Another Pronunciation

Saudade isn’t saudade
if it is satisfied. When she least expects it, 

other dreams come
into focus under the lights. Dust 

of desire becomes frenzied
particles she won’t try to collect. She’s reaching 

over the fence with its crumbling limestone
foundation to touch another’s— 

carefully stacked against the wrought-iron grille.
She won’t see 

the Atlantic tomorrow,
but she’ll get very close.

Obvious

Inspiration in the spit
laden air, in the sequence 

of events from lake to balcony
to converted house to nailing down 

these recalcitrant emotions
with a red hammer 

(yes, it must be red).
I’m no butterfly 

catcher, am afraid
to pin down wings 

gently with my thumb.
I still need to let them fly 

off to endanger you
to my vulnerable side.

Not Always Nouns

Her gifts come in crumpled
sheets, quick jottings
on the feathers of red-winged 

blackbirds to pin
her heart
on her bared shoulder. 

No tattoos—this is
the thing itself. Not a needle
and inked recollection of another 

person or place. She’s almost ready
to ask:
Do you wish to receive?

In the Ars Poetica Series

To beg, borrow, or steal
for this, to swing in an inked
playground, to live life 

as a prayer opening
into another garden’s bloom,
to identify the shape 

of a tiny island
now succumbed to a wetlands
birthright, to be willing 

to start over
each morning
is what remains.

If I Could Have Been Eva 62

Somewhere way uptown
“Bird Lives.” Barefoot
and in love, two dart
through wet cement.
Pen pals will be 

spawned. Stenciled
broken promises, the Bronx
could have come crumbling 

down. But it’s held on
for the ride. When the last
of the writing on the wall 

rolled along those tracks,
I arrived ready
to be winded
by those step streets.
I didn’t know it 

would be the shape
shifting that would catch me
in the throat.

Kingsbridge, The Bronx

This is different. This is
personal. This is my die
hard era. That step
street terrace dares me 

to climb away
from those subway tracks,
exposed for miles, to identify
a graffiti memory I believed

they had erased
with the old #1 cars.
New Jersey’s Palisades spill
onto the other side where Wave 

Hill becomes more than a label
on a Google map. How many women drink
their own tears
when they reach 

this far north? When they think of Redbirds
and that combat steel skin? I am
not alone—but seeking solitude’s prayers
for grace. Limestone retaining walls 

and brownstone facades
hold in echoes of their Portland,
Connecticut, quarry
origins.  I swam in it 

and thought I would drown
in that unfathomable thirst. 

Whoever rescued me then
could need some of that now. I wouldn’t know. 

Mine has become a visitor’s ascent.
I dwell in possibility’s prairie
now, its river a street lined with myth and mud
and messages I’m eager to decode.