• alleluia



    she hadn't managed

    to keep solid food


    since the last meal

    they shared,


    and so it was

    dehydrated and

    faint w/fear

    that she came

    to the Tomb, awaiting

    the reek

    of despair and rotting,


    if she would be able

    to withstand it,

    knowing only

    that she had to Know.


    only weeks before

    she had seen

    her brother


    beyond Hope,

    from out the miasma

    of Ending,

    but this was different.


    she had known how

    to love Lazarus,

    w/all the fierceness,

    the childish loyalty

    of siblings.

    but she had never quite

    figured out

    how to love Him.


    and so it was dizzy

    and faint

    w/insecurity that she


    to the Tomb

    and, kneeling,

    looked inside


    and He was not there.

    a second wounding.


    it was a gardener

    who found her after,


    in the cold wet warmth

    of aching

    and the Garden

    on the third day.

    it was the gardener, only

    a Gardener,

    who Recognized her.


    with tenderness


    he spoke her name




    her Name

    on a stranger's lips:

    my Child long-hoped-for.


    it was then,

    and only then,

    she first learned

    how to love Him: no

    trumpets. no lilies. just

    dewfall, and tears,

    and Rising

    in unexpected places.



    16 April 2017

    (Easter Sunday)

    Berkeley, CA

  • anamnesis



    for Ariel Aaronson-Eves


    a strawberry is a ritual

    of planting and picking,

    kneeling and rising,

    licking juice from

    innocent fingers

    in summerhood and childtime.


    a strawberry is a liturgy

    I’ve learned by rote:

    sowing and reaping,

    wanting and forgetting.

    a kneeling and a savoring

    and a ripening of recollection.

    the work of the people.


    a strawberry is a prayer

    for rain. for amnesty.

    a steady job

    and a home and a bed.

    una oracion migrante:

    a traveling mercy.


    a strawberry is a prophecy

    of hands stained only

    w/crimson hollow threats

    and syrup, the promise

    of a New Jerusalem

    and an end to exploitation.


    a strawberry is an olive branch,

    an anointing, a covenant

    poured out

    in blood + sweetness

    for the forgiveness of many

    in the fullness of Time.


    a strawberry is a sacrament.

    a great thanksgiving.

    an acceptable sacrifice.

    a memorial.


    for this is my Body, broken for you.

    take this, all of you, and eat of it,

    in remembrance of me.



    May 2017

    Berkeley, CA

  • Arc


    After Dale Lamphere

    “Arc of Dreams” (2019)


    Dream comes to me, as she often does, at 3am, pounding

    down my door like delirium. “Jesus, Dee, d’you have

    any idea what time it is?” Of course I do, it’s the hour

    when the clocktower’s illumined with light not its own and

    the river’s gone all starry-night, weird and lonely. She makes me

    drive her, bleary half-waking, to Pioneer Memorial on the bluff

    north of town. The view reminds me, in a small way, of that

    time we sat together in a Volkswagen beetle in the Berkeley Hills

    and watched the sun cascade through the Golden Gate. That’s

    what Dreaming is, she told me then, oracles of international

    orange and endless, joining Is and Might-Be. At the time

    I misread her, leaned in for a kiss. (She was gracious about it,

    thank God.) Now we’re sitting side-by-side, backs pressed

    against the memory-cool quartzite obelisk, gazing out at

    penitentiary and cathedral, John Morell and Waste Treatment.

    “What did you want to talk about?” Oh. Oh, nothing. She

    pauses. Never let your dreams crush someone else’s.

    (A necessary caution in these settler-lands.) I wait a beat, then

    ask: “Have you seen that new sculpture downtown? They’re

    calling it the Arc of Dreams. You might like it." Visions

    don’t come true because you have them, she says,

    they come true because you choose them. I really

    want to kiss her, but think better of it. We drive back to

    my place, put on a Nick Drake record. She smiles, content,

    and passes out on the couch during “One of These Things First.”


    When I get up for work a few hours later, she’s already

    gone. A note on the end-table, handwritten: See you in

    New York. Thank you. Just like last time.



