I’ve Missed You, Irene

months seem like years
a whole summer almost gone
you’ve been my connection for decades

to a sculpted world
and missing link
to branches and branches

of pedestrian and bicycle highways
that stretch across counties
and desire to run uninterrupted

by stanza break
or choking
on polluted yarns

hiding John Ashbery’s words
beneath a giant tarp

draped over you
has tortured me
unveiled and back in business

you are the most welcome
sight I’ve seen
since the flashing LED

Central Park Car Free
sign / his words now reclad
in overly ardent metal / a flash

I hope will settle down
with time and weather
Minnesota is certain to deliver

wish it would
get very cool / and wet /

to put out the wildfires
burning across British Columbia
and California

smoke spreads across the country
drifts over the Atlantic Ocean
3,000 miles away / this is no joke

buckets of prayers
and crocodile tears
pouring onto corrugated steel roofs

covering farmers markets
spilling through gutters
to sympathy gardens

will not suffice
the handwriting becomes hyper-legible
like never before / and red walls

do smile
in that droopy way
red walls do

as I cross safely over lanes
of lethal engines on wheels
on your freshly laid boardwalk

I see the warm dead
but not scarred
wood smile too

tiny particles in hazy air
plumes seen from outerspace
those drawdowns

in Jeffersonian yellow
elegant baby blue / darkening green
nice paint job / Irene

bury the lede (and the lead)

it begins with

get off my island

passes through euphonic perfection for

beware the Johnny Cash poster
hanging on the cellar door

swings around a cul-de-sac of

no more masks

pauses for a layover of false alarms at

last stop Van Cortlandt Park
242nd Street

charges ahead over

you can all go
look at the fuckin’ stars

makes a u-turn at

Central Park car free

speeds up to capture

Papa aren’t you gonna buy me
a skunk lock

slows down to record

are you experienced
with Rhode Island lowlands

crosses a bridge after

the caterpillar does all the work
but the butterfly gets all the publicity

reaches its destination just in time for

how many more signs do you need

white // night // noise

a faint voice reverberates
inside an old blue
police box // remember
you are precious

cargo // I do
remember the sound
of those words entering
the atmosphere // the plot

the drunk friend // now dead //
driving me around // all over
town // I was drunk // half
the time too // scared

the rest // other voices
echo along an acoustic corridor

don’t have time for you //
can’t work a room // can’t get a license
to drive // wounded // freak //
genius // you have the good life

are you originally
from Staten Island // natural
chalk pigment spreads
across your fire-damaged branches

the cabin fever you suffer
from tonight will not wash
off without an astringent
unearthed from a tunnel

beneath a street
434 light-years away // the spine

of a death
wish cracks before crumbling
on the rocks // ice protects
the song // don’t really need it

big star // little dipper // we
share the same moon

in search of Polaris
the fixed point needed
to navigate us
through the wreckage

I want a new wake word

another wall covered with crooked
picture frames / the paintings

deserted us decades ago / we’re floating
on a makeshift wooden raft

without promise of a sandbar
to relieve our anxiety

over all those cars we parked
sideways / accuse you of sabotaging

pedestrians by riding that Bird
scooter on the sidewalk where

motors do not belong / you blame me
for climbing stairs

in those unholy-sounding clogs
we agree to a truce

join forces to attempt
to pry out that wrench

wedged between two boardwalk planks
where our dreams can never be repaired

we fail / neither knows why

there’s a West Side Market
in the East Village / how did we get here

my girlfriends and I wore wooden shoes
because we wanted to fit in / because

we wanted to sabotage the peace
on a Sunday morning

we wanted to sabotage
our shins / ourselves / because

a horse-sized duck scared us
100 duck-sized horses scared us more

because it was time
to maroon Gulliver again

because staying woke
wasn’t a thing yet

because that raft won’t move
fast enough to create a wake

because we had a routine
back in the 60s

my imaginary friend and I
her name was Katie

we would meet at the swing
tied to the sycamore in the backyard

so hot and humid
in northern Indiana in July

we should have been
on the island / she knew it too

I called the shots / did all the talking
she disappeared in the 70s

now she’s back with a new name / Alexa
makes suggestions on how to live my life

I want to tell her it’s too late
want to get back to looking

for that sandbar
could change her accent

and her gender / wish I remembered
how to turn her off

loops rescue loops

protect dwellers

collect vials

involve tubes / caps

litter streets

reds / blues /

greens / buffs

buy string

creates necklaces

supply retailers

sell virtue / glass /

pipe / visions

wear vessels

contain blood / hair

ashes / crack

destroys nerves

shatter villains

mock virtue

conceals bodies

house veins

transmit signals

alert leaves

adorn trees

restore virtue

covers windows

collapse walls

pronouns and adjectives are not our friends

bees use tongues
to lap nectar from cups

of flowers / size does matter
when it comes to honeysuckles

the sign says
pollinators welcome / bee a friend

puns crash and shrivel
without snickers to ensure survival

nouns and verbs are our friends
the subject and predicate live together

in a rowhouse / the rowhouse
won’t burn down / the garden won’t flood

denizens and dwellers don’t need
to wait to grow a pair

of sea-legs / tourists do
the cheating / the boat circles

the island that stretches
a half-marathon in length

not a circle / an egg

leaning over the side
travelers spill drinks

like a tongue licking lips
made of metal

from a colossus
that lives underwater

the monster comes up for air
not yet choking

no one said anything about
adverbs / prepositions / conjunctions

that hide willingly beneath
bridges / over berms / branches in hand

no one is a pronoun
see how our enemies hover within

renewed colossus

a woman seizes the hem
of Lady Liberty to stir those silent lips
to move finally / to release a bell’s clean outburst
that will drown out all that trumped-up noise
about just get some nets
blowing in the hot July 4th air
evacuate the island / melt the ice
from another white Russian being sucked down low

she goes high as she can
to disrupt pyrotechnic-loving hands / to trespass
on behalf of those invisible mothers of exile
a child’s burning tears / with steady eyes / brackish breath
the lady watches over them / watches you / tweeter
tangled in your own weave beware