Heirloom

An island won’t tell
its stories to just anyone.
She needs to woo its open ocean

side with a promise—
no messages in bottles, no

texting the mainland
after the fishermen bed
down the sun into night.

Museum as Verb

She prefers student
over teacher, says
inspiration is

elusive. No one
would settle without
water nearby. It will all shift—

the more she learns
the less she knows

why
call this—or this—
home. On these days,

she prefers
to board a train
to let go.

Polite Emily Dickinson Flies*

Riding the rails through
an afternoon comes
easier than staying

put face
to face with imminent
death. Or not. To those

gone but not
gone, she says
these tracks are her prayer.

* From Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur

Into this Autumnal Equinox

This rain may mute
the full moon tonight,
may turn my thoughts to wet

brain, incurable
delusion, doubt, immobility.
I cannot blame

those clouds or any weather
pattern for this disease
of selfish, vicious obsession. It fights

back by sitting in wait
to rot my body—power
greater than myself. I won’t decay

today, will walk into spitting
wind to become present
inside a drop of cannot know.

Or Wave

She believes the dirt
can talk, trees and wind join in—this nonverbal

world says more to her
than the one she keeps trying to define

and confine herself to. Poetry
of numbers in vibration is

music. She sees the face
of a god over Big Sur cliffs—sand mixed in.

Garbled

When her grandfather paid her
a nickel for each half
hour she could sit still

and mute

neither could know how
her father’s words would evaporate
into close Jersey shore air

for free, how the other capital A
disease untreated might do the same
to a friend she can’t bear to be near—

and stillness becomes

permanent. Even if
she kept those nickels
all these years, she couldn’t purchase

a reprieve
from either for anyone.