The Ship: A Ghost Story

Once upon a time

a lonely ship

sat arrested in the sea 

tethered tightly

to a steel Dock 

by a hemp Rope

Her deck was 

weathered and splintered 

In chipped and cracked red letters 

her name was scrolled upon her hull:


Her figurehead was 

the carved bust of a Siren

with head thrown back

arms stretched upward to heaven 

Around the Siren’s slender waist

the hemp Rope was bound

half green with algae 

half bleached white by the relentless sun 

brittle and fraying 

but with expert knots 

too sure to ever come undone

The PERSEPHONE had bobbed 

up and down in the waves 

endlessly and ceaselessly 

for how long, no one knows

but each time she rose and fell

with the tide, her Rope slid 

along the unforgiving leg of the Dock

The ship longed to sail 

though her sails were tattered 

her shrouds, defiled

her mast, broken

her rudder, frozen

She pleaded to the dock 

to bring her a sailor 

The Siren on her bow sang day and night:

“Oh bring me a lad 

with a sea weary hand 

but a kindness behind his strong touch 

Oh bring me a man 

who will sail me to land

and I’ll rest in the sand Evermore”

But the cold steel Dock never answered

It is said she endoured 

this lonely, ceaseless surf

for almost nearly forever

until the hemp Rope 

was worn thin

and the sharp steel of the Dock’s leg 

began to dissever it 

One day,

the wearied Rope gave

falling away from the Dock

and collapsing to the ocean 

clinging desperately to its surface 

by tattered strands

drowning, at last

Some folks say

that the PERSEPHONE set adrift to sea 

receding further and further 

away from the Dock 

until she was in deep waters

rocking wildly on her battered keel

waves crashing over her sides

she took on seawater

until her stern went under

until her bow went under

until nothing was left 

but the Siren

hands stretched to heaven 

and then only her Rope

Some folks say 

that another ship sailed by 

and that the captain of that fine vessel

reached down in time 

to grab her Rope 

just before it, too, went under 

and he towed her to safety 

to the other side of the world 

Others say she is still down there 

beneath the surface of the black water 

waiting to be discovered 

by some deep sea diver 

with romantic notions of buried treasure

But perhaps her ghost 

has come up from the depths

sailing swiftly back to her Dock

tethered there once more 

to sing to him, endlessly

It is said that if you stand near

under a full moon on a cloudless night 

you can see her silhouette 

I’m sure you’ve heard her voice 

haunting him

Other folks say 

PERSEPHONE was rescued 

before the vast abyss of the sea 

could claim her

Restored and repainted 

by caring hands 

renamed the “APHRODITE”

