The Cuyahoga: June 12

the date returns more quickly each year
a squeaky hinge to remind you
as if you would ever forget
half a lifetime ago
a pre-sunset boat cruise
up and down a river not known for romance

decades after the last fire
decades before fish from its waters
would be safe to eat / never safe
for the fish
it’s not about a yacht called Heartbreak
Hotel / or is it

it’s not about sisters bonding / or is it
not the other Elvis headlining Nautica Stage
not the DJs or cousins of DJs
dancing to an opening band
no one would accuse
of being a dance band

a daydream first mapped out
in a New York City brownstone
it’s not about the City / it always is
a lead singer that leaps off the stage
even you yawn a little
telling the story / Minnesota boys

you’ve reduced that one
to dredge found
in the bottom of a drained glass

everything flows back to that river
you took for granted then
cannot stop thinking about now
the real hero / crooked
with its jawbone exposed
and recovering / let’s hope / in time

June Haunts

I find my spot
near the pool table
in a room empty of people
leafy green pals everywhere

a seemingly neverending
flame in the transparent fireplace
even on a hot Friday night
the sun won’t go down for hours

I know a little about being
permanently see-through
have been telling all
with my face since birth

Saturday morning south of downtown
they do the nitro cold brew here
I’ve been waiting for the season
to fully kick in / the cool froth

smooths over the edges of a long week
coffee ice cream colored of course

over and over again
I have professed my love
to this month that holds so much
promise I thought would be kept

the way NCB lives up to its beauty
as a taunt to all those wasted
sips / the ones I thought I would get
to keep along with the blue hued awe


the opposite
of any December girl’s
innate darkness
the elongated light
signals freedom
from the classroom

let the day
lilies school you
to stay in the moment
brightly without
a hint of chalk
or radiator hiss

still scolding
so many decades
after the fact
when facts still
got factored into it
without irony

o June
month that sways
me / slays me
loves me / is above
me / grows in me
rows away from me

o June
month that brings
evening swims
in an everlasting
civil twilight
long drives

across Pennsylvania
to reach the Jersey shore
before weekend traffic
clogs anticipation
with boredom
and paternal fury

o June
month that brings
my mother home
for the first time
my niece too
on another 6/6

that asks us
to celebrate fathers
even though the name
whispers be sacred
to Juno / even when
fathers have lost

their minds
and died
and all that potential
of a life
dissolves into
broken promises

let the hell
strip beach roses
fill us
with the fragrance
of delicious amnesia

The Hand that Draws the World

the way her empathy flows
in elongated shadows in any light

to envy the waves
or particulate mix
of charismatic morning dew

is too crass
even for me

even the ancient Pando
in all its trembling
massive root system glory

would trust her approach
it’s really just one system after all

those crooked pines
in the crooked forest
would straighten up to greet her

this left hand relaxes
into the hinted presence of such awe


she watches the woman water
potted plants on the stoop
in the pouring rain

an indoor ghost garden leaves traces
on the ceiling / an enclosed atrium
aches for its missing awe

a preserved moss wall
in any color merely represents
never reveals the true river

will it stop / it doesn’t stop
Lola on the Lake from burning
to the ground / Tin Fish phantom

from another wet spring
a bite grabbed / he brought the dog
one more walk around the lake

some histories too burdened with slag
are not worth rescuing
from the flood

Speech Therapist for the Angels

For Sheri

As we recall her in unison,
I hear her mocking herself

for the way she said
“button.” I mock myself

for trying too hard
to out-walk

my shadow. She’s been gone
so long, so much longer

than she was alive.

Dimming flashbacks to our secrets
remain safe within me.

How the angels do sing
through their stutters and lisps

to thank her
for being one of them.