Hot River Mile

heat trapped in the harbor
she forgets to memorize
the way she tracks the waves
in her sleep / those sweaty banks

how many trees
how deep is the water
at this kink
how many boats does it take

to fill the basin
shells crowd the northeast end
of the dock / another slip
another hybrid / a welcome breeze

a slackened halyard slaps its mast
the next town over
she will walk there eventually
how she greets every place

feet first / the heart will follow
the head may / or may not / catch up
one more word and
she’s / almost / done

putzfrau / robots

pace impatiently
waiting to paint
while we fumble to stretch
their next canvas

Entry

I don’t wash off
the black ink stamp
on my right wrist

last night
in the Entry
a one-man show

no guitar
loads of moving images
somehow dancing

to his voice
somehow dancing
to his body

I can’t get too close
or I will disappear

into a hollow
I might not escape from
I know that now

another summer solstice
begins to stretch
its long legs

across the river
another one flows
snakelike into a new scene

I might get to see
if I open my eyes
shut my mouth

lock assumptions
in a metal box
lose the combination

memory is murder
when it’s not getting erased
too soon

I can only put down
the bottle in my hand
those others so beyond my reach

Anything with Wings, Dad

“I love my free spirit.
I trust my creative power.
I generate the wind beneath my wings
and enjoy the journey.”
—Michael Nash Mantra

Wielding a broken branch,
a child chases a juvenile gray duck
in the grass.
My heart hurts
to watch the bird
waddle furiously to escape.
Suddenly seeming to remember
it can fly, it glides across the walkway
through cattails to the pond.
A water landing—sweet relief.

Anything with wings, Dad.
Anything with wings.

The Cuyahoga: June 12

the date returns more quickly each year
a squeaky hinge to remind you
as if you would ever forget
half a lifetime ago
a pre-sunset boat cruise
up and down a river not known for romance

decades after the last fire
decades before fish from its waters
would be safe to eat / never safe
for the fish
it’s not about a yacht called Heartbreak
Hotel / or is it

it’s not about sisters bonding / or is it
not the other Elvis headlining Nautica Stage
not the DJs or cousins of DJs
dancing to an opening band
no one would accuse
of being a dance band

a daydream first mapped out
in a New York City brownstone
it’s not about the City / it always is
a lead singer that leaps off the stage
even you yawn a little
telling the story / Minnesota boys

you’ve reduced that one
to dredge found
in the bottom of a drained glass

everything flows back to that river
you took for granted then
cannot stop thinking about now
the real hero / crooked
with its jawbone exposed
and recovering / let’s hope / in time

June Haunts

I find my spot
near the pool table
in a room empty of people
leafy green pals everywhere

a seemingly neverending
flame in the transparent fireplace
even on a hot Friday night
the sun won’t go down for hours

I know a little about being
permanently see-through
have been telling all
with my face since birth

Saturday morning south of downtown
they do the nitro cold brew here
I’ve been waiting for the season
to fully kick in / the cool froth

smooths over the edges of a long week
coffee ice cream colored of course

over and over again
I have professed my love
to this month that holds so much
promise I thought would be kept

the way NCB lives up to its beauty
as a taunt to all those wasted
sips / the ones I thought I would get
to keep along with the blue hued awe

June

the opposite
of any December girl’s
innate darkness
the elongated light
signals freedom
from the classroom

let the day
lilies school you
to stay in the moment
brightly without
a hint of chalk
or radiator hiss

still scolding
so many decades
after the fact
when facts still
got factored into it
without irony

o June
month that sways
me / slays me
loves me / is above
me / grows in me
rows away from me

o June
month that brings
evening swims
in an everlasting
civil twilight
long drives

across Pennsylvania
to reach the Jersey shore
before weekend traffic
clogs anticipation
with boredom
and paternal fury

o June
month that brings
my mother home
for the first time
my niece too
on another 6/6

that asks us
to celebrate fathers
even though the name
whispers be sacred
to Juno / even when
fathers have lost

their minds
and died
and all that potential
of a life
dissolves into
broken promises

tonight
let the hell
strip beach roses
fill us
with the fragrance
of delicious amnesia