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.

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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.

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.

Speech Therapist for the Angels

For Sheri

As we recall
her in unison,

I believe I can hear her
mocking herself

for the way she said
“button.” I mock myself

for quickening my pace
to out-walk

my shadow. She’s been gone
so long, so much longer

than she was alive.

Different flashbacks
to those secrets still safe

with me. And how the angels do sing
through their stutters and lisps

thanks to her
and how she can still give it away.

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.