A garden competition to see
who grows
more perennials ends

in a tie. Contiguous means more
to some. To direct
pedestrians around

a pillar without collision
is my definition. Always
a little extra left

over at the end
where those slate
steps fall off.

A Proofread Life Has No Action Verbs

The fog in my head
is not the one
in yours
that won’t clear. When

there’s nothing left
to hoard, a crack
in the marble will run
the length of the promenade

till it splits open—
a seam of unused words
packed in the foundation
like worms.

Notches on a Dictionary

I see one in a window and wonder
if they get stale
if left open and untouched
for too long. Half moon gaps
for two or three
letters at a time keep
the surface crisp. Cannot predict
how long before
someone notices the page
she ripped out to make a place
mat for breakfast
guests she won’t invite.

Another Ash Wednesday

In a transformer
world, carpet
tiles are never new
even when they are—

melted thumb
tacks or dog
collars in a former
life. If I could memorize

a color, I wouldn’t need
a sample room
tucked inside
a satchel. If I could match

that patent
leather red with a ceiling
that used to be

a row
of chairs, I wouldn’t want
to reminisce
about those lacquer days.

Lipstick on a Mirror

I would say
five nice things
about the person
sitting across
from me. But

there’s no one
there. A loud room

can get lonely
too. Sometimes the chalk
board is her
only friend—
that 48-year-old

woman who
isn’t there.


To confuse push
and pull is to break

stride in the midst
of an internal debate. Just as I

still mix
up left and right. A sly

rub over the callous
on my writing hand

index finger confirms
this is

left, not right. If I stop
writing, I’ll be lost.


She could sweat it
out, but it wouldn’t change
the colors, wouldn’t bring
any of them

back. Laughter
doesn’t come easily
for her. She sees
the humor

and the irony
in it all—giggles
on the inside. Does she dare
to read

the Sunday
New York Times
someone left
behind on the table

next to her. Does she dare,
does she dare, does she
dare. One more time

and it could become
a real question
with correct punctuation.


Traditional red: stop
sign, fire
hydrant, maraschino
cherry. Other

options: a roof
over a white
house, knit cap
and gloves, her lipstick,
the letters on the book
cover I’m reading. The strangest

ones: a squirrel
on a tree
branch, the grass
beneath, the sky
above, a priest’s
shoes, the color

I choose to symbolize
my quiet nights.

Library Coffee

Drops of blood
from an orange awaken
her to choosing. She occupies

the end table because
it’s open. Clean glass
window walls corner

her to be
free to search
an after five

sky. Her findings
will be cataloged
off site.

But One of the Seven Wonders

Won’t be lit up
with LED lights
after civil twilight dies
another daily death. Tomorrow’s

reincarnation won’t be
so famous if Crash
has his way. And we all do
when we speak

the repurposed truth
at the mouth
of some river
or bottom of a canyon

no one remembered
to name.