when talking interferes

with breathing
when FOMO trickles down
to Grandma

when sadness over seeing another dead mouse
on the running path
gets replaced with relief

it’s not a gigantic snapping turtle
with its guts seeping out
shell intact

when everyone
is recovering
from something

and pantries
have stepped out
of their closeted pasts

no more
hidden loaves
or cans stacked too high

when the power goes out
and whispers get recorded
then erased then retrieved

from a generator
1,000 miles inland
taking the scenic route

and the mermaid cover
no longer
makes sense

and the temperature plummets
as Saturday afternoon
gains momentum

the promise
of vicious river otters
swimming up north remains likely

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Weather Inside a Diorama 

I search for intimacy
on a footbridge
that’s been mute
for too many pink nights

then the tunnel
stares me down

I want to ratchet up
a conversation
without echoes
with only the left ear

participating
what’s really going on

with those brain damaged
Americans in Havana’s hotels
the answer sounds so jade
when you say it

I can’t even pronounce
the color of your sonic terror

the one you left to rot
in a backpack overnight
it gets so sticky
with morning inside

Water Poured Over Myths

he catches a catfish
the size of a 9-year-old
boy or girl

a river
overflows
while a sea halfway

across the world
dries up

runners risk death
from hyponatremia
more than dehydration

it won’t kill you
to let a pink flame emerge
in the western sky

without reaching for
your iPhone to capture it
live or still

a little thirst
doesn’t mean

you will subvert the cure
and have to start counting
all over again

house vs. home

lar in Portuguese
hogar in Spanish
chez soi in French
ibasho in Japanese

hjem in Norwegian
or Danish
domov in Czech
dom in Polish

I could go on and never reach the perfect
word to describe this yearning
for something I’m not sure
I have ever experienced

I’ve longed for it
so long

I’ve chased wind
across the water
and listened for moon sighs
on cool summer nights

have wanted to dance
on the surface of the open ocean
to celebrate the intangible
and restless beneath

have considered
one night stands
with a parade
of duende spirits

mermaids and Vanessa
the wooden green
sea serpent
who lives in Farm Pond

the dory left
in the Menemsha salt marsh

saudade casts shadows
of jagged waves
on docks and stone jetties
just beyond civil twilight

have heard Portuguese and Wôpanâak
mixed together with tears
and sweat
in my early morning dreams

it’s beyond a wetu structure
that shelters children and lost phrases
it’s the red cedars 
growing alongshore 

The Uncatena & Other Bygones

Too afraid to knock on the door
to those earliest memories of summer.

Fearful the current owner will have an attack
dog, or hungover husband, or RBF.

Too afraid of what the view from the low-ceilinged
upstairs dormitory might conjure.

Of white caps in the pond.
Of the miniature orange plastic ferry boat

and its multi-colored cars
that would run along the porch rail so perfectly.

Of the real diesel-fueled ferry’s horn
that would blast in passengers’ ears as it left Woods Hole.

Of the Nobska Light foghorn’s moan
and buoy bell chimes in the night wind

that would lull us to sleep.
Too afraid I won’t survive the rush pouring in.

I won’t make it to Norton Point
to witness the breach before it closes this time.

I snap one last selfie in front of a break
in the town beach fence.

The wind has downgraded itself
to a steady breeze.

A seagull hitches a ride on the 8:15 am ferry
I take from Vineyard Haven.

The sun has risen to evaporate dew
on the rose hips I always mistook

for beach plums.
Now I know for next time.

It Rains on the Last Day

The weather app says the sky
should have cleared by now.

If I were still 8,
I would beg to go to the library,

then the Flying Horses.
I don’t need to beg,

borrow, or steal any more
moments from my childhood.

They remain where they are—
inside a gray shingled shed

near where individual shingles
were once suspended from rope

to make three swings.
One for each of us.

With the strong wind
coming off the sound,

I should keep my eyes focused
on the path in front of me.

Watch invasive cormorants
dive for fish in Menemsha Harbor

and not feel sorry for the skunk
that didn’t make it across the road.

Sandy Hook Light 

We step inside and ascend.
Each turn of the spiral
stair breaks off another
one of your words—

loom / ing
un / der / tow
i / so / me / tric
Ur / sa Mi / nor
speed / ing ti / cket

Syllables smash
against the whitewashed concrete
floor below and dissolve.
Plaques and tangles. Tangles and plaques.
1764, the year it was built, splits
open—decades spill onto the treads we’ve just climbed.
We reach the lanthorn. The sky has cleared for us
to see in all directions—

At / lan / tic O / cean
Ver / ra / za / no Nar / rows Bridge
Em / pire State Build / ing
nudes on a beach
Saint Ber / nard Pa / ro / chi / al School play / ground
seal haul out heav / en
gap be / tween the first
1 WTC
and the next

In the heat trapped inside, whole sentences fly off our tongues.
I can retrieve them later, if you wish. For now,
it’s just you and me, Dad,
on the beam

that can be seen 19 miles
at sea on a clear night.
For now, we are
the fixed white light.

I’m Begging You to Beg Me

You and your cheap trick.
Make that plural. Make that ripping
off the Kinks.

Flattery works. Repetition works
till it gets old. I know
Rockford. I remember Rockford.

I learned to walk and talk
in Rockford. Only it was the reverse.
Talk then walk.

I took my time with both.
Wanted to do them right
before taking them to the street

to become a runner and a writer.
Some say poets are not the same species
as writers. They may be onto something.

I don’t really like to write
or run. I have no choice.
I must do them to survive

like a shark.
My cheap trick.

Somewhere along the way,
all shook up becomes
all shook down.

Somehow the island makes an appearance,
and the Flying Horses will be open
well into the night.

Viewshed & Other Damp Pieces in Storage

Rain threatens only as weather can—
swiping control from unprotected hands
and skulls
at the last possible moment.

She calculates every angle
and perspective
where she can see and be seen.
Somewhere there’s a pocket

of space where selfies get erased
and the smell of mothballs
signals a shift
in barometric pressure.

She must scramble through recycle bins
for old newspapers
to stuff in her shoes
to soak up the excess.

When she sees the Kenwood Water Tower’s
brick fortress pillar straight ahead,
she knows
it will be all downhill soon.

When she drinks from another
public fountain,
she knows the water doesn’t come from
that tower anymore.

It all gets traced back
to the Mississippi.

When she runs up and down
the West River Road hills,
she knows she won’t jump in
to cool off

the way those teenage boys,
without sneakers,
are leaping off the old concrete
and limestone bridge

that arches over
the Lake of the Isles/Cedar Lake
channel. Poor Bridge #L5729
has no proper name.

They think no one sees them.
Think no one knows
how deep
the water is.

why not

discover a bed of smashed
smoked glass chips

scattered across the alley driveway
behind your building

why not
ask why

listen to a murder
of Lyft drivers compare hours

and customer vomit
over strong coffee

try not to listen to them
then give up and lean in

wander through an empty parking lot
at 2 in the morning

why not
ask why not

set up a share table
in your living room

to hold hands with your sister
who lives 750 miles away

your best friend
who lives 1,200 miles away

your ex-lover
who lives 7 miles away

your father
who’s been dead 5 years

visit the future
with a homemade drone

publish what you capture
on Instagram or Snapchat

dance with honey bees
and monarchs

in the pollinator garden
in the center of your neighborhood park

tell the bees
you love them

why not ask why
not

throw a garden party
and invite only lemurs and genets

flying foxes
and hummingbirds of course

serve only
the sweetest nectar

never wipe pollen
off a long snout

never stop asking why not
never stop telling the bees you love them