    July 2019

    Sioux Falls, SD

    Photo Credit:Neil Gaimon's Sandman

  • Elegy (Ghost Ship)



    [Dedicated to the victims of the Ghost Ship Fire on 2 December 2016 in Oakland, CA, and to all the friends, family, and pilgrims who have since made the warehouse ruin in the Fruitvale District into a living memorial. It is from their on-site tributes, love letters, graffiti, and prayer cards that the words in italics are drawn.]


    Spirit seeks Body

    Word seeks Flesh

    Ghosts seek Sanctuary

    Art seeks Home


    artists are society’s conscience


    Body is the Temple of God

    but how Incarnation when Body-rent

    so high?


       every artist creates a new world

    that has never been seen before


    new bodies, new buildings

    that Flesh can afford

    new Temples to replace skeleton cathedrals

    gutted by baptismal fire

    grand fountains decommissioned

    littered w/graffiti and disuse


    whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again

    but whosoever drinketh of the Water that I give

    shall never thirst


    this is no Water of Life my friends

    we must seek other wells


    seek the cure for what ails you


    Spirit thirsts for Flesh

    and Ghosts for living Water,

    not privatized utilities and H.U.D.

    (utility’s overrated anyway—usefulness

    won’t save the world)


    St. Elizabeth pray for us:

    beauty of Christ, draw me


    Body is the habitation of the Divine

    but Body needs habitation too

    St. Elizabeth pray for us:

    humility of Christ, humble me


    nothing fancy, just humble warehouse

    w/space enough to embrace a world


                                    St. Elizabeth pray for us:

    mercy of Christ, pity me


    Ghosts ask no pity just room & board, just

    room to move—to dance—to breathe—


                                    St. Elizabeth pray for us:

    spirit of Christ, enliven me


    Spirit seeks Body

    Word seeks Flesh

    Art seeks Home


    not old folks home

    (geriatric, gentrifying,

    dead stone housing dying breath)

    but Sanctuary and streams

    of Living Water


                                    every artist creates a new world

    that has never been seen before


    a world concrete can’t hold

    nor usefulness save


    a world saved by beauty alone



    January-February 2017

    Oakland, CA


    Originally commissioned as spoken-word component of the multimedia installation "Elegy for Ghost Ship" at the 2017 Spacious Grace Arts Festival at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

  • Every preacher has just one sermon so here's mine

    for Watertown Pride 2019


    I don’t know


    it was, but this

    I’ve learned

    for certain: it never was


    who told you

    that you are not




    June 2019

    Watertown, SD

  • Four Hafiz Poems



    Throughout February 2017, worship at Mira Vista United Church of Christ in El Cerrito, CA would open with a few lines from the Sufi poet Hafiz, in modern translation. After meditating together on the day’s reading, the congregation had the opportunity to write their own responses to his words and share them in community. I wrote these four poems on four consecutive Sundays. Together, they constitute an interfaith dialogue across the centuries: poet to poet, Lover of God to Lover of God.





    I. in taberna quando sumus


    I said to the master of the tavern: “Tell me, which is the road to salvation?” He lifted his wine and said, “Not talking about the faults of other people.”

    –Hafiz, trans. Robert Bly


    at roadside en route

    to the Kingdom

    there is a little public house

    where locals and wayfarers

    meet, share pints,

    anecdotes, beds: one

    Yemeni seamstress, one

    Cupertino tech baron, one

    Zen Buddhist nun, one

    Czech poet (down-on-his-luck), all

    Housed, all Welcome—on

    one condition only:


    nobody pays for their own drink





    II. “the words you speak become the house you live in”


    the quote is by Hafiz

    and the master speaks the Truth


    so: bearing that in mind:

    what of words we tweet?


    and likewise: what language

    is White House made of?


    in the Name of God

    Compassionate and Merciful


    may our Words be an acceptable

    fall-out shelter


    should they push the button down





    III. the sparrow’s reply


    I once asked a bird, how is it that you fly in this gravity of darkness? The bird responded, 'Love lifts me.'

    --Hafiz, trans. Daniel Ladinsky


    in this gravity of darkness

    frail wings are Light

    catching breezes

    illuminating ionospheres of



    we need harbor no fear of Earth—

    Love is both the force

    that lifts us up, and the


    that catches us

    when we fall.





