Eraser Dust

A chalkboard to record the names
of childhood heroes. It would be better
if they could rhyme. It would be better

if they could be segregated
from the ones accumulated
later in life. No relatives. No future

lovers. No dead people—although
there’s one rule I might choose to break
over the sound of that ceaseless clapping.


If blank walls are criminal, he’ll obey
the law with a spray can
till he needs a place to sleep. Till walls
become doors that open

onto back alleys
where the sun can’t get in. The spoon
he bends tonight
will be the surface he refuses

to touch at civil dawn. Six degrees
below without hope of a single aubade.


Is all that’s left
of the Let It Be Records sign.

She’ll walk on shoulders
of highways—the ones singers warn

might not be too safe. He’ll go back
to Rockville

when all’s said
and done. CT not MD. She can’t go back

to a town
that was never hers. Saudade

can’t be measured
in miles or years left abandoned on corners.

It’s a Three Dog Day

On the 8th floor in April. All graffiti
is political. No bullfrogs in the sculpture

garden that I can see. I would bring
in my gecko

if I had one. Taggers
wrote on the spoon

bridge but not
the cherry. A question that gets erased

before answering—the nonsense
can be the best part.

A Natural Hollow in the Ash

Is where she leaves
her messages. There was a to him
till there wasn’t.

She can’t write
away the ache of witnessing
a parent slowly evaporate

on life’s bark
while still being here. Only a temporary
empty, she’ll be retrieved—

dents banged out,
recycled, refilled.

Then she’ll rest in those concave
curves and remember the name
he gave her might mean Ash.

Ten that Almost Got Away

1. I realize I’m the only one
wearing a hat on the walk to work.

2. Finally find the $100 math error
in a fee proposal.

3. Wonder about green
roofs in strong winds.

4. Wait for a pedestrian
foothold in rush hour traffic.

5. I drift through skyways
with everything on mute.

6. Don’t buy a banana
that’s too yellow.

7. Contemplate the green
banana that never ripened.

8. Notice cufflinks
on sleeves for the first time.

9. I’m relieved to be
ring free.

10. Ready to go home.

Turn to Respond

Poised to take on
another breathing

spell, I brush someone
else’s powdered
sugar off the orange

table. If I ran
into him now
in this rain, who
would ignore whom

first? Offer umbrella
shelter—a cheek
to kiss? He used to curse
me for answering
my own questions. Who’s

left? I am, I say.

9th and Nicollet

All chairs face the window
onto the street when it rains. For a split

second, I forget why
I’m worried. It makes me anxious—

this forgetting. Then I remember: that death
thing. The when, where, and why

of it. No, that’s not it.
Can I walk the mile home without ruining

all that I’ve tried to iron
flat? Will I be able to pull that umbrella

from my pack in time? Will the laundry room
be empty tonight? What a relief.

Thunder in Kettles

And then finally the rain
comes to crash night into its lover
lighting to pronounce a distant crack
of ecstasy. I won’t go

to the window. I know. Tomorrow
morning the world
will smell of lilacs and the memory
of wet concrete

and bark. And into it
I will walk around a corner
ready to give desire
another chance.


Two lipsticks total
euphoric recall
beyond what this purse
can hold. To be high

above the trees
on a balcony
railed with red
metal is the opening

scene, is the last
time she almost fell
into a black

out. Period. Under
any conditions
there will be
red lips.