About sz

Writes fiction and poetry. And occasionally other things, whatever they are.


lancelot british library royal ms 14 e iii r133v strtch

A pilgrim, a penitent. A forest.
Ruffians, blades, cudgels. Then
a kind family passing through.
Their tired horses and tents. He bathes
in a freezing lake. The lass behind
a veil of snow, watching. The next day,
a wrecked village. Bodies. Smoke
still hanging heavy in the damp air.
The head magician wears armor.
The wife wears a cap. The dreamer
wears someone else’s clothes.
The captives become chattel as the
wagons plow along. There are crows.
Lots of them. Then more blood and more
murder and more ubiquitous mist.
They’ve taken the girl, of course, and
all the food. But a quest is just the thing
to quell misgivings. Our hero rides hard
toward his death. Briefly deterred by
monstrous reanimations and lots of
growling. Volcanoes on the horizon.
Lost companions found. More beer,
more weapons. Thunder. A bridge unrolling
over a gray river. Arriving never
happens.  Later on a house built
where bones and broken cups crop up
whenever it rains–things left over from
this one life we get as the us we are.
How hard to believe oneself loved,
every dark place subdued by light.


polar bear watch

who is that one inside you you know
the one that can’t get out but does
the one that bangs-out all your love

still after ever you are not as bad
as you feel in other people’s dreams
all that water leaking from your heart

all those phantoms lined up at your till
all that clawing just beneath the grate
cicadas shut inside your ears to stay

twenty million years and still it tastes
the way it tasted when they locked it up
when homicide still counted as a date

we disregarded side effects like death
we tried to fool our predators with paint
what didn’t kill us never made us strong

that lashing girl where’s she at now
we miss her amplitudes and autoclave
god-a-mighty how we miss her little dog

image from University of Washington Digital Collections http://bit.ly/UbZ4Yz

Mostly Outside

How we loved the high style we wore
for vanishing occasions
though its warrants wore us down–
logic’s such a drag on
transformation—it just can’t match
the dark unwieldy charm of living
mostly outside yourself.

They later said a feeling
like a sorrowful trance
overcame them all at once–
they could not resist or run.
Mr. Billy found them
wandering his winter pasture,
called the sheriff to take them
home. Even hypnotized
they were unable to account
for the remote location
of their car.

That overgrown yard
I pass by after work–
rusty lawnmower abandoned
not even halfway through the job,
everything there already over,
everything already undone.

Was / Not

How could I not hope
when that was all there was–
at worst or best
(so fine a line)
I ever after knew
that good wasn’t
if I was?

Such a seller’s market
no one bought,
though everyone
looked and looked,
until things underground
rose up and militated.

It took such a long time
to be over,
and then it was.
Everyone was pretty
much undone
and I was way past
and hardly
and was.

A long time since

It had been a long time since _______ had _______.
Of course, there had been that time at _______, but
_______ could hardly count as really _______, at least
that’s what _______ had said in that _______ way of
_______, when was it, oh, _______ ago, shortly before
_______ had _______, for good, it seemed. Now, despite
_______, _______ was _______ it, but at the same time
_______ it. Nonetheless, it was good to be _______.

That is, until _______ was heading _______ and saw or
thought _______ saw _______, stepping out of _______,
wearing a _______ just like the one _______ had bought
for _______ lo these many _______ ago. Seeing _______
made _______ feel _______ despite _______ intention
never again to _______.

_______ was about to call out to _______ when _______
suddenly turned toward _______ and _______ saw a look
of absolute _______ on _______ face, as if _______ were
_______. It made _______ question _______ own
existence. Could it be that _______ had somehow _______,
that _______ had somehow _______ about _______?

The Couple

Two people, time, places, police . . .

Even before _________ and _________ were seated at _________, they started _________. The ________ focused on _________, but they both knew the real issue was _________. _________ claimed that _________, a claim that _________ considered to be totally _________ because _________ had actually _________. “Why do you always _________,” __________ said. And _________ replied by pointing out that _________ was the one who always _________. _________ could never resist adding that _________ was a _________.

As usual, they were getting _________, and people nearby were _________. But what did they care? As far as they were concerned, they were _________, and other people were just _________. They never thought of themselves separately or together as _________, which, of course, was part of the problem whenever they _________.

The year before _________ had been in _________ for _________. During that time, _________ had _________, and _________ had never forgiven _________ for _________. In fact, _________ thought that _________ could not be punished enough for _________ and started _________ every time they _________. “Don’t think you can go on _________ me,” _________ said almost daily. “I wish I were still _________ so you would just _________ about this and let me _________.” “Fat chance,” _________ would always say.

And so they had reached a kind of _________ when _________ found out that _____ had _________. The thought of this was so _________ that _________ could not _________ and instead of _________ proceeded to _________ at every opportunity, and such opportunities abounded because _________ simply refused to _________.

At night, _________ often dreamed that _________ and awoke to discover that _________. Of course, _________ thought that ________ was responsible for _________, and was in fact haunted by _________ own failure to _________ when the chance arose.

Early, too early, in the morning, _________ sat in the _________ looking out at the vast _________ and thinking ________ had really _________ things up this time. And so it was that things got out of _________ so much that _________ began to devise _________ plans to ________ with _________ even though, as everybody knows, _________ would never be _________, and any attempt to _________ would only _________ the _________.

Later on, but not later enough, when _________ was being _________ by the police in a rather _________ manner, _________ would put on a _________ face and assert that _________ was in fact _________ and had been attempting to _________ the _________ when it _________. Of course, _________ didn’t believe that _________ had _________, but played along with the _________ hoping for a _________ that was never _________. And never would be.

Long Ride

a long ride to the next world
neighborhoods sere and foggy
a bridge over a canal
an impatient bride
a lost child’s small worn shoes
another quest for the invisible
what cannot be recalled
knows nothing of despair
things ended, not begun
who can resist a dark corridor
or not let out at night, brine
mist, a mere spot of yellow:
sunshine, roses, rooms
somewhere up ahead
this ocean of feeling
subterfuge, requests
the long ride to the next world
already written over
already ridden past




what is it about sunlight that opens
or about night that encloses or cools,
what about water loosens or rock makes
still, what is it about the wind that finds us
naked, about the stars that makes us wide,
what about this day that’s undone my heart,
what this bit of cloth that makes me cry





At Noon

When the sadness comes
its shadow can’t be found,
not that you’d know to look
for it, not that it could
find you when nothing’s
behind things but
their own iterations,
joy having gone where
all shadows go at noon.



How do I know where you go when you do not
arrive? Where you are my dark cave or in that
pocket where you dream, can I make a freedom?
Can I escape detection the other side
of this wall I’ve secured for you? See how the
hostage sleeps, never to dream of letting go
this tether though the door’s unlocked all night.