The Landing // Jacksonville Jazz Festival 2014

On stage is a lion with a fade and oiled slide.
Young lord of trembling roar, summoning the swelter
with tightly buzzing mouth and drawn cheeks,
in the shelter underneath the Coca Cola tent.

The sunken dais at The Landing cradles a diaspora
of Jacksonville polychromatics, a surprise
sector of jazz fanatics in sun hats.

I’m following threads of triplets and flecks of spittle flinging
off of polished brass, remembering returns to silence at the end of class.

Let me set the stage in a tray of formaldehyde so age can’t have its way:
I am still in the practice room next to yours with my face pressed against cool brick,
catching each of your vibrations like a stolen kiss.

Trying to gather the courage to ask
“do you mind if I sit in here and listen? I’ll be quiet…”

A little chunk of maple sugar dances ‘round his mother
in the center of a casual crowd. A woman in a Hoveround barks at blonde sisters
and I sit alone, entranced.

This conglomerate of culture is church reclined on concrete steps, sipping beer.
The elderly gentleman behind me stomps the ground and cheers. “Yes, baby! Yes.”
I understand. Say no more. Yes.

I am whole when the music stands in front of me,
whole when parts of my anatomy become melody
and my lipid layers liquidate to link with written staves
and arpeggiate: F A C E

I still have so many questions
for before the decades pack the horns away.
Are you haunted like me by intervals left unrecorded?
By lyrics long lapsed into the chasmic silence of forgotten?

Man, I dread the death of these refrains the most,
when dreadlocks hop off the A train with giant steps, fading
from the lead sheets like ghosts.



Dark Sprout by Brian Frus // Jacksonville University Glass Department

I was grateful
for the air conditioning
on the ride to the studio,
already alight with adrenaline
in anticipation of what fires might await.

Here is the professor’s desk,
holding class in cauldrons of molten glass.
Here is where sorcerers clothed in breathable cotton
wield glowing gazing balls at staff length. Jacks scrape

against hardening glass; my fumbling touch
is not hard enough or too much, ever adjusting
under the constant influx of instruction.

I listen, spidering my fingers
along a rolling rod, contemplating form. Aesthetic.
I grab at my glass arbitrarily in search of the organic
but this is not my medium.

I prefer the stool off to the side,
guzzling water, far enough away from alchemy
but not out of the heat. Sweat drips

yet masters never lose their grip, smoothing shapes
with hands of aged newspaper.

Any set of practiced hands
is sure to capture my glance
and from yours I can’t look away.
What is it that you are made of?

This is your every day,
a constant chosen crucible.
You stand fearlessly
before the murmuring bellies
of dragons. I never knew

you to be so in tune, I never knew
the ripples of gleaming forearms moving fluid
in the flowing waves of energy.

In between flashes of heat
the master gaffer gathers laughter
and swings the rod in circles
as preconceived perceptions
slowly soften in the fire.


Stacks on stacks

I could be the empress of a place like this,
queen atop a stack of pens uncocked.
so there’s a stigma here, obviously.
We’re drawn to a seductive essence,
what is it? What is her name?

We aren’t supposed to tell them
that we’ve met...

and she shouldn’t know who I am
but she does... I’ve come before
and I’ll darken her doorway again, I’m sure.

The bitch knows who I am.

So now we’re interacting like you haven’t been there either,
feeling the building swell up and sigh peacefully about you. 

The frame exists for us to pull beyond,
or ooze from, set in place by someone
yet we grow and crack up around sidewalk poured

by someone. it’s always someone,
the face that speaks of normalcy,
and we’re bored.

(it makes sense that audio bytes of our madness
make sense to me, stacking stacks
of clacking seconds back
on stacks of repeating
recursive stacks
of seconds)



My car has been in the shop for three weeks. I’m back on the road again, but not unaffected.

In this absence from driving I have discovered a few things:

- driving fuels my creativity and my sense of self-worth.
- though, immobility can also be freeing.
- there is a pond out behind my office complex.

The pond has become a place of midday solace for me, with the added delight of unafraid ducks. These guys sat at my feet and slept while I sat on a bucket and wrote. The past few weeks have scrambled my brain - this temporary dose of surreality (and constant pondering of “normal” and if it is a thing one can actually ever “get back to”) has been very good for me in that regard - but I am left feeling disoriented and a little shell shocked. I have three or four poems that are all being written slowly and at once, in scattered pieces by accident, revealing themselves to me one important sentence at a time.

I need to do all of it justice, all of this life and all of the comprising faces... but when I am lifted up by the scruff of my neck, at the mercy of the universe, it is difficult to make the words come together. 

That being said. I am ecstatic to be reunited with my KIA. 


