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Have you heard

Passionate pounding

of the inflamed

Wrathfully reddened

Raised Fortress-Like

On heights above flotsam

Creates singular contrast:

Crystalline ink cliffs

Scarlet tides overlook-

A sunrise landscape,

The settlements of age

Steal crimson luster

Solid walls crumble

They Splay

Grant wider borders

To moments territory

Across this world’s body-

A sunset landscape



About Brand

I started writing this strictly as a poem about tattooing, but I started thinking about how the life of a tattoo isn’t that different than the life of our bodies and really how neither is that different from the life of any physical structure.


The passion of youth, like the pain of fresh ink which is slightly raised like a newly erected building-that’s an example of the kind of connections I made when writing this piece. As a tattoo ages it is no longer inflamed and often the ink lines will widen, just as castle whose walls crumble from age creating a wider area from the debris, just as our age, usually makes us more prone to consider the complications and motivations behind a conflict, rather than just reacting; to get to this last idea I’m building off of the image of the fortress as the citadel of a territory, where “wider borders” in relation to tattoos mean the thickening of lines it  means a greater no man’s land between territories.

I feel like I probably tried to do too much with this piece and I don’t spend nearly as much time as I should on these “about” sections, so I’m under explaining the overly complicated. I’m in the middle of getting new ink. So I thought I’d dust this off, I may even start working on it again.










Character Study

Who am I?

Am I the convicted murderer? The comic book geek? The weight pit junkie? Am I the college graduate?

I admit it!

I am not the person I portray. I am not that person I want to be. Not exactly. I am not as strong, or fearless, or as selfless as I would like. Sure I try, but I am prone to profound despairs. I so very often want to surrender.

I never do. I always conceive some new ploy or stratagem.  Some false hope. First I convince myself I am backed into a corner, bloodied beyond saving, then I come roaring out ready to fight. I hate myself for that sometimes.

Can any prison sentence rehabilitate that?

Am I my desires?

I would like to laugh more. I want to regret less. I want to live up to more of my ideals. I would like to impose less on the people I love. I want to be just as difficult to deal with as I’ve always been, Maybe in different ways. A little more inspired, a little less foolish. But only a little. I wish I weren’t so crazy. I wish, for just once in my life, someone would love me enough to not leave. No matter the obstacles.

Think I can fantasize that away?

Am I my own creation?

I have worn the skins of so many hastily scribbled characters. I have peeled each off, scrubbed and scraped each away. From each I kept something, clung to some aspect I could not simply cast aside. The faint lines left after erasure. Am I the sum of these collected pieces?

Am I that small core which decides these parts are worth preserving?

The distinction sounds academic, but to me it seems deeply important. Though I cannot articulate how. Or why. Does considering these questions determine who I am? Am I no more than the questions I ask? Am I the answers I come to?

Am I strong enough to lift that off my shoulders?

Am I a work in progress?

I learn. It takes awhile. I am learning that as I strive and sacrifice, I am, in fact, surviving through insanity. I have found that sometimes, with perseverance, I am, in fact, the hero I hope to be are not all that far apart. Sometimes. I have discovered the path to wisdom is paved with perpetually broken hearts. I am learning that the only fate worse that death is a perpetually broken heart. I am learning that my past and my loneliness are as inescapable as this cage.

Does a degree open these doors?

So, who am I?

An untethered island forever floating around the edge of the archipelago. Some flightless creature leaping from cliffs.  A poet, writing with razors across wrists. Just some faceless specter passing through your life. The mixed metaphor which explains nothing and means everything.

A character study carefully wrought from chaos.


About “Character Study”

At some point when I first decided I wanted to write, I figured out that I would have to be willing to reveal painful and embarrassing truths if I was ever going to write anything worth reading. Character Study is a kind of self-portrait, intended as a way for me to understand how I saw those truths.

Character Study can be found in my collection Oubliette and in the  graduate issue of Writers bloc.

I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on this piece in the past and I decided to post it here to see what you all think and because it’s how I’ve been feeling this week.


If you would like to purchase a copy of my book Oubliette please contact me.









(For, Russ, Jodi, Eric, Vinny, Tom, John, Mikey, Brian, Steve, Amos, & Kim)

My mind is a cemetery

These blue-gray eyes regurgitate

Dissecated corpses

Whose lives I’ve swallowed

And held inside for so long

I’m swollen with every death

Except my own

My thoughts slide across

Floors greased by blood from

Your slit wrists

And I wonder if I had enough

Spread this hand for you to hold

If I’d tried

To slam the door on the car

That became your coffin

If I’d been there

Could I have cut

The noose before it was tied

To connect bars to your neck

If I’d just kept

My temper and some patience

Would your bones have come to rest

In some unmarked bush

Left by vengeful fingers who

Couldn’t reach me

From the dumpster where

They dumped you

Carved open and squeezed

Dry of every heart drop

We possessed,

That’s when they killed me too.

Yet I linger mausoleum-like

Shoving ancient remains from shelves

To make room for new vacancies,

Your tongue less skulls

Crowd my shoulders crumbled façade

Whisper soliloquies

Which leave me empty



About “Somniloquy”

I have memories of fun and laughter where I am the only person still alive. So many of my friends are gone now that I often wonder how I’m still here; I, the least deserving of them all.

The original versions of this piece are longer, sometimes much longer, but I had to cut it down to approach something good enough for those it’s dedicated to. There are more names which deserve to be on that list, more stories that deserve to be told, I’m working on it.




















This lamp

Hangs precariously,

Wayward perched

It shines inside.


By threadbare cap’s brim

It spreads heat barely;

Still it lures

What would fly,

Elude the dark.

It’s light bounces

Around the walls and walls

And walls

Then absconds

Too soon

To do any good.

It’s skin brittle,

Its filament thin-

A tiny shake

or slight crack

Could end all brilliance;


Blind to any


But these confines

Always alurk

Just beyond senses





About “Luke”

The Cornell Prison Education Program has a kind of literary magazine called Writer’s Bloc and this piece was written in response to a prompt asking us to write a poem about an object in our cell which is a metaphor for our life (full, disclosure, I wrote the prompt).

Anyway, “Luke” means illumination and the poem uses my clip-on lamp as it’s symbol. I wrote the piece with the idea that I am never able to fully express the things I have inside me, I always fall short, and yet some people seem drawn to me-sort of pulled into orbit-but those people never seem to understand how very fragile I am.

I’ve never understood the strength people think they see in me or the light. I know I have beauty inside, I see a world much better than the one we live in and I try to impose the one onto the other. Is to try and fail continuously a kind of tragic virtue?

If I have any light worth sharing I suppose it’s my vision of that better world and my resolve to love sincerely. My sadness is the ever-present shade which caps my dreams and leaves me longing in uncertainty and self doubt. I am confined by more than concrete and steel