Exposed Triptych Stitching


if she goes any rawer
she’ll be eating dirt again

she can’t remember which relative
warned her first

if she swallows an apple seed
a tree will grow

larger and larger inside her
till her skin becomes bark

her arms branches
toes exposed roots

her heart the inside of a cave
that contains all of the planet’s sorrows


built too close
a hornet nest / a wooden swing set

don’t know which
got there first

tears more from the shock
than the pain of the sting

it hurts to be so out of control
of her feelings

the burning subsides
the Vespa venom won’t kill

what’s left of her
itching soul

she will have to choose
which side

of the commons
to seek recovery in

the street down the middle
mocks her deadly indecision


from the eastern bluff
she spots a dray horse

with a heart
of goldenrod

hooves made of eyelashes
from long abandoned stars

those occupied flames
burn out too fast

she watches in awe
as all that muscle

and localized energy
takes off

over the berm
to another chapter

where the moon will regain
its sway

She’s Lost Control in the Before/After

an old Singer sewing machine
centered on a shelf
inside a display case
in a coffee/cocktail hall

I was always afraid
of the needle’s mobility
of missing the beat again
seeing my own blood

fascinated by the true blue bloods
the octopus / the spider / the snail

so ductile his copper songs
twist uncontrollably
in slow-moving hurricane winds
Rust Never Sleeps was released

in my final days
of innocence
I didn’t understand what
the big deal was

Labour of Lust / Candy-O
In Through the Out Door too
I wouldn’t discover
Unknown Pleasures

or Drums and Wires
for years / I can still see
an empty wire
bird cage in the corner

above the case
I rest mine
going going fly away
gone and soon

em not en

before a dash
complicated everything
she spoke
in monosyllabic bouts

step off the dock
put down the rod
dig your toes in the sand
wait for the next
wave to crash
hold on for the ride
come to
one small beach town south
watch a blue crane
leave the salt marsh at dawn—

actually it’s a heron
not sticking its neck out

punctuating stillness
in brackish water

during another civil twilight
you do the leaving

What the Swinging Pendulum Cannot Measure

in the gap

between meteorological
and astronomical
fall rainwater fills
a city tree trench

in the gap

I gulp crisper air
nearly choke on it
as I recall
how those towers fell

in the gap

I begin to move
toward running off again
no more waiting
in the mending room

nights spread out
to harbor the color of clay
bricks fresh from the kiln
if only for a moment

in the gap

I see how the moon
tells the truth

even when it looks impossible
even when
it hurts
and regret burns

hotter than cone 6
even when
the quarry no longer sources
the four walls

into this interval

I finally get it Mom

16 months is too long
a gap between
birth and real mother
to mend or mind

if I could cradle
that breach in my arms
rock you slowly to the clicking
of a metronome you set

if there could be
no more gap

Remind Me

where you keep
those metaphors

in a drawer
folded beneath

the flood
she might reply

the red wheelbarrow
is just a red wheel

barrow / those plums
just plums

probably deep purple
drupes hanging

from a dune shrub branch
in sweet August rain

somewhere on Long Beach Island
no hidden meaning

to mentioning that place
unless you choose to dig up

a diary
from the last century

End of Summer Thirst

everything I’ve wanted to say
swallowed whole and spit out like a seed
from a grape / part of a cluster
in a bag that reads
Seedless California Table Grapes
I don’t understand / she shouldn’t have
turned the water to wine
should have walked on it first / stomped on it
like Lucy in that episode in Italy
my father despised her / never knew why
they swab both my palms
chosen randomly
to keep up appearances we are safe
from ourselves
from the invisible weapons
we hold open in our hands
I hear a woman speak against
jargon / her body reeks of it
with each noisy gesture
somewhere in a Midwestern past
musicians ignite a barn
with their gloriously unholy sound / I genuflect
to remember that brief reprieve
from darkness that would spread
inside my chest
and rumble in my ear
a dinosaur disturbed
from its sleep
flying over Nebraska
the light dims slightly
with another roll of turbulence
I recognize the throat
knotting / another good-bye
to another moment
it almost rains in California / almost