Wild Day’s Eye + The Clocked Lion’s Tooth

On a cool, cloudy Sunday morning
in May, she asks herself:
Why

have I resisted
time travel for so long?

Riding in the back seat
during an afternoon hail storm,
she forgets her fear

of cars to focus on the rhythmic
ping-ponging overhead.

She remembers how hail stones
tore holes in the convertible top
to her father’s red Austin-Healey

during Black Friday—an outbreak
of tornadoes and other dramatic weather

that ripped through
Belvidere, Illinois,
on April 21, 1967.

Large white pellets
strewn across the highway

break the spell,
return her to 2022.
She walks all the way home

from the intersection
of obsession and rejection,

determined not to become an empty lot
cleared then forgotten.
Another case of misunderstanding

why wildflowers.
How many No Mow Mays

before “weed”
loses its dirty word status?
Something about removing

piano wire from the ear.
Plucked, not hammered.

She longs for one more moment alone
in a dark room
with her harpsichord.

And they tore down the eyesore
ramshackle house with that door
she was meant to never darken again.

Egress and shelter
float to the top of the list.

No one knows for certain
where the latter came from—
who might walk across the roof

on humid days. As for the former,
some will ask:

Which exit?
Others will call her
the way out.

The shield she carries
cannot protect the shoulder

seasons from shrinking
more each year.
No one’s jumping

out a plane for her.
No one’s pushing her

to leap into a perfectly blue
secret passage
to the shore below.

And then
there’s simply now.

All My Favorite Photos of You

Gone. Somewhere
on the #1 train
between the Bronx and Chelsea.

I shouldn’t have kept them
all in my wallet. Shouldn’t have fallen
asleep. You wouldn’t have

closed your eyes.
Your closed eyes.

Class pictures year after year.
Awkward stages with glasses and haircuts
and crooked parts
would make you cringe
if you could still move.

One of you and me,
my father must have taken.
In town to drive us to our junior high prom.

No dates. We were each other’s date.
Dresses the color of water
with ruffled scoop necks.

It had been only a year.
I should have paced myself.
I was too young
to fathom your absence.
You were way too young.

You were the one who understood
limits and functions.
I didn’t know how to wear the grief
turning inside out in the wind—
an electrical storm

that might erupt
at any moment. And you
would have already calculated
the joules of energy released
before the next thunderclap.

No thief can steal the symbol for infinity
we etched into the ice with our skates
on the Thornton Park rink.

Blue Carbon Sink

It’s one thing for little boys
to roll down a slope
into a sunken sculpture garden.

It’s quite another
for drunken college seniors
to somersault their way

down a campus-defining hill—
barreling through the glee and terror
of the final night before

being handed diplomas and brass
keys to open unknown doors.
In bold acts of unsustainable

immortality, we borrow ones
made of animal bone to break
the promises we made to ourselves

well into the witching hour.
Swipe steel ones to pry open another defense of our dishonor.

Now they jangle, rattle, and crack
in pockets to worn-out jeans,
pounding out a relentless beat

accompanied by old subway tokens,
a tiny folded piece of paper
(the message faded and illegible

from so many rereadings
and wash cycles),
and bolts to anything

that fell apart ages ago.

Locks of gray hair,
floors no longer sticky,
a sluice gate,

a clear head
at dawn, and other slurs
accumulate. Eventually, standing

on the highest bluff, we believe
in the power of a finely-tuned spyglass
to rotate the view—never forgetting

the ones who followed the sea

stars and rockfish
into the reef and got lost
among the glass sponges forever.

Dimpled

We slog through rainy days
that yawn before us.

No one calls us boring
things and gets away with it.

Welcome to our doll shed,
our cave cutaway, the flat

where we lead silhouette lives.
Our shadow puppet nights

give way to rumors
of sunrises nearly visible

through hole punch clouds
as we jet across the sky,

empty punted Champagne bottles
rolling along the cabin floor.

We don’t remember how
to capture those bubbles

or why we let them go—only
that we must yield to bridges

as they beckon us
to cross at our own risk.

To embrace collapse
is a conundrum

best solved at 1:18 scale.

