New Words

The following pieces were published in 1996 as "New Words" --  part of a fundraiser for Pediatric Aids Research at Children's Hospital in Seattle.

With matching funds from the Paul Allen Foundation, the project raised 40-thousand dollars.

I'm only including a few from that publication and the poems are not in the original order, though no editing has taken place on the writing, itself.  
—DES February 20th, 2011.


So what of the viper’s bite?
Fangs fast
as lightning on a prairie
and your words; a wildfire
biting, too
like teeth on metal cups.

And there my wounded heart.
Droplets of pain and venom
on the ice of your ears
now listening for sweeter prey

And my quicksand hand searching for a rooted twig.

truth in the light

The puzzle piece
into full view
on the floor
at the support group
before the eyes of many.

Brave descriptions of romance
even true love
lifetime companionship
every need met; adoration
and abundance.

Why now, three months later,
do you hate the way he eats?

certain knowledge

A glance sideways on your frame
catching my eye
in that shape.
An eternal chasm between sculpture
and what will never be.

The frame of you
and me.
Soft screams in carefully chosen words;
the noise of knowing
a bereft gut.

Grandpa Fred

Gasp, with a stagger,
a glance, and then life departs.
And mine,
the final eyes
your eyes
Goodbye twinkled,
as I lowered my toothbrush
to your limp frame on the bathroom floor.
Later in the kitchen
Mom cut onions for meat loaf
and I cried.

pewter framed papa-the music man

Chocolate and cherries
on the kitchen floor,
a pewter framed papa
perched precariously near the bedroom door.
One a distant memory,
the other real and photographically
I remember papa’s sharp beard;
sharp like his words
and the hickory stick I feared.

Vinegar and reddish oil
drenching lined-up salads,
Daddy orders steak diane
and talks of distant, tedious travels.
Seems like just a minute ago
yet it’s been so many years
The nighttime brings its twinkly lights
it also brings my deepest fears.

Guitar or the piano
either one is fine.
Daddy is a gentle man;
his music; all of it—after supper—is mine.
Piano is his happy sound
guitar his funny one.

So glad he brought laughter and diversity
sharing songs and notes with a very hungry son.

Dear daddy, My papa.
My pewter framed music man.


gray clouds won’t define themselves against a milky
I search your face for warmth as afternoon digs in,
appearing dusky,
laking even subtle shadow.
Vacancy in your eyes
everything authentic
hidden behind a gray curtain
up near the arrogant peaks
defined by the sun I never see.

Sickening, winter.

tiny t cells

Fragile virus
Tiny bodies warm it
and pump it to the farthest cells.

Pairs and groups.
Legions of sick ones screaming
no violent
to the tender marrow
as mothers and loved ones stand nearby,
tiny bodies
limited to finite
labored breaths,
a narrowing path
inching closer
to the light beyond the room
the sky


too soon for tiny bodies.

consider the sunny day

When human rubble sits on faraway fields.
Bodies and parts of them
scattered as a child would leave playthings on the den
the after-Christmas floor

A bounty of bodies; reality not terrible enough
over the span of time
to usher peace
Aortas still split. Guts fly
as teeth clench in distant meeting rooms.
Power and peace divided on tables.

When women are crowded behind the alley entrance
mission doors.
Their lives and babies’ lives
eviscerated as the wolf undoes a sheep in the night,
with only the moon to watch.

The carnage still not enough
to halt the scatter of bullets in the streets
or the viciousness that releases them.
Orphaned infants scream with forever-bruised hearts
while we deny under sunny, azure skies.

your port

Ghosts in deciduous trees
hollow now at sunset.
Vessels inching sails down
to the slip.

And your mind at an idle
Always ready for pressure
to rise in fury
making gaseous amber in some tomorrow.

And your truth
tangled in wet blankets on coals of yesterday
rattling and teary
eyes snapping
White flags
on bent knees
and the harbor of this moment.

tell me

Gray-edged slices of lake
I watch you
lap and grope yourself
and into yourself; forever
And my future
in froth.

Two fates and a choice
The answer is there
in mud.

stupid drunks

traffic dancing
all the brains working separately
lane decisions simultaneously
then moving
thousands of pounds of metal
9 feet East
40 feet North
happing in
3 seconds
of course.

add spirits, just a few
or wine.

too many babies have died
because fools have crossed
the center line.