Sometimes she sails, swift and sure

past the steel Dock 

but he doesn’t recognize her anymore

Though I used to stroll by her 

along the boardwalk 

on dark days 

when the mist hung on my face like tears

I do not know what became of her

I walked away from that shipwreck long ago


sketching the moon on Madiera Beach

we first saw the moon

grey-toothed Cheshire smile

loom above the path

at twilight

tracking us

into the disappearing sun

on the Gulf

it peered its one-eyed scowl

following us toward the pier


we sat cross-legged

on a sheet

on the shore

sketching the reflection-moon’s

decent into the tide

a lemon slice

cutting through the night

spraying with waves

lapping the sands


near midnight

lightning whispered

in our periphery

the clouds hung respectfully

about the corners of the moon

closing curtain-sky

as it was pulled under

growing blood-orange

and striking out

at oblivion



your lonely lips smolder

seek heat from other sources

while mine burn cheap scars

into unworthy opponents


wasted moments



your unattended lust wanders

finds home in worn-out hollows


well-worn paths

to old flames

and regret


my lust rages

an untamed ocean

swells and crashes

onto unfamiliar shores

sweeping the sands

of simple lives

into my riptide


my cunning mind

untapped resources to entice

but, I faulter at deception

unprecedented declaration

deny friendship and loyalty

defile budding reputation

throw caution to the tide

and arc in desperation


still, my cunning mind

sources to entice

oh, Lover

your lonely lips still smolder


can’t find them in the night

blinded by the light

of so many other




in the infinitesimal space

between neurons

firing and misfiring

lives the tiniest glimmer of hope

that our love was made

of precious metals

alchemical magical solids

not pixie dust and wishes

floating in the ether

where I am searching

without a compass



in the black expanse

of my mind

where we are stars

you, expanding, consuming

sucking my light into your void

where I am angelic

with wings rubbed raw

all the dust washed away

my dreams left skeletal

I am searching

between the near and far

within the known and unknown



in the infinite moment

before sunrise

I stand on the horizon line

seeking tomorrow

behind the shadows

the promise of light

hanging heavy in my heart

but my eyes are searching

between the day and night

between the cracks in the sidewalk



in the here and now

bodies rolling together

skin touches skin

like ocean meets sky

above you

light as air

warm as sunshine

you are roiling deep

and I am searching

behind your eyes

I am searching

without a compass


Love is a Verb

Our love is perfectly imperfect

We, perfect opposites

Maybe not what they call a match made in heaven

But clichés never worked with us, did they?

In life, there are many important choices

You are what I chose


I met you in a tree

You, high above me

Shining example of masculinity

I had to catch you

Pull your gorgeous body down to earth

where I could map your terrain

But, you were as hard to catch as an ember

Though an easy fire ignited between us

A slow burn that lingered at the back of my mind

Golden flames licked

and we consumed each other


Was it fate?

We fell right in to place

puzzle-piece precise

We were infected, but we said it wasn’t serious

It doesn’t really get complicated

until lives become intertwined

Now, our roots are tangled together in the mud

Trunks combine where we’ve needed to lean on each other

We’ve branched out and branched again

Always reaching for Heaven


It may be you saved my soul

I was adrift. Floating in a sea of misinformation

With you my eyes are open.

And maybe I saved your heart

Lone tender of the lighthouse

High above it all

Warning of the dangers of the world

Your lonely brightness called my name

A beacon for me to follow home


I was a rolling wave looking for a rock

You, the only one who could tame me

Because I was wild at heart

Feral in relationships

I bucked every cage that every man had ever tried to put me in

Always clinging fiercely, but not for life


You taught me to hold loosely

And to let go

Let go, though it undid me

Yet, I learned

you are not so much a balloon untethered

as a jellyfish with navigational powers

You are not something that can be lead upon a string;

