


Your brother is lost.


Lost as the squeezebox

of the necessary.


The priests are gone.

Time’s ticking.


Where are the trade winds?


The bandoneon likes being lost.

Sad squeezebox.


And you, my brother?


                      Philadelphia Poets, Volume 22, April 2016




A song & not a song.

No one told us it was royal,

the ponciana outside

our window—

little brother’s & mine.

No one called it holy.

The ponciana rooting

To the neighbor’s lot. Stretching

High its ferny leaves like

—like what?


I went back to 29th Street.

The house that once slept four

Divided for three families.

The tree was gone.

Messy, she said. Messier

than the pollen of the flower of the mango.

See the petals littering the sidewalk?

Sparks, I told her,


                                                                        Philadelphia Poets, Volume 22, April 2016
In the Spanish Chapel

On the ceiling the ocean tips a boat too small to hold eleven men.

Some stare into the sea, some stand where I stand seasick

looking up at them.

Under the swollen mast one covers his face; another could be Peter,

the one who makes me want to shout

Sit down!


Who made this fresco understands the dread that sleeps in water,

the worry of the swells.

I find his name and learn my apprehension

missed the miracle—

Peter kneeling in the sea

beneath his strolling Lord.


Do you believe in ghosts?

Before the Spanish Eleonara took the space,

it was the Chapel of the Faults.

Dominicans confessed their sins—out loud.

You see them painted on another wall

rows and rows of monks

pretending not to mind.

The power of Florence. The piety.


Sweetgrass. I can’t forget the herding of a hundred thousand

sheep across the Beartooth Mountains. Magnificent

bewildered creatures caught in blinding white.

The looks upon their faces

—the men in Peter’s boat

(Ater frescos by Andrea Buonaito, Santa Maria della Nouvo, Florence)

                                                                                    Philadelphia Poets, Volume 22, April 2016


At the Good Dog Park

Dogs handle their differences.

Sniff from the bottom up,

know that head to head

things can get ugly. Always


the thrusts for dominance

in their world even

the alphas take turns

submitting: the way most

undergo, enjoy the humping.


Rarely an animal’s so snarly

she’s taken out. If so,

it’s a three-dog pile-up.

More often energy’s raced off,



in packs around the turf.

At Schuylkill River Park,

there’s usually a settling—snouts

at the trough.


—What do I regret?

Not learning to hold my ground.

Not knowing

my own thirst —Here


are the auscultations—

a heart on its knees—


                                                                      Schuylkill Valley Journal 25th Anniversary Edition, Fall 2015


When Philip Wu Took Us to the Chinese Banquet


I wore the dress of fine-

wale corduroy, plush as the belly

of the spaniel you liked to say

replaced you.


You took a Polaroid of Philip and me,

hugging—inarched. With our black-

shag caps of hair we were siblings.

Happy siblings.


He was your friend first.

Every Thanksgiving he came bearing

pleasures: diamond studs for small Johana,

bouquets for me, Godiva for the table.

When dessert was cleared, he’d hop a chair

and pour his heart into La donna e mobile.


He wanted to be known as a tenor—

not for his work at the bank.

One holiday he brought the big-haired blonde

he wanted to marry. You were rude. You

called her a gold-digger. The next year,

it was a pretty girl from Taiwan, nearer his age.


One day he disappeared. We followed

every lead; got nowhere. I lost the dress..

I don’t remember if it got a rip or stain

or I gave it to Goodwill.


I miss its touch. The darts in the bodice

accented my joyfulness. Snaps

ran from the collar to snug leather

boots. The skirt was cut on the bias.

It swirled.


You said you’d never again. You did.

I said if I married again, I’d wear

the color of my lost dress, the shade

you called cliché.                                                               

                                                                                              The Musehouse Journal, Spring 2013



The Chamber

For Barbara


A room too small for such ablutions.

Wedged into the pricey studio of an I.M. Pei condominium,

it was hard to find the tub. Not his best work. Or Barbara’s.

She’d begun as a nurse, before teaching psychological testing.

Her best friend found her. Silenced by the gash beyond suture:

a neck accustomed to fine ornaments.

Barbara, immaculate as the lump crab she served.

Particular, only the finest ingredients when she cooked.

Barbara, whose beauty made you halt.

Eyes blue as iris. Stash of jokes to hide the insecurities.

Her neediness did her in, friends said. I prefer Wilde:

The mystery of love is greater than the mystery of death.

Her faith was deep but insufficient. Singing church choir,

the Steinway big as the bed. Above all, Lacey:

tall Texan, whose trusteeship of a Philadelphia university

enabled a long courtship. When it ended, her heart

cracked. A self discarded like the omelets she’d tried to perfect.







                                                The Poetry Dress, Boston Poetry Festival, Salem, MA Fall 2011



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