My first girlfriend’s name was Wanda. She was born with a missing index finger, though she still had one to point and blame. Which she did. But it was never my fault. Blame the morning, for it is here. Blame anyone and anything. Blame the four winds. Blame Ma and Pa. New love screams in the faces of those who devote themselves wholly to its mammalian scents. I glanced up at a robin when I should’ve been worshipping her thirteen-year-old curves. I was caught skipping stars across the darkness when she wanted me to focus on her music. This is the dance that twirls itself to the lunatic noises of lust and let down. This is the beautiful sky at dusk—purple as a shiny bruise.
Fourth of July sparklers—
—Republished here with author’s permission from Senryu Circle
(24 January 2020) on Facebook
was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and has lived for 20 years in the Grand Traverse Region. He is the author of a full-length poetry collection, Cigarette Butts and Lilacs (Modern English Tanka Press, 2008), and a chapbook, The Pie in Pieces: Thirty-three Songs from the Midwest (River Man Publishing, 2006). His poetry has appeared in journals such as Blood Lotus, Dunes Review, Eclectica, Frogpond, Red River Review, Ribbons: Tanka Society of America Journal, and Smokebox.
In 2011, his essay “The Myths of Manhood” was published in a collection of essays for National Public Radio, This I Believe: On Fatherhood (Jossey-Bass, John Wiley & Sons). His writing is also anthologized in Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka (Modern English Tanka Press, 2009); Beyond Forgetting (Kent State University Press, 2008); Dust of Summers and A New Resonance (Red Moon Press, 2008 and 2007, respectively); Taboo Haiku (Avisson Press, 2006); and In the Arms of Words (Sherman Asher Publishing, 2005). He received the 2008 William J. Shaw Memorial Prize for Poetry, and won Honorable Mention in the Michigan Liberal Arts poetry contest in 2006.