Presbycusis

She translates the drip
better than the swish
of paint. Mosquito versus
human better than
mosquito alarms versus
congregating teens.

At what frequency
will they lose her?
Will she choose to give up
delicious solitude
for an evening inside
a crowded music venue?

She doesn’t hear
the answer. She sees
she’s got it all wrong.

The highest frequency
leaves a trail
of graffiti
along a sea wall
she has loved
more than water itself.

Grime Written

I will not use
elephant snot
to remove

the truth seeping
into our concrete
facades. I will not

scratch my way
into your heart.

Won’t turn
“Wash me”
into a mission

statement. I’m not
on a mission
after all.

That can’t be
my voice I hear

narrating this
poem prose poem
preamble. That’s not

the man
I pretend to hide
from when

another hot air
balloon crashes
against a sea wall.

And Martha Graham
dances to the end

of a branch
in this sketch.

Paradoxical Sleep (or, What the Living Statue Sees in Himself)

Black squirrels, albino squirrels,
skunks, raccoons, no fish
infest walls, ceilings,
crawl spaces, window wells.
The marsh bleeds in. Whorls

from rushes sprout suddenly,
dangerously as a rogue
eyelash that gets stuck
on the surface. This is
no Cocteau film. This is

my dream to star in.
I’m no star. I’ll be

your Planet 9
for real this time.
I’ll give you a wide berth.
Just let me exert gravity
over some frozen volatiles.

Just give me time
to make it all the way
around in the dark.
No one has seen me
with or without you.

I won’t be demoted
this time. It’s been so long since

I ate meat,
I can’t remember what you did
with the knives.

No Tessitura

I can do that?

Become who he will be
before his father’s voice changes
for the better. Without question.

He wants to believe stars
look different when
dandelion clocks fuel

the bonfire rather than
punk or other tinder
before tinder was Tinder.

Become who I am
in a Kokomo family room
when Ziggy sings on TV.

I was an alien
in my own backyard.
The words won’t come.

Ziggy dances,
but someone else plays
guitar. I play piano

left-handed. Become who he is
when he became a she.
I can do that?

She has the deepest voice
in school. The boys
haven’t cracked yet.

She sings left-handed.
We keep time
by the leaving seeds.

Ride to the End of the Last Stroke

I want nothing
more than to be
writing another poem
on a train

as it tunnels through
January fog. Who

knew the impression
could cloak
so well. Who knows

where my bare shoulders
will reappear, or when.

Then the fonts—
so physical, so metallic—
will leak precious
angel spit.

Torn Calendar

Tomorrow’s Five Years Sonnet

I know what I’ll write
tomorrow when the numbers align
with my heart
and lungs.

I don’t know
what to say
about today
in between

the gasp and relief,
freezing rain and fog,
headlights and reflection
of legs propelling

everything we are
forward tomorrow.

Today’s Cinquain: Five Years

Smoke free
today. I won’t
light a Cuban cigar
in Havana next month just cuz
I can.

Brood

I remember the number
three and the hill
I drew to depict
life beyond the lagoon.

I remember the three
swings and the starfish
we killed trying
to rescue it.

Turns out they split
in half, transform
from girl to boy to girl again
without our help.

Even then, I knew
to feel guilty

about catching an extra
whiff of gasoline
in the old shingled garage.

Even then, I was
beginning to forget why.

21-Gram Dream

Before I died,
the world flashed a still
photo so quickly
I didn’t have time

to measure its border
against the shore wrack line.

Now a film flickers
on storied brick
with no end or beginning—
only the between.

Everything else
hides behind the wrong
color on the wrong
block. Tin tile

wainscoting wraps
around the hem
of a skirt
no one dares to own.