Selections from “At Odds with Circumstance”

cover art by Nina Passantino Allen

Where Have You Been


Suppose the day begins with rain,

and a cat’s song beside the filling puddles.

The way to coffee is a lengthy trip

near the singing cat. Suppose

you have no robe and the coffee cup

dribbles – a slight flaw at the rim.


The day is hard coming.

The cat is not lovely.


For the night before was fraught

with irretrievable wonder

which left you with rain, left you

desperate for coffee – hot

but not so to burn your lips – lips

you almost pressed to another’s mouth.


She had you forgetting the low rent gig,

the ache in your hands,

these weary days woven with trouble.

The two of you swapped road tales –

stories curving around  beer bottles

like her mouth in the saying, an F#

breathed from the saxophone’s bell.


Suppose this is the note the cat sings

over your cup, suppose all you need

to hear is hard rain falling.




Memento Mori


A black bird flies over the garage –

in its claws some small creature

a mouse or such, carried away

over the neighbor’s yard – the sky today

smoked from fires in Mexico –

I watch the bird as long as possible.


Maybe that is the way to the other life –

I witness the carrying and note

how one small life feeds another.

Now a cardinal, brilliant in shrubbery,

orange beak and mask, obvious

as his mate feeds in secret.


A year ago cancer took my niece.

Two weeks with little rest – she ceased

walking then standing. Speech dwindled

to syllables then nothing.

In that time of extended expectation

the dying know only what we can give:


the mercy of medication and feeble words.

There I am cleaning pus from her eyes,

there is her heart stopped, the mechanism

of breath yet uniformed of its uselessness.

Here is the black bird, the cardinal –

along the way I surrendered my belief in hell.                      




Salvation is so close to salivation

the way we want a mouth

to be full, the way we want

seconds for that first.


Time is mere taste — no

the first was the seeing

and the aroma, so close

to tickling memory, recognizing

satiety. But not yet, not yet, not yet,


One thought on “Selections from “At Odds with Circumstance”

  1. Terry England August 14, 2013 / 6:00 PMAug

    Really beautiful. Really, really really.

    Sent from my iPhone

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s