One month ago today, my brother Jeff married my sister-in-law Sinead in what might be the greatest pre-coronavirus celebration ever. I was the best man, and this is the speech I read that night. It reads a little strange, and there is a prop involved (you’ll see) but I hope this helps capture some of the incredible love I have for my brother and Sinead — my family.

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Photo by Todd Stoilov

How many people here were at my wedding?

If you were there, you know that I was not the star of my wedding. Jeff was. Not only did he officiate my marriage…


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I.

All of us pariahs!
shirking the unholy responsibilities
of round-eye society
Holy Chicago pariahs
with their singsong and nasaled
and long-voweled teachers’ voices
writ as bastards by Gilboa
all renegade, listless spirits, Amen!
vagabond distances!
hoards of the otherwise useless!
Dear sentient colony of beard and laundry
of mountain and village and chaptered page
String a sentence together for us
and we’ll bash skulls over needle and thread
Ajarn Santino
Ajarn Yuror
Ajarn Vincent, pariah of Asoke
Ajarn Dirk
Ajarn Waheed — Ajarn Abdul!
And Ajarn Allen! …


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Poor soldier
cleated with rust
heart-swollen boltbucket
coquettish lagwagon
in your last garage

Nail polish in your divots
fissures in your exhaust
spitting ferritic teeth
as gravity tore fabric
from fabric

Gentle carrier
how I loved you
when the steering line clotted
and the lamps fogged
to parchment

Hornets curled on the dash
dried to proteins in the sun
in the years I marked time
in inspections you failed

Teenage sanctum
parked by the seawall
where we drank Bird’s Milk
singing ’til hoarse
sons of a good and beautiful god
who whispered in the wheel well
when the brakes needed…


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It shakes me to know
that I may never feel something as poetic
as getting my heart hurled
into Brooklyn traffic
by a teenage girl
again

These are the thoughts
that grasshopper through my mind
I try to snare them
to cave them in my palms
but I tremble to give them to you

Not because you’d crush them,
pop their heads like balloons of pus,
but because you’d keep them
raise them like infants
until our pillows crawled at night

How did you find me
hiding inside that skinny boy? …


A Eulogy for Wilma Smith Fagerberg

“You don’t give love to receive love, you give love to become love.”

I’m not sure where this quote comes from or how I even found it, but the first time I heard it, I immediately knew it was true. I knew because I was lucky enough to have met a woman who was love made flesh. Wilma Fagerberg — or, as most knew her, Grammy.

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What that quote does not reveal, however, is just how difficult it is to master love. We are not born with love as an instinct. It does not come naturally. …


Skin your knuckle, new boy

The drill presses like rod into dust

Wear a shirt made of shallow breath

Curse the wrench, admonish a smudge

Note the angle

where the wall meets the wall

in profane reflex

Study it in earnest

like you could change it with a word

Toe a tack in the carpet

like a mother mops a stain with spit

Change the locks

undo your own work

Manage a smile when it makes sense

and wake to the noise

of a squirrel chewing fascia


A Eulogy for Barry S. Levine

It’s difficult not to sound cliché when you’re confronting mortality. When you die, the newspaper asks that you take the richness of a person’s life — the sum total of their triumphs and misdeeds — and distill it down into list of vague, unoriginal nouns. Beloved father. Devoted husband. A true friend.

Under the weight of mourning, the words come like a vending machine selection.

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In broad strokes, any of these archetypes would’ve been appropriate for Barry. He was a beloved father to Gaal and Ittai, a devoted husband to Olly, and a true friend to just about anyone who…


5 Tips for a Less Robotic Twitter

Most of the time, when a business follows me on Twitter, my immediate assumption is that it’s a bot. The Twittersphere is flush with spambots that zero in on keywords looking for users who subscribe for the “follow for follow” mentality. Usually, it’s pretty easy to decipher which accounts belong to legitimate businesses and which are just soulless automatons. So, when the dubiously named @BloggingClicks followed me last week, I was all set to report their profile and move on.

Until I looked closer.

From their website, BloggingClicks.com appears to be a legitimate advertising company. Though their website isn’t the…

Jerard Fagerberg

Something of a poet | Potter of your spilled clay

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