Red Herring after the Smoke Clears

This wall won’t reveal
the details behind
its missing picture.
Could have been

a photo, painting, collage,
or participation plaque.
The snaggletooth nail
won’t tell.

She’s taken herself
so out of context,
her dreams resemble
sequences from a Cocteau film.

A strong wind
rips a sapling,
roots and all,
from its tree lawn bed.

The wreckage hurts her
the way seeing
a full-grown dead
(human) body wouldn’t.

She watches four women
she’s never seen before
remove belongings
from a downstairs apartment.

For their finale,
they haul
an overstuffed red sofa
out the back door.

She wonders if
Siri is around to give directions.
Or Morgan Freeman, the latest
GPS navigation voice.
She wants to ask:

Who are you?
Where are you going?
How do you know Morgan Freeman?
Is there a god?

Instead, she returns
her gaze to the blank wall.
Its silence
may as well soothe.

The 8th Almond

Let’s repeal the 22nd Amendment.
Forgive the last
malaprop you heard. A 16th chapel
might get built eventually.

Whoever really said
that thing you love
may not have meant it.
Or changed her mind.

The truth lies
somewhere inside
those quotation marks.
Or died outside the line.

That biopic’s flaws
have nothing to do with
fact versus fiction,
dark versus light,

the time that travels
at lightning speed, or
those hours that get stuck
in a swollen bog.

Even a steel wall
could come down
with enough
enough is enough.

It ends with an orange MGB
crashing into a giant boulder.
But it doesn’t end there.
Was it really orange?

Sometimes there is
an 8th almond
and a giggle
before good-night.

Some Other Summer Grooves

I was the girl
in the boy
on horse
photo framed and hung
on a merry-go-round
building wall.

It was a time
for flip flops;
long checkered pants;
short-sleeved, tie-dyed tees
made from stitched
or stencilled resists.

I fell
in love with a boy
who proclaimed
the world is my ashtray.

Fell harder
for a boy who sang
about ashtray floors and Jesus
never buying any smokes.

Then I fell
for my own
flame. Why
didn’t I resist?

Now that the smoke and fog
have cleared,
I can see how
a childhood fear of fire
might lead to this
clash happy life.

My Dry Eyes

it’s the screen
not the page

the a/c not the ceiling
fan the sun
not the moon

a stage not a cave
it’s a car chase
not an otter
hit by a car

hot flashes not the heat
flash floods won’t help

it’s time
to close my eyes
while another storm passes

dreams not a looking
glass somehow become
the Jersey Shore
sound not sights

going in reverse circles
accordian not fiddle

carousel calliope
not steam locomotive
the PATH not the Tube

or the T

oh, what a night,
mid-June 1991 not
late December 1963

that rollin’ ball
was really a dose
of thunder

it seemed so right but
goes terribly wrong
I rub my eyes

as light smudges
the window pane
and the train stops

Fake Book

The morning after
a milestone, the road
curls under itself.

The day matures
closer without forgiving
clouds. Stilled air.

Deadlines crowd
the calendar. Beyond
the outer ring, risk

of shots being fired
or poured
grows. The morning

after is another
morning with #nofilter.
Believe it, or not.

Day 5,000

5,000 words to write home
5,000 steps to take first
5,000 songs to play out

5,000 revolutions per hour
5,000 frames per minute
5,000 fears per second

5,000 drunkometer tests
blurred not erased

5,000 lives to count
5,000 ways to live

without coming undone again
without undoing anyone else

The Lake Is Eerie

When I return to the scene
of all crimes committed


me, I have to swim
through hot wind
as it riles the lake.

I return—
funeral after funeral—
the weddings all done.

Mostly botched.
I shut my eyes and pray
for someone to reboot

the country. No, make it
the world. Please, please
admire the deer as it crosses

the road. Don’t shoot.
Ride with the top down.
Drop a name to enter

a private yacht club.
Trespass with glee.
Let the sun settle

in pink streaks
over the river and lake
and sink behind the spit

of land between.
I have always been #3
or so. He scrawled it

on the envelope
that contained the only
letter he ever wrote

me. Born into a country
in mourning, I cry
too easily. White knuckles

and disturbances
beneath my feet, I fly away.
A carousel I cannot forget

appears when I blink.
For the one
who catches it,

the brass ring
could bring another revolution—
not merely another turn.

Alloy News

They talk around
the crucible. Then
she’s silent.
The taxi driver tries
to keep the conversation
from dying.

Words ping
against a thick steel
wall. Words fail
to launch. Words form
a heap at the foot
on the near side.

They stain.
They have no power
to die

despite their malfunction.
Because of their malfunction.
The water on the far side
catches fire. She’s got nothing
to say except:
put it out.

Another lake ceases
to exist.

And the Rest

the first triplets
to go to the Olympics

the last photo he took with a camera
that is just a camera

the only time he can think alone
and eat his seven daily almonds

(soaked and peeled)
without interruption

she’s one in a million
what about the one of a million

in the middle looking to earn
more than a participation trophy

that will collect animal dander
and insect waste

it never adds up