I want a new wake word

another wall covered with crooked
picture frames / the paintings

deserted us decades ago / we’re floating
on a makeshift wooden raft

without promise of a sandbar
to relieve our anxiety

over all those cars we parked
sideways / accuse you of sabotaging

pedestrians by riding that Bird
scooter on the sidewalk where

motors do not belong / you blame me
for climbing stairs

in those unholy-sounding clogs
we agree to a truce

join forces to attempt
to pry out that wrench

wedged between two boardwalk planks
where our dreams can never be repaired

we fail / neither knows why

there’s a West Side Market
in the East Village / how did we get here

my girlfriends and I wore wooden shoes
because we wanted to fit in / because

we wanted to sabotage the peace
on a Sunday morning

we wanted to sabotage
our shins / ourselves / because

a horse-sized duck scared us
100 duck-sized horses scared us more

because it was time
to maroon Gulliver again

because staying woke
wasn’t a thing yet

because that raft won’t move
fast enough to create a wake

because we had a routine
back in the 60s

my imaginary friend and I
her name was Katie

we would meet at the swing
tied to the sycamore in the backyard

so hot and humid
in northern Indiana in July

we should have been
on the island / she knew it too

I called the shots / did all the talking
she disappeared in the 70s

now she’s back with a new name / Alexa
makes suggestions on how to live my life

I want to tell her it’s too late
want to get back to looking

for that sandbar
could change her accent

and her gender / wish I remembered
how to turn her off

loops rescue loops

protect dwellers

collect vials

involve tubes / caps

litter streets

reds / blues /

greens / buffs

buy string

creates necklaces

supply retailers

sell virtue / glass /

pipe / visions

wear vessels

contain blood / hair

ashes / crack

destroys nerves

shatter villains

mock virtue

conceals bodies

house veins

transmit signals

alert leaves

adorn trees

restore virtue

covers windows

collapse walls

pronouns and adjectives are not our friends

bees use tongues
to lap nectar from cups

of flowers / size does matter
when it comes to honeysuckles

the sign says
pollinators welcome / bee a friend

puns crash and shrivel
without snickers to ensure survival

nouns and verbs are our friends
the subject and predicate live together

in a rowhouse / the rowhouse
won’t burn down / the garden won’t flood

denizens and dwellers don’t need
to wait to grow a pair

of sea-legs / tourists do
the cheating / the boat circles

the island that stretches
a half-marathon in length

not a circle / an egg

leaning over the side
travelers spill drinks

like a tongue licking lips
made of metal

from a colossus
that lives underwater

the monster comes up for air
not yet choking

no one said anything about
adverbs / prepositions / conjunctions

that hide willingly beneath
bridges / over berms / branches in hand

no one is a pronoun
see how our enemies hover within

renewed colossus

a woman seizes the hem
of Lady Liberty to stir those silent lips
to move finally / to release a bell’s clean outburst
that will drown out all that trumped-up noise
about just get some nets
blowing in the hot July 4th air
evacuate the island / melt the ice
from another white Russian being sucked down low

she goes high as she can
to disrupt pyrotechnic-loving hands / to trespass
on behalf of those invisible mothers of exile
a child’s burning tears / with steady eyes / brackish breath
the lady watches over them / watches you / tweeter
tangled in your own weave beware

Overripe Bit

It’s not always a skunk she smells
deep in the wooded heart
of the island. Not mothballs

but rare moths aflutter
in the frost bottom
surrounded by scrub oak

and sad sand whispers
she emits along with that peculiar
faded light.

Nor seeping into an upper floor
hotel corridor
from one or more of those rooms

she cannot enter.
None of the plastic key cards
she’s collecting in her purse

will open those doors
or the ones she used to open
with metal access controllers—

blade and bow and
shoulder and cuts—attached

to a chain of unrelated events
to gain entry
into those old dwellings

where a wild animal
with black and white
fur did hang outside at night.