Nine Months

A child could have been
conceived and born
in the time you’ve been

gone. A child was
conceived and born
in that exact span of days

decades ago—your eldest.
Somewhere there’s a recording
of you singing “Happy Birthday”

to her. And what better reminder
about the cycle of life. You gave me—
your third—the blessing

and curse of counting. Not enough
time has passed
for gratitude to outscore

grief. And yet today’s celebration
of my sister brings us closer
to evening the score.

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Compression

The shortest
distance between
two images
is a poem.

The shortest distance
between two thoughts
is a poem.

The shortest distance between
two emotions is a poem.

The
shortest
distance
between
two
cities
is
a
poem.

The shortest distance between two strangers is a poem.

The shortest distance
between two designer
putt-putt golf
holes is a poem.

Distance between—a poem.
Nothing straight will do.

Not Everything Nearly Went Bankrupt in the 70s

There was meeting you. And younger
brothers—real
and imaginary. My first close encounter

with the third eye of a stormy
near collapse. No time for window-shopping.
A blur, and I would be back. In the midst

of it, I didn’t know that yet. You
would die before I got so dirty
in the gritty City

I couldn’t escape
a never-ending love affair
not even moving would break. And

I didn’t get to tell you about it
when you were alive, so how about now?

Once upon a time,
a 13-year-old girl emerged
from Penn Station,
and so it begins.

May 20, 2013

After 28 years, this day still knocks
the wind out of me.

More than a quarter
century. Just shy

of three decades. I look for you
in each fresh start.

Would you still accept
me after all the near misses and messes

I’ve gotten into? The slowly revolving
mop ups? Would you still
believe in being

a work in progress? Would you
give me another chance? I can hear

your voice as clearly as when
you were alive: Yes.

Forges On

Her attempt to weld boxed
all of us in. Hinges that wouldn’t

swing in unison
when she wanted

to hide from the future
litany of failures. Mysterious

groin pull
but no limp. She walks on.

Her father didn’t make furniture,
didn’t have time

to collect tools. Inherited gold
apprentices with modern moves

and names. Could be it’s all
in her head.

Trapped Inside a Song or Short Story

In a dream not that long ago,
he celebrated
a rare

moment being
anonymous by sitting next
to me—

close. But I knew. Thighs
touching just as I remember
they did

once or twice or thrice before—closer.
In some nonlinear fantasy narrative—
closest.

The writer retires.