la push

winds like wolves
rattling earth with rabid fury
rising as storm to devour the moon
leaves darkness to swallow man with beast

in a shadowed room
defended by one single point of candlelight
the memory of a million watt smile
like a bolt of lightning turning night to day
keeps the girl safe in bed
dreaming of home.

like eric bana in a red shirt and cowboy hat
who played the husband in the time traveler’s wife
i wondered what it would be like if i fell for a cowboy
he’d been leaning in the corner watching me without watching me
and in that moment, did a little spin with a hat tip that was meant for me
but still without the courage to meet my eyes.

he was dancing for me
i liked that he could be in sync with the whole or
in a rhythm of his own
but i pretended not to notice
mostly out of not knowing what to do
with a beautiful man in unexpected form
thick black hair and neat beard
proclaiming a polite wildness inside him
that he might let you touch if you’re patient enough.
a cowboy.
behold, the unexpected,
i’m being wooed by a cowboy.

he came over and leaned on the rail next to me,
so close i could watch his irises dance with the music
almost feel the heat from the sweat that made his
earlobe glisten
i pretended to watch the band as he
reached into his left front pocket
first taking out his driver’s license
then miscellaneous cards and change
putting them in his pants pocket
like removing armor in preparation for
laying his heart bare
he took off his hat and ran his hand through his hair
stealing a glance back to catch me watching
but still, i pretended to only be here for the band
feeling the band

we stayed like that for 3 songs
three feet from each other
electricity raising the hair on our arms
but not saying a word.

i can already hear my friends screaming at me for ignoring him

finally, as the band started in on “friends in low places,”
he politely said goodnight to the group on the other side of me
and left without a single look back.

i shivered, feeling a piece of me peel away,
some space inside me he was
occupying without my awareness suddenly empty
like having a tooth pulled
i immediately missed the beauty that had so presently
been so near me
immediately wondered if i would ever see him again
thinking that if he had said hi
i would have been touching the dreams of a cowboy tonight
wrapping him in the safe coccoon of my world where
all secrets fall away under the still blue eye of the moon

i didn’t worry about it though.
beauty comes and beauty goes
the only eternal beauty is the one that matches mine
i think with all the worlds we will conquer
when i meet the one who could really be my partner
the least he’ll be courageous enough to do is say hello

all these words…like dry ocean sandstorm
gravity hung upside down by his ankles
and the voice harnessing echoes
in the space between shadow and light

these words i could spin into towers for you
walls of sand so high
you’ll think you’ve found the bottom of the well
when you lift up your arms and scream into the night sky,
and the echo of your own name pulls you back to life
into a present autumn dawn
with a distant memory
of something once held in your hand.

11 in the pm

i felt your echo in the still blue wind
a thousand breaths waiting on a ghost train
a thousand eyes for a spotlight
a thousand distances that all knew your name
every one, except the one that knew mine

and yet, all it takes is a moment
the space between two hands keeping time.

to lift your head towards the nearest star
to place your heart upon the highest mountain
to fill your eyes in the pools of the moon and say,

today was another beautiful day before i met you.

i want to tell you the stories of memories. old men drinking whiskey in rooms drowsy with cigar smoke, speaking of time. daughters turned women. wives masquerading goddesses and shadows. the humility of old age. cars. impotence. teeth.

and single memories. perfect days. preserved as single roses on silent mountain tops, immune to snowstorms and time.

in the beginning there was me and you.

in the end, there was you and me.

what remains a question of in-between.

in your dreams, we are watching the moon.

in my dreams, you are watching me, too.


bright eyed mercurial child
a million stars of atlantis sky
bursting from the bottom of the ocean
can suddenly.
be still.
wave pools ripple silver animation
a naked kind of innocence
one look and she’s inside of you

will you come for the ride?

incorrigible sleepwalker
pretty little mindfucker
with mouth and hands that haunt
such an awkward, fragile creature
this one will never be caught.