    IV. eschatology


    Run my dear, from anything that may not strengthen your precious budding wings. Run like hell my dear, from anyone likely to put a sharp knife into the sacred, tender vision of your beautiful heart.

    --Hafiz, trans. Daniel Ladinsky


    in a rush of wings

    the angel Gabriel appeared to me

    on the road and

    spoke: hell is running away.


    from what? I asked, and he

    replied: from that

    which that bids you fly






    February 2017

    Mira Vista United Church of Christ

    El Cerrito, CA


    These poems appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of Cordoba Magazine.

  • The Garden of Earthly Delights


    A Postmodern Apocalypse

    (after Hieronymus Bosch)



    I. June 1998 – The Black Hills of South Dakota


    Slip on your day-glo-green Velcro sneakers, hoist

    the plastic tubs of Legos you have laboriously sorted

    by color and size because you are as anal-retentive

    an eight-year-old as ever lived, and roll out

    onto the sidewalk to build yourself a World free

    from the constraints of time and space, ‘cos today

    is the First Day of Summer and you have no responsibilities

    to anybody or anything except to swing from the rigging

    of a Spanish Main schooner into the banner-spangled

    courtyard of an early medieval fortress where you

    climb aboard your interstellar cruiser (powered

    by crystal-cold fusion because humanity sucked the earth

    dry decades ago forging planes and trains and automobiles

    and Velcro sneakers and little petroleum-plastic building

    blocks) climb aboard and sail away from school-bell structure

    away from parental supervision away from straitjacketed

    Causality into a world of Pure Imagination.


    …even the Garden contains the seeds of its own destruction.


    — — —


    II. April 2016 – San Francisco, California


    tires scree --- ee --- eech! and

    truck driver growls steel-heavy

                    get off the road kid are you fucking blind?

    storms off in irate clouds of exhaust

    dripping condescension motor-oil in his wake

    iridescent trails of tears

    perspiration rolling down your face

    as you step onto city-sere sidewalk into

    an air-conditioned Starbucks lobby

    order a smoothie with mangoes shipped ripe

    refrigerated from Tamil Nadu orchards

    straight to Oakland Embarcadero

    flirt with the pretty barista in the

    Banana Republic sundress (hecho en Honduras)

    chat about how unseasonably hot it is

    today at least it’s supposed to rain

    on Thursday we can sure use it with this drought

    yeah you reply God willing and the creek don’t rise                                         

    (you’re distracted by how unseasonably hot she is)

    you want whipped cream on that?

    what do you think sweetheart yes of course

    make meaningful eye contact one last time then walk back

    into the furnace sipping plantation Brazilian sugar and

    factory-farm-sweet dairy creamer watching the pavement

    absorb the last rays of ancient sunlight

    beating down from above reemitting it in

    heatwave-ripples blurring the boundary

    between Real and Make-Believe a boundary we

    long ago disregarded in our devil’s-bargain quest

    to get back to the Garden circumvent

    the commandment to earn our bread

    by the sweat of our brow and seize immortality

    an inconvenient truth we’d rather not entertain

    ‘cos then we might have to peel back the mirage

    and face exactly what we’ve lost


    — — —


    III. April 2016 – Fort McMurray, Alberta


    Even dawn comes reluctantly

    to this place, blearing red

    and scabrous brown through

    clouds that suffocate imagination

    and blight faith where it stands,

    a ghost-light illuminating the corpse

    of what once was Earth but we cannot

    call it Earth any longer for Earth

    is a living being and nothing lives here

    where Mordor-flaming swords raised over

    dark satanic mills illuminate slag-heaps

    and pools of toxic sick, here where

    the very stones cry out I can’t breathe

    but nobody heeds their gasping pleas

    because no life matters here only

    black gold and avarice.


    Behold, you who were created

    in the Image of the Most High!

    Behold the world you have made!

    Look upon your creation and call it

    good, if you’ve got the balls!


