No Apology

Maybe I don’t want to wait
for you to resurface.
One dive off
a broken pier
is enough

warning. Murky water
won’t tell on you
the way she did. She didn’t
hold back—mirrors,
selfies, Instagram, cruel

works. I don’t want to
wait. Won’t say a word.
This instrumental
will be
the lost anchor.


Piano is levitas;
Kahn is gravitas.
We all play roulette
sometimes without knowing it. Feudal

play is
a chain mail wall
that responds
to touch. The curve

traced by a point
on the rim
of a wheel
as it rolls along

a straight line
without slipping. Slipping
is not required. When
does a slip become

a relapse? You are the most
imperfect auditorium
absorbing and reflecting
the sound of my mind

as it hovers over deep sleep.
In the left margin,
fish scales climb
or descend.

When you write
yourself out
of the story, it becomes futile
to try to sneak back in. The acoustics

in the church
where we held my father’s funeral
captured too much
bounce and echo. No one

understood a word
we were saying. Is
an omniscient narrator
a better bouncer

than an intrusive one?
Who is more reliable?
What about the polyphonic?
I remember

writing the Ecstatic
Uptown Chronicles
in fragments with you
over drinks (and drugs)

one winter. The first
one. I was lost. I was found.
I was a wretch—so were you.
It was

that corpse
of a song
we couldn’t resuscitate.

Pulling glass
from his skull,
he stands
a chance

of relocating
his compass
a GPS.

I am
so invisible
I am
free to

If voices are hereditary,
I sing like
the dead.
The first

bridge I fell
in love with
was over
troubled water.

No more art
in the schools,
we make it here
from glitter and bat shit. Crazy

how guano
fertilizes the most
unlikely plots.
A chicken shits

on a construction paper
bingo board. You pin it
to the wall
next to the velvet

painting of a cowboy
and call it

No time to fix
errant capitalization.
I remember
first encountering

Frank Lloyd Wright
while dancing
on that bridge
over troubled water.

Architects may come
architects may

All the news
I need
is in the weather
report that is

fit to print. I am
the only living boy
in New York. I miss both—
the boy and the City.

She has one eye
looking due east,
the other northwest.
She says she can

sew him back together
if you want. Do you
want? We all want
to go

where there’s
no sound
some nights,
don’t we?

20 Degree Angle

For a little over a year, I crossed
the river twice

a day. East to west. West to east. Or,
more precisely

northeast to southwest—
you get the idea.

When I say
The River
with a capital T, capital R,

I believe you know
which one. When I say

The City, capital
T, capital C,
you know.

Thousands of miles
east. Those daily

crossings were loaded
with a weight of sadness

I denied. A denial
I refused to skip

across the surface
of the water
because I never learned

how. People tried
to teach me. I couldn’t get

the hang of it. Never trusted
myself with a flat, cold
stone in my hand.

The way I don’t trust
myself behind the wheel. So by bus,

by bike, or by foot
I would make it

to the other side. Was I
safe? Did I know my world

would become
visibly cracked, thickened,
unskippable soon?

And The City
its own poem

packed with shimmering
smooth surprise

to be opened gently
as a paper fan.


you are my people

in this room
strangers all of you

relief in our eyes
in this room

for an hour
egos to be checked

at the door
name tags break

anonymity our
introductions don’t

no one’s reading them
in this room

cocktail parties
get going in the ones

on either side
we all have one of two

(or both) last names
beginning with “a”

our noms de bouteille

Shy Stingray

Oh, the stress
of being on display,
of going

to the mall
and having to stay
there. Where? Of

America. Oh,
the survival stories
to tell. If

we do that sort
of thing. Tanked. Touch

me. I’m not ready
to be touched.

My poem “The Take No Heroes Hotel” is part of the “Unforeseen Poetry and Art” exhibition at Gallery One TractorWorks

For more information, check out the A-List listing in this week’s City Pages.


Postcard UNFORESEEN V7_2

Thyrsus Snapped

Deep beneath rhythm’s
crust, a bubble of sound
bursts open. A slow seep
to the surface then a widening
slick spreads across the lake.

Without a bridge,

the song finds its own
its own Helicon mystery.

Hermetic Cloche

He hides his words
inside a Mason jar. Thinks

no one will see him
peel them off
his tongue with sugar-tongs,
slip them in, screw it

shut. Nothing to do
with lisps, though he had one.

Outgrew it the way
he outgrows you
and your sea glass
smooth voice. No air

in or out. His own breathing
drained of sound

the way an alarm
clock inside
a sealed bell jar
won’t wake you up.

Endangered, Threatened, or of Special Concern

Sitting in a roadside cafe waiting
for the other

shoe to drop. My older sisters
tossed their sneakers

(probably red)
out the station wagon window.

Rumor was they blamed me
when our mother found out.

I was under one. Both my sisters
are older. I don’t always achieve

of words.

Usually know where
the action lies. Avoid

the passive
voice. Most of the time.

It can be heard
from the other side

of the highway. A distant sound
to be avoided

by truckers and young women
on the loose. Facts lie more often

in spring. Be careful. The other

shoe might become
a lady’s slipper.