enjoy my work. i post what i write, what i see, and what it means to me. good or bad, comment away.


My dad can beat up your dad, but he'd rather just lay hands on him

My father wears suits to work.
My mother still helps him match his ties to his shirts
so he always looks presentable – in my eyes, his only real flaw
is not being able to differentiate between black and navy in twilight.

He flavors his morning mocha with a mixture of gospel and binary.
The mochas replaced his coffee because caffeine isn’t good
for his blood pressure. He sees the contradiction here,
but refuses to talk about it. He’s funny like that sometimes.

My father stands 60 feet tall. His hands can span a family,
bring them all together to pretend pumpkin pie
is an appropriate cover-up for bruises,
support his six surviving older siblings on the strength
of his knees; my father repairs homes with his footsteps.
He lays foundations with supplication, builds walls
with his wailing, lays roof with his hands stretching
skyward. My father finds peace in prayer.

I have learned to find peace in the silence that often follows them.
He has learned to be happy that I find any peace at all.

My father used to launch me and my brother across his room
with his legs, carpet-bombing his bed with toddlers over and over.
His legs were missile silos.
This served as target practice for having to re-launch his children
back into the world far too many times. I have yet to hear a complaint.

My father’s voice is a storm when I am desert, bringing thunder and life.
His words fall heavy like the fattest of raindrops;
my cracked skin may take some time to absorb what he offers,
but I store them all in a pool in my belly for when the dry times return.
I know that I never need to go prodigal.

When I was 10 years old, I was being bullied by a neighbor kid.
As he held me by my throat, I yelled out “I rebuke you in Jesus’ name!”
He let me go. Upon telling my father this story,
he affirmed my suspicion that a large angel
had clearly thrown this kid across the yard in my defense.
Years later, while recounting this tale,
he recanted, told me that the boy probably threw himself
off of me because he thought I was crazy.
This was the first time my father unintentionally taught me to question.

My father moves mountains with his mutterings.
But sometimes we are on opposite sides of a canyon
we can’t cross for our shovels.
They don’t work as fast as the backhoes that built it.

When I was a child, my father taught me that my eternal soul is his responsibility.
He said that he would be judged for how he raised me, told me that his father was always watching. He meant God. He called him Abba, which means father in Greek. He said that God became the father he never had.

My father is the reason for my contentment and my restlessness.
He is every poem I’ll ever write,
every demon I will ever battle.
My father is afraid that
I won’t be at his right hand in Heaven.

He also taught me that God is love.
He taught me to love.

My father, I see God in you. You have done your job. 

Chicago winters are the longest ever

I have grown tired of slush-covered streets and Ramen noodle dinners. My poems come
slowly and with far less frequency than I claim. Most nights named “at home writing” 
involve too few words and too much wine. My weeks have consisted of half-working the 
job I already quit and half-writing the applications for jobs to replace it, and all I want 
right now is another beer and another bowl of greens and another episode of some poorly 
written but somehow still captivating television show.

Chicago, you’re pushing it with the days and nights inside.
With all of this snow, ALL SIX FEET, I used to long for mountains
 but now I long for flamethrowers.

You are an animal I have not yet raced with, city streets, and you are a lot faster than you look. 
You’re a relentless competitor. I have gotten good at convincing myself that I am 
winning when I am not. I have spun my wheels in Shenandoah river sands and Oklahoma 
gypsum pits. I welcome the traction of your concrete.

Chicago, I need you to be as alive as I was led to believe.
I’m growing accustomed to your grays and browns, but
I need to see your vibrant colors. I need to smell your breath.
I know you take far more pride in your presentation than these odors
of salt truck diesel fumes, these dressings of oily snow and months-buried
garbage. You are way, way sexier than that. I know this because I’ve been
hanging with your poets. Your artists. Your musicians. I’d love to sashay
with them across your parks, but that’s a little difficult when our heels keep getting frozen to your skin, Chicago!

The walls of my apartment are alive, but choking on the snowmelt. My carpet 
is soaked for the cracks in the foundation. There is a massive hole in my kitchen floor where I have placed my dreams. I bury them in coffee grounds and cigarette ashes. They make for good compost, but I’m ready to move them to outdoor plots. I want to help your colors reveal themselves. I’m finally putting down roots.


1)      The couch was tweed and I was five.
You told me that Jesus loves me. You told me that
He wants to save me. So I poured out my heart
Matthew, John, and Romans over the couch cushions.
I was saved now.

2)      My feet were pool-bottom tender; wet hair plastered
to my forehead like over-sheltered innocence. The two men
approached me in the locker room. It was the first time I had seen
another man’s penis. My mother’s voice bouncing off the lockers
was grace in action. This was the first time I learned that salvation
comes in many forms.

3)      She told me that she loved me outside her mother’s office.
It had been a week and a half since I said it for the first time.
It is so good to feel loved. The salvation of love is too sweet a gift.
I hope to one day permit myself to feel that again.

4)      His hand formed to the shape of my throat and pulled me up
onto the stage with no malice in his heart. The thumps
in my chest matching the beat of the drum track. This was rapture.
This was the first time I realized that I hear music differently.

5)      Someone decided he needed to break into the lockers
in the gym, and several students and I lost money
and belongings. I called my mom. She called my dad.
They prayed. I received everything back except
my ring with the cross on it.

6)      Sometimes, when I relish in something as simple
as a hot shower and a cold beer
at the end of a shitty day.

7)      Every time I cross the Chesapeake bay
and no matter what time of year,
what type of weather,
my windows come down so I can
breathe in the salt air

8)      Every time my parents tell me
that they are proud of me, even though
I don’t always feel proud of myself.

9)      Every single time I close my eyes
and remember how blessed I am
to live the life that I live.
10)  The first time I was kissed
like she fucking meant it.

Salvation is personal. And it is not finite.
For some there is a god involved.
For some, it is a moment deemed holy only by the one
experiencing it. Ask me to tell you another. Then hold your ear to my chest.
I will say it out loud, and you will hear only “Saved” echoing back.

This is my Collective. This is my Holy.
This is my Salvation.


You never really say goodbye to red dirt...

Oklahoma, you are so generous to let me wear your skin.
You cling to my face in breeze or gust so I don't forget
your windwords in their absence.

You wear crimson and clover as work-worn wranglers by day
and nothing but the classiest of little black dresses by night;
you grow exponentially irresistible.

You paint boots copper sunset on towering plateaus.
Your red dirt is armor unmatched; your people etch you
into their skin with sunbeam-smile pride.

I hold you chained to me like a pocket watch;
even when you slip from my hands, you only fall so far.

Every reunion will be Ferris wheel belly drops and rodeo heartbeats.
I ache something fierce for you already.
I'm glad that through even the strongest of storms,
you never really wash away.


Triumph - a found poem

He died at age 66.
   - Something in the air -
When the boatmen push away
he leaps up,
“Of course it made a wonderful story.”

Uncle Larry

There are few things in life more soothing, more comforting, than a hug from a loved one. For some, they’re even medicinal in a way. Research has shown that 8-10 meaningful touches are needed per day to maintain happiness and wholeness in spirit. For a brief moment, all worry and care and pain and suffering can be drowned out by the sound, the feeling, of another’s heartbeat against your own.  What if this were the only effective medicine you had? And what if fear and ignorance denied you of it?
            Lawrence Walton Young was born on July 1st, 1952 into a troubled home. He was the sixth of eight children. This man was my uncle. He was thrust into a life far less satisfying than he deserved. From youth, he was denied the love he needed by an abusive-turned-absent father. In 1959, when my Uncle Larry was seven years old, his parents separated for four years. From the ages of 7-11…very formative years for a young boy…Uncle Larry learned what it meant to experience a lack of love, and for the rest of his life would be driven to seek this love an acceptance from other sources. My father, Uncle Larry’s younger brother, told me that Larry was, “…smarter than all of us.” But even still, without guidance and nurturing, all Larry could think to do was to run in search of the love and acceptance he so desperately needed.
            In 1970, at the age of 18, Uncle Larry joined the US Army. As a member of the infantry, he proved to be an excellent soldier. He was awarded a variety of recognitions, including being a sharpshooter. In January 1971, he was sent to Vietnam. By April, he was at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC. He had earned two purple hearts during his four months in country, the second one because of mortar fire that tore through his left leg, damaging it so badly that he should have lost it. But he didn’t…he healed. And though he was told he shouldn’t ever walk right again, he did that too. Uncle Larry was a fighter. He received a medical discharge and at 19 years old he was back to where he had been before, no longer a part of the place where he had found some semblance of the acceptance that he craved.
            Having already experimented with drugs and alcohol prior to his joining the Army, Uncle Larry returned to these things with a newfound fervency. The horrors that his 18-year-old eyes had witnessed in Vietnam only served to fuel his desires for numbed emotions. Through his experimentation, he came across a drug known as BAM. Popularized in the early 70s, this form of methamphetamine was taken intravenously. Though Uncle Larry’s drug and alcohol use, and again, a deep-seeded need for affection, inevitably led to promiscuity, it was eventually determined by my uncle that the sharing of needles was what led to his contraction of HIV in 1989. He was 36 years old. My father and my pastor were in the room with him when he got the news. He was devastated. And through all of his trials and struggles and addictions, my Uncle Larry was still a man. I want you to know this: Habits do not always have to shape the individual. My Uncle Larry went through the hard and terribly awkward task of calling and informing all the women he had come in contact with of his unfortunate diagnosis. I can only imagine that this was one of the most difficult things he had to accomplish in his life, but nevertheless he did it.
            Uncle Larry was diagnosed at a time when AIDS was emerging rapidly and little was known about how it worked or how to fight it. Paying for everything himself, my uncle tried expensive herbal teas, dietary changes, exercise, and of course AZT. However, his lack of knowledge about the ease of transmission and how badly it decimates the immune system ultimately allowed for Uncle Larry’s life choices post-diagnosis to counteract his attempts at fighting the disease. He continued in his alcohol and drug use, as well as his promiscuity, though he was far more careful in methods of prevention of the spread of the disease. I say this not to judge or condemn my uncle in any way, or to present him in a negative light, but rather to illustrate the power of addiction and the extreme loneliness and self-destruction that his situation led him into. Unless you have been diagnosed with this disease, one can only imagine that this man, whose actions sought only to bring him some sort of approval by someone, somewhere, these actions, this quest for belonging and emotional reprieve now condemned him to death.
            Uncle Larry drank himself to a stroke in 1993, and he spent the majority of the remainder of his battle with AIDS in the VA Hospital in Beckley, West Virginia. During this time, a second stroke ravaged his body, further depleting his immune system and driving him closer to his death. Far more devastating than this, though, was the most times, though not always only, perceived rejection he continued to feel from his family. People continued to be frightened of this seemingly unstoppable virus, and even love for a brother could not overcome this fear. My uncle’s siblings did not visit him nearly as often as they should have, certainly not as often as he needed them to. And this continued absence in his time of need is what, I feel, eventually led to his inability to fight any longer.
            My Uncle Larry passed on March 22nd, 1995. He was 42 years old. I was nine and had seen him only a handful of rememberable times, most in the hospital. His six year battle with AIDS ended with a military funeral. My father has one of his purple hearts and the flag from the ceremony. My Uncle Jerry has the other Purple Heart and the rest of Uncle Larry’s medals. And now, 22 years after my uncle’s diagnosis, we still have no publicly known cure for AIDS. But something that is known, has always been known, is that there is little that can destroy the bonds of love and family, and the human spirit. I exhort all who can hear me right now to remember that no matter what, love. Without boundaries, love. Without limitation, love. Without ceasing, without condition, without hesitation, love. And hug those you love as often as you can. Though your loved one may pass with a broken body, let them go with a whole and overflowing heart. 

