Violets in Wartime





Tis the sound

Of violence in the springtime.



Hear the herald angels sing;

Up, onwards, and towards greater things.


Find me

In the fields

Where the flowers bend and bray –

They will not leave unspoken the words you meant to say.


There, I’ll wait,

Watching you by the Ivory Gate,

And dream I may, dream I might,

That you may join me another night.


You’ll find me, my love,

Where the violets in wartime grow gentle and green;

Whether they are a portent of things to come remains to be seen.


Before long,

The angels will be singing our song.


Until then, beneath the stars I’ll lay, free as a wildflower on her dying day.



What I’ve Tasted of Desire


Title is from a line of Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice.”

She’ll wear your perfume, but only once you’ve left, or rather, once she has chased you out, swift-sweeping all the remnants of you from her castle, save for a single bottle of the pink lilac scent you used to wear, when you were her lover.

She’ll burn your clothes, it’s true, and you’ll leave in such a hurry that you’ll forget your dream journal, which she’ll decide is too sacred to read, and into the pyre it’ll go – all those dreams you used to hold so dear, all going up in a blaze of glorious smoke.

Your books will end up in a bin in front of a library twenty miles out of town, though she’ll consider keeping Tolstoy, if only for the irony. She’ll decide against it, in the end.

She’ll pour your cognac down the sink, or better yet, toss the whole bottle into the ocean blue, for the mermaids to get drunk off of, and they, too, will feel the heat of the passion you once let smolder in between the bedsheets, which she’ll burn later, when she goes to the beach next Midsummer to light a bonfire in memory of freeing herself from you.

It isn’t until the quiet stillness of September of the year after dawns that she’ll gingerly free the bottle of perfume from an unadorned wooden box in the corner of the side drawer of her most frequently neglected dresser, and dab it between her breasts, and upon her wrists, and anoint her neck with the scent of you, breathing it in like a starving animal – and she will remember you, then, and only then, with some degree of longing, and her heart?

It’ll burn too.

I Wanted to Write You Into a Love Poem



I wanted to write you into a love poem,

But all I can conjure

Is a picture of a girl crying off her mascara

On a stoop in the south of Chicago,

Smeared burgundy lips wrapped around


Thin cigarette,

And the man she used to love

Entering the scene upon his exit

From the doorway with it’s crumbling yellow paint,

Pale, now, in the rising moonlight,

Faded from


Decades of wind and rain,

And the gun he’s hiding behind his back –

“Come in,” he says to her –

Voice shaking in the cold December night,

And she says


Words in return,

Breath rising like a halo around her lips,

But it’s lost to the wicked wind,

And he raises his hand and puts


Slim, flattening bullets

Into her, and the


Children they had together

Come running

Just as the church bells ring,

Announcing the arrival of the hour



It was June, the month of broken promises and hopeless dreams.
I was further gone than I’d been before, perhaps a bit recklessly,
But we were young and restless and the night was aging fast.

So we went to war, all guns and roses and bloodless violence;
The guns weren’t loaded, and the roses had wilted last month,
But we needed to see who’d be victorious, so we fought.

The battle raged on and on past the midnight hour, and I?
I prayed for my salvation, and that I’d die younger than the others
Because we couldn’t stop until there was but one man left standing.

It was June, the land of broken dreams and hopeless promises.
I was young, perhaps younger than I’d been before the war,
But the night was dying, and in the light of dawn I saw.

Morning was breaking, and I was too, but I’d be going home first
Because at my feet were the bloodied bodies of my allies,
Scattered amongst the wilted roses and the now hollow guns

I closed the eyes of the one I’d loved above all the others,
But he was cold as stone and the roses were quickly overtaking him,
Because as hard as I’d prayed that night, death had kept me waiting.

It was June, the realm of love lost and something called grief.
I lay me down to rest amongst the young roses, and, bitter, bitter, bitter,
I celebrated the century with a single deadly bullet called deliverance.