Rumble Strip

For non-drivers a dead man’s
curve exposes an inner belt
deep within. Just as suddenly,
just as lethal, just as exhilarating

for the survivor. But I
don’t know if I should accelerate
around this grief.

A Darker Pomegranate

I collect dates
as if they were door
handles. Seek the perfectly shaped one

to build a saudade
life around. Your birth, or death,
or the afternoon you got divorced—

it could be one of those.
But I choose to lock
my eyes on a calendar

with the first day of school
circled in red. Tuesday,
September 2nd, 1980. You looked right

in red. Let the vintage ink
smear. Now I will too.

Green Wave

If I could reduce the number
of times a day I believe

I’m a fraud.
Could understand why

some love objects get
labeled the Symbol,

others the Story—never
the End. If you could still

talk, would you tell me
the truth? Did you think

I was a virgin? Could you tell,
or did the blushing

camouflage fact,
heighten fiction’s glow?

If death has not rendered you
speechless, please spill

your signal over this chorus
chanting me home.

Is There Internet Where You Are?

Yes, I do this thing to live
life twice.
To get a second chance
to say
the right thing, glance
at you
from the right angle,
take charge
when you hesitate,
lean back
in silence when it’s your turn.

I’ll learn to accept all these
little deaths
when you show me how in the next

Civil Delusion

Humor me—let’s pretend
you’re not dead. I’m young
enough to think I can still

drink. To believe you
think about me 30 minutes
before dawn, 30 minutes

after dusk. Not all promises
will be broken. You’ll make me laugh
more than cry. And I’ll see

that ridiculous smile,
those chuckling eyes,
when I can’t stop

writing these poems
about a dead man.

What Flavor Preoccupation

Always a bit of gravel
or tar stuck to the bottom
of my shoe. Seldom
anyone watching
when I knock it off.

Haven’t studied a piece
of sculpture in over a month.
Longer for a painting
on a wall or dance performance
on some specific site.

I’m using
pretzel formation
to collect images
to keep from losing
my mind—you are gone.

How long do I wallow
in your death?
It was so long ago,
your kisses tasted
like smoke, not mine.

No Auction

Mixed in with a bundle of continuing education
junk mail, she pulls out a letter
originally postmarked August 17, 1981. No explanation
for how it made its snail
of all snails way to her current mail box

given how many addresses and lives
she has slipped through in 30 years. This is a poem,

not a documentary on the US Postal Service. She doesn’t
recognize the return address—all but rubbed out
from decades of dodging the dead
letter office. She hesitates to open it
for fear it will crumble in her fingers—sender

identity lost in a palm
full of stationery dust. Swallowing hard, she tears
from the top. Is jarred
by the careful construction
of each letter to each word. Such elegance

from a male hand. She instantly recognizes
the handwriting. It’s from you.

A brief missive. Spending a week on the Cape
with relatives before returning
to another school year of pushing numbers
to students the way someone else might sell the alphabet—
C&M, H, LSD, MJ, PCP. It ends:

My dear, my heart is breaking
as I realize you are gone

forever. Next time we meet, you will no longer be
a teenage girl dolled up in blushes
and high heels. Were they for me? You will be
an adult—I will be too intimidated to touch

even a strand of your hair. Next time
we meet, you won’t remember how
I say your name. My dear, this is life. Trust me
when I say it’s for the best.

All that we mourn today becomes enriched sod
we use tomorrow to keep growing. Or we perish.

Carefully folding and tucking the letter away, she wonders
how she got so lucky to receive mail from the dead.

Handwriting Not on the Wall

Not ready—not ready
for what? Sexy architecture
exposed to the naked

and untrained. To mourn
another death I missed
during my two-year

blackout. To check into a library
hotel. Talk to the dead
for ten days straight

about a dress I might wear. Remember
my dreams again. Or, it is this:
I have put everything down—the bottle,

smokes, the pen I’ve used
to write letters of desperation. It is that
I’m just not ready to go.

When the Wire Fails

You didn’t even meet the life
expectancy of a galvanized
gabion. Nothing quarried

could ever fill you.
In the end, I wouldn’t have satisfied
that thirst for the irretrievable—

youth, unpredictable distortions
of a scrambled mind. It was you
who thought I wasn’t ready

to be so contained. Through mesh
and shadows, I see now

where I might have been
able to tuck myself in.