From West 15th

In rain and close
air, the empty park haunts
her view of what could
have been. More solitude
than romance, determination
not despair, yet this damp
quietude distorts all patterns. Subdued
till a lone man trots along
the southern path. A leather jacket
will need peeling
in sudden heat. And still
she can’t see where ghosts go
to sweat it out.

Beneath the Cellar Stair

Each name spelled out
safely, slowly with italics read
in a deeper voice. I’ve known to be
troubled when others speak of me

in the third person. In my presence. I’ve lost
my humanity, ability to reason, the color
in my skin. I’m a slack dummy, stuffing
that’s begun to seep out. And when those who would speak

of me as if
I’ve expired
are now themselves
dead, names

no longer can be pinned
to recognizable sounds. Boldface
gestures go unnoticed. Another crate
of other people’s memories

I must guard with my life.

Gannon Fling Don’t Mean a Thing

Erie, PA. In the end, I could not
debate away my future, never would win
any argument with this fear
of exclamation

points. You make a living
so well punctuated. I peel off
vices the way we tried them on
for size—a joint in those woods behind
our junior high, a messed-up mixology
with your father’s liquor
in your basement. Slow to get them, suddenly
shoulders drop to lean into it. I rediscover
aftertaste in a name—sour, bitter, could have been
sweet. The jingle was yours. How could we

have known I would end up holding
all the question mark sickles
in my stiffened fists
so many road trips later?

This Is Only a Demonstration

The real growth occurs inside
late night’s lining. Restless
potted plants will barricade his view
of the next scheduled manmade

flood. This habitat
for pigeons has no vacancy. To live

within practice distance of a stadium
would be less disruptive than this collision
of storage histories. Cardboard
for her road show won’t do.