My world
is the sinuous
curve of freeway
that flies under
glowering heavens
while herons wade
in cold waters;
the sound and
the peril
of stiletto on
and the scented rhythm
of catcalls from yellow doorways.
Graffitied desperation
and the thunder of trains that run
beside old brick
under new construction
in a city that when
pressed clings
to its past as to a mother’s loving hand
but with the next
dismisses her like
dog piss
on the master’s second-
best rug….

[My words
of rust
and river-
not through the pores
of cortex
memories but
through the primordial
in the back of my
telling me



In this land
of frozen locks
and thawed oblivions
where treachery and tolerance
sidle arm-in-arm
down cobblestoned alleys,

My voice
whistles a freedom song
to the same soundtrack
you fucked your girlfriend to last night;
rising broken-winged through the
dead smokestacks
as you haunt the canals
searching for loose virtue
or lost inspiration,
it will find you

Needle-pushers and nutmeg-peddlers,
you have been warned.

10 thoughts on “Shockoe

  1. This is beautiful writing – a difficult world, I think, to live in, and yet some manage to take the high road. I love the way your words hammer out the hard contrasts between worlds, the city itself torn between old and new, past and future. The clinging to~dismissing mother metaphor toward the end of the first stanza I find particularly striking.

  2. This is just brilliant. You engage the senses and create a powerful sense of place in your writing. I have to wonder where you are and saw Richmond in your tags. I spent some time in Richmond many, many years ago. I’m impressed with your writing.

  3. jessica, thank you for your kind words, and your thoughtfulness. i look forward to reading more of your own work.

    gospelwriter, you are too kind. thanks for your lovely words.

    Victoria, I’ve had “poetry of place” on the brain lately! If you’re ever back in Richmond, look me up 🙂

  4. “the sound and / the peril / of stiletto on / stone” and “where treachery and tolerance / sidle arm-in-arm” … what contrasts! in fact the whole thing is choke full off them – yin and yang – light and dark where surprises abound – power is apparent and danger may be lurking around every corner (at least in my mind).

    yes, “poetry of place” but beyond geography. a journey into sonic space and a glance through a window from the outside in.

    i loved it, bravo!

    • as always, noxy, your thoughtful words are more than welcome here. I think you’re right about the yin and yang, I’m just not sure if they reflect more of me or of the city itself.

  5. You make it too easy to be seduced by the language to notice the knives. Always astounding to realize the path you walk looks very different within a distinct context.

    “Needle-pushers and nutmeg-peddlers,
    you have been warned.”

    I hear that they’re giving in to the armies of insuflation as we speak. Great ending, emotion really carries with this one. Always a pleasure to read your work,


  6. forpuck– Thanks much.

    fool– armies of insuflation– hah! i guess if you saw the knives coming, you wouldn’t walk into them 😉 … and the pleasure is mine, as always, to hear from and be read by you.



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