It Rains on the Last Day

The weather app says the sky
should have cleared by now.

If I were still 8,
I would beg to go to the library,

then the Flying Horses.
I don’t need to beg,

borrow, or steal any more
moments from my childhood.

They remain where they are—
inside a gray shingled shed

near where individual shingles
were once suspended from rope

to make three swings.
One for each of us.

With the strong wind
coming off the sound,

I should keep my eyes focused
on the path in front of me.

Watch invasive cormorants
dive for fish in Menemsha Harbor

and not feel sorry for the skunk
that didn’t make it across the road.

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Sandy Hook Light 

We step inside and ascend.
Each turn of the spiral
stair breaks off another
one of your words—

loom / ing
un / der / tow
i / so / me / tric
Ur / sa Mi / nor
speed / ing ti / cket

Syllables smash
against the whitewashed concrete
floor below and dissolve.
Plaques and tangles. Tangles and plaques.
1764, the year it was built, splits
open—decades spill onto the treads we’ve just climbed.
We reach the lanthorn. The sky has cleared for us
to see in all directions—

At / lan / tic O / cean
Ver / ra / za / no Nar / rows Bridge
Em / pire State Build / ing
nudes on a beach
Saint Ber / nard Pa / ro / chi / al School play / ground
seal haul out heav / en
gap be / tween the first
1 WTC
and the next

In the heat trapped inside, whole sentences fly off our tongues.
I can retrieve them later, if you wish. For now,
it’s just you and me, Dad,
on the beam

that can be seen 19 miles
at sea on a clear night.
For now, we are
the fixed white light.

I’m Begging You to Beg Me

You and your cheap trick.
Make that plural. Make that ripping
off the Kinks.

Flattery works. Repetition works
till it gets old. I know
Rockford. I remember Rockford.

I learned to walk and talk
in Rockford. Only it was the reverse.
Talk then walk.

I took my time with both.
Wanted to do them right
before taking them to the street

to become a runner and a writer.
Some say poets are not the same species
as writers. They may be onto something.

I don’t really like to write
or run. I have no choice.
I must do them to survive

like a shark.
My cheap trick.

Somewhere along the way,
all shook up becomes
all shook down.

Somehow the island makes an appearance,
and the Flying Horses will be open
well into the night.

Viewshed & Other Damp Pieces in Storage

Rain threatens only as weather can—
swiping control from unprotected hands
and skulls
at the last possible moment.

She calculates every angle
and perspective
where she can see and be seen.
Somewhere there’s a pocket

of space where selfies get erased
and the smell of mothballs
signals a shift
in barometric pressure.

She must scramble through recycle bins
for old newspapers
to stuff in her shoes
to soak up the excess.

When she sees the Kenwood Water Tower’s
brick fortress pillar straight ahead,
she knows
it will be all downhill soon.

When she drinks from another
public fountain,
she knows the water doesn’t come from
that tower anymore.

It all gets traced back
to the Mississippi.

When she runs up and down
the West River Road hills,
she knows she won’t jump in
to cool off

the way those teenage boys,
without sneakers,
are leaping off the old concrete
and limestone bridge

that arches over
the Lake of the Isles/Cedar Lake
channel. Poor Bridge #L5729
has no proper name.

They think no one sees them.
Think no one knows
how deep
the water is.

why not

discover a bed of smashed
smoked glass chips

scattered across the alley driveway
behind your building

why not
ask why

listen to a murder
of Lyft drivers compare hours

and customer vomit
over strong coffee

try not to listen to them
then give up and lean in

wander through an empty parking lot
at 2 in the morning

why not
ask why not

set up a share table
in your living room

to hold hands with your sister
who lives 750 miles away

your best friend
who lives 1,200 miles away

your ex-lover
who lives 7 miles away

your father
who’s been dead 5 years

visit the future
with a homemade drone

publish what you capture
on Instagram or Snapchat

dance with honey bees
and monarchs

in the pollinator garden
in the center of your neighborhood park

tell the bees
you love them

why not ask why
not

throw a garden party
and invite only lemurs and genets

flying foxes
and hummingbirds of course

serve only
the sweetest nectar

never wipe pollen
off a long snout

never stop asking why not
never stop telling the bees you love them

inside the pink barrel of a wave

someone I would have fallen in love with
if we had met properly
sings about a murder

not a lethal act
not a swath of black
coating the sky

a murder of roses
as if petals
might become wings

to propel whole gardens
stems thorns and all
to flock overhead

a green roof raised in celebration
a flying carpet ride
through the seasons

a hothouse helicopter
that hovers protectively
over the city at midnight

the surfer's organic
pink crown
survives the ride

Before Off Duty No More

Another Lyft meet and greet gets going
in the back room of the coffee bar
where she goes
to record peripatetic truths.

She would join the group
if she had a license.
If she had a license,
she would lose her identity for good.

She’s a good passenger.
Hasn't puked in the backseat
in decades. One night

several Junes ago,
she hails a taxi
outside Bubby’s
(when it was still in DUMBO).

The cabbie asks her
about her evening.
She tells him about walking across
the Brooklyn Bridge

with a crowd
of fellow Poets
House advocates.

It's the year Terrance Hayes reads
Vladimir Mayakovsky’s “Brooklyn Bridge”
under the western tower:

“I clamber,
in pride,
upon Brooklyn Bridge.
As a foolish painter
plunges his eye,
sharp and loving,
into a museum madonna,”

Every straight woman,
gay man, there
swoons. She is not immune.
It's her first time

laying eyes
on such a beautiful genius.
Even her future favorite living poet
stirs a tad with jealousy.

The taxi driver wants
to chat. He tells her
he likes her dress—
a black and rose floral number

with an old-fashioned bodice
and full skirt.
She's even wearing heels.

He sounds enchanted
by her enchantment
with living poets who know how
to summon the spirit of Walt Whitman.

Everything rises up a notch.
He senses her levitated state,
asks her to have a drink with him
as he stops the cab in front of her hotel.

He can be off duty for her.
He repeats he loves her dress.
It's been a long time
since she's heard these lines.

Still, she knows these are lines.
The medallion number lights up
the way they used to.

Ars Poetica with Origami

her life is a poem
she writes on a scrap of paper
to be folded in half
then folded again
and again and again
till her story gets so thick
with 3D virtual reality
it can walk off by itself
without aid of stanzas
or punctuation
with only density and repetition
to feed on
and dreams of a delicate paper swan
that may fly away
only to return a nightmare
of a mute one made of glass
that falls off the table
and breaks her rape scene in two

body armor language

in this version
I am a dress maker
with a tape measure
wrapped around the neck
not pulled taut

I wear my black tee backwards
all day not inside-out
not realizing the boat neck
and plunging scoop back
might rebound

a white Peter Pan collar
haunts me on cool nights
when I'm not in the mood
to go back there
where everything began

one more garment
to hang
steampunk book cover
to design
boot to unlace

one more open safety pin
to pick off the floor
before it's too late
and another passive aggressive building
refuses to take a stand

one lone tree house
lights up an entire August sky

fall crashes
the eighth month
to drop hints
of sudden
and not so sudden death

soon Bob Staake's hell train
New Yorker cover art will fade
into the annals of another
record-breaking heatwave
storming the ever teeming underground

when the cat scratches your forehead
and leaves a lightning bolt
within striking distance
of the hairline
it's time to resuscitate the mantra

I don't believe in signs
I don't believe in lines
I don't believe in nines
I don't believe in zines
I will always believe in pines

then again the throat
will tighten around
the words that no one says
while these fly out
too ridiculous and free