Chicago - you city of conjure women & decades old friendship. City of lakes & loose talk, all Old Style all night, city of fried perch w/ jalapeños, peppermint sticks in pickles, Bookends & Beginnings for the Vessel juke joint party. Ellis & Jones & DFlo. You city of fried pickles & cheese curd, all Midwest & wild, all rowdiness. City of salted grits & fried eggs, falafel & lamb & hummus. City of griddle burgers & garden dragged hot dogs w/ relish, white onions, tomatoes, celery salt, sport peppers & a pickle - done right. Damn! City of late night poetry, the Green Mill, bass players & cold beer, open mic - Angela Jackson making the night fire. Chicago - I come back to you always.  

Thank you for having us. 


Open Road


Hey folks. We are headed for the open road. First stop is Chicago for Parneshia Jones & the Vessel book party & then we will be reading at the Green Mill on Sunday, June 28th. Then we are heading home to Kentucky for a reading at Carmichael's Bookstore on Friday, July 3rd, and another stop at the Morris book shop on Thursday, July 9th. Please check the calendar for times & info. & follow here for updates & poems & photos. Hope to see y'all somewhere soon. 


April Poem #21

Initial Investigation 

for Freddie Gray

Consider the whole built spine

& how long it took to deconstruct

consider riot as retribution, cleansing even,


April Poem 20 (sample)

An open letter to Michael T. Slager

In memory of Walter L. Scott


It was the standing there that fucked me up

your body upright, right & erect—how many


ways can you let someone die? Beneath you,

your very stand/stance your whole vertical shit


stiff & still, shifted eyes—but body cocked up

up turned—closer to sky, to wings & flit fuck


you man & the way your spine stood still, firm

all those vertebrae lined up, a house beneath


your skin where you're at home, confident.

April Poem #19



because staying dry is sometimes            remedy

all those metal spokes             jutting about

plastic handle hold on tight            canopy

awning from sky            awning from down

pour                        because there was no rain

but you held onto that smallest roof

in any case             coat buttoned            styled

half dangling on your open mouthed

half smile            sometimes

just the thought of protection is enough.


Ekphrastic poem from: Young girl with umbrella on Centre Street Hill District, Pittsburgh 1951, Richard Saunders

April Poem #18 (sample)

The Reception 


Gather arms wrapped around waists, backs 

& tilted chins, square jaws, pantyhose, patterned 

clothes held close. Celebrate congregate cocktails 

wedding bells. Trees tell, gather tales, tell them tall 

take ‘em home.


*Ekphrastic Poem based on painting by Johnathan Green, 1988, oil on masonite

April Poem #17 (sample)

Express to Work


Because your body smells of sweat, sawdust,

9-5 & lemon rind. Smells of coffee grinds & time.


How polite your skin is against mine. NY Times

& this. Daily grind. Grind. Crime in times. News


& crime. Grind & time. Time & grind. Warnings

never end & it’s cold—keep a coat on & it’s bustle


graffiti, train track trance—all of us a spell.


Ekphrastic poem sample based on painting by Maxwell Taylor

April Poem #16 (sample)

Last bus stop five stops before yours,


so find the corner of the stop, stoop be-

neath. Crouch low, don't pull rank.


You've got none. You're not grown

Up, not now/yet.

April Poem #15 (sample)

High Proof


You say moonshine, illegal, the boot’s only leg—low down

un-authorized, un-hinged & loose. You say moon, shined

hell broke & break (ed) loose. Rowdy bawdy. Midnight rise, 

moon & still distilled. Likker & licensed, licensed 

to rise, spirit to shine, burn the oak & white lightning fine.  

You say un-aged & heirloom, punctuate & proof, you call 

it hooch, honey mountain dew, sweet smuggled swig.

April Poem #14

Soaked Mourning

That this spring has been
Hard is not a fucking joke

Misted rain, missed trains
Matched caps to rain jackets

City spun w/ un-ripened
Buds shunted to trees, timid

Months of waiting, days dying
When I read you—news you un-

Ravel the gore & insides of me
Us, bussed to home & families, jobs

& each hustled day  Pick up any
Paper or feed  See the mouths

Of the mothers & their empty arms
See the hollows of their children

The way they/we wait for some reck-
Oning  Some way to navigate how

Bullets bury in skin, the way hate
Is a plume, feathers & flaunt all

Choked & ravaging, blistered, burn-
Ishing & blooming a hot wreckage.

April Poem #13 (sample)


But she's a bad girl

Because she wants to be free

She wants to be free


& Transatlantic telephone cables continue & earth orbiting

satellites are launched to measure shapes of clouds, cause

& rotation.  Locus pinpointed.  Kind of Blue recorded.  Slim

progression & harmony, honey score & flit, fleet, modality—

sets & scales.  Able & Baker barrel through space weightless

wonder rhesus & squirrel aboard Jupiter AM-18 back towards

the deep end of all the 50’s—collision & pomp.  Pompadours 

& still cigarettes.


