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Reading at Wolfgang Books, Phoenixville, PA.


Julie Luongo Novelist

Margaret Ingraham Poet

Taije Silverman Poet

Daniel Nester Author & Poet

Daniel Tobin Poet

Heather Thomas Poet

Jerry Spinelli Young Adult Author


VCCA International Retreat for Visual Artists, Writers, and Composers

Ragdale Retreat for Visual Artists, Writers, and Composers

Oberpfalzer Kunstlerhaus German retreat

Selected Works


Steinbeck's Route Show/Hide Poem

“I drove this wide, eventless way called U.S. 90 which bypassed Buffalo and Erie to Madison, Ohio, and then found the equally wide and fast U.S. 20 past Cleveland and Toledo, and so into Michigan.”
– John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Think of him in hunting coat and naval cap
as he bucketed into Ashtabula County,

lightly crusted with the dirt of travel,
the overloaded springs of his camper sighing

under the weight of double bed and four-burner stove
in front of Dunk’s Home Diner

on the docks, forked in butterscotch pie
and mulled over the Browns chances

against Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Or going over the railroad tracks near city hall,

the ceilings twice lowered to help save on heating costs,
and then lumbering past the snow-beaten houses

behind St. Joe’s, some of them crushed and deserted,
driven to earth by winter.  Depending on when

he came through that September,
he might’ve heard the steam trumpet

of the Pacific Express rolling into the West Yard
or the gears of the Bascule lift bridge grinding

above schooner and sloop.  Crossing the black river
along the beach nor the oily waves that sloshed

of Old Granddad he shared with a stranger in Michigan
c ame from Cook’s Drug on the corner of Prospect and Main,

but simply because the road away from here
seemed broad and straight and sweet.

Ink Show/Hide Poem

It happened first one evening at home,
my mother pulling clothes from the wash,
turtleneck and hiphugger stained blue,
and at the bottom of the basin,
the splintered shell of a fountain pen.
When bleach couldn’t save my old man’s trousers,
she sheared them into a Lysol rag,
and I was spanked from one room to the next,
breathing in the sting of her hand
for the rest of the weekend,
the scent of carelessness clean, and lemon fresh.

Then again during Mass, the fixed eyes of saints
staring down from their corners, my chin deep in my collar,
as I drew curlicues around a scab.
Sometime between sermon and final hymn,
the reservoir ran dry, and when I gnawed on the tip,
chrome spring under tongue,
a syrupy ooze blackened my teeth.

That September, just when our hands were grooved and sure,
the nuns talked of change,
said we were fourth graders now, big people,
about to embark on the Descriptive Essay, haikus,
brisk terrain that demanded a running start
rather than the blunt and deliberate drive of granite.
But how I missed the scratch of an old #2,
the pink maternal kiss of an eraser,
as I slid Bics and Uni-balls across the page,
palms dampening over the mess left in their wake,
mangled Gs and Qs, crossed out but not forgotten,
the consequence of error dogging every sweep and cross,

as it did that morning at church,
lips black as I dawdled up the Communion line,
Father Jim glaring,
placing a wafer on a tongue so dry
with guilt and shame
that it remained there, a scrap of thin cotton cloth,
another blot that wouldn’t dissolve.

Contact Show/Hide Poem

By first grade, I was trading my bubble gum cards
for pictures of KISS torn from Circus magazine,
this band that I loved but couldn’t hum a song,
not like “Baker Street,”
my sister curling her bangs to the dreamy sax proem
before heading out Friday nights,
not like “Yellow Brick Road,”
my head swaying to the easy refrain
from the back seat of the family Duster.
I wasn’t even sure if they were human,
those moon-booted creatures in Kabuki faces.
On Chucky Strong’s lunchbox the four of them
hovered in rhinestoned leather over a smoking wasteland,
and afternoons in the cafeteria, I scanned for clues
into whether that mesh of rubble had been Earth
or Mars, my stomach swelling on the juices
of mystery and chip-chopped ham.
The Demon filled most of my silences.
At Revco Drug he bored into me from packages
of KISS shoelaces in his armored coat and bat wings
deep with the shadows of an ancient seduction.
The leaves were down, and instead of raking the yard
into piles for jumping, I ran home and stuck my tongue out
in the mirror, my cheeks burning with effort, and bit down
on a stolen packet of Burger King ketchup,
pretending to spit blood.

Then one night in October my mother brought home
one of their records.  I was eight, maybe younger.
She found it in the sale bin on her break
from the register at Hill’s, and when she slid the 45
out of the bag with a wink, my heart pounded:
my first big-boy record for a thrift store turntable
that knew only “Snoopy’s All-Stars”
and “Big Bird Sings About Feelings.”
Outside a sliver of moon appeared between the clouds
as I set the needle with shaky hands,
and in pink smock and nametag, my mother sat
on the edge of my toy box for a listen,
only to rise and make a face two verses later
as if she didn’t understand.  But it was me
they were calling, not her, and without trying to explain,
I remained in my room for the rest of the evening,
passing on Saturday night popcorn and “Wonder Woman”
to get it all down, singing along with the record,
and later on my own in the dark,
my face turned toward the stars, letting them know
in their own words that I had received their message,
and was awaiting and worthy of another,
yellow-haired boy of stuffed monkey and Hulk Underoos,
instrument of the gods.

After the Movie Show/Hide Poem

Night settling in around the porch, I am sorting
through my trading cards, reliving the action scene by scene,
when she comes outside, her lips like glazed sweets,
to hear what happened in the movie.  This sister

who only a year ago had watched the first “Star Wars”
with me eight times on Showtime.
Who now couldn’t be bothered to see the next installment,
telling me to beat it, that she was ON THE PHONE,
after I knocked on her door to tell her I was going.

Crickets scrape their wings into chirps as I blink
down at the cards.  What hadn’t she missed;
Luke got his hand sliced off, then learned Vader is his father.

Melting against the railing, she plays with her locket,
snapping it open and closed between her breasts,
already dreaming and dazed by the warmth of the evening
as if it were a kind of love.

My head lowered, I flip past photos of lightsaber battles
and Yoda the Jedi Master.  Offer the card that shows
Han and the princess alone together on the Millennium Falcon.
That’s what happened, I say,

and as my sister takes it, her eyes shining at the card,
and then up into the stars, there is a sudden shift in the space
between us, the pull of two planets falling briefly into line.

September Show/Hide Poem

Dusk drifting over the boardwalk,
our trip is about to end the way it always does,
my mother opening her purse
for plastic alligator or rubber copperhead,

when I spot them, two girls,
fourteen, maybe more,
in swim suits and sandals,
towels hugging hips
like some shy part of themselves,
carrying the smell of that deep place
that circles dock and harbor.

Choose one, pumpkin, she says,
and in the piqued second it takes to jerk my chin
toward the nearest wicker barrel,

they’re already gone, lost among the sweeping
metal cars of Tilt ‘o Whirl and Scrambler,
hands waving, people’s mouths stretched open
as if to bite something just out of reach in the night air.


Early Exit, Sport Literate
New Toy, Salamander
Baby Steps, Rattle
Mosquitoes, Mud Cakes, Mystic Journeys
For Wile E. Coyote, Apetitius Giganticus,
Happy Hour, the Free Library

New Religion; Letter to Daniel LaRusso, Karate Kid; Cliffhanger; Steinbeck’s Route; Contact; Litter, Grist: The Journal for Writers



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