A noisy smell
only she detects
keeps her awake
past her favorite dream

exits. A sweet hammer
pounds on a pungent
nail head. A commotion
echoes in the alley

of her mind. No sirens

just a window opened
against the rules
on an almost
November night.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Too early for music (live
or streamed or recorded or
dead). Neon lit

guitars above the roadhouse bar.
Coffee poured not Mexican
martinis. They’re everywhere here—

guitars. I still remember
the lesson you gave me. I got G
but not C. But nobody cared. We laughed

our heads off
as the bus rolled down

a Connecticut turnpike. Still too early
this morning in Austin
to replay it aloud.

Will Portage

Untamed or unnamed, the tilt is in
her head—and a lock shuts
down forever to stop

the spread of invasive
species up
river. Forever is

a long time to fight the ambitions
of fish. She’ll find the way
to unburden her own.

October 12, 2014

I’ve folded his poem into an imperfect
square aka
a rectangle to read later not sure when
maybe on the plane
before it takes off maybe tonight in the hotel
before I turn off the light maybe never but

I know I won’t be able to resist
reading another poem
entitled Saudade and hope to write a memorable one
of those myself some day
for now I settle for titles like strays chrome
before browsing mutate mule etiquette
fit for drinking this is becoming
a nonlinear prose poem except

I am trying to pay attention
to line breaks
and may succeed
impeach you would be another example
and of course you can never write too many
poems called daffodil or

and especially the take no heroes hotel my personal favorite
wish it could be the title
of a book of poems not just one floating
on the polished surface
of a Midwestern lake
who decided it was cool to hang
framed family photos on the stair case wall
they call that wetting the whistle with water
this time I wouldn’t gum up his works I wouldn’t

the date October 12
stares back at me again
time to declare no more bones
on display take away this Columbus Day
we are all thieves


Not exactly a rip
current but enough of a drag
to rearrange her.

Where are we?
Where’s our stuff?

See my car beyond
the collapsing seawall?

Identifying cars has never been her
strength. A weakened
swollen left foot

finds relief
in the cool salt

water. Nothing hurts
in this moment. Gang

shootings happen weekly
back home. Heads down, eyes
locked in, a knot

in the throat that can’t be loosened
by the contents

of any of those 10,000 +
lakes. By blood soaking into a little sister’s

sleeve. And swimming here
in a dress, she wishes
she could be more lost.

Chrome Before Browsing

A bent sweeper
handle distills moments
to pause for moon

spotting. Or, becomes his favorite
chin-up bar when she moves

closer, positions her mouth
mere inches from his, insists
on cleaning

beneath his bare
soles. The pun rolls under

the couch where neither
can reach it. Just too
foggy tonight.


Would he rather be
the storyteller or
a story told
with nails? A hammer or
a sickle threshing prairie
grass on a roof
overlooking a bridge
where lost

stories go to–
to do what? To leap
over faith toward a longer
narrative, or to jump
into an abrupt ending, or
to cross with others
to the other side
of a river

that never gets named. Then what?
It’s too late

to become a lyric
gesture, sound turned
down low.

Mule Etiquette

A blue ink stain
beneath the nail of the middle

finger is residue
from another conversation

he had
with himself. Or some undressed

rehearsal he wrote
his way out of. A hidden trap

door in the wood floor
a woman used once

to escape his
implacable hunger. Today

it’s purple and he’s careful
to keep the tip on point. His lefty
slur asks:

Do you move in a circle, or swim
in your own lane
when you breathe bilaterally?

Fit for Drinking

Someone says snow.
It won’t. I won’t
let this happen–
this death
to birds that don’t

fly through glass. I used to
say I love water

skiing. Have only done it
twice. A lake
in Ohio. Not the big one.
It’s not that I can’t breathe
bilaterally. I just haven’t tried

in years. Superior, Michigan,
Huron, Erie, Ontario. There,

I said them fast
enough almost to forget

there’s no salt
on my lips.