Curiouser + Curiouser

To hide in a hollow,
holler, or rabbit hole

To fear
the widening horizon

To admit to being
a little bit mad without shame

To believe in the inverted
negative view more

To speak slowly
with an ice-blue-eyed stare

To crave the texture of a black pebble
wall to lean against

and a nubbed rouge rug
beneath bare feet

To open a book
without pictures or conversations

To love the promise
and terror of the blank page

To be too early to everything
and too late to fix it

To go on like this
ad infinitum

is to lap herself
without apology or regret

Warm Transfer

The week of future tense
will gain momentum midway
through longer journeys
along trails with spurs.

It will bring stronger winds
and trees shedding
their warmer colors.
There will be night sweats.

She will acknowledge
the colder rain outside
with a cool gray voice inside.
She will use her words

to promote a stranger’s
single-line diagram
as the secret map
that will guide us to exit

this broken rhythm—
vowells to be discarded
along the breakdown lane.

Built-In Sharpener

It started
as a barely audible rumble.
Slowly it grew
till a voice projected
through a megaphone
hollered in the darkness:

Black and white
were shades of gray first.
Tin tile ceilings
came before aluminum siding.
64 was a perfect cube
before it got waxed.

How the Week of Past Tense Began

How the Bee Gees stole
that intro scratch
from Jimi Hendrix.

How she loved
to wear sunglasses
in the rain.

How the words
came last
if they came at all.

How he walked the same
sidewalk she did,
and they never met.

How the Manhattan skyscraper
bedrock myth
got debunked by

the sky (and the depth of developers’ pockets)
not the ground below
was the limit.

How rock paper scissors
spread beyond Asia
only a hundred years ago.

How the orange lizard
beat the blue, blue beat yellow,
yellow beat orange.

Sometimes the scratch
was just a scratch.

And the cue ball
was a milky globe

that lost its way
inside a dark pocket
without a GPS signal.

To Another Voodoo Autumn

on this warm October afternoon
the moist air smells more
like spring dirt rising
than parched death falling

this is the last
day of her week
of writing
about the present tense

tomorrow she returns
to her preoccupation
with yesterday

she hears Hendrix
drag Dylan’s
like a rolling stone
through Mississippi blues mud

in the background
purple haze
comes before
purple rain

she knows about this chronology
more than the flames
that burn up another guitar
shaped leaf on the sidewalk

the threat of another storm
shrinks by the minute
as the waxy taste
of candy corn

corrupts her view
of high rises
on the other side
of the hill in the park

she shreds light
with her teeth
to form the words

don’t be late

reaching the next
island that wrecks
the horizon
with its geologically active grin

A Spy A Crook

“With used furniture he makes a tree.”
—Anne Sexton (from “The Black Art”)

She wants to carry a bundle
of twigs into the wood
where she will do her best
to get lost.

Where she will turn
benches into trees,
trees into musical chairs
below the thrush’s found song.

Week of Present Tense

The day begins.
He pushes dreams aside,

retrieves the Sunday paper
from the vestibule,
says aloud to himself:

But this is

Everything reminds him of something
else. He refuses to respond
to memory’s taunt.

Refuses to predict
his winter feelings.

He sees two dead squirrels
and a woolly bear caterpillar
that moves slowly across the path

as he runs. Their narratives
remain dormant.

A parliament of owls
protects him
from night fears.

He doesn’t see or hear them
but knows they breathe nearby.

He knows it’s a lie.
Even solitary animals sometimes
need stories to promote the group.

Flame Out

Her fire story is
26 years old
tonight. Even older
than the one about

an idol who jumps off
a stage into her reality
for a few brief
breathless moments.

Before it goes up
in flames. A reenactment
of Purple Rose of Cairo
before she saw the movie.

Sometimes we steal
from the collective
imagination first.
Sometimes it takes a long time.

26 years for her
to think of the birds
that lived in the nest
those roofers torched by mistake.

October 1

Six years and counting.
You’re not coming back.

Another perfect fall day
in this northern city
you rarely left.

Tomorrow will mark 24 years
since you parked that U-Haul

filled with all my belongings
(including me)
in the parking lot

below your apartment
above the cobbler’s shop.

I’m still here.
Mr. Lee is too.
But you.

Sometimes it makes sense
not to put things back

where you found them.
I had a dream last night:

We were on a plane
flying from somewhere
going somewhere else.

When I see the calendar,
I remember—that’s right.

But it isn’t right at all.
Who can say if we really belong
to ourselves. Anyone else.

If you break enough
roundtrips, you don’t make it

home again.
You become that guy
in that song:

“Used to live at home,
now I stay at the house.”

Do they have bars
where you are now?
I wish I could

call your name out.
Wish I could

hear that song
with you one more time.
Make it a thousand more.