Spider Taste Bud Dance Steps

Begins with
no hidden driveways
for the unlicensed. Then no
skylights in skyways
to confuse this weather. And no
more nowhere
without a degree
of separation from
omnipresent becomes
another verb. But some parts
of the tongue
are just
flavor blind.

Five Months

Half the Sunday
paper on Saturday.
I would leave the business

section folded, unread
for him. All that caution—
still he preferred

The Wall Street Journal. Grilled
salmon with his secret
marinade sauce

in the years
I ate fish. It always came down
to The Run or The Walk—

capital T, capital R, or
capital T, capital W.

The Asbury Park
boardwalk. Trails
in South Mountain Reservation.

The Delaware
and Raritan
Canal State Park.

The Mississippi
riverfront overlooking
Saint Anthony Falls.

The Kinsale
Old Head before
it became a golf course.

From those Kokomo
rural routes to
a nursing home hallway,

so many other roads, trails,
paths, passageways
to his life. If I could begin

today, how many days,
months, years would it take
to map it all? If I can recall

a path a day, I might
make a little bit of progress
the way he wished.

Discard Pile Thief

“We quote each other only when we’re wrong.”
—Jay Farrar (Uncle Tupelo), from “High Water” (Anodyne)

A half dozen
roses tossed
onto a snow bank. A garment
bag with wheels
going in circles
on a carousel

of time. Three
sisters, one
mother, a wife, two
children under
four. One father—
recently dead. A box of notes

for a novel
scrapped without
a plot. A birthday
gift for a modern
novelist—long dead. A bowl
of yellow split

pea soup without
a spoon. Six
roses in the wrong

kind of water.
The dialogue
that preceded them.

All the quotation
marks she saved
just in case.

A Slow Rap

Brews under
the stairs. Who are
the mixed-blood
majority? She is not
one but is
the other. Written
and whispered
in a quiet zone.

O, Brother, Where Art Thou?

No one walks
this way

forever. No one waits
for the call

without some skin
crawling in

the dark. No one wishes
this on you—save

perhaps you. Save
yourself from

yourself. I would walk
that far to meet you

in the middle
where odysseys are

just stories we read
before switching off the light.

Wind Chill Civil Dawn

Beautiful to watch
from a well-sealed
window. Nothing

gets taken
for granted. Feels like

a drop
in ambient thought.
The essential reveals

itself against a pale blue
cloudless sky. Another day

where hope just might burst
through burns awake
to break convection’s hold.

Water Dancer

for Sheri

She knows every inch of the dock,
every splinter, barnacle,
hurricane seam.

It is not a plank.
It is just where she walks.
And she knows how to dive,
has been doing it for years.

No easing shore side
into the wash for her,
she plunges in and is “used to it”
before others wake.

This is underworld—closets,
caves, roads, the drag
of undertow. This is where she should
live, she who in her heart is a sponge
is a sponge is a sponge.

It is laying out to dry,
the exposure to air,
the rising sun. It is her death
to be before all of you. In performance,
she will never work a room,
works the ocean floor
for all it’s worth.

Leave her uncontained. She would rather
paint kisses—watercolor running—
than be confounded by a mirage of roses
she cannot reach, without a body
protected or unprotected by skin.

Honestly, the Jersey Shore

A temporary sand
sifter, he defies
easy profiles. A man who seeks

to clear away the grains
of disaster. But he will ride a hybrid
bus to the shoreline

to begin to give
away what he knows
on his own

timeline. He will become
blasted clean.

H2O: Same as Water

Questions about
the history of ice hover

in the coffee
bar air. Little plastic
green army

men are strewn
across a mezzanine
floor. The child
whom they belong to

hums in a corner.
All I can think is
someone will slip

and fall on ice
or war.

Would Have Been

Your 36th
sober birthday if
you had lived. I remember

when you told me
you put down
the bottle. I didn’t understand—

my first tipsy
only weeks before. But
that prayer

I now choke on
between “grant me”
and “the serenity”

since you died. That prayer
I thought you wrote
with your second wife. That prayer

I knew had magic
in it—hanging over
the kitchen sink

ready to help
whoever might read it
come clean. That prayer

I pin
to my heart each night
before I sleep. That prayer

enshrines every gift
you, my father,
ever gave away.