Mississippi Privilege

A companion piece to vintage
postcard greetings, she says hello
to the big river. A swelling

to the brim, this year’s crest still won’t surpass
her expectations—no spilling over downtown
banks. On her ridge

a mile west, she pays
better attention to new lakes
as they make appearances

at street corners. She knows a flood
is no mean fate. Sand bag
preparedness may suffice

here. Oceans away atrocity
continues to rise beyond
calculation and mashed-up time.

Rearrange This

No precious space, no
books framed to hang
on walls she would only want
to move at the moment
of willingness. That dandelion

tea she spilled on
printouts of online
articles about his song
without dance—not necessary.
An accident she could explain

away with a pilot light
that flickers out—after,
always after the water
boils. The dust of her breathing
skin gets in a little

each night
while she sleeps without fear.

Day 3,063

She cracks open a note
to see what’s inside.
Not that she would understand
the springs and pistons
responsible for a change

in key. Or the reflection
of a hidden spiral
stair in a window pane. A plate
of them—may as well be pomegranate
seeds or whole ginger.

She’s left to contemplate
a next step, forget
let it be.

The Other Inn

Mowrey’s Tavern, Cleveland House,
Dunham House, Forest City House, Hotel Cleveland,
Sheraton Cleveland, Stouffer’s Inn
on the Square,

Stouffer Tower City Plaza Hotel, Renaissance
Cleveland Hotel at Tower City
Center. Too many names spill
over her memory of Public Square, the Terminal

Tower when it was still terminal,
but nothing gives. She forgot
to take notes during the seduction.

Here it is—the reason
she built the Take No Heroes Hotel.


Thanks for reminding me how
to seduce mean
from time. I’m lost

inside the simple-eyed cricket
stare of my junk
watch. I want you

on an island next to mine.
We’d build a skyway
then blow it apart

each night in our sleep. I’d build
a dinghy, tuck oars inside
its belly, shove it your way,

get back to this. There would be
no meantime. But, no,
forever those flats, that child

unborn, naturally
washed out with the tide.

I no longer darken—I lighten
my own steps.

All the World’s a Cinquain

in all that dross—
there’s you. My perfect poem—
perfect cadence, coincidence

Art Therapy?

And now I cannot remember
the anecdote I offered
in a letter I wrote you
before we met. Cannot

recall the other reason
we do this make it up
to believe in something
true—other than just because

it’s what we do. I cannot
prove this rebuilds those crumbling
walls that used to protect us
from ourselves. Some words,

some notes belong together
the way you and I never did.

Fell in Love then Met

Remember when
a nook was a nook, friend
and text were nouns. We were verbs

entwined without
unnecessary articles. I imagine you
the way I did before

we met—and the whole poem collapsed
under the weight of our naked
words. Truth is

what was stranger than
has been replaced with less than
a preoccupation

with middle-aged thighs. And I
recognize this contradicts everything

you presume. Probably. Vain
is still nothing
but a modifier. The end.

1991: A Poem

Dream. Premonition. Mortality
begins now. I give him an anecdote
in a letter—he’ll never receive
my gift. If equilibrium exists, where’s my

ecstasy? My sister and I watch boats go
up and down the terrifyingly calm

Cuyahoga. Aboard the floating
Heartbreak Hotel, it’s all so close—
the banks of the river, a rail bridge ahead, the crushing
of fantasies. But it doesn’t happen

that way. The world begins to tip in a slowed motion. Sights
and sounds expand beyond their original limits. I watch

from another planet as he walks up the aisle. A kiss,
a hand in hand. Shall I be so bold
as to ask you? He asks. We kiss
as if the elevator door would never open again. Lovely

feet and hands. Brown eyes that turn cloudy
green or bottomless black at will—not his. When

he makes love, he talks. He loves
those vocal chords. I retreat
to the lobby bathroom to check
if I’m still wearing

my own skin. Is it mine? Still? Indeed.
Gravity is overrated.

Fabled Current

I make these cutouts and teardowns
with my own hands. Rivers and rape
have no relationship

to me. I come for the winding
water story. The other is a dry,
desperate crack in a vase. The wrong kind of deliberate,

it exposes danger. Someone could attempt to play
god. It’s the sand martin I hope to hear
as it emerges from its tunnel. It’s the abundance

spilling through my fingers
I plan to offer. Who’s going to laugh at that?