Seen Through Fog

There’s a story behind
Staten Island Ferry
orange. I can’t tell
it but can hear its tone
revealed in a soothing voice-

over through early morning fog.
Routine commuting becomes heightened
by the transcendent
moments before
the marathon begins

on the Verrazano
Narrows Bridge. By a skyline
permanently scarred, by a keel
built with steel
from collapsed towers, by film

and TV footage of our favorite
characters crossing one way
or the other. Sometimes someone
who’s had too much
winds up where he started

without getting closer
to home. Color

declares, or hides, or widens
the channel for multiple
interpretations. Always the same
orange, always the same
distance either way.

Of Unsalted Seas

A giant billboard boasts
the intrinsic appeal
of Duluth in winter. A woman paces back

and forth beside a café table
as she talks on her cell. I wouldn’t
want to live in a cave

or a cell or
Duluth any time
of year. I’m always early—

overestimating the duration
of everything. I might wait
in a cave

or a cell
for a meeting with one of those blues
harp players who’s never

on time. I don’t think
I’d wait in Duluth.

Town & Country

She sees an old station
wagon with faux wood
paneling parked on the street
outside the Armory—now a parking
garage. In by 9, stay till 3
for the early bird special. It’s not

the ‘70s. She can’t hear Johnny
Nash sing “I Can See Clearly Now”

from an AM radio. Nothing
good can come from trying
to go back there. In a dream,
she is driving to Texas
on interstates in the dark
behind her sister and brother-in-law

till she remembers:
she doesn’t drive.

Overheard

Never been to Colorado. Don’t know
if I ever will get
over that desire to go

East. With exceptions, a 10-mile
strip of land on either bank
of the Mississippi

River is my invisible
electric fence. A fuchsia
corduroy overcoat and sea

green fishnet
sweater can absorb the shock
only so much.

40 Watt

No pity. No sighs
behind her back. If

she says the word
out loud, it will become

her. No grace
period. She hums

“Female Jesus”
as she walks

the streets alone
at night—that last

Athens, GA, scene
still fresh. No colder

here than there—
and that’s the real pity.

Yesterday’s Treasure

If I concentrate
on the color
I might wear
out tomorrow, I could forget

my father is
a hoarder. Even now, tubes
of ChapStick (without
microphones), rolls

of toilet paper, stacks
of Hershey bars (dark
chocolate without
nuts) surround him.

Whoever stole his stash
of words
isn’t talking.

Mistaken Identity

Looking for a late night
barber, he sees a glass
seahorse in a shop
window. No more eating
fish. Who needs a lip
shine with a whisper
so round? He untangles
his daily geometries, walks
across plaza ice
to get home before
some bicyclist mistakes
him for himself.

Pace Off

The mayor declares no
more skyways. Till what? We learn how

to design the perfect
compass for indoor air? Now that I know

my way around up there after two
decades, I will not give

them up. A hybrid
walk might spread in all directions

on all levels—inside and out.