Universal Monsters

Universal Monsters Cover ("Psycho Girlfriend" by Steven Stahlberg)

Universal Monsters is now available from amazon.com

A huge fifty-foot thanks to 3D computer graphics artist Steven Stahlberg for permitting me to use his digital painting, “Psycho Girlfriend” (2005), for the cover.  And another to Heather Boyce-Broddle, graphic designer, whose infinite patience and talent gave the cover both mood and modesty, what all good monsters require.  Also to Paul Chauncey for the author photo.

For several poems from the book go to:






All but two of the poems have appeared in various journals.  Here is my favorite remaining orphan:




I was loathe at first to recognize it,

the slow increments of diminution,

how the world continued in its insistence

to grow vast.  Suits become sackcloth, bones

febrile reeds, simple kitchen cabinets

more and more inopportune.  Evening

ablutions—gargling say, or flossing—all

blown large.  All of it a chore.  Everything,

even my wedding ring, seemed to swallow

me.  But then I’d never imagined how

beautiful it could be to touch the surprising 

curves of black locust blossoms from inside,


to clutch such clappers of a tree’s cathedral

bells to my chest or ride their pollen back

down to the ground, to make a modest meal

and sit, feet swinging, amongst the petals

of hoary puccoons, jacks-in-the-pulpit,

to count the molecular cracks in skarn,

imagine gnosis in gneiss, carve caves

for myself in alkaline feldspar or saddle

a saturnid moth for moonlight dragonfly

drag races, each libellulid left in the dust.


Yet all of this, my final rush, crush, collapse

came only after the truly exceptional

stages, those that offered up more disruption

precisely because they were less.  Obscure

moments, really....  Noticing, for instance,

my wife’s aureole, each new crude colony

of hair, perhaps the crow cracks murdering

my mother’s eyes, or simply the nameplate

above my office door.  Each manageable,

lush,lovely thing had telescoped just enough

to make me wonder.  Was I still interesting 

as I once imagined?  Or had I grown too little


astonished with this plane?