& the War Was in Its Infancy Then

By the time I looked over my shoulder, the sun had already fallen.

A Childhood

The horse had been beaten and flies crawled on the beat marks.

A Crow Flies Cleanly over the Cornstalks

The almanac tells them when the moon passes into ghost weather.

A Dagger of Sunlight Lies across His Bed

He sits hiked up, naked to the waist, like a stone in the bedclothes.

A Dark and Empty Corner

Human language, Winston thought, was not adequate for spiritual union.

A Dress Rehearsal for the Apocalypse

History howls for direction so I remind him how the hero was lost.

A Father’s Story

Certainly the ushers who pass the baskets know me as a miser.

A Funky Assortment of Plates

The preacher looked me in the eye. He laid his hand on my chest.

A Hard Blessing

Alone but one year sober and my parole’s nearly done.

A Life with Bears

I want to focus on bears. On knowing them, and on what they need.

A Local Habitation and a Name

Marie was therefore exiled, as it were, like Cordelia in the old play.

A Matter of Vocabulary

“We see you tryin’ to hide. Ain’t no use tryin’ to hide in God’s House.”

A Mirror of a Mirror

Have two children to keep around the house in case one goes missing.

A Model for the Priesthood

Tongue, eye, nose—which has the shortest route to the brain, heart?

A Place Like This

I can see on him how things are changing for and against us.

A Practical Mom

She can go to Bible study every Sunday and swear she’s still not convinced.

A Sailor

She did not leave him for the sailor. So why should he be angry?

A Serious Desert

All over the planet people try to end pain: striptease, bee stings.

A Soliloquy Would Imply That the Stage Is Empty

A father peeled the night / from another midnight & begged / me to lie

A Son of Baghdad

For me, Selweh was the real magic. She was nothing like my mother.

A Trout in the Milk

How much simpler and more satisfying was the company of men.

A Wanderer

The tree was shaggy and it bore scars of shrapnel from the war.

A Wedding Story

The chocolate was old, dusty white, the way chocolate gets after many years.


On my way to the airport I hit a Christian. This was in Arkansas.

Across the Sea: A Sequence

The stones here carry the island’s low cry inside them. A landlocked grief.

Aeneas Leaves Kansas

All night the insects’ grinding jaws chewed through the darkness.

Affliction Parish and Other Poems

He tuned the future backward as he left the ringing water to reclaim me.

After Saddam

He said he had come back to the prison because it was home.

Against Surrealism

…when you walk to the edge of the Mekong and make a wish…

All Good Things Are Surprises

So, Ida, are you a Jew or a nudist? Do you believe in Hanukkah?