& Barbie is born.


She wasn't a bad girl, girl at first

So good at the start

But now, now we must part

Oh yes, she's bad girl


*Lyrics from Bad Girl - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles 

April Poem #12 (sample)

American Arabic, Irish, Italian Abecedarian w/ Blue(d)grass & Bourbon(d) Influences


Alphabetize existence: adage, acreage, age: under, old, less (is more—or is it?)

behold bourbon barrel B-town baby (girl), believer in bats, bells & boom boxes

causing cold chills in chlorine contaminated city pools

dreaming days of dodging disasters

existing to elevate—elevation &

fetch, fast forward float.


Gargantuan(ly) gussied up, no guise, all gall gall, gall, all gumption & good 

hell of a hellion—high water(ed), heathen(ed) hexer of helium & high(ed) hopes

inclusion in instrumental, illustrious illusions, inventions 

justifying the jut & juke & jaw of juvenile—cause I was


April Poem #11 (sample)

Tell me all the things you’d miss


If you’re asleep—note—if you’re not awake,

wide eyes, you could miss—there is much.


The hefty rat, its rot, right eye, steady steel

& gray body upturned & turned in on itself,

the glue trap’s coffin & concrete grave

on Audubon’s quietest 8:20 am street. Just

face & tail taunting world. Avert her eyes, 

April Poem #10


Hey folks-

Posting the full poem for April 10th. Headed to AWP in Minneapolis tomorrow for Hemisphere signings & panels & readings. Check the calendar for events & times. Would love to see you if you're in town.

Thanks all,



Beer Poem #3

For the hop heads & fermenters for the vintage

& the chug, for the grail & the bodega on 177th, aged 

& ale, hail this elevated elixir—it’s elemental how 

bad this bitter brew’s got me bent & bedazzled.

April Poem #9 (sample)

Beer Poem #2

Beer as brave bravado, beer as cocky seductress of smooth, drink me & you'll forever be. Beer w/ the crew, beer on the dance floor, all slosh & gait, beer w/ swagger, beer as bulked up & barreling. Beer as orbit, as orbiting, beer as balm and calm, beer to soothe, beer to elix—all hail, the great elixir. 


April Poem #8 (sample)

Haikus to My Daughters

after Parneshia Jones



Learn to navigate

Train to bus to car to foot

Keep your directions



Don’t be scared to dance

When the circle opens wide

Prepare to shake it



Learn to love hunger

Appetites are sexy cool

Feed yourself wholly



Bodies are seductive

Don’t take them seriously

Everything decays


April Poem #7 (sample)

Nearly a Decade Later (excerpt)


Or—we are thick into year ten

not albatross, not glut, not midlife

or crisis, just a quiet decade of collection,

each season, hundreds of photographs in the cloud.


Ten years later, we drink root beer, share

salted popcorn in the back of the cinema. Dark,

packed to watch Furious 7— a franchise we both

can get behind. How many multicultural international

franchises are out there we both ask. I mean—Vin? Dwayne?

Michelle & now Tony Jaa you exclaim, of Ong-Bak fame 

April Poem #6 (sample)

Furious 7 Movie Review (excerpt)


God’s Eye can locate you anywhere. When you’ve 

dodged death (But have you? Do we ever? Are we always 


skirting disaster? The end? An emergency vehicle that never 

arrives? Our own stopping hearts?) Always go to the beach. 


Forever frolick in salt & air—your children squealing surround 

sound. & drive off into distances that only cameras can capture.

April Poem #4 (sample)

To the woman throwing blessings left & right


she must be crazy, in my head—unhinged.


& it’s not like we needed them, or begged—hell

her hands into pigeons / flying big—birds, prey


& catastrophe—her fingers flit flirting, a fury

of funk & destruction—& bless you, girl & you


to my cut eyes, hands on my girl’s shoulder, school

run across 181st where papaya & guava are gutted


their meticulous insides splayed display—fleshy wound. 


April Poem #3 (sample)

Prepping for the Northwestern University Press reading at 612 Brew in Minneapolis on Saturday, April 11th at AWP. Prepping all these beer love poems. Hope you enjoy this sample--and hope to see you there if you're in town. You will hear this poem in full & many more!

Beer Poem #1 (excerpt)

But shit—I love you. Can’t apologize. Love you so ice, ice cold my

palms sweat silk & smooth, love you pale wheat ale & malted—love


you lager-ed up, cream, amber & rye. Love you wild ale & stout—give it to

me. Love you spiced & smoked, porter-ed & imperial, love you double & brown.


Love you revelatory & w/ ulta high alcohol per volume. Love you cocky

& amble, love you bawdy & body,  all complexish-ness & pomposity.


Beer, you ceremony & shrine—you shine shine. You ritualistic renegade

you boozy, carbonated elixir of all things. You intoxicator. You red-eye moon


shine & thick-bodied on my tongue. All you ever do


is gratify my thirst.