she’s poetry in motion
compares to storms and ocean
heart like a giant
but all around…flatline.
magnetic polarity
minor cult infamy
an ephemeral symphony (when the mood strikes)
a smile that hits your tickle zone like a silk-gloved bitch slap.
the truth is in the eyes.

she is
passionate storms on black, endless nights
she is
forest earth rich with rainwater
she is
midnight to dawn in another place and time
she is
never the same person.

and then sometimes…

in the shadows of 3am…

just two bright eyes peering out from darkness
and the silence of the moon, breathing in time with the ocean.

the well (a ghost story)

i thought about the men i’d known over the years who were always toeing the line, their wedding bands mysteriously absent, sometimes leaning in too closely to whisper in my ear at late night industry parties featuring primal rhythms and open bars, subtly enhaling my scent so dangerously close to where a woman’s jaw, neck and ear meet to form the perfect storm.

some were more accustomed to the dark than others…you could tell by the shine of their eyes they were used to getting their way. and as with honey, no matter what corner, they could always find me.

that dark, mysterious, complicatedly uncomplicated place where a man goes to stand at the edge of a moonlit well as his wife and children sleep soundly at home, that place where the point of no return is a lot closer than he arrogantly believes… that place. that edge of oblivion. that place is where i live. and i sit quietly, waiting.

i see them on moonlit nights, looking for a game to test their might but not really believing what they wager can truly be lost. they come as shadows, in pompous suits and damp, naked fingers, asking for directions when they know exactly where they are.

i look them in the eye
and a grin begins to crawl
creeping through the room like a dangerous seduction

as she leans in

her cool fingers draped dangerously on his arm

(the last stop) whispering,

are you sure this is where you want to be?

as something inside flicks its tongue over the razor’s edge glinting shadows within the darkness.

the good ones always turn back.

on the first
of october i will mail
you what’s left of me after you
walked out six years to the day some
hair a few teeth the ashes of pictures long since deceased
and a whole lot of grievances
that don’t come cheap that i’ve
collected for you into something
familiar like a sixty pound
rubber band ball

my sole masterpiece
carving into stone to set the angel free
chips cutting into steady hands and making them bleed
but no other choice but to live
frenzy and need
to rescue the buried
and a shattering silent cry for a heart that arrived before its time
finally found
clinging to its other within rock
above me, the goddess laughs
a single light burning through black
while stones and hands and hammers below
dream of angels.

Doug J. Koonz Jr., Age 43, Certified Accountant and Father of Three, Pushes a Complete Stranger Into the Path of an Oncoming Train

downtown in the summer swelter
men in black suits
impropriety in shade and dress
jagged-eyed pushers with
mouths full of teeth
braking for the scent of submission

the subways packed by sundown
back alley whispers
smells that invade and pry away good senses
auras like paint swirling down rusted drains


trying to get out is hard work
you may as well stay
you may as well stay

he threw his life away
all his eggs in someone else’s basket
said to himself
dreams are but an immaculate memory
a consolation for lack of inertia

a voice inside interrupted,

do something. before you disappear

the urgency was palpable.

his mother always said
he never was one who could make his own decisions

until the tracks called out to him
widening its gaping mouth of insolent need
his own eyes reflecting the only answer he knew

who was he not to be generous?

looking out into the ocean
spanning into the horizon
a universe so much more expansive than this

the moon, a broken locket, shares its secret

i may or may not know you
but i love you.

what happens to people who wish upon a star, but tag their hopes and dreams upon a plane heading towards an unknown destination?

you and i are the same…flesh and blood and dreams that can not be contained.


because your spirit is free





may all your dreams come true

and may you never be shackled by the fear of those who gave up on their dreams


because one day it will all make sense


i hope someday you’ll find me

like the poetry of the ocean and the infinite horizon



because it’s the truth

because your heart feels what your mind can not contain

because today life has blessed you with another day of living
stretching out beyond all that can ever be known
beyond all that is everyone and everything


because today you are free

and the universe dreams of you
your hopes and dreams
your freedom
and it hopes that some day you’ll realize
the blessing of all that you’ll become
and the blessing of all that you can be
still as yet unwritten…

