Come at a Price

Marquês de Pombal

The amount of alcohol in her drink.

The loudness of her laugh.

Soft shirt sleeves, brushing raw, coded skin.

Tender angst made her…

Makes her

Voice rise

Like dinnertime restaurant dishes.

All she said, forgotten.

All she would have said, remembered.




The High Lakes

The high lakes, frozen, clear,

Distort reflections of the mountain.


Old men with trekking poles

Filter through the forest.


All with some form of Achilles

And Homeric hunger pangs.


Drawn to recite soliloquies

To the unmoving cold.


Return to the parking lot

To winter tires and snow chains.






She sets a folded towel upon cool sheets, her ass makes a depression on the mattress.

Silence is never a full-proof method of understanding each other, even if hands are involved.

They touch, then they talk. Talking is never a full-proof method of…

His leg dangles off her bed. She gets up, opens the closet door.

There’s a mirror attached to the back of the closet door. She sees my reflection and doesn’t know it’s her. She touches the mirror, thinking, as she always has, that it will lead somewhere.

She leaves fingerprints.








The Town That Fell Into The Sea

The ocean hides, sitting low like the winter sun.

Its sound seeps through knolls

Through sand, vine, and footprints

Through trees rooted in confused snarl

Threading lightly between our anonymous hands

Our faces washed away


Until the lights of Highway 101

Reattach themselves to the coast range.



(Photo: Reflection from Tillamook Bay, during the oncoming night in the fog)






Above Multnomah Falls

This warm winter makes the creek scream like spring.

I dip my hand in, as far in as my long sleeves let me

Smooth stones, slick, cold life, years in my hands.

My fragile blood beats, knows the water by heart.


It’s good to be wary of the speed of the current

where it licks up upon the shore, sure feet are never a given.

It can bite you, gently, or with unforgiving teeth.

Its noise covers all voices, who’ve come beyond the falls


I head for snow level, it’s high for this time of the year.

Pine needles dot its surface like a mild sprinkling of spice.

Towhees, ravens, and buntings call with haunting songs

An echo between their voices, moves with the forest, downhill.


There, below, near the river and I-84, the creek is a maiden jumping.

Thousands of selfies, one tripod, a few point and shoots

attempt to catch her in the act of hitting the ground.

She refuses to pose.






The Wind Chases Feral

The wind is amplified by the valley.

A sign, to go no further.

This wind searches ravines, ravages tops of evergreens, escapes up through mountains, lets loose upon a cold sky.

A harsh exhale, a winter bite, snickering past sunrise, diving into sunset, searching for the ocean.

She knows it. It’s a part of her.

She rides…runs. Her scent slips ahead of her.

Then, a lull, a hush, which become wishes, thoughts of the dullness of heat, of a soft warm glow, a purr between rattling storm windows, a cup of soup.

But these are old memories and she’s not sure they’re a part of her like the wind.

Here, she knows she’s one with dead leaves, the falling of rain, the touch of snow. She’s been here forever or so it seems.

But cold is cold. She’s argued with storms more times than she can count. And she must sleep.

The night is a shifty creature.

She lies upon a bed of ferns, pulling dirt, leaves, moss over her body, a live burial, her ritual, to hide from the wind, to become the wild dark. That’s the only way to become invisible.

Her fingers ache.

Tomorrow, she thinks. Tomorrow when the wind dies and the sun stings the forest, she will find her way.




A Cold Bridge

On freezing nights when the river settles, the reflection of city lights is clearer than the real lights. She views this better on the bridge, her winter pilgrimage.

Colder than the air, she grips its handrail. Her hands pull away only at the moment she can’t feel them. It’s that pain she’s after, of her hands warming up after they’ve become numb, filled with little sparkles, needles, the slow throb back to movement.

But the lights found on the river’s surface hold a deeper meaning than pain for her.

She trusts the reflections more than real lights. They have a glimmer that’s missing from the real thing. She knows this not to be true. She knows the side of reflection is fiction, but, in a way, she believes that her wishing, a wishing so deep, so intense, begins to create an alternate reality.

She thinks… No. She knows there are millions of others just like her, wishing as she does. And with that power, alternative realities are coming into being, piece by piece, wish by wish.

Someday she’ll attempt to reach the reflections.

For now, she will settle for a hand on the railing, looking…looking…until she’s numb…again.

She’s on her tiptoes.



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