I look back on this day some twelve years ago, I’ve sought the right words all day in the back of my mind, trying to figure out how best to capture the feeling, the emotion, the raw and hard to digest reality of what happened. So many lives, like a whisper cut off in a dark room, no more speaking and no more filling the void. May whatever good thing there is beyond us in the Universe shine upon those silent voices, those that died that day, and died in service in the days after.
I remember that day, as we each do, so very vividly. I was in my Sophomore year, a religious kid then, watching the world come unglued. I remember the TV on in the classroom and all manner of hell raining down. I remember watching the news people trying to make sense of it all as a second plain hit on live TV and in seeing that I knew the dark and ugly reality that in this world, anything can happen. The carpet can be pulled out beneath our feet at any moment in any given day. We were not invincible, the we being not us as a country because our country continues onward, tested and tried but not broken, not so long as we the individuals that make it up continue to fight the good fight and mix our voices together to be heard, so long as we continue to dream and believe in Democracy and in what is good not only within ourselves but our fellow person. No, the we there is purely us as individuals, we each, individually are not immortal–a sobering thing to a guy at that time a teenager with the world before him. Youthfulness has the lie of immortality burned into his being, but that day was a rude awakening for us all.
I remember the first time I went to NYC, the first time I saw the gaping wound of what had happened. I was underground looking up, wondering at why Daylight was shining down on a subway car and then I realized I was underneath where it had happened. Realization upon realization but nothing can prepare a person for a thing like that. It was eerie there, silent, a hallowed ground of spilled blood and punctured innocence, of trial and tribulation. Evil had touched this spot and good people going about their lives had died here. There were ghosts here, but not all of them of the literal kind. These were the ghosts of what had been before the towers had come down, of what would be after, of dark days and hope being challenged. But in the end our flag pulled us together, we reached out and in one of our darker days we rallied together behind each other, we were America, We are America, and we knew then that not a damned thing in this world would snuff us out if there were still one of us left to fight, to stand, to push back the darkness and to shout down the threat, we would not go silently into the dark night as Thomas Dylan once said. No, we would not surrender so easily. We are a nation of people born in boldness, and courage, and audacious dreams, challenging enemies both foreign and domestic, and challenging in the end, even our own selves. We are a noble people, not because we are simply born to it, but because we have dreamed the heights and pursued it with a tenaciousness never before known in history and we would and will I hope chase down that dream and grand experiment so long as there is a flag to ally ourselves to…our daring symbol, a bold reminder of where we have come from and where we can go. Thirteen colonies and a ragtag team of people against an empire.
This day, I think all these many thoughts. I remember. I mourn. I feel the inspiration of their brave American Spirit, those men, those women, those brave heroes that dared so boldly that day and fought all the many challenges they faced. And all the Heroes that came after, that took up their banner and fought in the years that came of this ugly thing. My gratitude, my humility, my service, my respect to you all, living and dead. Rest in peace to those that died, rest in respect to those still injured, and for those continuing the fight, I stand beside you.
May whatever good thing there is in the Universe shine upon us, may the good moreover inside each and everyone of us guide us forward, and may we find the dream still alive and may that dream that is America, and is Democracy, and is Equality, and is brother and sisterhood and common cause, and revolutionary spirit and boldness and courage, may it never be snuffed out and may it ever be dreamed. For this, and the United States of America, I wholeheartedly pledge my undying allegiance.


