Loci

Her there
is not his there
is not your there

where a lone tangerine
has come to a full stop
against a street lamp

a few feet
from a pile of dead leaves
and other organic matter.

In there, you see
a detached squirrel
tail you don’t have

the guts to study
up close. You keep
walking and continue

the conversation you’ve begun
having with yourself
under your breath

about the color orange.
You won’t mention tacos
or papayas when you reply.

so many (re)inventions

she never used
a church key
to puncture her way
into a carbonated escape

vaguely recalls
those hazards
of running around barefoot
she regularly ignored

tear strip or Sta-Tab
all the beer and soda cans
she opened to pour the precious liquid
down her throat

got her here
where everything
becomes something else
to survive

It Wasn’t a Black Rose Tattoo on Her Thigh

Outside. Wave ringlets spread across
the surface of a city pond in the rain.

It’s so hard to tell exactly when
night falls in this weather.

Inked-in echo drawings spill on the fabric
that covers her skin. Inside. Symbolism

has no place on pajama bottoms.
With or without feet. Even ones worn

to school. Nomadic symbols travel through covered bridges to the beat of thunder

breaking overnight. They get soaked,
bleed into the soil, provide nutrients

for a roadside rain garden where petals only look black, only feel like velvet.

And it’s enough to tell another story
about unrequited love.

Brackish ’79

rifles through
a Peaches LP crate
in search of the loudest

gets a ride
to the local teen
rec center

a band slams into
a raucous version
of the Cars’
“You’re All I’ve Got Tonight”

wonders how
lips can get
so shiny red

holding up
a back wall
gets her a ride
in a tan convertible

not sure
which one
she likes

the blonde or
the one
with dark curls
and blue eyes

oh never mind

soccer games
and the beginning
of linear athletics

round trip
to the Jersey Shore
and back

something always
gets lost
in translation

news of
death by drowning
in a Florida pool
decades later

next time she swims
it better be
the ocean

Imperfect Science of the Internal Seasonal Surf

In its thickness,
she hears Hokusai’s rogue
wave crash over
a ghost ship gunwale.

A world carved
into a block of wood
in reverse
does not disturb her sleep.

She remembers nothing

when she awakes.
Mops her damp forehead,
breasts, ankles. Sits up

to place bare feet
into a cold water puddle
on the concrete floor.

The window has changed
its shape. Now round
and encased in brass, it frames a view

that tells her
it’s spring. Nothing else
matters. She knows she can float.

Trouble Rules

All jokes about papayas
get told and discarded
like empty sardine cans
in a pile in an alley
after dark. Another lazy

line zigzags down
impossible piano key
painted steps. Another
restaurant closes. Parking
valets roam the sidewalks

at night without purpose.
One of them, João I think,
finds a can of spray paint
and a blank wall.

Stucco street art

is not born,
does not die,
lives beyond

its crumbling canvas and hues
fading in every kind of weather

from

Mexico City, London, Lisbon,
Prague, Lodz, Bogatá, São Paulo,
Taipei, Bristol, Santiago,
Philadelphia, Buenos Aires,
Los Angeles, Belfast, Bethlehem

to

Montreal, Dublin, Istanbul,
Cape Town, Melbourne, Paris,
Valparaiso, Porto, Moscow, Berlin,
Rio De Janeiro, Reykavik,
Havana, New York City.

Florilegium

found lost plucked
from a roadside
deep in pine woods
with thickened plots

one after another
they disappear
like unreliable narrators
who chase characters

from different stories
written by different authors
on different continents

they all look the same

the nearest botanical garden
lost its orangery roof lantern
in a hurricane decades ago

you can’t get there
from here where people
encased in glass throw only stones
from the ripest drupes

Writers Tears

Three days before
spring, winter
returns. Grows a pair
of fangs. A caustic wind
blows off hats
and sweet mint
memories of Havana
in the afternoon.
And Minnesota shorts
weather last Saturday.

I will never know
the malted and unmalted
barley in pure pot still
Irish whiskey here
or back in my great
grandfather’s mother
country. I know
the taste of so many
other lachrymal flavors
I don’t feel deprived.

And a runaway
apostrophe may, or may not,
be worth unleashing a search party
to run through pubs
along the quay to find.