The Tree Down the Street

The tree down the street is

on fire.

Mossy green leaves bleed

out their lives,


The brown branches ignite

in pumpkin orange,

vampire red,

ghoulish yellow.

The flames creep up the trunk

and swallow the skyline

until the wind gusts

by and steals the flames,


them around the block.

All the trees are on




“You Gotta Love It, Baby!”

She grew up to the sound of Hot Rod Hundley, his voice a saxophone call behind the plays of Stockton-to-Malone. She remembers their first shot at the championship, her mom a bundle of nerves as they watched the pivotal match. She can’t remember who they played, or exactly how old she was, but she remembers the specter of her great grandmother hovering in the room with them. Her great grandmother had been an avid Jazz fan.

She couldn’t watch the end on TV, the game coming down to the last seconds and Jazz with the possession. She fled to the dining room, and her mom stayed in the kitchen watching the final moments under the fluorescent lights and lingering smells of dinner. She flicked on the massive radio and laid down next to it, the new blue carpet cushioning her cheek. She listened, her stomach a tight knot of anxiety, as the Jazz inbound the ball. Hot Rod’s words were a staccato rush; he told her Stockton took the last shot standing atop the key.

She can still hear the call, his voice – raspy with excitement – so vivid in her mind.

“John Stockton takes the Utah Jazz to the NBA finals.”

She can still see her mom skipping and leaping around the formica counter, tears streaming down her face. She understood why her mom was crying; she felt it too. This win was meant to be; Stockton and the Jazz had done it for her great grandmother.

She can’t remember when Hot Rod retired, doesn’t remember much about when she heard he had passed. But she does remember Jerry Sloan retiring. Thousands of miles away, she streamed his farewell speech and remembered her great grandmother, the way Stockton sunk that final shot, the ecstatic cries of Hot Rod streaming through the speakers, and her mom celebrating in the kitchen.

NaBloPoMo November 2015


I will sit by the blaze

and say

pretend things

and smile

pretend smiles,

all the while


strawberry threads

circling a metallic drain.

NaBloPoMo November 2015


It is holding your breath –

an exquisite moment when

the steady stream of rain

plays in time to the lick of

yellow flames, a dish bubbles

in the oven.

You feel full and empty, a

quiet peace like a quilt embraces you.

In the pop of the wood you think of

all the people you miss – their

absence fills the black parts

of the night. The oven beeps,

a shrill demand and you

e     x     h     a     l     e.

Brighton [Excerpt]

This. This was where I felt alive. Blood pounding between my ears, the cold an assault on my face. I flew down that mountain like I owned it, like I was born in it and knew every jut, angle, root. This was my home, my heaven, my peace. I swung my back edge around to come to a crunchy, snow throwing halt. Lauren and the guys laughed and shook their heads. They knew my routine; we had been boarding together since junior high.

All five of us joined the line; it was pretty crowded, but it always was on Black Friday. I didn’t mind; these were my kind of people, the kind that would rather spend a day slaying slopes than shelves. I’d stand in line with people like this any day. We split into pairs for the lift, and Will chattered the whole ride up. He was like stupid excited for his first run with his new board. He couldn’t stop lifting his leg to admire it, a fluorescent blue and green thing that would glow in the snow.

You couldn’t ask for a better first day than this. Days of steady mountain snowfall had created an airy blanket of cotton powder. The sky was crystal blue, so clear and bright it practically sparkled. The sun was killing me; this egg yolk orb in the sky. I listened to Will prattle on and just marveled at the fucking beauty of days like this.

We dismounted and took the face straight down. This was always Lauren’s first run of the day, down the middle so she could throw some inaugural sick tricks off the half pipe and makes us all look like amateurs. The way she ate up that half pipe terrified me. I was more of a rail guy, but the air she got off those inclines, like she was Wonder Woman. She whooped the whole way down, and her energy was infectious. Will bit it hard at the end, catching an edge on that glowing new board of his and planting in the snow face first. I doubled over with laughter, and my cheeks burned from the cold and the speed, and I loved it all.

I noticed her at the end of our second run, all of us banshees racing down the hill. Will flubbed his landing again, and we were catching our breath from the riding and the laughing when I looked up, and there she was, standing against the brown wall of the lodge. A few seconds later Tyler and Shannon joined her, and she was surrounded by a throng of kids from school. I elbowed Lauren and nodded in her direction.

“Hmmmm so she skis. I guess I can forgive her that.” Lauren pushed her goggles back from her eyes.

We watched her clunk over to the rack of skis in that awkward tin man sort of gait that ski boots give you. She looked especially jerky and unbalanced as she pulled a banged up set of orange skis from the rack.

“Check that. She is learning to ski. That makes it worse.”

I rolled my eyes at Lauren; she was such a snob on the slopes.

“I’m over this; let’s do the express.” Mike turned and waved us over.

Lauren clapped Will on the shoulder. “If his prissy little board can handle it.”

“My board is fantastic.”

“Must be the user then.”

Our laughter cut the chill around us, and we moved toward the express. I glanced back at her and kind of felt bad. She struggled to juggle all her gear, but her friends were too distracted to notice. That sucked. I mean you bring a rookie up here for a first day, and you gotta look out for them, make sure they have a phenom first time. You’re like their intro into this awesome world, and you can’t flub that. I wanted her to love it like I did, and no way Tyler or Shannon could give her that.

NaBloPoMo November 2015

Glissade, etc.

She says:
“It’s okay, I did this
when I was younger.”
And my heart does a
stutter step.
I did too.
But the combination
won’t stick, and I
flounder, a dancer
with two left feet.

13 year old me would
give up, convinced
of being lesser.

31 year old me lingers, alone,
and leaps across the floor
again and
again and
again. Until I
understand the
intricate moves of

NaBloPoMo November 2015