The Wasting Season is a completed collection of poems for which I am seeking a publisher. Many of the poems, including the award winning "Fighting Fermi", have appeared in literary journals both online and in print, including North American Review, Asheville Poetry Review, Good River Review, and many more.
The collection examines the doubts of raising kids in a world fraught with war, climate change, and deep social division and asks how someone can lead their children forward with a clear conscience.
The title serves multiple meanings: it represents the speaker's fears that the world is approaching a wasting season - an era of shortage and strife where our lives will be defined by want. Also, however, it considers that right now, we are in a wasting season - a period in which we are wasting our chances to set our world on the track it needs to be on. Finally, it considers the past as a wasting season - a time where we recklessly wasted the resources and opportunities of the world.
I do want hope, belief
in intercession. That my children,
if in need, could expect bread.
To know them is to know the dirt
engrained lines of their shoeless feet
as they belly sprawl over coloring books.
Just one state over, a blue newborn found
in a blue cooler beneath a speed limit sign.
This, exactly, has happened before: a life
as iteration of the facets of human cruelty,
what I read the first occurrence only
to me – tragedy sealed in Ziplocs
and four-wheel drive Suburbans parked
windows up in summer sun.
Blame it on snakes or belts or lineages
of fists, but my children are too real
to allow anyone such grace.
I watch them totter about in pajamas.
They bicker about games and turns
and who looks at whom. Loud with life,
they dip crackers in milk and brush crumbs
off their lips with forearms as they dance,
make it hard to understand that as humans,
something monstrous lives in us all.
No parent can be innocent
and expect to keep their children
the same while they sing bedtime.
After mine are tucked in, I lie
in bed under the fan as the dog
circles its rug. Tomorrow, again,
I look for new roads, choose one
that leads to more than that.
-from The Wasting Season
In one eye, headlines like “Florida Man
Arrested for Practicing Karate on Swans,”
and, in the other, an old student
with whom I haven’t spoken for years
fears an old, mutual acquaintance
I’d forgotten is a suicide risk.
On the TV, a bad remake of a bad movie.
In the middle, the screen this poem inhabits.
None of them know how often I minimize the others.
Meanwhile, everywhere someone seems unaware
they’re abusing something. I’m unsure of my crime
but no doubt I must be committing one.
Everything untainted has been measured into glasses
and used to play a symphony with silverware.
There is a video on YouTube. It plays after
central African violence but before
the information paradox. Then, three clips
of cats that failed to become viral.
It’s okay though. We can help each other remotely
in ways never before imagined. White masks
on elastic bands and non-latex hypoallergenic gloves
become wholly unnecessary once we abstract
human assistance. After all, binary is of one and not one.
We don’t even need to make eye contact.
Your hand makes the same motion to enact compassion
as it does to access click bait and pornography, all
now expressions of instant gratification to elate
ourselves. We can console a thousand in spirit
rather than one we sought out, a relationship
now optional. Take comfort though;
somewhere, there still remains someone without
a screen to bellow through. They don’t know
wires or signals or contact. Maybe they live
in a place where dust coats the cookware,
one must hike to wait in a line for water
and you never stop hearing the buzz of insects.
Maybe they brew teas from local flowers,
spend their evenings mending jackets
with different sized needle between
humming, pursed lips, and they rock
on a creaking porch envisioning better
fences and the fortunes they will bring.
I’m letting myself get carried away, I know,
as I pour a coffee, search for clean spoons
and a conscience just dirty enough to be human.
I can’t say for sure I’ve helped myself lately
or that I’ve lived more than yesterday’s script,
but, right now, the kids and my wife sleep.
I check on them and their night lights and find that
blankets rise and fall here and anywhere I look
from the windows. Down at the bottom of the hill
lived the woman who tried to run her family over
with her SUV over some trivial domestic squabble
before she barricaded the home against the police.
I thought I saw sugar in the cabinet the other day.
Now, now I am uncertain, and there is no doubt
that the glue traps in the basement are full.
The movie hasn’t stopped. New headlines are in.
No one has died nor are they the wiser. Already,
on the counter, my forgotten drink, somehow,
my thirst too.
-from The Wasting Season