1. weigh
2. polling
3. train
4. filling
5. space
6. police
7. bus
8. first aid
9. fire
10. subway
11. work
12. TV
13. weather
14. way

And the radio plays without stanza break deep into another Friday night at the end of March.


she knows about near drowning
that boy in the pool
is her brother

she fishes for lefthanded
compliments with a seine net
made of prairie grass

and urban river sweat

back to the boy
her sisters rescue

they grip his chubby little ankles
shake him upside down
water and leaves spilling from his mouth

frozen in place
she watches from an upstairs window
as the sisters save the brother’s life

months later tests show
no evidence of dry drowning
damage to the brain

the story begins
as a bond between siblings
becomes one between mother and son

she is the most reliable narrator
she can be at age 10

back to standing perfectly still

in lefthanded river muck
with the sun capturing
a startling silver shimmer in her hair

back to loving to swim
in oceans best

Sibyl Is Alive and Unwell by All This

Frenzied, under the influence
of one oddly calm chthonic deity,

I follow some secret motet
to its chromatic source.

I see vapor failures
in this cliff that bluffs

safety on a questionable plateau.
The sickly sweet smell of snake

head rot won’t lure
the Round Island burrowing boa

out of extinction. And Sudan’s death
leaves Najin and Fatu

to graze in their shrunken crash, awaiting
in vitro fertilization.

African elephants are next—
I sing of drowning and dying of thirst.


1, 2, 3
testing is now
complete / poetry
will resume
based on true events
of the imagination
as snow falls
all over
the vernal equinox


if you rescue
the whooping crane

what about
the akikiki

or southern rockhopper penguin
or yellow-faced bee

gray bat
or red wolf

staghorn coral
or monkey puzzle

Noah’s excuses for taking another
swig of the wine bottle

This Title Will Be Fewer than 60 Characters

“For the sake of a single verse
one must see many cities.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

If skin is sexy,
door assemblies
become the ultimate
flirtation and chaperone.

Everything is
in conflict
with itself.

I am one of the unreliables—
a narrator who negates
plot and loves settings
that blur the lines

between sand and water,
wave and particle,
feather and gasp.

Without a plot, the story goes
dormant at the bottom
where beauty
in the muck lies.

It’s the quiet ones
who interrupt the storyteller
with their exquisite corpses

and neverending
Mad Libs
written in red pencil.
When she realizes

she should have been
collecting stories
instead of souvenirs,

she tucks herself
into the fetal position
inside a snow globe
and falls asleep.

The sign says
no photographs.
She takes one anyway.

The resulting image
of a vaulted ceiling
inside a reclaimed reading room
captures a moment

but takes no prisoners.
The heroes have gone exploring
secret meta passageways

and forbidden films
and songs. She discovers
a compartment
filled with old black hat

boxes—the kind
with leather belt straps
and brass buckles.

I know she will not find
any hats inside.
The story goes
all those koi

frozen in place
just below the surface of the pond
will not have died in vain.

Minus Forty Is Minus Forty (No Matter What)

She reads the wrong books
in a corridor
everyone has forgotten.

A cardinal rests
on a bare branch
outside a window she cannot see.

She reads people
recover from Nor’easters
in different ways.

When it’s deadly, some don’t.
If a bird, not a human, dies,
it’s still deadly

despite what the official record
says. Baleful conveys
the wrong tone, she reads

in one of those wrong books.
She reads about bridges
under water, and the stench

of decaying fish
fills the nostrils
of her imagination

(as if the imagination
could breathe
without her knowledge.)

She reads the temperature
in Celsius
aloud in a minor key

and warms
to March ambivalence
with a knit cap, no gloves.

She reads too much
into his woeful eyes
and learns the wrong way

to comfort a stranger.
He’s not a stranger
to the woman

who loves him
no matter what.
No matter what, she reads,

erases consequences
like sidewalk hopscotch boards
in the rain, or

the messages she leaves in red
dirt with a rusty jackknife
far from home.

Petrified + Sintered

graffiti on a highway
noise barrier
on closer inspection
I discover sketches of treehouses
that thrill then
fill me with dread
wooden planks affixed to a trunk
become my first definition
of cannibalism

a soft rocker that lights up
after dark becomes
a lost bunny ear begging
for its twin
to complete the rhyme
to keep a little boy
named Leo
from tripping over
untied shoe laces

that rusty nail
the blood
the tetanus shot
another fear is born
whose mine my sister’s
the facts blur and bleed
into a new truth
bark is much prettier
than this creation myth

we move onto a game
of rock + paper + scissors
to see which bacteria
will win this week
paper cuts sting as they leave
thin red lines
on our fingertips
as we thumb through a field guide
to advanced birding

an app would be safer
and so much
would not translate

even ferryboats have rope
wrapping around iron
as they break through ice

why would
anyone want
to willingly shoot
a soaring crane
and deprive the sky
of its quiet
dialogue with
the mountains
and the wind