On the Books

A muscle spasm in my right calf
makes me think

about football.
I don’t know the rules.

We made up rules for swimming
and skating. Her parents made the rest.

After that one misstep, she took night walks
on city sidewalks with me vicariously.

So many sexy photos inside a pencil factory,
I don’t know how to love the pen anymore.

One more street haunter fetches a pencil
from a corner shop

at the long edge of civil twilight.
Virginia’s moth dies all over again.

Say you are a drop of water.
No, a flake—a snow flake

left on the window ledge
before it melts to become that drop

mentioned in the beginning.
If you spill into the lake,

we will see you from a perch
in the cottonwoods.

In the beginning,
the taxidermist made us laugh.

In the beginning,
the building was constructed

from dreams and whole trees,
not milled pieces of timber

or pocket stones
no one bothered to engrave.

In the beginning,
you are the tear I shed for that moth.

The day I start following an electric eel
from Chattanooga on Twitter

is the beginning
of another bout of homesickness.

In another beginning,
we play Double Dutch with an iron rope.

Cross the bridge
on a pogo stick.

Don’t count on keeping back 200 feet
from a fire truck on a mission,

or walking less than 200 feet
from the tavern to the temple.

Bless the Manhattan grid,
but in the Bronx the hills won.

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Humming Replaces Smoking

pink hippo milk drips
from the ceiling
and she overhears
then settles in

to eavesdrop on two women
at a table
on the mezzanine
above her

they compare notes
on the best Dyson
and flours not flowers
and she gets bored

wishes they would
bring up stories
about smuggling messages
written in lemon juice

buried in cigars
and mashed potatoes
to fellow revolutionaries
imprisoned on a treasure island

it’s all poetic decay
or smirking angel emoji
that operate in bad faith
from rickety funicular cars

not a true blue TARDIS
in sight

sexy transport
in the right light
a #1 train on elevated tracks
in the Bronx at dawn

the way low winter sunlight
reflects off metal
while railfanning
without a care in the world

she wants you to remind her
without persistence
make the banners that fly
over the beach temporary

so she can still see
the sky’s natural mural prophesying a return
of the street haunter

teeming frost line

this year the undertakers will begin
to live different lives
before the ground thaws

tripping through graffiti-coated tunnels
while a radio station broadcasts
gamelan music

is a flashback
returning to the underground
sober and no longer terrified

by the silence
is a flash forward

when you forget to flex and rhyme
before leaving the house
cracked words will rattle on over ice

prepositions will stack up
on a broken conveyor belt

it’s never too cold to snow
despite what you’ve heard
everything gets amplified in this weather

jets scrape across the sky
a snowblower revs its engine
radiators hiss at the creaking wood floor

another debate rages in your head
do you run do you stand still and pray
the animal won’t see you

you could use
a thicker coat of fur
your mining days are over

a box is not an insertion
till the trees smile again

trees don’t smile
they send warning signals
to their neighbors

nutrients pass through
a network of fungi
buried beneath

laughter camouflages the cough
in another body of water
another body no longer at rest

swipe through the Instagram feed again
sea smoke and frost on the rocks
off the coast of your island

a Royal Winnipeg Ballet School dancer
reaches the edge of the frame
with her left toes

a house holds up a mountain in Norway
is that grass on the roof
or a foothill to hope growing slowly

even in this cold
with days stretching pica by pica
in low light

Tassels & Tridents for 2018

She says I have fire hands.
My chained heart
line on the left hand
indicates I will write
another poem soon.

I may be writing
one now.

I will never marry,
but I will marry
disparate objects
together with a few
simple brush strokes.

Without a Girdle of Venus,
I will never manipulate
my way into someone’s hearth,
or heart,
or home page.

She doesn’t comment
on the soul.

I will travel to places
I’ve never seen
and return
to the ones I love
in a neverending loop.

She says I will never be famous
but will meet one more
famous person
who disrupts my life
for a little while.

I will not talk
about the weather
for an entire week
some winter to come—
not this one.

She pats both my hands
and smiles. I leave bitcoins
on the table
and walk a mile
before realizing

she did not tell me
if I would be rich,
or live long,
or invent a new word,
or discover a new route

into the center
of anonymity.

These gloves
will keep them warm
in the meantime.