Six Months

Another one
passes. Halfway around
without him. The heat

of late summer
was closing in
that morning. Now late winter

hints at thaw
before another day
closes just a little bit

later than the one
before. Still not used to it.

Startled and chilled
by moments of awareness
of nonexistence. Or,

is that it? He exists
in the route I take
each morning to work,

in the choices
I make when I am truly
awake, in the words

I retrieve—sometimes with excruciating
slowness. In the messages
I hear in that February

wind. He’s there
in the backdrop
to an overripe

moon. There propelling
me to imagine the next
full one. Then again—

an infinitesimal speck,
how can I know? And that’s it—

the spiritual collision
he would have me lean into.

February 25, 1974

I remember the day you were born
and I was told. Our sister
ran up the driveway, shouting
just after high noon:

“It’s a boy! It’s a boy!”

And she was right,
the Ouiji board was not.
She was right there,
you were somewhere
in a hospital I had come to hate.

I wanted you home,
wanted you to bring our mother with you,
so she could play her sacred
organ music again with those tiny
(critics say too small) hands and feet.

I was tired of waiting
for you. Tired
of waiting
for you
to bring our mother home.

But you needed time to incubate.
You were so tiny and perfect.
Shockingly perfect
given how little time
you gave yourself to compose.

And when you did come home,
and you brought our mother with you,
she dressed you in all white
knit sweaters and hats.
And I thought, no.

You should wear a different color—
maybe navy, perhaps gray,
no, definitely black—
and then, and only then, some white
in a minor key.

I wanted to invert the piano.
Wanted the sharps and flats
all white. I wanted
all the naturals
black. I wanted you to know this.

And so when I was told
you were here for me to feed
one quarter time,
I let you know
to reverse the piano

more than half time. I let you know
that you and I endangered our mother
twisting and breaking
our way into this world.

To honor her, we must
keep twisting and breaking
our way
into each moment alive

because it’s better that way.
Because I am so glad
you came home
and brought our mother with you.

Sixties Formation

“Rocket Man” is another one. “Sugar,
Sugar” “Hey Jude.” “Can’t
Get No Satisfaction”
“Georgy Girl.” More

than a personal history
lesson. More than nostalgia. This is

the indescribable
sound print
that tracks the birth
of my soul.

24/7 Hiss

All the mail
carriers lounging in the corner
café reek

of smoke. Meanwhile there’s not one piece
of even junk
mail in my box. The transference

of my father’s
photo from a filled blank book to a fresh
empty one

is complete. I know the wind
chill is brutal, but
what happened to that unofficial motto?

Neither snow nor rain
nor heat nor gloom
of night stays these couriers
from the swift
completion of their appointed rounds.

Yet now
I can hear the radiators whisper incessantly—beware
what you wish for.

Note: The unofficial motto is an inscription on the New York General Post Office located on 8th Avenue and 33rd Street.

Belated Love Poem

This is not
about dissecting bee
hives, celebrating dead
presidents (stacked or face

down), the last time
I saw grass grow
anywhere. This is

about the first time
we spoke and you made
a joke and the train jerked
to a full stop. It was the end

of the line,
and you and I
had just begun.

Homonymy

A stranger asks
if this is all
I want to do
with my life—be
a synonym
or antonym. I know the art

of silence, how to resist
a reply, how to avert
the eyes. I know how
to make anyone
walk away. Know
the loneliness

of a skyway
on a Sunday
afternoon. Exhaust
hues get bundled
into a string
of knotted pearls

a woman might wear
one evening
too easily ruined
by a broken
traffic light
in just fallen snow.

No Junk Landing

A burning
to the eyes, a jet’s piercing roar
and clear vapor trail
overhead jumpstart the day.
No one walks
on those snow-covered trails
in the city park

on a morning like this. An asteroid
streaks by on schedule, a meteor
blasts in uninvited. Watch
those extremities—exposed out
there, or accidentally brushed
against a radiator
working so hard.

And sometimes
there’s no safe passage
over ice.