The First Breath You Take After You Give Up

Been a long time coming but here’s my most recent collection of poetry. I wrote these poems using only the song titles of different music albums. Each poem’s title is the same as the title of the album I used to create the poem’s text.


where orange danced with red

the sea streamed from your hair

in my dream

as you rose from the ocean,

planting yourself on the beach

as if nothing in the entire

history of the world

had ever been planted

by cross-pollination

or wind

or a gardener’s steady hands;

your shaking head

shook pearly droplets

from your hair; I watched

them fall, each a kingdom

crushing and reforming,

both calm and panicky

until the droplets struck

the sand and relaxed

in the potential retirement

amongst children’s castles;

the waves crept up,

covering your prints

as they darkened sand

and formed barriers

near shells and driftwood

like aged sailors’ faces;

suddenly I wished I’d

taken all those classes

to know whether chiaroscuro

might be achieved among

the glancing rays of the sun

in the beyond where

orange danced with red

and only black felt abandoned

somewhere in the past.

balloon animals

releasing worries

like balloon animals

at a county fair in lazy August heat

I close my eyes against

a dark ceiling,

feeling the closeness

of a bed under blackness,

counting that when

I knock in the night

you will have opened

the door come morning.


the periwinkle blue sky

stood bashful, aloof,

shuffling its feet

while its hands became

metronomes drawn

across miles of wool;

all the while tree shadows

like fingers sporting stubble

fly fish across the frozen

yard of hushed snow,

tensed, waiting

for the sky to extend

a hand in welcome.


Dear Present Me,

You’ll be okay.


Past Me.

P.S. (I understand)


Dear Future Me,

Please forgive and welcome me soon.


Present Me

P.S. (Past Me says you will be stronger because of us)


Dear Present Me,

I am waiting, arms open.


Future Me.

P.S. (I owe you guys everything)

and the pines became glowsticks

The few of us who stood

before the finale exploded

over the lake (casting

fairytale rainbows in

forest canopies)

noticed the putrid smell

of weed from somewhere

behind us and they told

me (a novice in these things)

“That’s weed, take note,”

and my nostrils said


and my nostrils said

“how putrid,”

while my mind said

“amazing, this life,”

and we turned back

for the show.

We saw the finale

and rewatched it

on a friend’s cameraphone

in blur and static, eerily

feeling the piratical edge

of this act, the resistance

explosives levied against

electronic entrapment.

The darkness made everything

later, everything sleepier

as watchers became


camp chairs and coolers

disappearing, folding away

into their normal crevasses,

unseen yet ever-ready.

Sulfur’s distant aroma

and smoke from burnt fireworks

lingered as we left.

Suddenly, gathered hundreds

became individuals,

all of us strangers.

we forget

We forget actors leave the set

and writers live outside their pages

and the president does more than speak

and pastors more than preach

and children more than play

and parents far more than work

and teachers more than teach

and the homeless more than beg

and the elderly more than sleep.


We forget the laughers will not always laugh

and the thankful will not always shout

and the winners sometimes lose

and the champions get embarrassed too

and the sun does not always shine somewhere

and the grass may be brown anywhere

and things sometimes unexplainably topple

and captured smiles do not entail anything

and today’s discovery may be tomorrow’s tragedy.


We forget that everyone,


still has to live

as much as us.