comfort of home

A phantasy is playing
too quiet to hear
until I use my heart
to really listen
Spirits lifted by pure sound
I arrive just in time
to turn around and go again
until I can’t tell where

Is this home?
It looks familiar through the tears,
but I cannot stay long –
it is time to run back
to the song that is my real home,
where I can rest unafraid
to greet the sadness
awaiting with sweet comfort
upon my return




©Daniel von der Embse

bill birdshit’s lament

My old friend Bill was the greatest disco dancer, until ALS crippled him. R.I.P.

Where did you go, Billy Birdshit,
what became of the feather vest
you wore as mayor of Puerto Vallarta?
Once you were the disco king,
before that cruel bitch fate
took away your dance legs,
your platform heels
forever empty in our hearts,
the practiced falsetto
calling us for one last goodbye
before you ride off with the angels
on a towering arc of fart gas flames
into the quivering sky

upon ancient tiles


I wrote this poem during a stay in Umbria. It was buried in my notes and I forgot it; then rediscovered it many months later. upon the ancient tiles appears in the most recent issue of Poetry QuarterlySummer, 2014. Click to visit the bookstore.


Upon ancient tiles

Walk with me along the rooftops
upon ancient tiles crumbling beneath us
as fragile as we are
We return to this place each year to witness
the gradual decay
and to carry home the antique mess
now turned to dust in our pockets
an unintended souvenir of the life we share

dream house

My poem dream house originally appeared in The Missing Slate, an online journal of writing and ideas. I am very grateful to them for their support of my writing. If you’ve not seen The Missing Slatecheck it out here.  This poem was reprinted in POETSWEST ONLINE
, Volume XVIII, No. 2.

The rotting yellow farmhouse
always the same
appearing in my dream
the symbol of our decay
a home of strong bones
no longer held up
by the habit of standing
reduced to a pile of sticks
disintegrating on the spot
where we once loved
It is here that light falls
and darkness rises
to welcome us
to the demolition
of another day

the mess we left

Thank you to Sandra Tyler, editor of The Woven Tale Press for including the mess we left in your June, 2014 issue. We had an interesting discussion about punctuation in poetry. Generally, I’m against it. Ideally, the meter and line breaks of a poem would be the only punctuation necessary. Sandra persuaded me to give punctuation a try. See this poem at The Woven Tale Press.


the mess we left

What can we tell
from these pictures on walls,
jars filled with glass candies wrapped
in paper that cuts?

What do we know of those
who lived here, their secrets
in plain sight of passersby
the water-stained wall
the empty picture hook
the drawer full of broken glass?

Listen and you can hear
the uneasiness of a life never quite
cleaned up or put away
asking only for quiet,
a place to be left alone.

Perhaps if we sit and wait
these walls will spill open
to explain the sudden change.
For now let us stop
and sit amidst
the mess we left
and contemplate ourselves
reflected back at us
in a broken mirror.