Published Works

If you're interested in some of the poetry that I've published so far, I'll post them to this page. I will not be posting any unpublished poems here, but if you're interested in reading more (or if you want to publish some of it for me) let me know. You can find my contact info on my Wanna Talk? page.

The Chaffey Review IV (Spring 2010)

A Resting Place

There used to be a bright garden down the street,
verdant grasses and tropical flowers.
It was my oasis in the concrete desert.
I would sit at the base of a peach tree
and watch the indigenous creatures wander back and forth.
When the sun broke through the clouds, the water would glisten softly,
but when there was no sun, when the clouds moved in,
the garden never took on the sinister nature of the city
instead it glowed with an inner light subdued by the city air.
The comfort I found at the base of that tree
provided a needed break in my modern day, my escape to nature.

There used to be a bright garden down the street;
it was my oasis in a concrete desert,
but now someone has painted over it, large bubble letters
spelling out Justine in neon blue and orange, 
on the water an indecipherable symbol.
What’s left of the garden is pealing slowly away from its brick fa├žade
Exposing the city for what it is, as the passing sirens swallow my oasis.


Call it a feeling and cheapen the worth.
This anachronism of the soul,
called on as the outward show
of the inward mind.

This false ghost,
haunting the unstable dreams of self-worth
called upon 
                    by the weak to excuse their wrong doings.
                    by the strong to excuse their true desires.

To say that the lost soul of the disembodied spirit
could fall to such disrepair is an affront to the heart:
            The body’s Rose.
Seat for this discordant desire
truly called on by the veil of self-guile
the want to be
                        a part

What a difference a space makes:
In that space comes the true confusion of the heart, 
an explosion of what we once thought to be true:
With a space it calls for unity
yet once together it desires to be torn apart.

Such is the confusion brought on by this rose
the center of the matter:
            Conflagration or Coronation.
Crowning achievement of the lost soul?
A generation not withstanding itself 
to call on those who came before,
one stand wherein it must, to itself, remain true.

The rose of life, 
                           fed by its own death, 
                                                              like a phoenix come back over the ocean, 
stands at the brink of its own destruction and laughs.

Talking in circles-- turning your pen on end 
to trust in the refuse of your own mind.
The flotsam of creation is the past burden called forth when needed.
This saintly anachronism of the soul
called on by those who fail to see the connection 
between what was and what will be; a future in need of a past.
Transfixed on the brink of self-worth,
held by the song of heartfelt tears.
We stand, paragons of self-discovery, lost in the mire of the soul:
Feeling that which cannot be called a feeling;
finding the rose of thought and soul in one flesh.

The Battered Suitcase (Winter 2010)

Tasting Iron
Helen Dushner
January 18, 2008

It was snowing that morning I remember
           because there was a two-hour delay and I had just reset my alarm
The phone rang and I let the machine get it
           her tremulous voice came over the speaker in the other room
                      “Call me when you get this . . . it’s . . . well gimme a call.”

I knew what it was; there was no need to call her back

                      “You don’t have to come. It might not be . . . could be a false alarm”
                      “Do what you think is best . . . I’ll understand”

I made the phone calls:

           . . . can you 
                                 . . . thanks 
                                                       . . . yes I need coverage.

The drive over was hard. Crystal flakes settling on my windshield
           it was snowing that morning, I remember because there was a two-hour delay
It was raining inside too but the wipers didn’t take care of that
           did I turn on the radio or listen to the snow floating?
When I walked in and heard it I thought
           so that’s what a death-rattle sounds like
I couldn’t help it.

She would have been upset.                                        She could have been a movie star,
Knowing how she looked now                    never went out unless she was all dolled up.
she was a fragile shell of herself                         There’s this picture of her at the beach
laying in her bed, eyes closed                                                  standing next to her Andy,
it was like she wasn’t even there.                          she could have been Marilyn Monroe.

