Sets Her Right

She almost settles
for a blank page. At the last
minute, she drops

ink—no coloring
inside or outside
the lines. There are none.

Just a geometry
of faith in some kind
of muse. Be it green-tinted

goslings growing by
the second in the grasses
along Lake of the Isles. Or,

some other miracle
still capable of bursting

on the scene upon our poor
wearied planet.

She Becomes

a solitary woman
in an Edward Hopper painting. A silhouette

on an empty
bed, she gazes out an open

window in a New York City
five-story, walk-up. Hair pulled

into a dancer’s bun, dressed
in a pale peach nightgown. Bare

thighs—this is not
loneliness. She becomes

in awe
of herself

and the world
in early morning.

Rockford, IL

She moves not
just faster but
better when

she doesn’t know
the time. Forecasts
or predictions or
guesses or could be

wishes. A continuum
that ties her
to a fence

just like the wooden
plank one
those boys affixed
her to when

she was three. She couldn’t
tell time
then—was she free?

Not that Kind of Screed

Again, she quickens
her pace so those footsteps
don’t overtake her. A rhythm

so familiar. Turning
a corner doesn’t shake them.
She dashes across the intersection

sporting a strip
club posing as a cabaret
and a parking ramp—still

she can hear them. Ten
more blocks, she can’t take
another moment. It’s the kiss of road

death, but she looks over
her shoulder anyway. Nothing

but the echo
of her own feet. Not even
her shadow this time.

Cracking Up

Oceans rise
by twelve feet
by when. How to buy
time and use it
to buy more. Who

is selling those years,
months, days, hours. Minutes
available on eBay
to the highest

bidder. Too late. Childhood
memories of a shoreline
cottage won’t wash away
with its stoop. Is it really
too late?

Ain’t Paul (or a Fresh Tale of Two Cities To Come Soon)

The S slipped
or becomes
silent a month before
the Green Line begins
service between the two

cities. Crosses the river
in light rail stitching.
She saw the test train return
to the larger downtown
this morning. Her faith

in imperfection runs
parallel to
coincidence and letters

that sometimes drop
off without warning.

Isometrics

Some days all I can feel is
my father’s handshake. Called a vise

grip by more than one old
beau. An addiction to finger exercises

he did while running
every morning. They kept my own

hands occupied
in the early weeks after quitting

those smokes
he hated viciously. And I still practice

them now that I have returned
to the road and to fight

back tears. No matter how many sets
I do, memories are all that’s left. And the way

they left his mind
too soon.