Final Shimmer

If you had been a hummingbird,
I might have cried.
How wrong I was
to think writing on buildings
is graffiti art, is not
an essay about a quill
tucked between a gutter
and a guffaw.

The snapping turtle
with freshly cut grass
on its shell
moves across the bicycle path,
seemingly unaware
of the scribbled
green message
it leaves behind.

Hey, dead pigeon
on my back doorstep,
I’m sorry
I knew nothing
about how you died,
how you lived.
I confess I haven’t given
your kind much respect.

Your iridescent
emerald and violet
throat feathers
still shimmer
in the right light,
from the right angle.
Your own personal prism
outlasts your final breath.

Hey, dead pigeon,
it’s me again.
I hear a neighbor say
“Poor thing. Maybe, it’s still alive.”

Come morning,
the kind of rain
without hope
of a rainbow
descends on the city.
You are gone.
And I am sorry.
Some would have called you a dove.

Why Do I Sing Like This, Not That?

Looking to learn
from another field of lilies,
she hears more
than the young singer’s voice.

The whole of her doomed
love life tucked precisely between
the notes of her saddest tune.
As if

she might touch death’s velvet
rope there. She sees,
no, she feels
a stirring in the grass—

it takes a moment
to identify the solo snapping
turtle as it makes its way
from the city park pond

to higher ground.
Is it seeking some loose, moist loam
to lay its clutch in?
Is it even a she?

The wild act might have been
last night,
or some particularly solitude-breaking one
last year. Imagine the delay.

After all that, she doesn’t even wait
to see if the eggs hatch,
if her hatchlings survive. Most won’t.
A forward momentum no matter how slow.

She listens to “Darker Things”
for the tenth time that morning.
It’s been such a long time
since a song destroyed her so utterly.


Sunday morning
and I’m ready
to throw another e-scooter
in the river. And I’m ready
to wipe salt from a bottom
lip. It’s the middle
of May, and I’ll be
writing about drones

and other flying insects,
so I don’t forget how
I feel about them.
I’m no robot, and
I would’t want
to be like you either.
The hidden camera is always loaded
and ready.

Real fog lifts before
you get the chance
to name it. Bottle it. Linger on
it—that buzzing in my head.
A pedestrian nightmare,
they’re flying low
and riding high,
desecrating another sidewalk

story drawn in colored chalk.
The White Cliffs of Dover
lulled me to a deep sleep.
It might have been
those streaks of black flint.
I’m ready to know the truth—
to start the fire again
before it rains.

Lilacs Again

Promise—the second oldest memory
they stir. I can’t remember
the first. Packaged
in a top 40 radio hit perhaps.

Am I the only one
who still listens to the radio?
Anyone out there?
When I get the second shot in two days

and have waited two weeks,
anyone out there then?
All those heart-to-hearts
with the younger self.

The wardrobe rotated again as if
it matters. At some point, this left-hand
ink smear will become the most valuable
NFT you never invested in.

It’s not a competition,
songs and scents
both release the most sweet
bitter whorls, bundles of them.

Sappho knew lilacs
are in the olive family.
Just one more final and the death
of a high school friend

till you can board another
rocking ferry
for the next Greek island,
you tell yourself.

nothing rocks like it used to


over and over

what got erased from those love letters

to a life lived so hard

I kept them

all of them

I never questioned that

“unmanageable creature who steals in”

the way everyone advised

“like a mountain wind falling on oak trees”

and then

“for we in our youth

did these things

yes many and beautiful things”

she says

“lyre lyre lyre”

say it three times

because how else

will the “transparent dress” follow

and I won’t ask

for more

about the “gold anklebone cups”

I won’t I won’t I won’t

Note: Thank you, Sappho, for those fragments I stole. And thank you, Anne Carson, for bringing them to light in If Not, Winter.

Bluish In Thick Layers

With true sangfroid,
she says let’s talk
about purple pipes.

Let’s admit it—
the great blue heron
nested here first.

Rivers are people too.
Turns out our most precious blood . . .
Locked in and interrupting herself,

she says I have been accused
of being tasteless and very slightly
compressible too.

I no longer fear
the first flush
in these boots. My hands

gloved. I have my reasons,
she says. No diamonds
of the first water

(or even muddy and impure ones)
need protecting
on these fingers.

That willingness to rape
the earth—don’t blame the owl,
or the hawk,

or that heron
staring at you
from its dead branch perch,

she says. And the tree’s story
does not end
the night a storm struck it down.

Our most precious blood,
a truth so secret,
it stills the water.