See Airport in A River and Sound Review online.

See Pat’s collaboration in Born Magazine with designer JD Hooge.


The Fable of  Sparrow & Ink (Saranac Review, Fall 2011)

There was a spill
where the monks had fallen asleep
facedown in their bookishness.
Pillowed in the cool weather
of time and no time,
they still believed in salvation.
Salve. Where their heads lay
smelled like bread rising.
The kind yeast of their scalps
swelled in the wavering light
of goodness and mercy.
Quill shavings, the sparrow at hand.
It was considered bad luck
to shake them out of their sleep.
For when the alarums sounded
it is they who penned
psalms from the thunder of war.
Where the ink spilled out,
the letters swam to be read,
the illuminated bird rose
to join its fellow creatures.



On the Diminishing Returns of Sparrow Song  (Saranac Review Fall 2011)

Often coppery,
it weighs less than a penny.
A poor alarm clock, its choruses
of Pink! and Oh dear me,
dubbed in the Guides as“insect like,”
stack up as mere
figments of the imagination.
And like the imagination,
impossible to embrace. I agree,
its flame is best described
as what you cannot see—an ambiance
prized only by poets and schoolchildren.
“Amusing,” “a candle in the dark,”
when remarked on at all.
Elusive as coffee vapors. People can’t grasp
the meaning of its plumes
On the battlefield its currency
is vague, too—familiar, noted
with a sigh only after the survivors
have all crawled away.
How even Radio Prague laments
a shortfall, piping up from around
the tombs of the ancient Jewish cemetery.
On the scale of one-to-ten,
English, Math, and Recess rank higher.
Upon the heart of things, it waits
to be counted. The last person to try
went mad among the fencerows.



For When Stray Dogs Occur  (Poetry Northwest Fall/Winter 2010-11)

The broken heart of knowing you will never again
see Venice for the first time. The memory of water
because it reminds us of water.

The scent of a city sinking, setting, splashing
in water--Atlantis afflicted
yet muscular.

The mirror flicker
of water lapping at the doorsills
in the abundance of a clear October day.

Stepping from the train with a bottle of champagne
from overburdened travelers from New Jersey--luggage
overflowing into the aisles.

A cool breath on the nape of the neck
rides down the steps with you. Stucco & stone,
a cat, or murder, behind every gate.

ipse dixit



Afterlife   (Poetry Northwest Fall/Winter 2010-11)

If you see a ghost 
but it is a dream ghost, prowling
an image, half-done, unsettled,
and it is your mother, or some part of her,
as if interrupted in the effort
of heading through the door,
the hesitant step making it clear
she isn’t happy there either,
for a time you become a believer.
She is loose, and pacing.
The floorboards say nothing,
the walls don’t wail.
Her dark red lips are firm,
parted, horribly, as if
starved to finish, this time,
something that needed saying.
The final word, or release, you hoped for.
What did you want her to say?
No longer the liver yellow of illness,
the terrible black pans of her eyes
stare back, perhaps to see if you are there
but they too are empty
and have already moved away.
Clothed in Kodak black­—oddly,
a stylish coat and hat from the 40’s­—
she, or it, has turned the room cold.
If the rest of her is cloudy,
less substance than fog, you know
she isn’t there, but
she doesn’t stop, either. In your mind
she has come to check on you
but not to shed light.



Complaint    (Poetry Northwest   Fall/Winter 2010-11)

They tried X-rays to burn the warts off my knees sandbags to hold them down a blue bike to tip me over on gravel to get them ether to cut out my tonsils a night nurse to knit me to sleep a Howdie Doodie puppet for tenderness a piano for my ears an opening door to break my pinkie finger a needle and thread to sew it up a typewriter for the mumps calamine for chicken pox Camphor Ice the common cold a sword-swallower for fear a wave to carry me under blades for my feet to slide across ice a blindfold for the concussion a quarter for a tooth a dollar for an A for opinion a penny broken glass to cut my feet a pack a day to sex up my lungs Vanitas to quit a razor dropped in the shower for a night in the emergency room a knife to cut open my breast my belly take what they would a bedpan my ticket home plastic and wires to treat myopia a hammer to beat back my reflexes a shovel to break my back a rock to stub my toe bloody a sink to split open my lip concrete to break it open again a surgeon to chastise a blown out tire to drive me off the highway a ditch to catch me in time


On Asparagus (Ascent: 31/1 Fall 2007)

