Prompt or Not,

this train might derail
into a simmering chain
of thought. This anniversary
of a hootenanny so far up north
and deep in the middle

reminds her it’s his birthday:
her one and only husband.
They married at six,

divorced at seven.
Here’s to counting missed beats
that never got a chance
to channel the rhythm
of the waves

on the rocky beach.
He’ll never read this line,
or the next, or the ones

she wrote about a library bar.
Itinerant troublemakers
and other verse spewing
vagabonds flip through volumes
of poetry and lookbooks

on the table. Angels
on the ceiling. Drained
shot glasses strewn across

the cork floor
beside blacked-out tarts.
Stacks of alcoholic palimpsests
to be cataloged, and no one
remembers how.

Library of Congress
or Dewey Decimal,
who decides? Mermaids

swim out too far.
Scaled tails made
in the makerspace
turn out not to be

Grey Goose or Belvedere.
To the Lighthouse or
The Sun Also Rises.

Who decides what goes
on the top shelf?
Why put anything so far
out of reach? Never mind
those borrowed nights

dancing at the Hippodrome.
London 1984. A collection
of New York City years checked

out before you would meet
down by the once dead river.
Cobwebs yoke the pines
to one another in a cove
she won’t easily forget.

The briny taste of the color
of wet slate lingers fine free
forever on her tongue.

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