We Have Sidewalks in the Sky

I won’t be the one
who left her purple
gloves on the counter, who cut off

the blind man in limbo

between buildings. Will be
the one looking
for a way around

Holidazzle Parade crowds. I will
return to street level
next time I see

my way home before dark.

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Who Is This Voice

—sounds female—who
commands my attention
the way the dead

vines outside my window attract
hearty northern birds
and squirrels to the rummage,

demand that my indoor cat take
his instinctive position as hunter?

A stillness so loud

it wakes the early winter
in me to watch. Who?

Colors of Imperfection

How to wash a wall
clean escapes me. The stained
yellow frame
of life happened
has marked where the black

and white Flat Iron
Building photo hung
in elongation. Always a phallic
comment, but that’s not it. And
now I want to hang you—

your black, white, and gray
evocation of guitar and train—
your one fast move or I’m gone
tour memorabilia on that spot. But
you won’t fit. A black line

from the edge
of a chest of drawers,
a tiny crack
in the new frame
I’ve bought to hold you in.

A collection of flaws—not a god in sight.

It’s a Joke

So a woman walks into a bar
with an empty stage
near the back door. She sees a saint
who looks like Willie Nelson

knocking back a shot, decides to ask him
to grant her a wish. “Please, please, please
oh messenger of God, please
let me win the lottery.” No

response. He orders another. She leaves.
Comes back the next night. Same saint, same
question—same silence.
The next night—all the same. Finally,

on the evening of a full moon, she enters
the bar to find the saint sitting on a stool
on the stage with a beat-up, old Gibson
Advanced Jumbo. She begins again, “Please,

please, oh messenger. . .” He interrupts her—“You know,
when I think of saints, I think of
Jay Farrar. Oh, and baby, would you be willing
to buy a ticket this time?”

En Route

She writes about cities—Cincinnati, Red
Wing, Newport, Kent, Fort
Worth—before she sees them
to prepare her soul

for any embedded poetry
that might work itself loose
beneath her feet. Each place is a place
called home

for someone. No one
can knock her off
her footing without her consent.
She just can’t wait

for planes to land, trains
to pull into stations.

Ohio Cruising Altitude

Is this the right number
of times to have lost
myself to this sound—yours? To fly

solo over traffic
air currents low enough
to see each housing

development curl
into its cul de sac
mortal coil, to trace

each bend in the rivers between
Cincinnati and Cleveland—Little
Miami, Mohican, Cuyahoga,

Chagrin. To be high

enough to know it is possible
to survive this state
without losing my sense

of direction for the gathering
of waters. The tally stretches across
the greatest mud. Take me home.

To Widow a Name

is no accident, is my passive
aggressive mapping of my own
heart. I know

it is not what you are
called (or those few choice
words we exchanged)

that made me sick. I know
my body’s internal mechanisms
are of no concern to you. Still,

I can swallow this dream—panacea
that floats to the top. To say it
aloud is too much.

Before the SUV Almost Ran Me Over

For Sheri

A child takes
a piano
lesson upstairs, strong
brew purchased below,
the teacher sings. I wish

she wouldn’t. Then it stops. Newspaper
pages rustle—an old
fashioned sound. All the text
messages I don’t hear
take me from this pivot

point. An elbow
aches, and still I will sling
a bag over the same
shoulder to risk
intersections to get to you.

But can I meet the streets
of Cincinnati
where traffic accidents
hit too close
to home? I only hope to recognize her

soul gently touching my arm
when I look both ways.