February 29

For the leaplings, just for today,
let’s think in alternative fours.
Line winter’s final quarter
with diamonds, not squares.

This is no common year.
A short-changed month gets a little boost
to keep our hearts aligned
with the sun.

I know a couple of almost leap
year babies—both full-grown men,
56 not 14. They don’t count
the way you do in 1|4 time.

My father died during a leap year.
Bowie, Prince, Cohen during the next.

An extra exit sign flickers in the dark.


What does not love a yellow wall
in an attic open to the possibility
of Northern Lights
drooping over the horizon
this late in winter?
What would it mean
to press down so hard
on the widening beam?

An aerie for a guardian angel,
her duende answers the door.
She loves how frightening
the darkness becomes,
the way her hands disappear
into the wayward cork oak bark.


The cartwheels have fallen off.
Her limbs propel her to risk
new maneuvers. A flashback
to somersaulting down a legendary hill.
She spits out dirt, grass, infamous feathers,
the sound of phantom guitars
colliding into a parallel color wheel as it turns over on itself

in a Connecticut spring sky.
A figure lets go of the man’s hand,
races toward the sun-drenched stair.

She always believed the ghost child
was a boy—not this whisper of a girl.
How could she know?

The Blasé Spell of February Snow

How come these apologies only come
in the shape of a conch shell,
never a horse?

Even without the explosion,
the blood would appear
as a rising sea

to create a halo
framing her lovely face—
her lovely dead body.

With a true camera in his hand,
he pans across the valley
looking for a way to enter

without disturbing
the canopy
of her death.

Let no more
ashes be tossed
into a false ocean.

Waves from a sound machine
cannot soothe him.
They had their bluffs,

sand, torches
illuminating a safe path
to a tiny boathouse.

A feather falls
from a sky
full of noisy crows.

The threshold cleared,
he’s awake now.
Memory is murder.

In this Loam

You taught me how
to wear black
no matter what—
knit cap, trench,
Chelsea boots,
a hint of ginger
along the collarbone,
the last word
hidden in
our rammed understory.

Blind Evidence

A cobweb of frayed cords,
slats chewed into jagged teeth piers
after another superstorm
nowhere near where
he lived and died.

He’s been gone 15 months.
It’s time to reclaim the view.
I keep whiskers he left behind
in a container beside the wooden box
that holds his ashes.

Mach 1: I’d Like My Torch Back Tonight

war does not end
bodies wrecked into angels I might see
if you turned that damn thing off

the stars the stars the stars

knots in my backpack will come undone
the ones in my throat not a chance
on this planet I love

I do not drive
this planet I love
I do not want love I cannot drive

off this rock

she knows her way in any kind of darkness
notebook in hand in crowded clubs
she’s never really alone

I used to be her / I still am
the girl who drives
this pen further into the dirt

than wheels can ruin themselves
across another rural route
beware the grand public gesture

where do sentences come from
where do they go
when the lights go out

what about the neighborhoods
without names to stitch
their desperate syllables together

how can a place have no scenery
I never understood the difference
between the front row and stage

edge / moat / river

that cannot be crossed
without a bridge that stops lifting
or swinging long enough to jump onto

I used to talk to strangers
now I talk to myself
strangest of all

sometimes we steal
from the collective
imagination first

when that fails
we steal
from our younger selves

folk song traces in the filament

it took 26 years for me to think of the birds
that lived in the nest
those roofers torched by mistake

we all have a fire story to tell
that was mine
not yours

26 years
the distance between
my father and me

26 miles
the time between
innocence and this life I live now

the building speaks
in tongues before it bursts
into a torch song

the one I used to hum
to myself
on your stoop

willing you
to open the venetian blind
to have a look

this sidewalk the only true home I know