Metal Grin

In an era when buildings opened
with zippers, she fastens her life together
with safety pins. Then she hears them drop

one by one on dried mud. Inside
gets entangled in the outside—a blur
with or without corrective lenses. Pricked fingers,

the aromatics of March come next.

Ellipses

. . . do I count them
before or after
this verbal thievery? If I live

in the past, may as well revel
in this day come nightfall.
Twenty years is a long time to be

entranced by a voice. The voice. It stops
my soul from deflating
under self-reflexive pressure. The voice

that fills a dark room as if
it’s been doing it
since long before I was born. This is

the voice that invites me
to stop leaving out
the moment we’re in now. Who knew.

I Always Let My Victim Catch Me in the Act

The first time I could have thought
I’d died and gone to heaven, I didn’t.
Only years later would I see
how one night of live music inside Toad’s

Place would be all I ever needed—
one almost lethal obsession kicking
in, another stubbornly tame one sparked
and filed away in a Midwestern vault

for safe keeping. Do not remove for more
than a decade (and a half). The first time

I did think I’d died and gone
there, I took a wrong turn
onto a riverboat and got trapped tracing
a wake aft. To cross it without spilling

into myself has become a new preoccupation
about to break the surface. Ready
as I’ll never be and all other stolen
turns of phrase twisted inside out.

Hemmed

To become retro
for the third time, to hear
laughter cloud the air

from a different direction—more west
than east, south than north—to lose
track of the full moon

tally is to be in medias
res. Is to be on
the verge

of reconciliation: talk
with listen, sleep with walk, trust with
survive, survive with prevail.

Who Is This Pedestrian

Because she hates to see questions
in writing, I invert
my queries into rhetorical

curves. Because she was told
never to use because, I defy
some Ohio law. Because

he refuses to believe
in prepositions piling up
on over themselves, I watch

language wreck itself
from the passenger window.
And I refuse to be so definite

as to be the driver. I act on a passive
tendency to walk on—don’t I?