As he disappears
behind a mountain, she sighs
a sigh weighted in sadness,
in regret, in relief. As she remembers

each step they took
toward the bluff before night blanketed them
in desire, she sees a gull
on the rock she had reserved

for them. No longer a them,
she turns her back
to the ocean—no longer in need
of more salt.

Fatten Her Own Muse

Once was a smoker
who no more. Planes take off
over her head, so she won’t
sleep, so she’ll be repulsed
by the smell of her former
self seeping through the door
clearance. In the retelling,
this story grows wings, extra
limbs, Medusa locks (larger than
life only through a water
glass magnifier), drawn-out pauses
over the city map she secretly reads
in the palm of her left
hand. Second or third wife, some of us
lose track in the translation
that gets written down
by mistake. This is no Torah
rich in color and lineage.
That story is not hers.

Before He Died He Called Me a Star

fucker. The man who snores
in a library coffee bar,
or the man I can only hear
through home stereo speakers—only see
on screens—all strangers
who grapple with their own
mortality. I have mine. Not certain
where the intersection lies. Six degrees
or less—I never had the patience
to measure that distance. Why talk
to your brother’s roommate, when I could be
kissing you full on tonight?

Accidental Rotation

If she plays exquisite
corpse alone
and the window washer hangs
in his own suspension above, who
will look out, who
might receive the bouquet
after the bottles
are drained? Could fold
down and pass
it to a stranger. Could tug
on his line till he touches her
ground where a new game might begin.

Mud Character

Multistory projections crowd her
view of the river before bottom
dwellers came to divide

it into chapters—a beginning,
middle, end, begin again
in layers over the only naturally occurring

falls. A narrative—perpetual
and more powerful than a light
show or bank swoons—

won’t stick. Who needs
a plot so thick.

Not a Mother Or

To Ohio and back is to be rhythmic
and prodigal. A daughter
and sister from the start. Add
in-law, friend, aunt over
the years. These roles sustained
where that one is not
in any state. Beloved only
to you who cannot be seen.
A plane’s lights flash
in the midnight sky overhead.

What If There Were No Quotation Marks?

I am an interloper who eavesdrops
on her own dreams. Could be called
repeating myself, could be
that I plagiarize my own
muses. Could be time
to take this industry beyond
these interior walls. Who owns
the rest will follow.

Permission to Steal—Granted or Denied

I need some midnight
oil. So you say:

This is my dream property. Hands off.

What my fingertips won’t reach
my imagination strokes. Alert in the dark,

these invisible invaders take

everything and clear
the path for you

to make more. Dream on.

We Who Would Want

Burn down a house to preserve
a memory—sunsets flash
in tiny explosions over the roof
for the last time. Tears
to flood the guilt
for what we’ve killed. Paranoia
mistaken for confidence, she stands
alone behind a locked door. So convinced
it won’t get better than when she didn’t know
better, she joins us on the curb. This contagion
compels her to ask what’s next.

Linen II

A weaver dreams of LED lights laced
into her cloak for a nighttime ride. I prefer
my draping fibers unadorned over
my shoulders, or at the bottom
of my cup first thing
in the morning. I do not deny
her those visions—my own constellations
glimmer in the banjo
of that Otis Taylor song
playing after dark.