& Bless: Poems

I’m afraid to say anything or nothing, I’m white & unalterably broken.

A Different Ending

The peanut seller tore sheets out of paperback books to make the cones.

A Distant Episode

The distant past returned—what part of it, he could not decide.

A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route

Neither blood nor belonging accounted for my presence in Ghana.

A Matter of Vocabulary

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

A Model Prisoner

A Redeeming Sacrifice

Paul King was shiftless and drunken; ugly tales were told of him.

A River of Stars

For all the stories they’d concocted, the real one electrified them.

A Saint from Texas

So that’s what I’d look like if every beauty parlor in the world shut down.

A Small Blip on an Eternal Timeline

I grabbed him by the face and told him life only comes to a person once.

A Taste for Winter

She is very rich. She will leave me everything when she dies, he says.

A Vacuum Is a Space Entirely Devoid of Matter

I needed a paycheck a lot more than I needed to be kissed.

A Wanderer

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

Across the Sea: A Sequence

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

After Noguchi and Other Poems

Crows rasp from branches, scatter debris across unfinished plots.


He longed only for Claire’s strange seriousness, her silent focus.

Alphabet City, 1985

Tony’d had guns pulled on him more times than he had toes.

Am I Supposed to Know the Difference between Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry? I Don’t.

Diane Seuss


I stand within her walls with not a shred of terror, not a word of jeer.

American Idol

Karen was, in that moment, nothing, emptiness. She was oblivion.

American Paradoxes

I recoil from the certitude that religion can give a person; it’s horrific.

America’s First Female Muslim Judge Found Floating in a River

Many times I’ve stood at the lip of this river and wanted to crawl in.

And Yet Beauty Lives

We are like a village here, separated from the rest of the world.

Another Irishman

When Roy got to school he told his friend Jimmy Boyle about the dead body.

At Sea

I only feel that here, only here, in this one place, a small rise.


When I dream of lovers, I rarely see faces. It’s better if we never touch.

Avoiding the Spirits

He is not a man, but an empty shell, a creature who laughs to stop the shame.

Axis of Happiness

I hadn’t always liked being around my mother while she was alive.

Bad Girl in Berlin

I believed in department stores the way I believed in Germany.

Badger Mountain

Keely finally stops crying when they step outside. The shock of cold.