    Behold, and be grateful that

    although you became like gods

    when you fell you did not assume

    all authority. Be grateful that you

    are sub-creators only, and that there

    are green pastures and still waters

    as yet unstained to greet you out

    the other side of this shadowy vale

    through which you stumble

    groping-blind, immature children

    who forgot or chose to disregard the

    one-only Rule of the Game: Creation

    comes with strings attached, not of

    Salvation and Damnation but merely

    of Cause and Effect, and the One

    Who Made You also left you free

    to fashion your own Inferno

    if that is what you choose.



    April 2016

    Berkeley, CA


    This poem was originally commissioned by the Episcopal Chaplaincy at the University of California (Berkeley) for "Going through Hell," an interdisciplinary symposium on Hieronymus Bosch & Dante, in April 2016. It was also used as part of an original multimedia piece with artist Teniesha Kessler at the Encyclical Gallery in Berkeley, CA in October 2017.

  • Grace


    I awoke from that

    recurring dream

    where I am responsible

             for everything

    and good

              for nothing,

    awoke and breathed

    relief into my pillow:


    oh, thank God.



    August 2019

    Deadwood, SD

  • A Handy Device for Memorizing Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity



    Whiff of burnt bark

    and burning resin.

    Reek rising from Crow Peak.


    Summer-hazy remembering:

    Mom’s house up the gulch,

    the year after

    she and Dad separated.


    Garments: kindling.

    Furniture: kindling.

    Hardwood floors: kindling.


    Rescued from the blaze:

    a ceramic bowl, portrait

    of Albert Einstein.

    Frizzy hair, sad eyes,

    legend, quotable: Reality is

    merely an illusion, albeit a

    very persistent one.


    Mass becomes Energy.

    Wood becomes Flame.

    Home becomes Natural Disaster.


    Smell is the strongest mnemonic.



    June 2016

    Deadwood, SD


    This poem appeared in the Spring 2019 edition of Pasque Petals.

  • Manifesto



    the artist has

    only one subject:


    to pretend otherwise

    is to surrender

    to the false binary of

    Inner + Outer Worlds,

    and I am too stubborn

    a mystic

    to capitulate

                   to such




    April 2017

    Berkeley, CA

  • Our Mother


    my feet sink into sand

    where sea meets land

    and sky meets sea

    and sea spans boundaries

    between What Is and What

    May Yet Be. a subjunctive place.


    subjunctive palms cup sand,

    handfuls of counterfactuals,

    grains slipping through

    fingers like rosary beads.


    hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord

    is with thee. blessed art thou

    among women



    blessed ye sand grains plentiful

    as altars to nuestra Madre

    Santa María

    in barrio backstreet corners

    and front yards, carven

    bronze and indomitable

    on church facades, daubed

    on freeway arches tall

    as the gods

    of Tenochtitlán.


    blessed ye Guadalupanas

    supplicant at the altars

    of Old Gods

    who speak still with

    una gramática sin fronteras

    in the boundless places.


    sand slips through my fingers

    like rosary beads, migrating:

    Mexican sand or American sand?


                        blessed art thou among women

    and blessed is the fruit of thy womb


    O blessed virgin, hope

    of children ripped untimely

    from the womb, from breasts

    even as they nurse.

    blessed virgin, liturgist

    to books of lamentation inscribed

    on detention center walls.


                        blessed is the fruit of thy womb


    my mother left my father

    when I was eleven: child

    psychology. abandonment

    issues. a young

    Messiah left alone

    in the Temple.

    but she left by choice (we saw her

    on weekends), not

    forced out

    by a jackboot declarative.


    Dios te salve, María. Llena eres de

    gracia: El Señor es contigo.


    sand slips through fingers

    like roses falling

    from the cape of Juan Diego.

    hail Juan, full

    of grace: the Lady

    is with thee. hail mother,

    full of tears: thy Lady

    is with thee.


    es esta arena mexicana o americana?

    is Our Lady Euro or Indio?


