And Another One

See a man
who played in a band
with a man
I used to know
inside a CB2
the day before Christmas.

He smells of smoke
and bourbon.
Old friends of mine
turn out
not to be
friends at all.

Not gonna
friend them
on Facebook.
Not gonna
follow them
on Twitter.

Not gonna
romanticize a few
magical nights
followed by years
of self-destruction
and bad poetry anymore.

We’ve all walked
out the door, escaped
up or down
the block.

So the snow
finally begins to fall.

December 22

This life
offers no refunds.
Security deposits
and warranties meaningless.
You can return it,
but no replacement
will land on your doorstep.

This life
gets darker and darker
till a day in December arrives
when invisible fingers
gently press the button,
prepare to slowly turn
the rotary dimmer switch clockwise.

And a brighter
recycling begins.

Blue Line

From a train window, she watches
tombstones march by in the dark.
It comes so early these days.

Life can be so long.
In a superstitious land,
each word becomes a curse.

She makes herself very small
in her seat as a gang
of teenage boys invades the car.

They pummel each other
with fists and chests
up and down the aisle

just for fun. Or, just to prove
their vitality is their virility
to the rest of us.

She’s seen full-grown men
perform the chicken dance
with their jeans dropped to their ankles

to get her attention.
They didn’t need to bother.

Her focus on one of them
couldn’t be broken for years.

She’s got her eye on
figures who parade by after dark.

Lake Anonymous

Prologue

This story arrives
on the back of a coyote
seen running through the woods
near where we used to swim.

This story contains
no words, only the texture
of fur and tracks on dirt
and debris

from howls
that got tangled up
in a pack
of whispers.

A picture book
unfolds before us:

This is no folktale,
no myth, no picaresque
anecdote, nothing but a rogue
silhouette cast in stone.

Then a muted crumbling
of crunchy architecture.

Epilogue

Her personal alarm
pierces the man’s pride.
A lone song dog
without a territory,

he opens his mouth.
The quiet rings
false across his lips.
A vegetarian for 35 years,

he would gag
on her promises
if she let him
get that close.

Tributary

named after a lake
named after a girl

strong coffee in a glass
vessel after beer tapped
from a wooden cask

cold rain at night
after a wintry mix all day

the beat of a drum
filtered through leaky
headphones after all that silence

on the other side
of a retaining wall

52

Tomorrow I will be
a full deck of cards.

I prefer only 8s.
No faces

face up or
face down.

Jokers don’t count
except when weeds

become wild
flowers on honeymoon.

I still pick up
my feet

when I walk—run
mile after mile

timing my way
into the moment

when time floats
off. When everything

before folds into
everything to come.

When endorphins
kick in

at any age,
and lake ice

winks at
the sinking sun.