I listened to the air rattle inside her
           I remember it sounded painful
She inhaled shallow, laborious, slow
           It was snowing that morning
held it for a minute as if savoring the moments
           could be a false alarm
then the soft gurgle of the air escaping her mouth

                      “It doesn’t hurt her . . . doesn’t even notice it.”
                      I do
                      “that patch is more for the family, dries it up.”
We called the priest.
                      “We could bring in a harpist?”
                      We laugh . . . Can’t you see that . . . see her . . . 
                                 “What the hell is that thing?”
                      We laugh again . . . got any Jazz?
                      That’s more her speed . . . Yah and a highball

           Man did she love to dance.
           “I remember when she would sing . . . beautiful voice.”
           “I remember when she would take us out in the snow and spin the car out.”
                      It was snowing that morning I remember
The snow had stopped when the priest came.
           He commented on the beautiful day.
           I remember it was snowing The sun shone brightly

           Let us pray . . . Our Father
                      I bit my lip
           who art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy name.
                      it wouldn’t be right to cry
           Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
                      I tasted iron
           on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day
                      the snow
           our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses
                      I can’t say the words
           as we forgive those who trespass against us.
                      I bite harder. 
           Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
                      blood from my blood, flesh from my flesh
           Thine is the power, and the kingdom and the glory forever
                      she taught me this

He leaves us. He was sorry, but he had to hurry. He had appointments to keep.

They turned her on her side. She looked more comfortable.
                      “Do you think she can hear?”

The other tenants murmur in the hall, they know 
           It was snowing that morning
They gather at the door as if it were a nightclub
           she was a partier . . . boy did she party
But velvet ropes keep them out
           I still taste the iron

           I wiped the stuff from her face. 
                      She would not have liked it 
                                 . . . she was always so particular about her appearance
           what else could I do? It was settled in her cheek, the patch wasn’t working
           thick strings running down her face, it looked uncomfortable so I wiped it away.
                      What else could I do . . . she wouldn’t have liked it.
She opens her eyes for the first time that day. 
           It was snowing that morning
I kiss her forehead and say I love you.

I tell my mother her eyes are open.
           she coos softly to her,
                      “it’s okay, your Andy’s waiting.”
She was always afraid of the dark.
                      we love you”
           Laughing over her bed, my aunt and I. 
                      I don’t even know why.
                      “we love you, it’s okay, go to your Andy”

           hey . . .
                         Is she . . .
                                                         How do we . . .
                                                                                    she is.

The little girl, newly old, crawls into bed with her mother
           . . . she cries
we sit witnesses to why we were there
mouths that cannot speak, minds that cannot think

           It was snowing that morning I remember

that painful numbness that is left,
silence falls on us in heavy flakes
The only sound was the ticking clock on the wall.


I see your willowed eyes in the darkness
on the window frame of night’s cool embrace.
The broken musings of a poet’s heart resurface
and from these nightmares I hide.

My silent words have found a voice again
in the stars of the broken window in the run-down house.
The shutters I thought were locked have come unhinged
while the frets of measureless music throw them open
and through this unrequited vow of silence
the unsanctified monk withdrew from the cloister
of human decadence to the self-riotous field
bathing himself in the river of self-pity
flowing from the decimated spring from which Alfather drew the stones.
Mimir would be proud of this silent house I tried to build,
surrounded by the dying orchids of last spring.

I still remember when I could throw a lasso around the cloud
and pull it down to earth where I could feel it.
There was a certain power in that desperate youth,
the once forgotten wonder of the wandering stars.
But the anvil on which my wit was forged,
pounded out that magic, extinguishing the gasses that held my wonder.
Now I wonder why the stars moved to that broken house
and where the clouds found room enough to sleep.

The dollhouse dreams of my abandoned mind
cry out in pity for the muted eyes and blind tongue,
asking why the stars are encased in glass

and why the trees were planted in such neat rows.

Writing Tomorrow (February 2012)


It starts with the rain falling down in sheets, droplets of glass
tumbling unchecked passed the clouds, through the air,
hitting the trees and the grass on its incessant way to the ground.
The soil soaks itself in the bounty and the world becomes mud.
When the deluge lessens and the setting sun shines from the tops
of glass barked trees, the colors spectacularly brilliant against 
the still grey sky, the fire of greens and yellows and indigo.
The sun explodes on the horizon, sending shards of light 
bouncing from the clouds, the glass barked trees shatter,
the flowers, drooped under their new found weight, whither,
as the grass tries to catch the shards of light in little beads
only to be struck down by their droplets of greedily gathered glass.

In the harsh light of morning, 
empty houses with rotting roofs
stand next to overcrowded schools 
with windows of brick and mortar

and churches with locked doors.

