Where Are We?

Over the bridge
underpass, in through
the out door, up
the down

staircase, says
the lefty behind
the right-on.

Between sets, crack open a highway
to find a village
of ants as they scurry away,
having fed on the meat

of lost loves—or
memories of them. No space left
in the mannequin graveyard,

unhinged limbs smell
like burning plastic flesh.
So different from strands
of hair on fire

in the attic. Where they keep
the crazy girls. So different
from alcohol metabolized

into hot sugar breath
that cannot warm cold hearts.

Drop all the names
you have forgotten
into a hole in the street.

Somehow someday everyone
becomes potable again.

Dirty But Happy—Digging & Scratching

and the ink
gets him high
and not all swollen hands

contain broken bones
and a bag of dirt
nourishes a tree

before it finds freedom
in the disrupted urban
grid’s open space

and reinvention
happens in the grimiest
crevices inside a subway car

but what gets left behind
could be used to build
the next or


Sometimes she wants
to tuck herself inside a song
and never leave.

She doesn’t drink
or do drugs anymore.
She can still dance.

Prince is dead.
Go out, buy some colorful clothes.
She gets it.

She looks for a third
wind at the bottom
of an espresso demitasse.

That song
she’s living inside
will carry her

so much further.
That song,
that song.

Indoor Cloud Seeding & the Color Blue

No one tells me
they don’t like
the way I laugh
and still.

Those lake geese
that dive underwater
with only their tail feathers
sticking in the air

make me giggle.
I need to giggle.
A dark vapor has enveloped
my brain. Mildew ruins
all the giggle inside me.

No Sunday New York Times
left by the time I get to the coffee shop
to buy one. No one cares
that I get 100%
on the true New Yorker quiz.

I haven’t lived there
In over 25 years. I wait on line
but am only visiting,
only trying to clear my head.

My right knee aches.
It might rain today
here in the middle.
We still need it—and the color blue.

Chronic Extraction

Camisole or tank,
her words won’t

build a diary or journal
or daily log or dam
to hold back
samples of the river’s

story. Florilegium
or scraps, her mutterings

won’t get recorded
or repeated
or rescued
from virtual trash heaps.

Civil twilight or dusk,
her life and deaths
won’t get defined
any other time.

Water & Traffic

More potholes
than street left. Build
a canal to channel
all that fatigue. Get out
of the way. Throw open
the heavy doors
to the edge of things. Toss
the balled-up socks
under a sturdy chair.
Read pages from a book
out loud
to a hummingbird—

lingering on each word—
till one of you flies away.

Till you see how that girl’s starting
to happen. She’s slightly

crooked but definitely
happening. It doesn’t matter

what color
the facade tile is. The old
black car is black
with the hood up or down.
Before or after
cocktail hour.
A gull flies so close
to the window
you can see its bent
feathers. Even here
in the middle
it can happen.

Made Me Look

Some wonder about Whitman’s heart.
If I had eyes like Simic’s,
the shadow this pen casts
on a wooden table
in the late afternoon sun
would simply erase itself.

Come back in another life,
or at least another day,
as a reanimated limb.
Or a severed pipe
that releases a few
final sputterings of steam.

It’s always a good idea to keep the stray
pieces in a shoebox.
Always worth noting
how the sweat that forms
on my upper lip
might bring me joy.