Where City Meets Woods Meets Lagoon

To go to my happy place
means trespassing across sea glass
beds I will never possess.
Land possesses me. Land that leans

over water—fresh and salt. Land that shifts
from hot to cold and repeat. Land
that reveals itself through fractured narratives
and images to prove and dispute

who got here first. I didn’t get anywhere first.
No more own my happy place than a hermit
crab pays rent to reside in a hand-blown glass
shell or one that glows in the dark.

Their housing crisis is ours.
The crustaceans got here first.

Hey Virginia

Get this:
Chloe still likes Olivia
Chloe loves Olivia.

Chloe proposed to Olivia
right there
in the laboratory.

Chloe and Olivia
are getting married.

Everyone’s invited.
Come back, come back,
Virginia, just for this one day.

Taint

She dances on
the pelvic floor
of her younger self.

It’s not disrespect.
Or it is. It hurts
to remember so much.

The body knows.
It’s not always enough.
She hasn’t relaxed

in a hammock
in 20 years. An expandable
weave. Wouldn’t know

how to begin.
Hers is
a gravity celebrating

Martha Graham
denunciation of
sentimental leaps.

Bitten Off Part

for Lester

He can’t put me back
where he found me.
He’s been dead nearly
five years. Living

above the cobbler’s
shop on Lake
Street—those were the best
days of his life.

His brother says.
I agree. Will never know
for certain. He stopped
skating outside on bitter

Minnesota winter nights
with his best friend
when he was 16. 32 more
years to lose track of

without a hockey stick.
In cardboard boxes,
all those records
he didn’t listen to

in his final days. From a distant
radio, I hear Tom Waits
growl “Downtown Train.”
We took one of those

when he came to
the big city

before he moved me
to the middle.

He didn’t get to see
a rat till the last night.
He just wanted
a glimpse. A bit part
In his own life.

Back in the Middle

Where empty sidewalks
outnumber one way streets
you can dart across
in less than a tenth

of a New York
minute. Where no one
gives you false hope
of seeing Lombardo’s Adam

reassembled. Where
airport bathroom stalls
still have their locks
and toilet paper dispensers filled.

And the cat launches
a hunger strike
to teach you a lesson
for abandoning him

for a hundred (cat not dog)
years. And the Mississippi
isn’t a myth. Where you exhale,
slow down, unpack

your thoughts and feelings
onto the floor. And you remember
how the definition of home
floats in freshwater too.

En Route

“Musicians and night-club proprietors lead complicated lives; it’s advisable to check in advance to confirm engagements.”
The New Yorker

There’s a poem in there
somewhere if

I can just unbuckle
all the belts

wrapped around
our faulty limbs
and hearts. I think

of death and dying
to be born
when I read

exquisite poems. I do
die a little
when I read yours

is another way
of saying

there’s sex
going on
between those lines.

You

Young designers drink beer
in outdoor cafes
overlooking parks. I pass

by one and wonder how
easy it would be
to declare

you now
under 40, now with a two-day,
two-night shadow

of beard and ungroomed stache.
Now with
impossibly narrow hips

and twinkle in blue eyes
even you don’t realize
the danger in. The joke’s on

No Way

All the ducklings
have disappeared. The adults
quack and skirt the edge of the pond.

Pressure grows in my throat
and chest. You are not the same

you who leaves
his guitar propped against a porch
rail. Borrowed? A song

for another night. A feral cat
or urban coyote. So many torn up streets

and ripped out bridges have me walking
in circles. These scratches
on my leg will heal.