(letting go)

hey tantrum boy.

i’ve seen your loss
it was hiding in the same place
brooding like you
crouched in the corner behind all the other things you pretend aren’t yours
the dirty thoughts
the voiceless needs
the unanswered letters to a compassionless god next to the
empty cartons you hoped to someday fill with lofty dreams

i can understand.

you could not save your mother
i could not save my father

we are both failed
failed failures flailing
in a still bottomless sea
but it has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?

comforting more than anything
like eyes that bleed at will
a gangrened hole in the heart
or a fantasized bullet to the head

it’s so much safer to see yourself as broken
so the world will think there’s nothing left to break
grinding away the afternoons
assigning every fragment a personalized adjective


like items in a morbid warehouse
called out one by one
to be savored with a tongue of delighted pity

i’ve been keeping your smile for you inside my left pocket
folded into the pages she wrote about
her bleeding insides that she didn’t know you’d read

and the ticket to the movie you went to see the afternoon she died
when all you wanted was to cry inside a dark empty womb where
shadows might keep the thoughts at bay
but the fat guy in the corner kept laughing at all the wrong jokes in
all the wrong places and ruined the whole damn experience for you

it seemed too fragile to throw away

and someday when you realize how you’ve been missing it
you can have it back

and someday when you realize what you want from me….

if you sleep i can keep watch
i’ll pick up my pieces beside you and try to put this whole story together

when it rained
who to blame
why this whole damn place came crumbling down and
left the children without a soul to their name
stranded in the middle of a dry desert landscape
whipping up its own brand of nightmare

and when it’s time
when we can look back at all of this and laugh over ice teas in frosted glasses

when you can put your arms around me without feeling so lonely that
you would die just to be alone
so terrified to look into someone else’s eyes for fear of what they might reflect

you can tell me why it is
and whose fault it is
that nothing
stays in one place forever.

one more thing about my mother

my favorite recollection was when
she stuck her fingers in that cherry pie
(did it right there in front of the fluorescent-lit
deli section)
and pulled out two fat ones
gleaming red syrup
like movie prop stunt cum
sliding down her fingers
but never quite dripping
she held them up for some
imaginary live studio audience to inspect and approve
and with that sparkle of childlike glee in her eye
she slipped them into her purse

i asked her why she didn’t shoplift the whole damn pie
when her purse could fit a buick
and she said,

‘sometimes it’s the little things in life you have to appreciate’

she patted me on the back
a tender
lingering touch

maternal almost

leaving two red trails that had the dog after me
for days before i thought to wash that sweater

this is my favorite memory of my mother
long before she started worrying about the things in her
head that rattled the bars and threatened to escape
and even longer before
the afternoon i came home from sunday school
to find my mother curled up on the closet floor
a bible in one hand and my father’s
ivory-handled pistol minus a single rusted bullet in the other.

america the day it went cold turkey off of prozac

tonight america feels unsettled
like a blister on the brink of burst

the fires of the west have not stopped raging
not nearly enough to mollify the
slow burn of violence rumbling in its belly
digging at the seams

the moon hangs high
exuding indifference




neglected in its own defiance
a rotton child plotting with an axe

66 runs like a vein through the heartland
feeding off the windtossed litter of the desolate masses
but it’s the silence that feeds the slow burn
the silence that eats itself from the inside out
until there’s nothing left to be remembered by

on the shoulder near cleveland
a bum wanders the freeway
a forgotten man
following the twisted metal guardrail
through the tunnel of his existence
stumbling on a paved road that laps up
the hollow spaces in between
but never once choking on the things that
were meant to be kept

and if you ask him in a way that he knows you exist
he’ll tell you

he’s heard this place whispering
when it thinks no one is listening
towards a heaven overrun by sycophantic wings
flapping to the rhythm of a rhythmless beat
praying for an upended big rig
or a six-car clot to end its misery
and begging someone to touch its emptiness
to really feel it
before dropping it back into that dark
hungry space
where everything that is found
was once lost
and loss is the blanket which covers us
when our insides becomes too expansive to be named.

