When Tramps Attack

It could be a gnarled mess in springs,
or a revolt in the street. She refuses
to reveal what she will lean into. A bounce
gone awry or tricks that unravel—she mouths
the words: the difference is in the recoil.


The what, where, when, why
of them. Protectors
from what? Blisters
when being broken in
as a newcomer
to the studio. Everyone gets to be
creative—fall in line, tap your shoed foot
to the music we know
plays in your head. Open-toed
or not, they collect
in a box beneath her desk.
Just in case. A pen and notepad—
the best kind
of just in case. She walks
miles along the river
in search of the one
word that will
set her free. A design of symbols
ready to be stepped on
to release the fruit.


If she changes
the name, she believes
she can be transported
from the gated community

of this poem

into a field
of flowers
she’ll call
wild—not weeds

Wind Sock

No matter how
he bends, he doesn’t forget
to smile. I wonder
what you would think
of him—but you won’t tell

because you’re dead.
You wouldn’t dance—just nodded
your head. That lilt. The music
was what mattered most to you,
then nothing

but the bottle
beside your bed.

Then there was only one way
out of the ICU. No more
going in either direction
on a boulevard with car dealership
wind socks to draw you in.

Circular Function

Freedom is
solitude by choice is
a walk through
a sculpture garden
on the way
into the woods is
art trails off
into nature in a hum
is a sustained container
that tickles
the soul
is freedom.


Hairless brown ones
drop from urban tree branches
to clutter the sidewalk
with warning signs. Nowhere
near the Jersey Shore,
memories fall harder
and evaporate to become
invisible sagas
no one wants
to repeat. I would give
anything to see that condensation
on bark again.


A no loitering sign hidden
from view makes as much

sense as laughter
on demand. Linger

long enough and face
muscles begin to twitch.

That young man
wears his hair like a prohibition

era starlet—or
is it harlot he dreams of

becoming? She could not
pencil in her own

brows if her essence
depended on it.

Mills—No Barns

No part of this story begins
in a barn. Stalks

of rhubarb become
site non-specific

art in the right
urban hands. A brand

name that uses the color
green may harm

more than tired eyes. Plato
was a man

before a town. The river
will flow with or without

its name spelled
out in blue

on a map
with mills—no barns.

Small Rain

It spits
as it sings
of spring. She could start

the season over. Forget
the loud neighbor’s death
threats (sarcastic or not),

a father’s descent
into absolute silence,
a coworker’s suicide

that stings
the skin of all who knew
of him

but never got to know
who he was.

Nothing Green about the Gold She Sees

Who digs deepest doesn’t always get
to keep the gifts. It helps
for the poet to be

beautiful. Does she believe the homeless
man who shouts
“those are gorgeous legs”? What does she have to lose

now in this 49th year? Maybe earrings—but
nothing else. Jewelry
makes her anxious. When

will the wanting stop?
She had a yellow dress once—
it was too much.