Lost Highways and Exit Ramps

I hear Odin drives an old beat up Ford
Primer for paint and two coon hounds chasing smells
From one end of the truck bed to the other
Howling something fierce the whole way down the road
On that unknown highway, chasing dreams, booze and ass
Trucker’s cap tiled to one side, shaded eye
Long Beard
And Mother Mary stands with thumb 
outstretched looking for a ride
Joseph got old, and not with age, baby Jesus come and gone
The excitement a blasphemous memory
We all chase the faith just the same
Even if it ain’t faith we know it by
But some other name

I’ve been down some of those exit ramps, they always
Say, speed up near the bottom, on these darker roads
Construction zone signs are a given, only the danger
Is the drive
Been down them exit ramps on backroads 
In places I don’t know
Chasing the saga of some elder mythology
Some broke down, lint in the wallet, college student dream
Like Poets and bards of yesteryear

But by God, look at them stars, stretching out, teasing fingers
Like man and God, the constellations touch ever so lightly,
Separated by a billion million years
Made in their image, our atoms see their reflection
And in the black void of our being, big bang lets loose
Her sweet song of chaos coming down the turnpike
Promising a chapter two…or is it three?

Let’s hop in the old car, two door handles missing, one
Window doesn’t go down, and see what sights there are
Chasing campfire trails and the thick smoky promise
Old stories, time travel, adventure and a warrior’s game
I know your soul smiles, I see it through your flesh
You remember the old gods well and the rush
That was pagan magic and runes and circles and dances
Wilder days are imprinted on our being

I hear the whispering sound of your life living out
Loud poetry has called, but something more
You’ve awakened what amber promises and beer bottle hope
Was only the first baptism of, what those other things
Teased and promised,
Poetry has revealed.

The lost highways are haunted ways
Of hunger and never being satisfied
Of living best after you’ve died
Not to flesh or paper thin realities, but to concepts
Windows down on that older road, listen to the tree frogs
Hear the wind singing her song to the rhythm of pine trees?
Smell the pond thick with stagnant green algae
The creek is calling, her melody your melody, poetry
Alive. Glory to the gods, a being come alive
Haunted ways are calling
Who will you be?

From a Project (9/7/13)

From a short story in progress (Crude pre first draft, reader is warnedl):

There was something cold in his touch. I felt death in his grip, and whether it was just the cold creek water rushing by or the final fading moments of his heartbeats friction, I couldn’t tell, but there was no warmth to be found in the man. I thought all this in the flash of a lightning bolt, as my eyes frizzled up like a furious photograph being taken, and I looked on the black and white negative of the storm water before me. Where in God’s name had this poor bastard come from?
The lightning was gone, I was blind, and only the thunderous roar of the chocolate milk colored water was my reality. He was flying by, the rapids taking him, the river some two or three miles down the way was hungry. I acted on a cocktail of reaction and instinct as I yanked backward, trying to free the man from the grasp of the creek. I felt him spin around in liquid fluidity, closer to me, close enough to think I had him, to think I was winning. I dragged him up the sandy little pull off at the edge of the drive just below the big orange outside light and electric pole, the transformer buzzing all the way to the ground. I fell back, planted my feet on the loose ground, dug my ass in, and yanked with all the strength I had.
It did so little good. I had him, but the trouble was, he woke up or came to a fright and all of a sudden he had me. There are few things more dangerous than a cornered animal, in fear for its life. And that’s all any of us amount to in the end, cornered animals, all of us in some level of realization to our own grand demise. He gripped my hand hard then, only the coldness remained, but the death was still in question. He yanked back all of a sudden, I thought then it was fright but in the days after I wondered about that.
By ass started scooting, my feet lost their grip and before I knew it I was sliding toward the raging water. I felt my heart tumble like a fallen gymnast, all in ugly slow motion, first it was excited, and then it was free falling, and now it was hitting the hard floor of my stomach and leaving me in the grips of an ugly nausea and horror. I was heading for the goddamned water and heading fast. I remember thinking, the whole time, my family won’t even know I’m gone for God knows how long. Rachel is in there right now, scared shitless and rounding the kids up, not even thinking I’d be so damned dumb as to get close to this water but here I am, and heading straight for it.

Of Coffee, Caffeine, and Morning Breezes

Just heart burn, a bowl of cereal, and The Civil Wars playing

Thinking about a woman I don’t know

Or might know but not know that I do

Wondering how much longer this trying road will wander


Life is like

And then I stop, because the truth is much more troubling

Life is like life, and that’s all

Any of us can truly say. But that’s alright, ain’t it?