and you and i?

we slept in our beds
and dreamed our dreams
that shielded us from the nightmares
never aware of the world outside
swirling in its own misery
contemplating its meaning
until it awoke to find itself a butterfly in
its own dream
floundering deeper into a bottomless gulch
that was never given a name

and when i wake
you will not remember me

one day i will land softly on the tip of your tongue
a butterfly kiss that’s more a twitch than a tug
briefly reminding you of a truth that precedes the universe
and you will remember a time
from somewhere far away
in some distant memory
when you were loved
by someone who existed

and that, in itself, had been enough.

on american airlines flight
486 from ft. worth, texas
to detroit

i neatly autograph the plastic pretzel
bag of the sleeping woman in the window
seat next to me

(carefully placing it back on its napkin on her armrest)


just in case she should sleep
through the entire flight
she’ll have something to remember
me by.

here’s the closest I’ve ever come to explaining what it was like growing up, that black hole I carry with me that I don’t know how to get rid of.


when my brother rages
his face fills with blood and
his mouth snaps open
a high pitched scream
like an animal with its hind leg clenched
between the unflinching jaws of a steel-toothed trap

i restrain him by sitting on
his frail flailing body
feeling his primal fear twist and
claw against my overwhelming weight
as if subduing a six year old
whose brain will eternally reflect
only a small fraction of his age is
some heroic feat to be proud of

someone once asked me why we don’t put him in chains

i told her i would go home and ask my dad
but instead went straight to bed and prayed that
her parents would die in a violent accident
so that she too could know what it is to be helpless and flawed
in an thunderous world that turns a deaf ear to the tiniest voices

for a beautiful person

and i felt the echo in the specks of your eyes
the last traces of her still chilling in your own private spaces

into an annotated tableau

thinner than you would like to remember
chipped around the edges
but still
mama’s favorite warrior
sayin’ to no one in particular
(but everyone in particular)

‘you got me so sick with your sadness
i tell ya
it must’ve been raining the day you were born’

(but not really meaning it this time)

the warm air curling around your words
each soft curve upon hard angle
(like a woman’s defiant body when she’s angry)
swallowed by a dark hypnotic empty
until i couldn’t remember if they existed at all

and a distant train whistle
notes trailing behind a timid fingernail
drawn through a widening leadened wake
signaled another cross-country freight
deeper into the night.

i waited for you by the midnight tracks
loud moon howling,
get the fuck off my territory
but i didn’t know he was talking to me

blank eyed broken down tossed together
in a cardboard box
lost in the exhale of someone
who thinks he can ache harder
thinks his hands might be bigger than his broken body
bleeding to find what it was that keeps him from forgetting
a slow plummet that was over long before
it started
cracked by a rock bottom but at least there was a rock bottom
(don’t let them pity you kid
it’s not what you’re parents like to see)

when the distant screech of metal against metal
brought me back to life

and the whisper of
some say the soul departs long
before the body hits the ground

through the teeth of the wind

i dream in yellow
i dream of peace
i dream one day you
love all of me and promise to never leave
i dream of sunrises that swallow oceans
leaving puddles rippled by the gentle breeze
i dream i am afraid
they will someday swallow me

i’ve been running on dreams so long i never knew that i was running on nothing but fumes
this road been long and bumpy and its a long way to go to carry this body in the trunk
you never liked sitting there and i never knew how to drive
but we faked it just the same you and i
yeah we faked it just the same you and i
both so broke down inside heading down a freeway
built on nothing but hopes and wishes
washed out by all this fucking reality
of broken promises and fake kisses
lost in the desert air screaming by