Atomic Number 13

Afterthoughts dance a revel before
me in their borrowed tunics
and repurposed top
hats. I would like to see 

that cellar retrofitted
beneath the surface
that cannot be defined. I
imagine how it would be 

to submerge an old Airstream—
my silver bullet travels
just under the earth’s skin. I cringe
but then applaud 

the rising courage that gets
partially skimmed off.

No. 9 or So

Not built for long-term love
excursions, she seeks a glimmer
in a warmer gray—couldn’t
draw a picture to convey her way 

through an open door.
To fiddle with a lock and swing
into a door jam
is 

the extent
of her inclination
to reconfigure lines
and what might get shaded 

inside. She’s not interested
in that constraint—others float
to the surface
of this potion 

she may, or may not, number.

Vitamin E

My thighs have turned
a bloodless white. A dry
heaving wind Marilyn
Monroes my dress. A tiny
globe exposed, I walk inside 

city limits—checking,
checking, checking
those boundaries I installed
with bare feet
and the promise of late 

July rain. A voice
bellows and gusts
from the bottom
of my back
pack.  I won’t 

reach it
in time. Solitude has sprung
loose again.

Light in the Alley

Tone deaf, color
blind to the hues
of a man’s gestures. Bored, 

shy, turned
on, off—who can
tell? Gossip dug out 

of a dumpster, laid
in the mid-summer grass
to dry out, to cure well 

enough for a taste. I don’t eat 

meat. That’s no excuse.
I’m human. I share
secrets—only my own.

On the Remake

“Then nothing will remain of the iron age
And all these people but a thigh-bone or so, a poem
Stuck in the world’s thought, splinters of glass
In the rubbish dumps, a concrete dam far off in the mountain . . .”
—Robinson Jeffers, from “Summer Holiday” 

I can find the trash
chute without falling
under its spell.  Won’t be abducted 

by shattered glass thoughts
desperate to become sand
again. I will recycle myself.  Will 

find another man
to feed me—am seeking
fresh vegetables, grilled fish, and laughter 

sweet as peaches
we’ll dare to eat.

Avowal

Do I dare—I do not—
to buy a snuff
bottle. Hand-painted,
it comes in a small gold thread
embroidered box
with a latch. If a peach 

adorned its glass shell, would I
then? Afraid to ask

questions, I let wondering build
a safety berm
around my modern moat.
What swims through
my muck and murdered
words would not bear 

any rings. They’re everywhere—
on fingers, hanging 

from ears, wrapped around
planets, even this curved channel
I’ve dug to keep nobody
out. I don’t burn
rose oil, it’s the water
I want to sniff. 

It’s this desire
I need to contain.

It Turns On

a dime on the coffee bar tile
floor to pick up, orange
traffic cones inverted
in the sidewalk to ponder. It’s a sign 

not to fall 

into warning funnels before predictions
of tornado sirens blare over the radio. The handsome
shop keeper who owns that caché tells me
his beautiful dog sleeps 

behind the snuff 

bottle case. I notice him the way I notice him
so many evenings passing each other by. I go
unnoticed. Lightning inspires
a gray afternoon sky. These things—take 

note. A tornado 

warning gets canceled—
but what’s that sound?

Medium High

“Poetry doesn’t know:
The air conditioner
Not in use in winter
Is like my hopes—
Half in, half out.”
—Jack Kerouac, from “Richmond Hill Blues” (Book of Blues

I have no air
conditioner. No
dishwasher. I have no washing
machine. I am half 

in, half out—don’t
take pity on me
because I don’t cook
down suburban roads 

in an SUV. I want no mercy
meals from anyone—
not even Kerouac.  He’s
dead. I am sitting in 

my own lap
topped to wait
for the right moment
to cast a warm glow.