We will find a tiny vintage airstream
to ruin another perfectly good Saturday

before digging our fingers and toes deep into the wrack line upon arrival.

Infinitesimally Infinite

To finish small
with a mere minute to spare.

To leave no visible trace,
so ghosts alone know your origin story.

To dash through the gap
between lightning and thunder

and find it warm, pure, calm.

To breathe in upheavals
only to exhale the murmurings

of a new color. To quit the graphic
novel to follow prehistoric

hand stencils (mostly left ones)
into the cave. To whisper “mural”

into a hot mic. To embrace
that moonmilk ache

triggered by fastidious finger fluting.
To drink the river without knowing

when the next storm
will flood your heart.

To begin tall—
tearing off stubborn cinder blocks

to recover the rammed earth story
before it’s too late.

More or Less Decanting

Maybe I’ll always be more
slang, less spine.

More laughter workout through the tears, less wind sprint repetition.

More skipping stones
on the freshly iced-out lake

in the wee hours,
when no one’s looking.

Or, maybe, one last time
with Virginia. Or, for the first time,

I will awaken her from a soggy slumber
to spend a rainy (sometimes thunderous)

Saturday afternoon together.
We will walk more lighthouse

and isthmus, talk less
language and island.

Is she cringing?
It will be too dark to tell.

Or, more do over, less
permanent ink staining the beach.

More midnight damage done,
less dramatic daylight ruse.

More or less chipping another plate
in the sink to interrupt the time

spent fearing the bend
in the nearest tree trunk.

Less rocking the head rhyme,
more room to tell it slant.

A change so much
more twisted than bartered.

More sing the city stoop,
less swallow the hollow skyway whole.

More rough-hewn fakebook fringe
to dangle over the edge,

less polished marble
floor to slip on.

More liminal guitar picking,
less drive-time buzz.

More not so subliminal messages
from one DJ to another,

transferred via soulful trashing
of a playlist: the ultimate

no apologies outro.
Listeners no less.

And maybe I loved your sister more.

Because I Belong to the (B)ramble

I’ll be walking under the radar,
under street lights, not
off the grid.

I’ll be unlicensed, never
trafficking in titles
with or without wheels.

I’ll be posting signs:
“The ocean is not for sale”
in that forever city girl way.

I’ll be desperately seeking ginger
essence with just the right amount
of zing and spice.

The perfectly steeped
blue bottled
rose water.

I’ll be reading labels out loud:
“You know how to use it—
massage liberally into skin.”

I’ll be remembering
how to swim
is like riding a bicycle

from the muddy pedestrian trail
beneath the birches. I’ll be
more climber than swinger

if I start practicing again.
If the trees can forgive me.

What are they whispering about me
into the canopy air? Warning
their neighbors to beware

through their hidden underground
fungal wood wide web?
The secret’s out.

I’ll be coming in peace,
limbs respectfully bent downward,
my feet planted firmly in the duff.

I’ll be back.

Articulated

The paper dolls
you assembled, then hid
so well. The accordion
bus before the band

destroyed it.
The skeleton you
read about, never
found. The vestibule

car where I waited for you
to return. The last words
you might have uttered—
with only the slightest

hint of fresh ginger
on your tongue.

(under)Carriage

If our secrets keep us
sick, this fear
of naming it,
of forgetting
to name it,
this willow wicker
bend in the road—
it can all be
so unforgiving.

One More than Two

I used to have three
rocking chairs.
Now I have one—

a sturdy wine-colored wicker
affair designed for a wraparound
porch I never had.

I began gathering them
back in New Haven,
desperate to be

comforted. To rock away
silent demons. To roll over
the haunting curl of waves.

There used to be three
wooden swings behind the cottage
marking the spot where the Beach Road

Extension fades into a dead end.
Our grandfather made one for each
of us girls. Long before there was a boy.

Each time I return
to the island
and trepass down

that private dirt drive
(really more sand than dirt),
I’m too afraid to look.

What if one of them is missing?
All or nothing, no matter what.

No Fates. No Grays.
We were not the daughters
of Phorcys + Ceto,

or Zeus + Themis,
or Nyx all by herself.
Well, then again, maybe Nyx.