the heart of nothing


near Danish flat, just past

yellow cat, the highway drops

from the hills, flattens


into an arrow

pointed straight at the heart

of nothing at all.


my father

was an Ohio farmboy, but always

loved the desert


would stand staring into it

for hours from the edge

of the motel


parking lot. all

that room—room enough for all

the dreams, all


the disappointment.

we buried his ashes in a small

square hole in a hillside


in ohio—

redwing blackbirds and endless

rows of corn.


up ahead, a storm

has gathered, blue tendrils of rain

reaching down


to stroke the desert

as if tomorrow has already

begun to cry


on our behalf

knowing as it must

all that lies ahead.


windows down,

I kill the lights and stomp

on the gas. fat drops


slap the windshield

while the wind tears at my hair.

I’m flying now



into the black heart of the storm

spinning free


like an arrow

pointed straight at the heart

of nothing at all.


© Old Bones, New Snow/ JA Fink



for my friend Frank Ryan of whom I’m quite fond, though we’ve never actually met — thanks for the poems Frank!




you cant drive a nail

with a pen, or at least I

can’t– 26 letters in just one

of how many alphabets?

the neighbor kid

is kneeling on his back porch

with a rifle. his parents

are divorced but still share

the same house, and this

seems to be confusing,

so his father is trying

to make it up to him

with a gun. the older I get

the less I “get”—nothing

makes much sense

anymore, but I suppose

counting on coherence

is a common enough

mistake. a friend sent me

a book of his poems, one

for each month of the year

of the water snake, each written

on the first day of a new moon.

maybe this was the primordial

mistake, opting for solar

over lunar, a millennium

of repressed cycles of shadow

gnawing at the foundations

of everything. a poem

is a knife with no handle,

all blade, scoring the palms

of writer and reader alike.

and just so are we blood

brothers, consanguineous

across space and time

invoking this most ancient

sacrament of the human heart

our first and last defense

against snakes

and the final descent

into darkness.


© old bones, new snow/J.A. Fink