Howdhecatchem

You say let’s celebrate
Columbo—not
Columbus—Day. I’ll dirty
my trench coat
for you. I could be a detective
the way I’ve perfected the stalk
without disturbing

anyone, especially the dead. I yell
at those people
who climb on the red metal
sculpture in a public garden.
It’s not a slide. I’m no grave
digger. Archaeologist—never. Who
gets to say what’s sacred or how

to achieve closure? It’s time to give
those bones a rest.

Woburn, Mass.

So this is the setting
of those high school days I made
you long for. This is you

at the age I was
when we met. So that was your secret
ambition. That’s your smile

before the war
bent it out of shape. So this is me
trying to make sense of the ultimate

why

our paths crossed in the exact
tangled deformation
they did.

Knotted

Graffiti artists or civil
engineers leave
their mark on a sidewalk

outside an abandoned gas station. A half empty
bottle of Coors, one soaked pack
of Camels beside

your tombstone—vandals or care
takers. The golden

section, topology, a field
trip to the MIT Computation Center. Figures
may not lie, but street addresses can

disappear. What’s left is
open to interpretation.

Only When You Accused Me of Starving Myself

Let’s agree to disagree
about this anger
I don’t feel. Only
those numbers in your handwriting
erased from a chalkboard
30 years ago know
how we were supposed to add up

or not. A psychology
of emotions cannot qualify

the spirit in the slate,
a song over the dugout,
stanzas hidden in the threshold
we passed through
so many times
without thinking to pause
long enough to honor the reveal.

Saudade Exchange Rate

Let this table not wobble, my coffee
not spill. Let me not offend

an old friend, remember how
to pronounce the name of your hometown

before I get there. Let it not rain
in New York City

Friday night. Let me discover alternative
spellings for closure, stop trying

to recall how you greeted and bid me
farewell—how I loved it so much

I kept it a secret
even from myself. Let me learn

how to write a grant to pay
for all this incurable longing

neither of us could afford.

Don’t Worry—I Won’t Get Too Close

Meanwhile there’s this dream
I have of you—

a card game, a maze
of corridors, fingers hidden
behind torsos, a borrowed

kiss, another kind
of numbers played here—
and the song? I wake too soon.

Damage

She tells me to locate
my anger—to let it spill
onto your grave. Lost. No belief

in the deconstruction
myth plotting out how
you hurt me. Did you? Did I

you? Were you merely a tragic hero
I fabricated to escape
the curse

of the Take No Heroes Hotel?
No matter what she says, I may just collapse
on the cold stone

and pretend to be a peony
fluttering in strange October air.