Dames Point Park

Dames Point Park // Jacksonville, FL
The sunset was somehow Egyptian, spreading
vertical rays of Ra’s golden blessings on the union
of the Dames Point bridge and the horizon.

“How far can the eyes see?” he asks of me.
I have to admit ignorance in all of this. 

Dames Point Park // Jacksonville, FL

I know what I can see, but only barely.
I can barely see and furthermore barely
believe what I see as the truth. 

It’s only the illusion of control that life is offering -
"You are who you pretend to be, so be
careful who you pretend to be."

Dames Point Park // Jacksonville, FL


For the Now Child

It’s on the edge of established lives that I catch a touch of lumpy throat,
bouncing someone else’s baby at someone’s else kitchen table
lovingly sourced and made from hand felled oak.

At least, I think it is. It doesn’t matter.

It’s always a tree, right? There’s no better imagery
for the ways the children feed themselves on our roots,
for the ways the fed are disentangled and shoved
off to their own desperate journeys for truth,
for the planks of disembodied souls
catching errant drips of morning milk from cereal bowls.

“Now Keri, write in your book that I love Keri and sign it with my name.”

My name now is Now Keri and I can’t even tell her how correct she is,
hitting the mark so accidentally.

“Now Keri, I am putting this sticker in your notebook.
Now Keri, you will always know that I was here.”

I want to thrust these colored pages into your hands so you can see
your words washed over in strokes of easter blues and greens.
She asks, with tiny brows and jellystains but no words,
with grubby hand of vibrant wax posed kinetically over stacks
of poems bound together searching endlessly for perpetuity.

How do I say no to her? How do I tell her that this the only thing that anything means?

I want to say “now child, you can write in any book I own.”
or “now child, the very act of my hand touching the page turns white to red”
or “now child, please, please don’t let us die.
Please pass me around and love as I have loved,
please carry me and foster me in the eyes of your own children,
let them know that you should say ‘hello’ to every sidewalk
and ‘hell no’ to every heavy task.”

Instead I say “yes, baby. Anything you ask.”


The same, it's the same

Chutes and Ladders // 1904 Artwalk

Blue ribbon swirling, sweating,
Stowed by a broke millennial,
awarded to the hands of creative energy.

“Free-B-R! It’s free PBR!”

Creation warms, beckons,
calls me to his side to thank me silently
with jagged black agate eyes.

“I need you to sing to me.”

The world is humming,
I am humming at the feet of the ancients,
unspooling lengths of yarn.

I am humming
into a Samsung smart phone
at 4 in the morning with the spins coming for me
while you play guitar.

What can’t we do?
Where can’t we spend our energy?

Idle hands and all
so we keep ourselves so busy,
generously generating.

A man is whatever room he is in
but every room we enter becomes eternal and whole;
the center of sacred profanity.

“No one has written about me,” 
he says, to the girl with words to spare,
as he paints yellow birds into his hair.

I file away that sentence for future use. You think no one’s written about you?
Bard of academic disregard, mountain man in flatlands,
I know what you mean but I laugh at you anyway.
My notebooks have something else to say.


In the City

Beverly passes us the pitcher of Yuengling and says “I don’t care what y’all do, baby” when I ask her if Alex could bring in his guitar. Older but beautiful, wrinkled but youthful tending bar and singing along to Roy Buchanan’s “Beer Drinking Woman,” smiling wide at me when I start singing, too.

I’m not sure what’s next, really. Things swirl together steadily and I admit I can’t sit still. I rotate my bar seat back and forth with anxious hips. The three of us clink our glasses repeatedly, as if we couldn’t toast to life enough, bringing the foaming head of another beer to our lips in disbelief that no one's called our many bluffs, letting us entertain a stage even though our talent is rough. I can’t believe all of this serendipity. I can’t believe I’ve drawn these people to me, the faces in which I clearly see my destiny beaming back.

We leave the bar and I stack myself in the KIA with Alex’s sketchpad and instruments, giving the keys to Margie.
We queue up the music and sing, more, always.

We’re in the city
She came around at the right time
And if you’ll need me
Hope this was made for a good time
It’s like the run to all we know
Seems like we want to always go

To sit in the backseat is to feel weight lifted from my shoulders, letting my sister take my wheel for a minute so I can chill. Letting Alex sit up front so he can stretch his legs. To sit in the backseat is to leave the bar across the street from Fringe with a buzzing happiness humming on my lips, letting my voice reach the voices of my friends, letting our voices reach the highway streaming past our cracked windows. No one is timid or shy as we rush along the skyline, crossing the Fuller Warren, heading back to Grove Park where even more music will be made. 

It seems to fall out of us these days, colliding our vibrations by the fire until my throat cries out for mercy.
Until his fingers stumble drunkenly for a place to rest.

Until the final echoes hit the walls and bounce back into our chests. 

Focus Unnecessary // Our living room