Were the Wraiths Ever Extroverts

A community garden arises
from remnants
of old shuffleboard courts.

The dandelion fountain
will bloom again.

I will write one more
ekphrastic poem
about a single painting that celebrates

the island in moody watercolors
with abstract undertones.

If I write a poem about an art fair,
would it be ekphrasis, or a failed figment?
Those cursive m’s I could never draw

quite right shadow dancing
in a darkened corridor. This printed word

will crush the teeth
of those ghosts wading in the surf—
or would if they had mouths to hold them.

Channels Through Wire

Your tattoos reassure me.
The way you drum your fingers

on the kitchen island
does not. One more rust

colored, handwoven rag
to soak in ice

water. Wooden

buckets. We were haulers
of things. We were the rivers

flowing backwards
between our words

on hot, humid nights
before the storm. Metal

shovels. The vessel is now closed.
A one-way spiral stair climb to nowhere

near the real city. Red buoys.

Do you punish yourself
for erasing the recording

of all of us
laughing? The joke

tucked so tightly
inside the temporary brick wall.

One more lefty who holds
a bouquet of the sharpest

pencils. We have waited
for the burdened net to resurface.

Perched & Damaged

Let’s bring back the stoop
in all its stupid perfection—
with all its social consequences
and complicated politics intact

and wrapping around
our late-night, drunken sing-alongs.

Let’s retreat to an aerie
in the mountains
where another owl leaves its cave
to let off steam.

Let’s refuse to watch the shy
kettle boil. Let’s begin again

by goatscaping the hillside
that divides us
from ourselves. Let’s
keep the drinking

fountains flowing
a lttle longer into fall.

Let’s run with a trip of them
in the years to come
while the city sighs
in the distance. Let’s embrace

the kayak covered in seaweed.
And are those barnacles beneath

the bow? Is that
how they think
we kiss? Let us be
the street after all.

What the Illustration Restores

Who invited this
body in? How did I get inside
here? This trunk

of a beast
carries me back—
back to a time when

a shining
was a person, place,
or thing of interest.

When instant karma
ruined our eyes
as we stared

directly into the midday sun.
Another apparition appears

to block the cellar door.
I would not dare
crack open

the piece of amber
I’ve been massaging
into a worry stone

over the years.
Before anyone asks
why, well, we were

so young. Too young
to understand how
the shells we collected

with his sister
would never hold
the shape

of the ocean
come fall
on the mainland.

And the memory of the waves
rendered us sweetly mute
without a trace of shame.

Some Old Crow

This morning brought
an achy rain—

the kind that intensifies
as soon as it lets up

before settling
into a steady pounding

on the treehouse rooftop
nestled in a Massachusetts forest

that holds your childhood still
and silent. And one bird after another

begins to mimic the sounds of the city:
car alarms, fire truck sirens,

a phone ringing in the distance.
You swear you can hear

an old-fashioned busy signal
in the park’s garden of the seasons,

startling its dragonflies
and purple flame grass.

Perhaps some old crow

there to remind you to be patient,
to try again later.

Derived from Hemp

She wears a shelterbelt
wrapped around her bare shoulders.

The windbreaker dyed and tossed
aside decades ago. This dream

of harvesting eastern white cedars
for roof shakes (not shingled)

breaks apart before it gains
enough momentum to reach the mill.

Not true cedars. Not a moment wasted.
She dances, rough-hewn,

with all those invasive species
just trying to survive

a long way from home.

The drama of a row
of Mediterranean cypresses

swaying at the mere mention
of a breeze. She doesn’t need to know

what kind of trees
separate Pissarro’s climbing path

from the hamlet below.
Made of sturdy cloth, she

wears her shelterbelt
as a declaration of her love

for all that palette knifed green.

She doesn’t dare touch
the canvas (legal or not) again.