Brushed velvet
metal the color
of rich stories
and a dream euphoria
without wine. Italian
acetate won’t be recalled.

Seeking Muse for Hire

Her current favorite
has gone abroad
for the remainder
of the year. Another one
just quit—returned
to the grave without so much
as a simple parting
image. A once reliable one
keeps hiding
downriver. The weather is
unremarkable. No plans
to travel around cliffs
or on crowded trains.
Even a blinking red
traffic safety light
on that man’s messenger
bag in an indoor plaza
leaves her

without illumination. To be chronic
has its challenges—she might borrow
one just to get through this night.


November mist nowhere
near any Big Sur perch.
This morning might give
way to snow or
nothing at all. I might give
in to references
to vertical transport or
stand on the ground
floor and celebrate
these wooden stairs.

Van Aken Boulevard Rhetoric

In the basement between
the family and laundry
rooms, a yellow wall
phone hangs—always ready
to be used. And we did
with alarming frequency. Track

lighting reflected in this mug
of coffee twinkles the way
those bulbs screwed into that cellar
ceiling between pipes
never could. Who were we
talking to all those hours? Who’s left

in our lives? I have answers,
and it doesn’t matter. No one expects
them—that’s how it works.

Black Friday on the Mall

In defiance, I will walk
directly into the fray.
Will use red ink
to sign my name. I’ll slip
through lines like ether.
Window shop down
every block. Pray for it
to rain tonight
on that damn parade.

Experience, Strength & Hope

This is the bed
you refuse to make
to prove you’re clean.

The gathering
of personalities
within the self
may be enough.

To hear the same
story told on the same
holiday each year
is nothing

to be thankful for. Nothing
against the narrator, but

it’s time for other
chroniclers gone awry
to take a turn.

Lake Street Again

Missed JFK
by 16 days, wish I could miss
that condescending sales pitch spilling out
of the guy at the table
next to mine in this independent coffee
bar. “Tell you what.” I choose

to be here in the middle
of an afternoon I have free. What is that
anyway? Structure
in a world post assassinations
and towers collapsing, in a world
where I witness car crashes

that could have been worse.
What is justifiable
fear? Pharmaceuticals
and a November sun
beams in. Lake Street busy but not
like I remember it when I lived

above the cobbler’s
and you were still alive.


A perfect sketch
of a porch rocker
drawn with one
continuous line will be
my inspiration
for this lyric
as it comes to its single
complete stop

No Zinc

Everyone’s talking
about the dirt
she ate. About the myths
she created to defy
those creation myths
she read in a fog.
People return to the bluff
seeking some redemption
in a poet’s stare.
What’s she hiding—what was that
she just spit out
onto the stained
concrete floor?