mis-taken

She mourns the hyphens
that have rubbed off, worn away, merged
into their attachments. Language

breathes and breaks
in two—always to be healed
later. Scars visible

but not mentioned. Syllabic
grafts in time, she gives herself
permission to talk

in her sleep—to herself,
to you. And you could reply
if you believe it’s right.

Sleep Demigods

If I am everyone
in this dream, who are you
to tell me how

it should end? The use
is mine—and disuse. You are
a figment trapped

in a smoke ring
I rarely produced. You are
the one my unconscious

heart won’t forget.
Winter afternoon naps
are the best. Caged trees

in snow banks stand
for a patience
I’m still learning to wake into.

What Wants to Live Here (Day 3,002)

I challenge you
to an anthropomorphizing duel. How

do we know if the building is alive
or dead, if we have calculated our own life

cycle correctly? At dawn, our sickle-shaped
swords will whip up the air—slice

a few particles of uncertainty, strive
to kill these questions before

lunch. One of us isn’t going to make it
to the counter in time

to witness walls that talk.

Paul & Arthur

Their discussion continually boomeranged
back to the dialectic between body and soul—one can wait,
the other won’t last. And still as time passed,
it was that physical form he would choose. And still
I wonder about separation

anxiety, about the risk
in pulling things apart.

Burning Fluid

How many walls will she paint orange
before the urge to find replacements
dissolves in spirit

of turpentine? It is a question she doesn’t need
to answer till other colors haunt
her, flash inside her eyelids

in jealous rages, till another violent act
unfolds flat against this bare surface.

South 13th

Each time I look down
that street it’s another U-Haul
truck that captures my eye

for minimal detail. Dead
of winter, dead center
of the block, this month—

someone gets up and moves
away. Or it’s someone else moving
in. The weave tightens

around messages that near
miss home.

Absent of Choking

You once said if I didn’t smell
like smoke I would smell
like sex. Now that the air has cleared,
I just want to smell

fresh coffee brewing
come morning, an old book fanning
open in the afternoon, traditional Tibetan
incense burning come evening,

rosewater splashed on my face
before I sleep.