a kite ready to tear free and give itself to the wind

or a big fish struggling to break the line and swim away from me

You are more like another planetary body orbiting the same sun

just on a slightly different trajectory


Loving you has taught me patience

That waiting need not equal torture

That everything really will be alright


That I am stronger than I thought I was

More substantial than the ether I sailed for so long

It proved to me that love is a verb

Forever is a choice

That you are the one for me because we make it so


You are still my Adonis, high above me

But, with feet rooted in the rich soil of our beautiful life

Strong arms protecting tender sprouts

And our love is growing. Always growing

Perfectly imperfect


A beacon that guides me home

I Believe in Forever

I believe in soul mates

I believe in the definite possibility

of reincarnation

Because I know I’ve known you before

I believe in love at first sight

Two souls recognizing each other

across the infinity

Remembering when we were one

and in that oneness

you were me

and I was everything

and I was you

and you were everything

I believe in firsts

First smile

First kiss

First moment of true bliss

But I don’t believe in lasts

I believe in bodies becoming one

Limbs that tangle

and slip into each other

I believe in the memory of touch

Scars that can only be felt

I believe that souls can be tethered

That I am a fly

caught in your web

and I am the spider

I’ve felt your vibrations over the ocean

I believe in the ever-after

That I could wait 1000 years

Your softest lips will kiss me awake

I believe in dreams

When I am with you

in deepest sleep

I believe that you’re with me

I believe in love

In so many kinds of love

I believe in a love that defies time & space

In the non-physical

when we are stars

In the rocks and the trees

Streams that flow to the sea

Like a moth follows the moon

and the intoxicating perfume of a flower

and the star-dust pheromones

dripping off your wings

A bread crumb trail I follow

to your heart

I believe in meant-to-be

and that it doesn’t always work out that way

But I believe in next time

and the time after that

I believe in forever

Putnam’s Arms

Clay in the soil

keeps the rain

so that when it storms

little ponds pop up

in every pock mark


It is Summer

There is a shower every day

Frogs hold soirees in the evening

Their love a chorus

carried 360° around our home

In the morning

there will be jellied eggs

like wet chia seed clumps

floating in the puddles


On the lake

I see a swimmer

when I take my morning walks

She swims the length

of Melrose Bay and back

I would surely die of heart failure

from fear of giant gators

But she swims dutifully

with cap and goggles

and has yet to be eaten alive


Afternoons are filled with art

and music in the park

Kids collecting tadpoles

discovering treasure troves of Melrose Rocks

Everyone visiting

because everyone knows everyone

and there are stories to be told


The sun sets

in pink and blue ribbons

at the end of the hidden boardwalk

There, the dock has a view

worth battling ticks, spiders, and mosquitos for

It is where we hiked as newlyweds

to celebrate each other with an ale

It is where my parents

take out-of-town guests

when they want to show off

the serene beauty of their bay

It is a spot only the locals know exists


The path is muddied

because it keeps the rains

like so many bodies of water

cradled by the arms

of our winsome county


Turn up the radio

to occupy my mind

while my hands

scrub, sweep, bake, diaper

wipe up another spill


This sad, sad song

builds a lump in my throat

takes me like a fever

sing along off-key manically

gasping for air

as words catch in my mouth


My body remembers freedom

long lazy days of passion

partners in a young paradise

addicted to adventure

focused on what you feel


My eyes see clutter spilling over

my soul is drowning

in dirty dishes and shit-stained laundry

suffocating on cat hair and dust bunnies

I watch the hours of my youth tick away

while I drive carpool

and march single file

in the endless drill of the grocery line


I had technicolor dreams

the road map to get me there

but now I work 24-7 at a thankless job

while student loan debt roils

in my rearview mirror

and my degree putrefies

filling my nose like the trash

I should have taken out yesterday


My husband can sell his soul

to keep the bills paid

kill his time with video games

sleep on the guest bed

sell his soul to keep bills paid

kill time with video games

sleep on the sofa

sell his soul

with video games

and almost never

sleep with me


I’ll just turn up the radio

let sad songs drown me

and dirty dishes bury me

choke to death on dust

they’ll discover my body

when they get hungry

Lessons from My Father

You taught me to drive

on a 3-speed stick-shift V-8 pick-up, no less

You taught me to appreciate

coffee and early morning quiet

and the importance of trust

You taught me patience and kindness

All of these lessons that have shaped me


You’re still my super hero

the way a dad should be

You don’t have to save the world

you hang clotheslines

and your granddaughter’s swings

Your super power is always being there

whenever I’ve needed you


You left on your bike every morning

but came home for every dinner

You never missed a big event

or a small victory

Your consistency was a priceless gift

that only now I can fully appreciate


I know now what strength patience requires

I know now the inability of strong arms

to protect a little girls from scraped knees

How a heart can break in proxy

when she loses a much-loved pet

I know the uselessness of prayers

to protect from the ever-ticking hands of Father Time


When I hold my girls through their tears

I remember you holding me

in your lap in the pink rocker

so many times

I remember encouraging words

and listening ears

when I was in doubt

I try to be the parent you were

when I’m at the end of my rope


You are the person who taught me

what unconditional love and acceptance feel like

For every lesson, I am thankful


are you an iceberg

or just a cold man

floating in the cocktail

that was once my bubbling life

watering me down as you melt

a sad little puddle of anger and delusion

a snowflake that thinks it’s granite

a drop of water that forgot it is the ocean


I am the Titanic

and whether or not you are deeper than you appear to be

I am bound to sink

for I thought myself unstoppable

too big to be undone

turns out I’m just as full of hot air pockets as you

each filling with ice water

the cold is becoming unbearable


I used to be a flame you worshipped

drawn like a moth

’til you were close enough

for me to melt your skin

tough-guy candy shell coating

crackling between my teeth

I used to chew boys up and spit them out

like cheap chewing gum

you stick to the roof of my mouth

I gag and gag

but have no way of expelling you from my life


for you have me tethered to an anchor

(payback for all those Bubble-gum-boy’s hearts)

trapped by the enormous weight of my love

the bird-like rib cages of three small sisters

cage me like a criminal

behind the walls of my own home


and if all these walls could speak

would they spill my shame like a river

rolling over everything

bursting pipes

burdening septic systems

until sewage seeps up from the front lawn

so the neighbors can smell the lies behind the smiles


and you, an iceberg in the mudslide

pulling me under

battered by the debris that was my life

head barely above the surface