The Vagabond Sings to his Nightingale

           Go to, sir; you were beaten in Italy for picking 
           a kernel out of a pomegranate. You are a vagabond 
           and no true traveler.
           (All’s Well that Ends Well, II.iii.275-277)

Winter’s cold cruel eviserative power
           known to chill the bones of Gaia
Demeter’s curse on the world for the loss of her daughter
                      taken by a man she did not love

        but for a small red seed, 

                      Persephone’s arranged marriage
                      her walk, her peaceful lot, torn in two
                                 a cruel cold that will last until her return.

Was there another way before you?
           Demeter’s curse the constant state of being
knowing only the open meadow blanketed and hidden from view
                      lost to its brightly colored denizens

           but for a small red seed,

                      Unknowing of another way
                      between the cold and the ground, an ember
                                 smoldering in the vacant lot, the blanketed meadow

Like the hidden rubies of a hard shelled pomegranate,
           hidden from view of undiscerning eyes,
the ember glows ignorant of Demeter’s curse
                      ignorant of the winter it chose to confront

               but for a small red seed,
                      of what was there that had not been
                      You saw something in the vacant cold
                                 relieved something in the thawing hoarfrost

Since I have known you, since we began,
           Persephone’s return eternal, 
The ever-present Spring winds brush the roses from your cheeks
                      and place them in the vacant lot

but for a small red seed,
                                            this vagabond

                      this wanderer of seasons finds the coverlets have grown warm
                      with you by his side, my Persephone, my Juliet
                                 my nightingale.

I will sing my praises to your immortal Spring
           to the flowered fields surging with the winds
and thaw my most unworthy of eyes 
                      of their hard shell and reveal

but for a small red seed, 
                                            I would be lost

                      having found my worthy nightingale, the sweet juices of paradise, 
                      having found my Persephone and her garden

                                 we build on the newly thawed permafrost, the once vacant lot.

Natural Derivative

The candle of the day flickers against the walls of the sickly sky.
To the west, on a hill, a silhouette against the darker half,
the citadel of progress chokes out the lightening blue
as it coughs up its vicious vapors on the pleasing plain.

I stand in the middle of the intersection,
In the middle of the road,
In the middle of the city,
In the middle of the morning.

Silently the sleeping city suffocating under sycophancy begins to stir,
the great beast chokes up another bout of breath before me,
the great carbuncles of its breath burst forth upon the walls,
and the hum of life begins to flow through the city’s veins.

I watch the cars float around me,
the cars that carry the life,
the cars that exhale mini carbuncles,
the cars that drive the progress.

The candle’s light grows brighter in the distance, no wind able to extinguish
a single flame now hung unceremoniously on the walls of the sky.
Mankind’s new forest, his new land, awaking to another new day,
the repeated magic of twilight’s half-brother losing power through repetition.

I watch the sun stroll to its place,
the sun walking the usual path,
the sun sitting on its favorite branch,
the sun sitting on its favorite balcony,

The morning’s crisp air rushes past me spurred by a truck carrying trees,
synthetic life pushing aside the currents of reality for it own benefit
I watch as the world around me claws the throat of itself only trying to rebuild, 

Reconstructing that which it destroys through the ever present desire to create.


I listen 
            to canned music 
                                       and skateboard chords, 

waiting for the westbound train. 

                                                       Alternating subway winds
blowing in my face, 

                      a buzz 
                                 lingering in the early evening
                                 on empty tracks
                                 with the quiet conversation of strangers.

Subterranean rails roar 
                                                                  relentless in the singular night.
                      Wanderers            sharing only their air, 
                                                   each staring blindly forward.
                      Only a mother and her child, 
                                 holding each other, 
            while night plays outside these halogen tubes
                           lock eyes for a moment

                                                                  before the child 
                                                                             looking at its own reflection 
                                                                             in the subway car window
                                                                  begins to cry

The train doors 
                          that refuse to stay closed 
                          keep them in.
The specters of the midnight rail, 
                          standing still
                          in their own reflections

A man down the car rambles on about a door he once knew, 

           the words dying 
                                      in the air 
                                                     before he can grasp 
                                                                                     their meaning.

Reflections of the exterior world press against the subway window,
the lights and people, 
                                 shadows of reality,
                                   like the man’s words                                  that disappear 
in the dark platform air                               walking through the broken door 
                                      losing themselves                               into the imagined real.

The real 
           exists only in darkness; 
the rest 
           is shadow and light

below the other's surfaces, 
                                            hidden in the shadows of the moon.

                                 We fake the sun 
                                 to find comfort 
                                 in facsimile
                                 and derive meaning 

                                 where none can exist.

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