                        Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray

    for us sinners


    pray for us sinners,

    conquistadores nuevos

    pimping out sister mother child.


    pray for us sinners

    practicing Herod and

    slaughter of the innocents.


    pray for us sinners

    now and at the hour of our

    conversion, inevitable

    but too slow. too slow.


    ruega por nosotros pecadores


    rise up, Virgin, we pray

    on bended knee. rise up

    Tonantzin Goddess,

    God-Bearer invincible

    from earthquake depths.


    rise up

    like a wave on the water and

    take this border fence

    in your strong brown hands. tear it

    up from its foundations

    and make of it

    your holy bullwhip to chase out


    and baby-snatchers, to level


    and Antonia Fortress, to strike down

    the world-devouring snake

    oozing lead and hunger, monstrosity

    of hatred and despair.


                        pray for us sinners now and at the hour


    when all things shall be

    made new. pray for us, Creator

    and Destroyer,

    ‘til Sea runs with blood

    of the New Covenant

    baptizing tired


    huddled masses

    yearning to be free, ‘til

    the Great Divorce

    has been annulled

    by water and by fire

    and children can see

    their Mother once more.


           Santa Tonantzin, Madre del Mundo

    ruega por nosotros. pray for us.

            pray for us. pray—pray for—pray—




    vision passes like sand

    slipping through rosary fingers,

    and I am here

    where land meets sea

    and sea meets sky

    and the Known opens

    into Unknown.

    Unknowable. I am here


    where feet sink into sand

    and waves lap, carrying

    grains away, slow

    and ineluctable. here

    where earth laughs

    and water sings

    and air spreads its arms

    wide as God.


                        Santa María, Madre de Dios


    mothers accept no borders.



    June 2018

    Friendship Park (Parque de la Amistad)

    Tijuana, Mexico – San Diego, CA


    This poem was published digitally by the Center for Prophetic Imagination in December 2018.

  • Pulse



    Place your hand just there on my heart can you feel it can you feel hot crimson blood thump-thumping through me hot crimson blood vouchsafing to me the holy knowledge that I am Alive here where lights are neon and audacious here where my lover can kiss me without fear without hesitation—


    yes I know I am Alive here because I tell you I saw the best bodies of my generation aglow on the dancefloor clutching liberation in one hand and ecstasy in the other reaching for other bodies out of their minds because minds have become prisons self-doubt and manic depression erected by well-meaning love-scared family and friends and judgment-eyed parishioners—


    saw them holding each other defending each other against slurs against prayers against stonewall cannonades breaching hulls breaching confidence wooden ships on the water very free and easy and silver people on the shoreline won’t you let them be won’t you let us Be—


    saw bodies drowning tamped down under pressure knee-deep in pools of dying years stolen on streets of Castro and Greenwich and Chelsea and Boystown streets slick with useless blood and derision because they’re just a bunch of queers right—


    saw prayers offered four-on-the-floor and everybody form a line when they gunned Harvey down blood on the streets blood on the streets when they billy-clubbed Miss Major blood in the gutter blood in the gutter when they bound Matt to that roadside cross blood in the fields blood in the fields but not here not where they told us we’d be Safe—


    saw them reviled on street corners for Your sake O God called dirty fags by fifth-graders who didn’t even know what the word meant just knew it was the worst epithet you could hurl at another human being called trannies monsters abominations in courtroom halls gay panic defense families abandoned in tears and judgment—


    saw them cavorting with David and Jonathan through the Temple scarred bodies radiating Light breaking through the Ark into the Tabernacle because this is the great tablet-stoned commandment to love kindness to do mercy to dance unashamed with your God—


    saw them burning with angel-holy love on rooftops and cabaret stages and screens silver and glittering Freddie fabulous unafraid making rent making love making music to rescue us all from birdcages of our own design—


    saw them curled on couches watching Netflix hand in hand hanging from flagpoles and balconies chanting we’re here we’re queer get used to it even when we refused to listen running fingertips along toes and necks and lips face to face love to love birthing Newness and Hope in gushing torrents of Glory—


    saw them riddled with bullets like politicians’ teeth smiling and thumbs aloft bullets like tears I cried when I learned I didn’t have a little sister after all bullets like pills falling through empty gunshot-wound holes in fragile hearts bullets like hands laid on to pray the gay away—


    saw them strobe-lit and magnificent in death for nothing can take away the beauty of living as God made you loving as God made you loving Who God Made You—