Just one more soup bowl to be cleaned, that’s life

Summed up with a side of toast and raspberry Jelly


Long day stretching out across a short horizon, has the sun

Wobbled up over them Kentucky hills?

There’s something to be said for the smell

Of coffee, caffeine, and early morning breezes


Got my poetry packed, my stories ingested, notes ready

Pen in pocket, jeans laid out, shower going

Teeth brushed, and student’s mask worn

But still I’m sittin’ here wondering

About that fat burning ball of light, the short stretch

Of a long day. What’s the creek smell like back home?

Sugar creek, Lock 8, old hills, little holler

Here I am in Lexington big and wide

Thinking of a little place down the road,

Wondering. What’s this day going to hold?

Sewer Song

The sky falls down, broken

A thousand soft shards of hard rain

Heaven’s busted night light, carrying

The orange ember promise of a street lamp

Down to the curb, swirling

Catching the city filth and unwanted to manmade

Rivers—sewers, drains, channels—to creeks beyond

Sewer Songs busted up, bleeding out, from swampy lungs

A night time story no child wants to hear

Whispered on the crackling disagreements

Of a Cloudy night time sky in an urban holler—

Burrows in between the buildings

Can you see it? The angel wings in the rain drops?

A sad song carried on the rhythm of the unseen

Sewer song, beneath the concrete tomb

We encased the earth, her face swollen,

Mother Moon watching her sister, night time sky,

As she weeps and down comes the rain

Not a House, But a Home

I was born of creek rock, Indian Soap, and chigger patches

Raised up on the dancing embers

Of a burning hot stove making dry wood

A work of art with its fiery touch

And burning appetite

I am the twang at the back of the throat

That sounds like banjoes in a july festival

Learned out of me by my hunger for a proper education

Until I fill my fuel tank with Kentucky water and shining moons

Bourbon truths on full moon liquor

The echo of generation upon generation

Rising up like muddy water

In the Kentucky River, rain drops falling

Making her grow fat and furious

The spring mud slides and roads buckling

Under the shifting weight

Of all that change

I am birthed in the firecracker pop

Of a February freeze

Winter’s fourth of July declaring

Independence from all the safety of warmth

And modern civilization

I am born of the tree frog song croaking out

On a creaking night and Katie-dids doing

What Katie-dids do, firefly Morse code

Two blinks, one blink, two blinks

Katie-did songs and tree frog revelations

A summer night on lock eight road

I am the home of all these stories

As much as they are mine

Little trailer with the built up room

And the porch light burning defiant against the night

Not a house but a home.

The Punch Line

(Dedicated to Danny Cotton, written in the ink of my tears. Find peace brother)


Life so short,

you were a gift

to the world

partially opened, only

somewhat unwrapped.

A Gandhi waiting

for the mic to turn on

you were heard

in the amplifiers of human heart,

felt in the vibration

of friendship.

A tidal wave of reality, shifted

by your presence,

by your loss.

Candles will burn

in your memory, causes will glow

new life, your legacy

a long beam of light.


Today, we will hold

our friends, hug

our moms, gaze

deep into the wizened eyes

of our fathers,

contemplate the deeper meaning

of liberty, democracy, and truth,

of life and passion, of laughter.

Your lifeblood

is life force for a whole

new cause. I am awakened

by your sudden sleep, I am listening

now more than ever

to your silent voice. I will dedicate

this poem, to your memory

write the next poem

to your legacy, as I try to do you some honor

carrying your banner, lighting myself

in your laughing true passion,

walking into the darkness.


The joy of God,

it is said, is a life

truly lived in

passion. Your life is God’s joy.

Smile, wherever you are,

yours is the best punch line

delivered. You made a joke

of death, by a life

well lived.



%d bloggers like this: