Portrait of a Young Girl, 1942

Based on the Jan Lukas photograph of Vendulka Vogelova, taken a few hours before the young girl was transported to a concentration camp.


I am the mirror for one who speaks;

these fresh gaps are wind in the linden trees,

cotton flowers of life. A mirror is not much

for all of us, but if we listen for reflection,


the clear twin face of a groan behind the looking

glass, we hear the cat's hair sounds of all people

grumbling in the same manner about the air

the food the earth the sidewalk.


I am the mirror for all the world's silence,

and the ones who slipped through without drawing

blood, whose suicides number nothing next

to vast doors too tall to reach heaven, locked

forever, whose breaking takes generations,

sometimes, dull copper paint on the back of a lake.


I am the mirror for one who is trembling

like a child who has noticed too much, eyes

hard olive pits. I think about how life

cracks when the vanity glass overturns

our hands. Sharp pints in bars. Uneven edges

of ale. Crisp indignities of foam.


I am the mirror for all who choose

not to speak. I crack

in the dark. I shine in the snow.

Westerly Centre for Studies in Literature, Special Issue: War-Time Voices

Let’s Very Often Say

If and when and I am not sure.
Let’s say I don’t know and it is
A strong grey area, in the middle
Of what I am imagining that I cannot
Work out, not even if I bit into an apple
Or sucked air into my lungs. It is never-
Ending and sudden, but lasts for years.
“One must have a mind of winter,”
For the hold on wait on the phone,
For the ambulance to come, the intermittent
warping of feeling upset and then
relieved only the relief part never
shows up. It is as if you are waiting
on the crest of a flower in water
closed up with a mere promise
of a flourishing bloom, a time when
life opens up into a vast bouquet
of hopefulness and you sigh, deep
inside the air of what is meant to
be. And a cello is playing where
an arrow floats immediately right
to its mark, on target and sticks
it home, straight to the heart of
the matter in a place where we
regenerate and say hold and
stop and just, please, keep me in mind.

(from Wallace Stevens Journal, 2022)

Let the Wickedness of the Wicked

Come to us like a child looking for a way
Home, let the gullibility and narcissism
Lie flat inside us as if we were the lost
Generation in search a direct, unadorned
Sentence, a minute of skill that we both
Know is the opposite of trust. It is anguish
We know but barely understand or interpret
As elation. We sit in a dive, on Abbot Kinney
Before the elites took over and stopped the
Gangs and shootings, ferreting out the bad
Elements as they are called with another term
Named gentrification. It is with elation we
Are matched up and optimistic in this
Frame we steal, right before adult life
Is supposed to begin, before we stop
Being on holiday, drinking mint tea,
A gang of wayward writers, getting
Into other people’s business without
Knowing why. We laugh because
The stop watch has not tripped yet.
Because hunger allows us no choice,
Because failing to meet expectations is not a crime.
Moving from one point to another, we all know
We are not being as good as people say
We are. A pack of fools spending pocket money
And hours foolishly. For a brief moment,
We dismiss how things are going only to
Push aside our attempts to scatter and examine
Until later. Fall days are uneven and sparse.
We discuss and enforce our crime-imagined belief
System, at an age when anything is still possible.

(from About Place Journal 2022)

Green was the Silence

(from a line by Pablo Neruda)

It changes meaning like water,

as a living being, like unfettered civility,

a sunny breezeful summer ahead.

The start of June, it is altogether

Stifling, and as if things would never be straight

again we feel as if we had promised to be

dark and mortal, soon, like strangers

from the past we promised to be each other’s

solid memory. We have shortness of breath

and a pounding inside the lungs.

We cannot remember a time when we were able

to sleep before when we were former and usual

vivid beings who existed in the city of Los Angeles,

drifting through rivers of errands and emeralds,

as if nothing had happened. We are

lost now. As if we had been careless. Dropped out.

like music not written down but whistled and hummed

and played under strange circumstances.

Like a stranger with a guitar at a party.

It is nearly June, near the longest day of the year,

as Jordan comments in The Great Gatsby, a seasonal marker

complete with a sign that says, “We’re done now.”

And we are together and alone and about to

get reckless and cruel, but yet this time it will

be different. This year, belonging to the entangled

world that has been ripped apart.

We are limited by so many things since

the quarantine, absolute touch and hunger

and it all goes to show us that nothing

is visible or at hand any more.

We are a perfect example of ration

and virtue, essentially savage and, yet--in a new sense--

we are blindly controllable. We feel alternately

safe and in danger, every moment altered,

with no telling which statement above is truer.

We are reckless-absolute and sexual-reasonable

full of home-shocked martyrdom and wary of being

present for what is about to come. We pretend

to be on holiday and take

out the board games, self-full of pride and fear,

notching achievements with false pride:

your charm, my conflict—our 24 hour conversations

lack a richness of reality,

embodied with a generous sadness.


TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics, Feb 2021

And Continued To

It was there for 18 years

And longer if you count before

I was born, the ten years before that

Where I knew my place and marked

The spot, crawling out the window to

Escape or be kidnapped, the white

Paint footprints left behind in the

Driveway. Where there was a perch

For the doctor’s cat who had been

There before I was, and made herself

At home on a bird’s eye maple stoop

Below glassed-in bookcases next to the tile fireplace

With its scenes from the children’s book

about Hans Brinker.

(Interpreter’s House: Issue #76 (2021