Outage

Within minutes
of waking, she loses

power. What gets restored
smells different
in a more constant

light. It’s here, there—observed,
or not. If she can turn herself in

to weather in all its variations,
(in)visibility, she might just fit
inside this untethered moment.

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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.

If You Know Who’s Calling

Why play dumb? If I could
drink, you know
I would. I would,
I would. Never coy,
I might get there
yet. To be protected
by a tall man, aging orange
cat, I would give
myself away. This long
narrow bed is just
for naps. I pretend
to be sleeping—too shy
to pretend
to be dead.

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.

Curdled Notes

Every effort is a thing
to behold in shadow before night

ignites. To italicize
every thought is to shrink from particles

in my own breath. I’m not ready
to embrace new overexposures. To increase my own

leading could answer a few questions. Could be
justification. What’s left
will not be kerned.

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.

City Twist

I saw worms everywhere curling
and pulsating across
the sidewalk the day before. Airport
terminal power mysteriously out

the day before. Seductive electricity
shreds after midnight
the day of. Morning showers
give way just long enough

to put me in a Sunday afternoon
trance. Those sirens have nothing

on us—cat and me—the moment
of. Just a few miles north

flattens. The day before
sinks to the muddy bottom
of puddles where urban legends
have drowned.

No Rapture

Your cat: unphased
by the relentless booming and yellow
shrieks of a late-night electrical storm.

You: awakened to wonder
if it’s time—time to do something
as hail pings against shut windows

the way car wheels turn
on gravel. That’s it—that’s the setting,
action, plot, conclusion, neither

tragic nor comic, open
ended as 3 am in May.

Over the Transom

A wedge of lime and one of lemon
in her drink—is it allowed? Scorn
for the drunk who smashes
into her—is it allowed? Reading
poetry by candlelight in First
Avenue before the main act takes
the stage—is it allowed? A woman
crunches on something in a plastic bag—the sound
of almost breaking teeth, is it
allowed? She’s on edge—with or without
permission—even as the sun opens
wide a written-off day. Your ghost
keeps showing up uninvited.