Souls | Regulators| Passages

Rhythm
goes underground.
The clock clicks 12 twice a
day. And night movements glow that much
slower.

It’s time
to find your own
metronome encased in
mahogany wood. Wound up and
ready

to soothe
the most restless
body to haunt empty
streets. When will the pendulum swing
back is

not the
question you want
to ask. It’s those alleys
that connect everything back to
nothing.

Fourth Thursday in November

As I
say the words spray
painted on a subway
station wall “gratitude and grief,”
who knows

why these
tears taste so good,
how the empty car will
warm you overnight in a dream.
No one

owns this
land, the city,
that underground refuge
possesses us to tell it like
it is.

I must
confess the truth:
property will always
confuse me. Here I sit alone
in this

rented
jumble of rooms
inside a century
old building made of bricks and stray
stories

tossed, or
lost, or misplaced.
Truth is I made up that
subway graffiti to reclaim
this year.

2020 Is

Fill in
the blank with four
letter words, with shattered
travel plans, human contact in
tatters.

Rolling
across floor boards
in search of any face
you might recognize from eyes
and forehead.

Indoors
alone again,
lucky to be alive
to live through this without gasping
for breath.

No more
tears streaming down
cheeks while standing in
a crowd, the band playing its third
encore.

No more
memories to
make, share with anyone.
Remember how you said you wished
you could

become
a hermit just
like Thoreau? “Not till we
have lost the world, do we begin
to find

ourselves
and realize . . . the
infinite extent of
our relations.” Walking the whole
way round

the pond
is no joke. Is
the only way to get
out of bed in the morning, the
only

choice left,
a slow run toward it,
count the curves in the next
circle left to draw with what
remains.

Note: Thanks to Henry David Thoreau for a few choice words from Walden.

Do the Math

Without
these shadows, how
will I know where to find
corners to coax me to believe
in light?

Snow squalls
burn through the day.
Crashed semis in flames.
It’s a miracle no one dies
out there.

Into
this dark winter,
miracle can’t be the
science we follow to beat this
virus.

Stop the
dying. So much
depends on words that fail.
They sink straight to the bottom as
ice forms

above.
My vote is my
vow is my voice as it
gets entangled with others to
become

one long
break—beautiful
disturbance that spreads as
ripples to awaken water
beneath.

The Darker Half Begins in Flames

Let’s feast
on ghost stories,
how red was a belief
before it became the color
of blood.

Let’s light
a bonfire
to complement purple
shadows chasing faded yellow
horses

that still
run through those caves—
mission-fed messengers.
Never got a chance to see or
touch them.

Let’s cross
the Golden Gate
Bridge in the fog. Could be
any day. Call it Halloween
this time.

Don’t jump.
Together, we
can rescue the color
international orange from
that face.

Sometimes It Snows in October

Mere days
after running,
no floating, for miles
along trails with rails, weather so
perfect.

Almost
peak fall colors
transform the view in all
directions, and you know you are
in it.

This is
your season. And
you spot, not one, but two
freight trains along the way. Waiting
to cross

the tracks,
you can’t, no you
won’t, stop. You are so left,
you’re right around the corner from
where we

started
this mess, come full
circle. Then it begins
to snow. Another blow to a
blown year.

And you
refuse to let
it keep you from going
outside, into the unplowed cold
blankness.

Winter’s
trying to crowd
out fall. Canopies of
snow weigh heavily on branches
with leaves

before
they got the chance
to fall. Yellow, orange,
red, even green moments whisper
through white.

Tiny
avalanches
spill on your head as you
push on, try to pretend nothing
has changed.

four words walk into a bar to decide if the Parti can surpass a Lone View into a Dale

There’s that
word again. It
comes to divide us, match
make no one inside the perfect
parti.

Next year
I will break free.
No more five line stanza
straitjacket to dictate my lone
holler.

I don’t
want to use that
word dale to describe this
morning as it foreshadows our
decline.

When you
walk faster than
you run, you know you’ve reached
the plateau where the final word
is view.

It’s all
code for making
time meet space for a drink
when the sun begins to sink so
early.

Because the Avon Street Fire, October 8, 1990

A bag
of pepitas
to sprinkle across fields,
a rustling in the copse alerts
you and

who else
to diagnose
these days as scars, nights more.
You ascend the hill alone, save
a bird.

Halos
getting lost in
translation shift too quickly to
measure.

There was
that fire 30
years ago and that fly
on the VP’s head that won the
the debate.

You keep
saying we all
have a fire story to
tell, this one’s yours. Who really owns
the flame?

Who knows
why she swallowed
the firefly, or who she
is. Only that now they have gone
missing.

Not the
torch’s fault, nor
the cardinal’s, nor its
nest. The man on the roof didn’t
bother

to check
for smoke before
climbing down. You didn’t
believe it could happen to you.
Lucky

to lose
nothing because
you had nothing to lose.
It took decades to learn how to
exhale.

First Two Days in October

Half a
lifetime in one
place more north than midwest,
still it’s the McIntosh apples
you crave.

28 years.

The weight
of his death, the
one who drove the U-Haul
truck for you, presses against your
lungs. Heart.

10 years.

Is this
the half you want
to be remembered for?
Empties removed, no need to be
replaced.

18 years (almost).

Counting
poems, runs, leaves
left on old elms in this
little city’s central park, this
one’s yours.

20 years (almost).

You can
call it northeast
corridor saudade, the
way you hold onto old New York
City

Subway
Metro cards just
hoping they won’t expire
before you return, ready to
stand clear

of the
closing doors. Get
ready for another
ride of your life. That ding dong chime
again.

Half a
lifetime living
a thousand miles from
the platform, the train, the gap, the
third rail.

28 years.

Even
if you did fly
back east this moment, would
there be any strangers left to
ride with?

This year!