    saw them all and went down to the spot between Fell Street and Oak where I feel the backbeat of Eternity strongest in this world to be with the street people and the freaks the ones who came here because they knew that they would be safe here to dance and to cry and to howl We Can Be Together and I believe we can—


    and in reply I heard them singing Love’s such an old-fashioned word and Love dares us to change our way of caring about ourselves yes this is our last dance this is Ourselves under but they did not finish the line because the pressure valves have burst yes Time is now fulfilled yes the Kingdom is at hand blood on the dancefloor blood on the dancefloor—


    and I placed my hand on my breast to feel my own healthy straight heart beat seventy times per healthy straight minute reminding me I am here I am Alive charging me to make every beat an act of penance an appeal to God a blood-rushing prayer that this pulse this pulse this pulse at least might not beat in vain—



    June 2016

    Berkeley, CA


    This poem was written for an interfaith vigil honoring the victims of the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in June 2016 and was published digitally by Tikkun Magazine that same month.

  • Stormchasing



    The sky in this country disdains poetry.

    Not angrily, straining with oppositions—rather

    lazily, as a thoroughbred might

    disregard an insect. What are words

    to tell such immensity? Pins to tack up

    butterfly specimens. So pretty

    behind exhibit glass, deep greens

    iridescing to blues and blacks, embroidered

    with gold and firework-orange—but

    to see them in flight!

    Stormclouds flicker in the east. Wings

    flutter; the thoroughbred

    swishes her tail. There is a pause

    between the lightning and the thunder: one

    Mississippi, two Mississippi, three—

    less than a mile. Jill leans out

    over the deck rail with her camera,

    waiting for a good shot. But her

    reflexes aren’t quick enough; the shutter

    closes a quarter-second too late.

    In the west, the light is fading. A pickup truck

    putters along the Bluff Road below us, gunning

    to beat the rain. Beyond, power lines

    go marching into the sunset, a study

    in perspective.


    July 2017

    Vermillion, SD


    This poem appeared in the Spring 2019 edition of Pasque Petals.

  • This is a Stick-Up!



    Jesus came into Galilee

    proclaiming the Good News of God:

    “Up against the wall, motherfucker!

    This is a stick-up!


    Up against the wall of your lip-service limitations,

    your deferrals and hesitations,

    your critiques and calculations,

    your freeze-ups and market liquidations!


    Up against the wall you heap up

    between humanity and divinity,

    between potential and kinetic,

    between inconceivable and incarnate!


    Up against the wall of the Financial District storehouses

    where you hoard burnt-offerings for tomorrow,

    forgetting that tomorrow never knows!


    Up against the wall—

    and within three days I will tear it down,

    turn the change-grasping tables of the financier-priests, and

    forever rend the veil separating This from That!


    For Time is now fulfilled,

    and the Kingdom is at hand!


    Not after the next election!

    Not when you get your diploma!

    Not when you find the One!

    Not to be repaid at six percent interest over ten years!

    Now! Right Now!


    The Kingdom is at hand, motherfucker!

    Think again, and believe the Good News!”


    So… will you believe?


    Will you permit Ultimate Reality

    to cock the gun against your temple

    and yield up both coat and cloak?

    Will you rise from the wreckage

    and behold the naked unity

    you only intuited before?


    For there is no place now that does not see you,

    no wall between Greek and Jew,

    between imagined and true,

    between who you are

    and who you might become.


    The Kingdom is at hand, motherfucker!

    Will you change your life?



    September 2015

    Berkeley, CA

    Photo Credit: Kron4.com

  • word to a fellow poet

    come, then! let us

    meet the finalities of Empire

    on that field which they can

    never hold against us for long:

    the Imagination.


    --Tom Emanuel, "word to a fellow-poet"
  • the word


    concentration camps or

    detention facilities? torture

    or enhanced interrogation?


    so serious, this our fascination

    with politics and the English language.


    meanwhile the Word gazes out

    through indifferent bars

    and wonders why you could not  


    ‘til he was thirty-three

    to crucify him this time.



    June 2019

    Milwaukee, WI

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