Train Love

Let’s get married,
she says.


she says.

Impossible, I say.

She responds,
Time is fictional.
It was made for trains.

I wrote the railway a letter.
I told them that they didn’t need to stop
here anymore.

Our wedding day will always be yesterday.
Our anniversary will be tomorrow.
We will never celebrate it.
Anniversaries disrupt continuity.
We will not be hash marks on a doorframe.

We will be marked by the growth of mountains
and the erosion of stone

This heart beat is a stutter-step
Keep this dime-store orchestra body
in unison with your lilting hands.

She packs her batons
in her grandmother’s suitcase.
She is ready for this journey.
I will follow.


1)      You are a regatta in a rainstorm.
All thunderbolts and lifejackets,
you are hell-bent on capsize.
Hulls scream splinters in retort;
Poseidon nods his approval,
you strike worthy in his sight.
But no one cries out to him for aid.
Sometimes waves crest higher than your faith.

2)      My palms are rope-shredded and baby pink.
My fingertips are teeth-tattered, but can still
elicit tones beautiful from string.
Let me sing you complacent.
Calm your ragged breath,
hold your inhale a bit longer.
Fill your lungs to aching with this respite.

3)      An albatross glazes itself like fine pottery across the sky
leaving thirteen years of continuous flight
in his wing-beat-less wake.
He has seen storms like you before
but he long ago molted away his fear of you.
He knows to go over you now.
He knows that flying through you is a death sentence.

4)      The thing about the eye of the storm
is that it’s temporary. And you know
that when this harpy of a hurricane returns
it will be far more destructive than
prior winds could have prepared you for.
If the definition of insanity is repeating the same action and
expecting a different result, then why do I still expect answers
to prayers continually offered in various languages
when my sanity is all I have left.
Yet I continue with my mallet, repairing the gaps
in my storm-stretched framework as though it will make a difference.

5)      Blustering back as though you own
every ocean-bound vessel, your return
is an uneven firefight.
Your winds turn over graves still left
half-buried from your last trip through,
showing no mercy in your swath
of destruction. You target the weak seams first.
Lowering my sails serves to reduce the size of my bulls-eye hide
but your aim is pinpoint. Here’s to hoping
I still know how to shake a bogie.

6)      My father has been teaching me how to sail
since I can remember. We had lessons every Sunday.
His father never taught him much of anything,
so maybe that’s why it’s so hard to let go. 
I need to see him happy before myself.

7)      My shipwreck heart sinks like a sieve
every time I travel through your tempestuous weather.
Your winds blow fiercer than my boats can handle.
But there is enough wood at the bottom of my chest
to construct an armada and I’m still not afraid of your
bluster. You will not beat me. I will sail again.