That’s what they do; everything weeps.
Adam Gopnik, Paris to the Moon

When I think of asparagus,
the embryonic greenness
of their heads poking out of the dirt,
I think you do not like them.
Out in the yard
where I am most at home, I am
tending the sisters of asparagus—cutting back
the late fronds of fern, the apricot lily
nipped by the recent frost.
Inside one glove a small anemone
of cancer festers on the hand,
the other harbors an old ache.
My greenish thumb had a brush once
with growing asparagus.
Soon cowed by the years’ long
cycle from crown to spear,
I developed a fondness
for farmer’s markets. Disdain not
what comes from dirt.
Unlike flesh, asparagus
is not ravenous,
but meditative, ephemeral
as dreams.
The point is, I cook by heart,
without thought. With asparagus
there’s the sublime
prolonged consistency
of the section beneath the head.
To find the tenderness
one simply snaps off
the toughness where it breaks.
Nor do they bleed. When cooked
the green brightens, the smell
blossoms in the nose. Then they turn a little
moist and weep,
as all of nature must weep
to become food.



The Woman Who Cries Speaks (The Iowa Review: 35/1 Spring 2005)

“Then she went to sleep and oh it was so hard not to cry. So hard.”
--Ida, Gertrude Stein

But then it is hard to cry and sleep at the same time. So I cry a little first. Cry sleep cry sleep. Sighs get in the way. Yes they do and are not pleasing. Just that lull makes me wipe away a tear. When I dab my eyes I wet the little letter B embroidered on my handkerchief and have to get another out of the drawer. Oh. The candle by the bed is always burning and not burning. What could be sadder? And if I then lie down and cry, as I turn over the sheet gets wet and there is the dampness I feel on my shoulder and the crying begins anew. I have tried hard very hard not to cry in the morning but the sun shines through the window and you know how that is. I do not cry over rain. Anybody can. Sometimes I go downstairs and slice up a pear. It is the teardrop shape I feel a special kinship to. Its sweetness tells me I should be resting now. I cry and keep on crying. For a long time I cried over the whistling teakettle. It was very pleasant. The dog barks the stairs creak the stoves hisses I cry. If I cry too much the tears in my nose taste like a tin cup. No one comes to see me and I cry though I do not like visitors. Why is that do I suppose, then I cry some more. Milk spilled on the linoleum is nothing to cry over. Of course not. It is not interesting. Crying is so interesting I thought I would go to Boston. I rode the swan boats. The swan boat man does not like pedaling and steering all day around the pond, I said to myself. That made me cry. Then the little boy leaning over the side with his lollipop tumbled into the pond. His white dog went in too and floated away. Tears flowed so hard they thudded on my chest nearly tipping the boat. We did not go much of anywhere but around, tossing peanuts to the ducks. Oh yes.


Walking After Dinner (Mid-American Review—Fall 2003, Pushcart Prize 2005)

we head out the levee road
to where three gray donkeys
hold down one corner of a pasture,

their croaky voices anthems
tugging us across the rocky landscape.
Lulled by the half-light I think

the older one has reached the bottom of things.
It sways me the way their ears hang
out. In the field of weeds

blamelessness lies everywhere.
How their feet don’t get tangled
where the barbed wire is down.

It isn’t grief that curves toward us.
It is a kind of mercy.
Stepping in to the opening

we scratch their available necks,
raising slow clouds of dust.
They let us,

standing dopey-eyed in their beggar sleeves .
In the rise and fall I think even this
is a kind of survival.

It’s a consolation
the way they stand in the light,
gold clinging to the air around them.


Sirens on the Fourth of July  (The Iowa Review: 35/1 Spring 2005)

On the balcony a sway of three girls shoulder-to-shoulder facing out in dresses offering little resistance to where the river bends, hair abuzz, sparks from their bare-arms dotting the violet sky. A smell of small fires breathing air. It is the song of their backs strung with spines that irradiates the room, and doesn't care who hears it.  I watch how the harbors of their necks are made navigable by the phosphors they shed, and mourn for any who can't find refuge there. Though I can't attest to their innocence, it is to their benefit they don't know about the wings, each vein intact, the stirred weight still folded beneath their dresses, or the distress caused by river light breaking through the cracks at their feet. Sea lions slip from the rocks. Ships' engines slow to a moan. It is futile to try turning sailors back once they ache to warm their hands by the fires on shore. The girls' waists are perfect. There is damage where we are drawn to the flame. If they want whatever they ask for it is only because they want—no spleen, no undercurrents. For now, they don't need to bow from the hip to hear the river say what it says to their hair.