Happy Birthday

A skyway morning
to you. Did you
invent it?

Not the skyway,
not the morning,
the night.

A silk green cigar
smoking jacket, striped
trousers cut off

below the knees, wind
chill kind of evening.
I would ask

your mother what time
of day you arrived
if I met her.

They have the same
name. Our mothers.
Remember that part.

Face

Windows in an exposed brick wall leave her
suspicious. Was there another
floor in here once? Guessing about before
is her new purpose.

And she believes
in ghosts and sprites and even a mermaid
that might swim beneath floor boards
of an old fish-packing plant on the end

of a wharf. Those photos
mounted on its façade are real.
Eva, Mary, Bea, Frances—you are

real. And Almeda, your image
destroyed by storms crashing
into the harbor, you are beyond.

A Mob

Or, sea of meerkats
in the middle

of Times Square. No,
scratch that. Lawn

chairs floating
over a dying lake. Sentries

fold into their own
whispers. Who

will protect
the walkers from
the strollers from
those other

peripatetic clans? I’ve been here
before. Or, maybe not. December

morning fog dampens
and loosens my hold
on some bad lines

from a mediocre movie.
The title has already drifted off.

Another Boat in a Fog May Not Be Lonely

The corner where two
windows meet. The view
from a dark room
onto a fog-dampened
night. Stories

dissolve when they hit
pavement, or never get exposed
to atmosphere at all. It stings
to be so poised
to burst forth

in a voice soft
and deep, but to be
the one holding back
exquisite blackness
with a candle flame

that laps up
fear and air
till someone’s lover

returns. A woman’s true
laughter will float on
still water

to break through
soot and other romantic
toxins falling out.

Called Saudade

Did I invent
you? A mirage
of a mural painted
on the side

of a bus. Airstream—not
Greyhound, VW, Trailways, twinkle, diesel,
hybrid, double
decker, or magic. To miss

an imaginary friend, to become
jealous of her lovers
is to wear down

a postcard of Lisbon
in the 50s before
I was born. Did you

imagine me this far
down the dirt
road in the fog?

Walking the Boards

We speak in waves
over particles of breath,
briny breathing,
this boardwalk holds up
more than it will tell.

It’s the simple words
in solid greens, gray blues,
the color of sand after it rains,
it’s these that endure
in the moon’s wake.  Without

a single word, we still could
talk as we walk,
tide coming in,
using the language
hidden in the dunes.

Low Profile

In my dream the dead console
the living about others
who may have died. Rumors
turn a 60s ranch brick house
into a warren of hidden

phobias—a different one
for each room. Fear of

wool, not cotton wool, brings her
to the farthest corner

of the cellar where a sneeze
is just a sneeze. And it is you,

my dear friend, who are really gone.
That other friend left
my life but lives on
in another warren on another island
with his superconductors and scattering waves.