No Escape

Even our sun will die eventually.
I had forgotten how cold
it will get inside. How haunting
the drone must be on the way outside in
the galactic underworld. How lonely
for those of us left behind
searching for the light
in the wrong sky. And so it is
with this parallel eddy in the ocean—
another black hole to try to resist,
or give up the ghost as we pour more
ancient sticky water to drink.

Keener

When I die, throw me
a wedding, not a wake.
Celebrate my marriage
to the earth with the same gusto
I was never betrothed while I breathed.
Wrapped in a mushroom shroud,
through aquamation or human composting,
or nourishing the fish

in an eternal reef, I promise
to be true to the only home I’ve known.
Staying up all night (waking
neighbors belting out drunken ballads)
surrounded by bodies—been there,
done that. So last century.

Fog

A drizzly morning up north
on the fourth Thursday in November

takes its time to clear.

The storytellers hide from other truths
in tulle veils:

wedding or funeral, birdcage or blusher.

We all do it. I’m so guilty,
my hands stained with bruise

colored ink expose another

underwater smoke screen.
I’ve looked it up before.

I remember the initial thick part,

the obscuring middle,
the final mist.

I’ll look it up again as I move closer

to the sea grasses and beg
more clouds to touch the ground.

Party Till Almost Sunrise

I will find
the poetry

in a sound lantern.
It’s not hard to do.

Back then, he did, indeed,
have those long, hollow cheeks.

A candle flickered in his mouth
when he sang.

I never had a match
for him. They spilled

from my pockets
for years after the last time

we. Then no more.

I never lived
in a lighthouse with

anyone, no matter how hard I tried
to will it. All those empties

rolling off the bluff
into the sound. And

another. So many
kinds to choose from.

The last word
no one dares pick.

Nor the means:
spoken, sung, whispered, signed,

or transmitted inside
a moving billow of water.

Day One

My god, who are you
that science cannot explain?

It must be hereditary—wanting
to become an alcoholic who writes

her way outside her own skin.
I got what I wanted—a place no longer safe

where no one’s sacred,
where only exit signs light up

the night. Fire
water intoxicates

thirsty rail trestles
with five-story flames.

I will not get behind
the wheel. Have wanted to get lost,

wanted to be invisible, to pretend to be
asleep in the middle of a crowded room.

What are they saying about me
now that I’m dead?

Cause of death pending. Cause of birth
doesn’t get recorded.

Tell me, crooked river,
if I can be sober, what then?

Wedge-Shaped or Fanlike

A crow flies overhead
as the fog clears
to reveal a ravine.

And this is how
we say good-bye.

I accidentally tuck my bag
into the bin
wheels out.

And this is
how we say good-bye.

The rental car agent
mistakes me for a wife.
Tells my friend I can drive

the vehicle too.
Asks if we are headed to a wedding.
Wrong on all three counts.

This is how
we say good-bye.

Memories of discovering
a baby squid along the Connecticut shore
and watching “Search for Tomorrow”

in a crooked old house
the university tore down
to build a new athletic facility.

This is also how
we say good-bye.

We wind our way up Mount Tam
to watch the sun set.
For some of us, motion sickness

and pressure in the ears
interfere with the view.
And this is how

joy and grief collide in the margins.
The edge of the sea, all that laughter,
those throwaway asides

are precisely
how we say good-bye.

Crow or raven? And now
I cannot remember the shape
of the beak, or sound

of the bird’s call—
merely a streak of black
scraping against the sky.

And wouldn’t he reply
a feather is just a feather,
a bird is just a bird, after all?

Late October Entropy

It’s not some kind of crown
shyness—these channels
of exposed sky. It’s not
the weight of a body

as it releases a final burst
of energy. The tiny white buttons
running down the back
of a wedding dress in another state.

On the same fall day.
She’s returned to eating 7
almonds a day as if it will
reduce numbness so easily.

It’s not as if he were ever a tree.
Or, if he was, she never knew
what kind. Or, the vegetable steamer
filled with red cabbage

and thawing peas
hisses at her again.

Or, each goth song that crowds
the airwaves this time of year
seeps in only a little.
“Oh, Bela.”

The 10-year anniversary
of everything being underwater.
Red velvet lined walls.
A random sweep through time

reveals just how little we knew
in 1983. And bless us all
that summer. As if the repurposing
of atoms had already begun.

So Far As Sojourns Go

You say multifamily. I say
multi-unit with a hyphen to hum
along the corridor. Who decides

how to count the bodies?
Do you include servants and boarders?
What about the quiet child who lives

next door? The clan knocks
over the terra-cotta pot.
The dirt-caked key beneath.

I don’t know how
to run a detached
dwelling. I don’t know how

to detach your hesitation
from the way I linger
in the deep end of an infinity pool

overlooking an ocean
with those lavish waves.
Not a tipped-over figure 8 in sight.

Versus

A single row, a ditch, a line
left to cross. It’s another Saturday

morning. Time to turn the soil
while waiting for the coffee

to kick in. No misery lights
are sweeping across the intersection.

A stranger cries out:
“You can’t run from death.”

You keep going up
the hillside in a city park.

You never wait
your turn. You take turns

being the antihero. Strapped
to a beat-up guitar, one of you busks

on a corner in perfect view
of a garden-level apartment

window well. The other sweeps
the margins clean

at the end of the night.
Underwater watchdogs swim ashore

before the next broken wake.

You always find a gem
of a word to mispronounce.

What about Maps?

What about them? I’m looking for him
on the wrong one. The wrong one

on the right map. The corresponding
position of another lost soul
dropping a cloth napkin
in the road

flashes and flutters. I study
the imprint left in the sand and dirt.

Isn’t “What’s your favorite color?”
the question to ask without asking?
The most intimate secret
to reveal to unlock an introvert’s

leaded glass window.
Stained with evidence of course.

Of another rainstorm.
Of another bear pacing because.
Of another language failing.
Of another myth collapsing

in the retelling.
Another one of the lion’s whiskers

gets plucked to trigger
one of the six types of courage.
The bear has whiskers too—
just not the vibrating kind.

An abandoned apartment building
up the hill catches fire again.

I don’t blame the squatters
the way they say I should.

Now that you’ve seen where I learned
to swim, let’s bring the rocks
ashore. The wetlands
have been brimming for decades.

Someone claims
it’s National Heroes Day.

It took too long for me
to realize the hero will never be
a boy. Another sister to the rescue
when the canoe capsizes.

There’s no way to see the entire box
in one frame. Cardboard, or recycled

wood slats, or chewed paper,
or apples softened in the sun
at high altitude. It doesn’t matter
how many Belgiums will fit inside.

The Take No Heroes Hotel
always has a vacancy.

I found her folded inside.
How the lake and sky compete
for the truest blue before it turns
gray along the apparent horizon.