The Flavor Never Lasts

the spines of angels with paws
are more fragile
than she or they admit

she doesn’t hear the rolling wave
spill into its crash
the wind has drowned

out everything save itself
she can’t even hear herself beg
for a longer reprieve

before daylight hesitates
on its way to breaking
open access splits

down the middle / cardinals escape
out the side / bark scraps
trailing from their beaks

please leave all memories outside / remove any trace

of feeling from the inaccessible
lobby steps / tell
the furnace to slow down

the piano is drunk
again and the chairs are holding
a wooden stare down contest

in the corridor
that trails off / a dream
of flying across an ocean

in a massive jet
with a boy she knew
when she was six

all night dreams unfold
in the present tense
daydreams the future perfect

nothing imperfect
about the reels
she splices together

the boy sits with her
on a contorted tree branch
in his grandmother’s front yard

an arranged marriage
they like each other well enough
just prefer to have his sister

join them on a post-honeymoon walk
along the rocky beach
in search of mermaid toenails

they will have been laughing
because everyone knows
mermaids don’t have feet

their tragic curse to be given no warning

of the scales
that might crowd out
their afternoon visions

Autumnal Equinox

If I dare
cross the threshold
into that corridor
where beauty and expire
dance the dance
of burning pigments
into a different
sky blue.

If I say I remember
when empathy swooned
naked eye to naked eye,
beer bottles rolled
across a concrete floor
to a noisy stop, and no one
moved age appropriately
to 1980s jangle pop.

If the new season
didn’t contain the trapped history
of a slow suicide
I couldn’t prevent,
and the word waste
didn’t fall inevitably
off branches
of another helpless ash.

If that New Haven house fire
hadn’t forced me
to grow up, die
a little, and learn
a lot about how to take
reckless behavior
to a new level
all in one intoxicated breath.

If I take a clean
and sober one now
and tell all the trees
and perfect chill in the air
I belong here
in this season,
then the unconditional
homecoming can begin.

Exposed Triptych Stitching

I.

if she goes any rawer
she’ll be eating dirt again

she can’t remember which relative
warned her first

if she swallows an apple seed
a tree will grow

larger and larger inside her
till her skin becomes bark

her arms branches
toes exposed roots

her heart the inside of a cave
that contains all of the planet’s sorrows

II.

built too close
a hornet nest / a wooden swing set

don’t know which
got there first

tears more from the shock
than the pain of the sting

it hurts to be so out of control
of her feelings

the burning subsides
the Vespa venom won’t kill

what’s left of her
itching soul

she will have to choose
which side

of the commons
to seek recovery in

the street down the middle
mocks her deadly indecision

III.

from the eastern bluff
she spots a dray horse

with a heart
of goldenrod

hooves made of eyelashes
from long abandoned stars

those occupied flames
burn out too fast

she watches in awe
as all that muscle

and localized energy
takes off

over the berm
to another chapter

where the moon will regain
its sway

She’s Lost Control in the Before/After

an old Singer sewing machine
centered on a shelf
inside a display case
in a coffee/cocktail hall

I was always afraid
of the needle’s mobility
of missing the beat again
seeing my own blood

fascinated by the true blue bloods
the octopus / the spider / the snail

so ductile his copper songs
twist uncontrollably
in slow-moving hurricane winds
Rust Never Sleeps was released

in my final days
of innocence
I didn’t understand what
the big deal was

Labour of Lust / Candy-O
In Through the Out Door too
I wouldn’t discover
Unknown Pleasures

or Drums and Wires
for years / I can still see
an empty wire
bird cage in the corner

above the case
I rest mine
going going fly away
gone and soon

em not en

before a dash
complicated everything
she spoke
in monosyllabic bouts

step off the dock
put down the rod
dig your toes in the sand
wait for the next
wave to crash
hold on for the ride
come to
one small beach town south
watch a blue crane
leave the salt marsh at dawn—

actually it’s a heron
not sticking its neck out

punctuating stillness
in brackish water

during another civil twilight
you do the leaving

What the Swinging Pendulum Cannot Measure

in the gap

between meteorological
and astronomical
fall rainwater fills
a city tree trench

in the gap

I gulp crisper air
nearly choke on it
as I recall
how those towers fell

in the gap

I begin to move
toward running off again
no more waiting
in the mending room

nights spread out
to harbor the color of clay
bricks fresh from the kiln
if only for a moment

in the gap

I see how the moon
tells the truth

even when it looks impossible
even when
it hurts
and regret burns

hotter than cone 6
even when
the quarry no longer sources
the four walls

into this interval

I finally get it Mom

16 months is too long
a gap between
birth and real mother
to mend or mind

if I could cradle
that breach in my arms
rock you slowly to the clicking
of a metronome you set

if there could be
no more gap