End of Summer Thirst

everything I’ve wanted to say
swallowed whole and spit out like a seed
from a grape / part of a cluster
in a bag that reads
Seedless California Table Grapes
I don’t understand / she shouldn’t have
turned the water to wine
should have walked on it first / stomped on it
like Lucy in that episode in Italy
my father despised her / never knew why
they swab both my palms
chosen randomly
to keep up appearances we are safe
from ourselves
from the invisible weapons
we hold open in our hands
I hear a woman speak against
jargon / her body reeks of it
with each noisy gesture
somewhere in a Midwestern past
musicians ignite a barn
with their gloriously unholy sound / I genuflect
to remember that brief reprieve
from darkness that would spread
inside my chest
and rumble in my ear
a dinosaur disturbed
from its sleep
flying over Nebraska
the light dims slightly
with another roll of turbulence
I recognize the throat
knotting / another good-bye
to another moment
it almost rains in California / almost

Monday Mornings in August

I do the math the way Dad would expect.
Factor in one leap year, here we are again.
Another last Monday in August falls on this date.
Six years ago, early morning phone messages, how very low

he gets, who am I going to call
to tell me the news I already know?
My middle sister knows how
to calm me down.

I finally let him go
two days before. No one

should have to live without
their words, without
their mind, without

how to walk. That’s not how
I remember him.

My oldest sister says
Monday mornings in August
hurt the most. I know
what she means. Those last 27 breaths.

Connecticut, New Jersey,
even Ireland, could not contain him.
He’s out the door at dawn
to run along another stretch of the Atlantic.

We wave to each other as we cross paths
where I’m beginning, he’s finishing up.
No infection, no act of terrorism
can catch him now.

A gull hovers over the Old Head.
I hear a whisper break through the breeze
to signal summer’s end:
Even so, green was his favorite color.

Happy To Be Accused

of being
this kind of witch

where buoys
the color of flaming swords

float next to gigantic statues
of the kiss

a sulty slow-moving boat
leaves behind

a kaleidoscope
of the famous and infamous

bobbing in its wake / happy
to pour

the smoothest
nitro cold brew into tall glasses

for us to sip
as we watch another chapter

in a billboard world
pass by / a Victorian era

beach resort hotel
with a ripened red roofed turret

collides with a chalky white chateau
draped on a hill

overlooking Sunset Boulevard
in the same frame

the unlicensed coast along
wide / wider / widest boulevards

all this visible light
broadcasts in 22-mile stretches

a magic wand with a wavelength
of roughly 608.81 nanometers

shines on / not another
survivor’s guide /

no / a thriver’s rapture
we can recite to one another

as it swirls its pages above
the smoke and signs and peaks and dust

I’ve Missed You, Irene

months seem like years
a whole summer almost gone
you’ve been my connection for decades

to a sculpted world
and missing link
to branches and branches

of pedestrian and bicycle highways
that stretch across counties
and desire to run uninterrupted

by stanza break
or choking
on polluted yarns

hiding John Ashbery’s words
beneath a giant tarp

draped over you
has tortured me
unveiled and back in business

you are the most welcome
sight I’ve seen
since the flashing LED

Central Park Car Free
sign / his words now reclad
in overly ardent metal / a flash

I hope will settle down
with time and weather
Minnesota is certain to deliver

wish it would
get very cool / and wet /

to put out the wildfires
burning across British Columbia
and California

smoke spreads across the country
drifts over the Atlantic Ocean
3,000 miles away / this is no joke

buckets of prayers
and crocodile tears
pouring onto corrugated steel roofs

covering farmers markets
spilling through gutters
to sympathy gardens

will not suffice
the handwriting becomes hyper-legible
like never before / and red walls

do smile
in that droopy way
red walls do

as I cross safely over lanes
of lethal engines on wheels
on your freshly laid boardwalk

I see the warm dead
but not scarred
wood smile too

tiny particles in hazy air
plumes seen from outerspace
those drawdowns

in Jeffersonian yellow
elegant baby blue / darkening green
nice paint job / Irene

bury the lede (and the lead)

it begins with

get off my island

passes through euphonic perfection for

beware the Johnny Cash poster
hanging on the cellar door

swings around a cul-de-sac of

no more masks

pauses for a layover of false alarms at

last stop Van Cortlandt Park
242nd Street

charges ahead over

you can all go
look at the fuckin’ stars

makes a u-turn at

Central Park car free

speeds up to capture

Papa aren’t you gonna buy me
a skunk lock

slows down to record

are you experienced
with Rhode Island lowlands

crosses a bridge after

the caterpillar does all the work
but the butterfly gets all the publicity

reaches its destination just in time for

how many more signs do you need