I have stripped

languorous and playful

pirouetted inexpert

with bra-toss flourish

inside inviolable cocoon

of lover’s gaze


I have been stripped

icy delousing showered

quaking and shaking

silenced in shivering

submission, backlit

beneath baleful stares


I have sauntered

in my altogether

sipping coffee

of a lazy morn

desultorily conversant

secure in my abode


I have endured

humiliation de rigueur

squat and cough

correctional convention

senses and sensibilities

brusquely manacled


I am armored


in the smelted iron


of all my


cloaked animalistic

in fervor


Writing on the Wall

industriously engaged

incrementally acclimating

to professional reincarnation

toes cramping

in too-small shoes

I stretch the binding



wiggle room

wrought of repetitive


titanium work ethic

earn stripes

quietly stitched

easing in seasoned seating

I analyze, problem-solve

process and sign

stare in consternation

trailing my hurried Hancock

scribbled suffixed scrawl

spilled automatic from my pen

yes, those letters

credentials conferring credibility

hard-earned honorary

near indecipherable

as befits a doctor

letters stifled

with honor defamed

letters missing meaning

relevant license lost

my fingers

must be itching

title-claiming twitching

they loosed

hard-scrabble squiggle

no longer invisible ink

my pen tells my brain

I am indeed

value added

no wash out

washed away







Fury Filled Fire-Water

your rhetoric

incinerated me

at the stake

a bonfire

all hopes of redemptive future

I drank deep draughts

from the goblet

you poured

overflowing of immolation

the hurricane

of my sorrows

left me charred

soggy clumps

I stank

with the pitiful stench

of abandoned homefires

coated in the pungent

clinging of my uselessness

I trudged, head down

into the gales

of your blistering derision

bolstering brittle limbs

with every smoke dragged step

my eyes began to eagle

your over-eager oogling

as my spines


soft protective plumes

I swallowed the lingering tongues

of salted flame

you lick

lapping at my wounds

I breathe branded fire

unsuccumbed to shame

witness the crackling fire

sparking from my eyes

and tell me again

how I will never

be anyone



Sing, Nightingale

my tongue remains

whole, intact

yet strangely tied

on subjects

of my subjugation

a likely consequence

of messages

spoken and


on the importance of


no boat rocking



deference to authority

using my manners

being considerate

toward others

being, in general

a good Catholic girl

I am done

biting my tongue

to protect you

from discomfort

at hearing

the reality of

my experience


no more


Ms. Nice Gal

Salvage in Process

limbs leaden

she clamps ravaged

remnants of her cloak

around her

trembling frame


with vestiges

of disorienting


claret dregs

ooze mortification

now crusted over


a lattice upon

her very


on unsteady limbs

she forages


under the shadow

of blotted stars



amongst the crumbled


she will salvage






Internal Debate, Heated


in this culture of never enough

my thoughts get squashed

on thumping superhighways

clumped and bloody, crossing lanes

never good enough

thinks she’s too good for prison

we’ll all pay for this for the rest of our lives

too smart for her own good

it’s all your own fault


maggots feeding on road kill

worm and squirm cortically

insinuate my trauma isn’t

absent fractures or abscesses

arrested at gunpoint

officer shouting orders

terrified to unbuckle

 that gun in my face

wasn’t that trauma?

my mental committee

are buzzards circling, relentless

overshadowing a survival

unworthy of the name

my everything ended

I got up every day, in prison and out

I smile on purpose, repeatedly

I remember how to laugh, spontaneously

isn’t that surviving?


I find a message, mine,

insistent and daring

quixotically poetic

a wake of vultures feeds

on judgement’s carnage

poems unmetered or ill-rhymed

lacking classical references

off-center, gutsy or ill-timed

shout intrinsic authenticity

isn’t that my voice?


(image: Warren Criswell)