Circle of Cinquains

We were
so immortal
we would jaywalk across
Washington at night defying
our fear.

Playwrights
knit their stories
to a high chain link fence.
Who knows how or when it will fall
apart.

I’ve been
dining with one
mannequin for decades.
She wears that old vial necklace
he made.

Remove
all the mirrors.
Turn up the radio.
Admit it, you do miss them. Damn
skyways!

Refuse
to dine inside
together till you see
plexiglass pendant head surrounds
in place.

Halos.
Helmet shields. How
many boys did you kiss
in those couch graveyard cellars
back then?

I don’t
remember what
happened to the front porch.
Gone overnight, wood railings, steps,
and all.

And that
whip-its mishap.
She said she’d never seen
anyone with singed-off eyebrows
before.

Smeared-ink
past lives collide
inside a tank covered
in tally marks I drew without
thinking.

Water Dancer

She knows this dock—
each splinter, barnacle,
hurricane-spared stilt.

It is not a plank. It’s where she walks.
She knows how to dive,
has been doing it for years.

No easing into the wash,
she plunges in and is used to it
before others awake.

This is underworld—closets, caves, shelves,
trenches, forests, hydromedusa, brittle
stars, Painlevé’s camera.

This is where she should live—
she who is a sponge
is a sponge is a sponge.

She will never work a room
on dry land, works the ocean floor
with the precision of a jelly bloom.

To become exposed to air,
the rising sun. It is her death
to appear before all of us.

Metal crushes metal on a distant street, emergency
sirens approach
closer, closer. A muffled distortion underwater.

Leave her enough sea room.
She would rather synchronize her own sculls
outside a tank

than be confounded by a mirage of closing night roses
she can’t reach without a body.

Holdfast

I wish I could be there
for the seahorse
when she growls.
Build a coral cave for privacy

when she and her future
mate begin to click.
I wish I could propel myself
slowly through eelgrass beds

and sing of sunken nights
as I reach the next
stratified layer
in the water column

without choking on the wait
for a miracle.

If I Could Be the Designated Duende

If you think you are an impostor, I am
the swindler hidden in the weeds
wishing to become a dandelion
before the earth swallows us whole.
I play exquisite corpse by myself,
folding thoughts from view quickly
as I breathe in new fabric particles,
a smear of blue across the upper lip.

A stack a half-filled Mad Libs books
piles up, handwriting slanted
backwards and filled with rust.
Which one of me demands parts
of speech from the other?
I look to the mannequin
for answers. Then we silence it
on a bed of iced petals.

We straighten our tongues,
kicking up wire along the way.
Imagine painting a miniature bicycle
on your knuckles to blur the line
between art and windows.
Imagine all the blanks
where words might have been
to spill laughter into the darkness.

All Those Prompts I Took for Granted

Gone. Suddenly blooming,
prairie smoke and bloodroot,
a smattering of violets
tucked between blades of hillside grass
from yesterday’s walk
stay fresh with me
into the second day of May.
This fractured year. Props

refract light on a window sill.
Gifts from my mother, Baltic amber

frog and cat figurines glow into late morning.
Trapped in this moment, I swear

I can hear those ancient trees
moan as they seal their wounds.

Who Are These People

who do not know how to
measure six feet apart

we’re all vulnerable
to routes six feet deeper

dirt disguised as escapes
beyond the fathomless