Category Archives: Stiletto


from The Samurai Poems
after a series of drawings by Manuel Fuentes

We make a cradle of our bodies
lying in each other’s lap
rocking. The small waves barely hum
against the struts of the old pier.
It’s no accident
we’ve chosen this high place
where the sounds of the gulls ripen
and the wind rests easily at sunset.
At night we can be invisible
the only hint of our presence
your raised breast glowing in my hand
your thighs hugging
my cock into you.
We hold our breath just
for a second
listen for the kiss
of the huge goldfish
who’ve begun to move toward us
over the moss-covered stones.

Kite Flying

I like the silver one, she said
pointing to the Japanese frog
shimmering on its back
above the Ghirardelli Chocolate sign.
Her eyes were green
she hunted bears every Christmas
with her husband and their two kids.
Last summer they took a trip to Yellowstone for trout.
In the fall he threw her out.
She moved to Kansas City
and married a teacher she’d met in Washington on a salmon boat.

Summers are best on the bay.
I like the way the wind kicks back and the yo-yo
hucksters walk-the-dog
and do around the world for the tourists.
There’s always someone swimming,
the little red skull-caps bobbing through the short swells
just inside the mouth of the harbor.

I’ve been back six months
got a cheap flat
no job
thought about being a fireman but found I was too old.

Aquatic Park’s one of the few places to fly kites.
There are hundreds to buy
I like the dragon that breathes fire and dances on his tail.
The salesman’s got it about as high as it’ll go
I want to turn it loose
he laughs and says it’s too expensive
I say fuck it
and pay 8 bucks
to cut the god-damn cord.

If Your Skin

For R

If your skin were fine sand
I’d burrow

to the bone
planting apples for the morning

If your skin were slate
I’d chisel leaves
and branches
bowed with yellow blossoms

If your skin were moss
I’d drift in the tendrils
sleep between your ribs
with the drowsy snails

If your skin were oil of cobalt blue
I’d scribble fingers
with long strokes
up and down the breathing of your spine

If your skin were field grass
I’d rake the cuttings gently
sucking down
the faint odor of rain

If your skin were rivers
I’d bob for crayfish in the pools
rescue quail and white peacocks
from the flooded banks

If your skin were air
I’d conjure bats to glide
through the waves of tiny flying eyes

If your skin were ice
I’d wrap you in the womb of a wolf
stroking her belly
with oil of mulberry and eucalyptus

If your skin
under my hands
almost iridescent
in this dark room
reached warming

your sealed, secret, supple


A blue fog bats the window of No. 37 bus
beating the slag
to Southeast Chicago

(two 13 yr old kids foraging for rubbers in Ford City)

Pink hollyhocks butt the fence
fencing the dirt lot
behind the station

                .   .   .

A parakeet lost in Grant Park
flies from one maple tree to another
banging her head in the branches
The soft bed-woods of the Amazon
the eiderdown spruce
the cottonwood
the wooly oak

…only hard maples in the park

                .   .   .

my words prey on my mind
you pick those you like behind your seven teeth
swallow whole berries just to hear them swallow
pretend to be a dog or groundhog eating grass and swilling at the
garden hose
you’re a bear
browned, ferocious and naked bounding over lamps and picture
frames bellowing
hunted and hunter
through the dog’s door and freedom under the asparagus.

                .   .   .

the busses jockey for position and line for blocks
empty and waiting as the rushed afternoon shift breaks at Ford
the drivers crush their waxed cartons of milk
chuck the last bite of bologna on white to the sunflowers
rev the burly GMC’s and follow each other
all the way to the loop.

                .   .   .

So new you are
from the rest
of us
squeezing our feelings
like eggs
or buttons
like skin, teeth,
fingers of the dead
with which we touch ourselves.

                .   .   .

The hands of your mother are maps to guide you into yourself.

                .   .   .

The warm air suggests summer.
Under the apple tree frogs divide the seasons
croaking after each other
and the young.

                .   .   .

Your laughter stops you
wrestling with your face as it drifts over
wide and round
you’re not afraid
don’t cry
you seem to wonder at its similarity to something you know already

your name is not your own.

                .   .   .

I’m alive again in the dream of racing over open roads.
You lope beside me as I accelerate and feel the tires lift
I’m intent on speed
you’re content to move
your skin shines with the silver oil of seasoned wood
your tiny fists flay the air without anger
as much as I would like I can’t slow down.

                .   .   .

Tender shoots of the crocus poke through roots of crab-grass
the rake pulls them shivering
taut as nipples
under the rubbing.

                .   .   .

Jason, your name is my wish

                .   .   .

When the bells of the town clock check the silence
I confront the dog
that hangs inside my dark eyes.        Pick
its green-cased blossom
and drain the juice between my teeth

                .   .   .

I’m naked in a small wood
the sun bastes the leaves over my head
across the clearing
the monarch butterflies are turning north
I watch their brilliant dust
settle in the weeds.

                .   .   .

Short turns of the scythe crop the old corn
you straddle my shoulders
as I walk
between the rows
the tassles stand high
and you ride them
weaving and rocking in their delicate dance.

A Christmas Present

I’m on a highbacked sofa in the Al-La-Deen,
I got a scotch & water workin an another
on the table. There’s this chick doin the popcorn
tryin t’get her tights straight an a off-duty priest
sluggin on a warm beer. The bartender’s dryin a glass
when the door opens an in walks this Amazon, 6′ if she’s an inch. She’s got this long, shiny black hair that looks like combed tar,
an when she takes the seat cross from me I bout shit.
The bartender comes round t’get her order for a gin over
while I light the cigarette she’s squeezin & pushin
with lips that work like bellows. We got it together,
I think, when she leans down with this big grin
an starts t’shimmy from the seat, reeel slow,
til she’s up all the way an reachin for this switch­
The next thing I know she’s got her hair off
and she’s hangin it over a chair, an then her lips, an nose an…
she keeps takin it all apart and layin it down
til there ain’t nothin left cept her eyes
lookin up from the palm a one hand, an I see
the priest’s asleep an the bartender’s readin the scores
so I gulp my scotch t’make it
when this mouth comes off the table growlin
“Where in the hell you goin with my new toy”.

It’s A Cinch

Yeah, I found the Plymouth where you said you’d leave it
and the trail of Coors cans that kept me goin fore they petered out.
Been camped here three weeks.
My food’s runnin low an I’m pissed.
Wherever you’ve gone
can’t be that good.
Maybe it’s best we split,
I’m bout due for a rest an followin you
ain’t no fun…member tha time in Denver
when I’d hang round the Squire
til you got off. I liked that. Seein you
ditch the boss t’leave with me.
An the scene in Chi.
when the x-cop tried to make time an I had to pistol-whip the
jus to get you out (spent 6 weeks in the slam & never did know
where you’d gone).
Ain’t this never gonna stop, truckin over hell
an freezin my ass t’boot.
One more day an I’m gone.
Even if you show’d right now, even
if that light’s your car, I don’t think I’d care.
But then, I’ve known worse, I guess, an if it’s you comin on so slow
I’ll make room and maybe find a bit a food,
you must be hungry after all this time. It’s a cinch
I ain’t gonna starve the best piece a ass in North Kansas.