Long Winter Euphony

The hamster’s not dead.
It’s hibernating.
The mouse that leaps off a dumptruck
stopped at a traffic light
and scurries past your boot
to burrow its way into a snow bank
may be wishing
it could hibernate too.

You no longer question
if your hands look old. You know.

Instructions read:
cut open the wall
in the same spot on each floor
till you reach
the open cellar door.
You know what to do.

You are asked to gin up
some fabulous story
about why wool, why mittens.
Why not skull caps?
Why a folding chair?
Why not a cedar wood
glider bench?
Why now, not any other time?

The pipe
for smoking, the bottle
for drinking. How can anything
be done casually, you ask?
You are one of those
who cannot play
with fire again,
not even once in a while.

Instructions read:
Chant STEAM, not STEM.
Steam the stems
to get a better consistency.
You pour a sculpture
of a blue rooster into a test tube,
fire up the Bunsen burner,
wait for a sustained note.

You miss Isamu Noguchi’s theater
set piece for Martha Graham’s
“Judith,” languishing
in a storage vault
less than a mile
from where you sleep.

The aroma of nothing fills the air.
What a relief this time.

Early Saturday Morning Pandemic Dream

walking becomes
riding a bike becomes
scooting between highway lanes
in an unidentifiable capsule
deep blue with white racing stripes

trying to get back

to the Bronx

your brothers play war

simulations in your bedroom closet

trying to get back

to the Bronx

where’s the #1 train
no one wears a mask
where’s your filter
take the N or the R
a stranger nowhere
near you says


where’s the light switch

to turn off

this nonsense

trying to

get back

to the Bronx
how did they
get in there
tails hidden
you follow
the #1 rule

of improv

don’t deny it

you’re lost

it’s the tell a story


you reject

without a way home
out of this offline
memory reprocessing
preparation for possible
future threats where the Bronx
is the only safe haven

2021 Begins With

a week of rime ice
on tree branches, fences,
power lines, news of a breach,
sedition, insurrection
within the US Capitol
inside the US capital.
Humid air in Minnesota
in January disturbs

the order. White feathers,
needing fanning, float
off the grid. Time to replace
the spikes on your traction aids.
Time to plead for it in a new voice,
hope, however off key.


With only one sub-zero day
this season, I worry the ice skaters
and hockey players
won’t make it

off the pond. It’s a new year,
and I still worry I won’t
remember how to talk to someone
unmasked. I won’t be able to unsay

the things my lips
expose, the blotter stained
with ink bled long ago.
Letting go of the pain

will take more than reading
the DANGER THIN ICE sign out loud.