Poet = Maker

come meet your poet
who rewrites you
each night
after the local news

let’s the new version cure
for 24 hours
or millennia
no slow death before noon

no archangels
that trumpet rhymes
they serve coffee in stained
glass ruby goblets

no handles
the world goes Manx
for a day
or three hundred

ways to skin
your knee
in a gravel pit

the poem
not the poet
controls the moon

the tides
and women
that’s another story

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Objet Trouve

a wooden window frame
cracked at the bottom
three biodegradable boxes
of soup still sealed shut
a broken electric shock
handshake toy
set to repeat twenty times
at eight-second intervals
still broken
nine wiffle balls
painted blue
four tiny bottles
of grape colored nail polish
without brushes
five Paul Newman
Forever stamps
a mirror image of myself
getting lost
on a dirt road

Made of Paper

“Words are impoverishments, splendid poverties.”
—Charles Simic (from “Reading Philosophy at Night,” The Life of Images)

Melancholy settles in.
All room surfaces
get ghosted
back to silence.

Then she realizes
she gets to keep the poems
she writes. Their letters
won’t vaporize so quickly.

Discovers an exit
where she enters
a tall stone-clad tower.
She climbs its angled, wide stairs.

Reads names of towns
on the walls
as she gets higher
and higher. To the top. (baby)

Kind of like a lighthouse
shoved inland,
saving nothing,
where a dollhouse waits

below to be touched.
A jarring memory
of a napkin
from 45 years ago:

As she folds it
into a triangle
in that breakfast nook
in Indiana,

she tells herself
never forget

this moment.
Her father fries eggs, butters toast.
Bald, gray rectangles outside
expose a dry cold.

Cutout Black and Blues

“It’s kind of like Houdini in reverse. Instead of trying to escape, you’re trying to be let in.”
—Tom Waits

Let words cure overnight. Beware
stale napkins that crumble
to a fine white powder
when you grab one off the stack
to wipe your face, blow your nose. Beware.

For a music lover,
you sure have bad timing.
Hurry hurry hurry.
How many days
will you wait? Hurry hurry hurry.

Sad funny lovers with bad livers
that give out too soon.
After all these years,
you still know what it means
to watch a video

filmed inside a liquor store
with your eyes closed.

You view coffee bean roasters
with your ears. A background hum
helps you count
those one seconds
at a time with wired precision.

The one who died
almost five years ago
used to wait for them
to unlock the door
at 9 am every day but

Sunday. What did he do on Sundays
when he couldn’t drive
to Wisconsin anymore?
He never drank
coffee. Yoo-hoo instead. Ensure

and vodka at the very end.
Houdini didn’t drink.

If he had decided to dive backwards
into a fish tank, he might have
never left. You used to squeeze yourself
through milk chutes
till you realized

you didn’t want
in. Outside

you remember that Indiana sky.
Sunset or sunrise,
the horizon holds corn
between its teeth.
No other silhouette will do.

#poem #poet #poetry

“The left hand is thousands of years older
than the right, that’s why most people
still don’t know how to use it.”
—Dean Young (from “Dragonfly”)

You hold a number,
no, a number sign, no,
a hash, no, hashtag
in your left hand.

Ready to fling it
over the chainlink fence.

You hope it won’t behave
like a boomerang,

like an old lover
who returns
one too many times
without an alibi or straight line.

Each prong
has a parallel mate
no matter how
you flip it. Four simple lines

become a safety net
to catch you
when you leap.
A perch is a perch

is a lover
of freshwater

gasps. You hope
the neighboring bracket

pair makes a better
flotation device than hugger.

Bright (bright) Bright (bright) Sun-Shiny Day

I like to think of us
on the island
at the same time.

You, a reedy, wild
teenager, sneak off the mainland
to hitch rides and camp
along the Airport Road.

Me, still a kid, sand
in my bathing suit.

I bang around with my sisters
in the wayback
of our mom’s station wagon.
Sing along to Johnny Nash:

“I can see clearly now
the rain is gone.”

We drive through the woods
to meet our father
due to arrive
on the 3 pm plane.

No one knows
it will be the last time
we make this trip.
Or maybe they do.

It’s August.
The island shines
in October.

I wish my mother would
pick up hitchhikers.

I would make room for you
between the squeaky styrofoam cooler
and loud striped beach umbrella.

In the visceral fascia
between summer and fall.

Last Day of Summer

Gloom. Bathos. I don’t want to be
that girl. I remember when

being that girl
meant flying a kite in Central Park.

Winking at a department store mannequin.
Seeing it wink back.

Biting a white glove. I let go
of all the strings

I’m holding. The wind died
hours ago. I wave my empty hands

through still warm air.
Another season blurs

its edges into the next.
I don’t drown.

Maker Breaker Solar Jar Hacker

I am the matchbook
you shove
under a wooden leg
to level the table
you use
as an idea factory.

I get down
on all fours
to prop up
a mirror that magnifies you
two times larger
than you were yesterday.

I have a delicious power
you wish
to taste.
Stick out your tongue
and say
anything you want.

What you thought
would be sweet
turns out to be
hot and spicy,
slightly bitter
around the edge.

No rasp can touch
these legs
I use to run
through reflecting pools
and invisible waterfalls
in the dark.

13 Years Flow Both Ways

The last time
I took mushrooms
I got stuck

under the East River
in a subway car
for more than a half

century tucked into
an hour. More than
just another bad trip.

I wish I’d been alone
with only strangers
down there. Regrets.

I claim to have none.
Then another ex-lover
reel plays

in a too well-lighted room.
No blinds, shades, curtains,
not even a ratty sheet

to use
to cover those outsized
windows. I can’t tell the difference

between fresh and salt
water thoughts
from this view. An angry sun

leads to the worst
bouts of shame. When it’s over,
I always feel a little

embarrassed that I let it
get that far. That I’ve gotten
on the wrong train.

Can’t really blame the guy.
Not the subway, city
dwellers, or even the chemicals.

It’s never the river’s fault
especially when the river
is really a strait.

It Sways Chokes Bends

Wait for me inside
the vestibule
of my inner ear.

You’ll make me dizzy.
I don’t mind.
It’s not you.

It’s that damn dimple.
The one that appears
on your left cheek

when you give me
that crooked smile.
I thought it signaled

your love.
Peel off
the red

raincoat. Turn
it inside out.
We all make each other

sick some
of the time
remaining in

the glass.
Nausea dissipates
when I walk it off.

When I snap
my fingers and forget
to hold my breath.