No Alibi

I wouldn’t want

to write with a pen

filled with prehistoric

animal bone. I wouldn’t want

to know how it got there

instead of somewhere

it might serve a purpose.

If I could see the fingerprints

left on my heart, would they

serve a purpose?

I wouldn’t want

to wait for an answer.

I wouldn’t want to crack a joke

about sewers without

mentioning how to push pure

silk thread through a manhole.

I wouldn’t want to wait

anymore. I would interrupt you

one more time to declare

my vow of silence begins now.

I wouldn’t want to smile here—

then I would elsewhere.

Nothing Will Keep Us

“I, I wish you could swim
like the dolphins,
like dolphins can swim.”
—David Bowie, “Heroes”

We’re the ones
who forget to get married.
We’re the ones
who think the dead

man’s float
is a dance

to be performed
to ward off
the god
Poseidon’s advances.

We’re the ones
who may have wished
certain men dead
to return as dung beetles

in another life.
We’re the ones

who will eat dirt,
if necessary,
to honor the scars
on our brows and lips.

We’re the ones
who used to jump
off brownstone cliffs
into those Portland quarries

on a dare—presented to us
over and over again.

So clear and cold and deep,
the water would shock us
into becoming the brave ones
just for one day.

Pay Attention to the Goldfish


In the house of 50%
awake, open the cellar door

(the interior one
that will never double as a slide)

to wafts of cinnamon
and boiling fudge.

Take care not to slip
on the steep flight

of stairs with a pair of scissors
in your left hand.

When you reach the bottom,
the cold cement will trigger

an epiphany followed by a moment
of serendipity that compels you

to deliver a soliloquy
on the next nychthemeron

filled with lithe spiders
on the ceiling

and languorous bass players
plucking feathers off

a dark corner’s desperation.
A wood thrush’s flutings

in the distance may tinker
with the phosphorescence

in the glo-sticks
you use to navigate

recurring nightmares
when the moon is too new.

Listen for it.


If barefoot is the word
of the day, she will soak

her left one
in a hotel ice bucket

filled with warm
squash-colored paint

for exactly 1,440 minutes
before taking the risk

to leap across the concrete floor.
Flying will become

a celebration of gravity.
Footprints will explode

into fierce flames
only the rain can erase.

A gutteral scream will erupt
from the deepest cavity

of caged memories.
A how to podcast explains it all

in under 90 seconds—how 10 more
fish escape notice.

Sap Song

I am Martha
Graham dancing
on a California tree
branch in a devil wind
like a dirty poet
who used to be
made of paper,
died, then returned
to life filled
with blood.

I am not one to od on x
anymore. Before I thought
I was dying only twice.
That one time doesn’t count.
It just doesn’t.

If I can be Martha again,
I will never forget
how to move without
outside influence
upon the sprung wood again.

In a World of Pop-Up Olympic Stadiums

a knotted load-bearing beam
a cable without
a bridge to dangle over
a cloud cut out of a chainlink fence
a collision scrolls into view

Hokusai’s wave washes over
Munch’s scream beneath
Van Gogh’s starry night

later red spots
will prevent
daydream detritus
from crashing into walls
that will never become doors

an unwelcome draft wakes her
to late morning’s
blind courage

a redemption fable
gets told with a labyrinth
of shipping pallets
so precarious the ending
anxiously eats its own tail

swimming in deep
green juice
everywhere there
are those
step streets

Kingbridge the Bronx
no one says the Bronx
without the THE

stone wool stories
get tucked into the slag
the ancient house weeps in relief
dreams of Spanish moss wilt
in mid-winter’s dry northern air

the draft wins
she moves to a table
on the other side

where subterranean thoughts
follow her left hand’s
shadow too tentatively
across the pale page
some are not worth repeating

despite what the ghost
of Andrés Segovia says
with those nylon strings

some do not deserve
odes or beautiful shades
of gold surrounding their edges

others spin their own

Exquisite Eyespots

When face-to-face
exchanges crumble
like flakes falling
from a croissant

and she doesn’t want
to be seen,

a corner booth
in a dark tavern
awaits her hot,
nonmigratory breath.

No one would know.
She could order one
(or ten)
and never tell a soul.

A line in a song
becomes the album title.
Or, the other way around.
Why not

begin with secret shots
and go
from there
into the sub-zero night?

A question mark will not move
this time of year.

A mug of strong coffee
and the memory of forgetting
whole days
pile up on the table

to be used
here or wherever
winter expands
without limits.

A mourning cloak’s petticoat
will flutter again.

When a kaleidoscope overtakes her
mind in February again,
she will focus on
the exquisite eyespots.

Hint of Blue

He finds sanctuary
teetering on the bow
of an upended boat

wedged into a waterfall
frozen mid-flow. She finds notes
he left on that red metal

stool she loves. Memories
of a site that celebrates water
scrawled in pencil:

storm dirty gray filtered
fizzy still fresh salt brackish
murky clear ground brown black

She pauses at blue. The prospect
of the river
and its expansive bed

hurts her eyes—
how everything can vanish

in one weather-laden moment.
Another morning comes to,
his whereabouts sublime.