You Tacky Thing

All heroes leak. Blood
and spit don’t mix too well
with both eyes closed.

Pay attention,
but don’t get too close.
Not all flaws

are tragic. Not all
flaws twinkle with light
that reflects off

an ocean’s
blindside. Not all
heteronyms stick.

Tear your dress
and wait
for the drawbridge to rise.

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Cries of Distress from the Boom Carpet

It would be a crime
to translate the muffled
trombone of adult voices
in Charlie Brown’s world.

It would be a crime
to dissect any parallels between
Simon and Garfunkel’s folk song “Patterns”
and Uncle Tupelo’s instrumental “Sandusky.”

To make fun of your 14-year-old self
for singing her heart out
to Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”
slightly off key.

A crime to villainize
your girlfriend who laughs so hard
at your performance
tears stream down her cheeks. Yours.

Neither of you could know
the beauty in that moment.

A crime to believe
all this organology
will bring back
the lituus or gue.

It would be a crime to continue
cursing the banjo or accordion,
bagpipes or penny whistle,
ukulele or hurdy-gurdy.

To forget
how it felt to play
that harpsichord
when you were 10.

A broken
sound barrier
will heal itself faster
without your help.

The biggest crime
you can commit—

the moment you pin a word on it,
everything falls apart.

Paradoxical Sleep (or, What the Living Statue Sees in Himself)

Black squirrels, albino squirrels,
skunks, raccoons, no fish
infest walls, ceilings,
crawl spaces, window wells.
The marsh bleeds in. Whorls

from rushes sprout suddenly,
dangerously as a rogue
eyelash that gets stuck
on the surface. This is
no Cocteau film. This is

my dream to star in.
I’m no star. I’ll be

your Planet 9
for real this time.
I’ll give you a wide berth.
Just let me exert gravity
over some frozen volatiles.

Just give me time
to make it all the way
around in the dark.
No one has seen me
with or without you.

I won’t be demoted
this time. It’s been so long since

I ate meat,
I can’t remember what you did
with the knives.

Royal Flush

I find the king
of hearts I never knew
I was looking for

over the hill
beneath the pines

he’s face down
on the paved trail
not in the road

where that unidentifiable dead
animal has melded
into the pavement

I almost don’t bother
but can’t resist

I pick him up
without knowing
what I have in my hand

without caring
where he’s been
I flip him over

without looking for
the others

don’t need a full deck
I’ll be 52 soon

City Park Disorienteering

Yo, Brooklyn! Oy, Manhattan!
An elevated freight railway into the High Line.
An underground trolley terminal
could become the LowLine.

Remember the waterfall
under the Brooklyn Bridge.

You’re so left-handed,
just drop the ball
and run. No amount of FoMO
will catch you if

you avoid the beaten

pathology. If you find yourself
lost in your favorite urban
wilderness, look for
that Swedish Cottage

where marionettes reign.

Living a few moments
with strings attached
could help you locate
your next experience.

If you find yourself lost

anywhere near
the finish line,
dig out that chalk,
draw a new line.

Untag & Unlabel

No one mispronounces her
name the way she wishes.
No habit defines her perfectly.

Except solitude
as it gets tucked inside
the boots of a crowd.

She tells the truth
because she forgets
her lines again.

Going off
script is an addiction
she confesses

at the least possible
moment before boarding
a plane heading east.

When she arrives,
she will plant wisteria seeds
in your bower.

Will ignore the danger
that comes

from knowing you
may not Google yourself,
but she will.

With Broad Nails & Broken Homes

When I say bevel
my corners,
I mean those places
where I go
to break
from the tyranny

of worshipping parallel
lines. My love

of trains
and sidewalks
may outlast all others.
I thrive
on nonsense.
Feed me at daybreak

more than you can
import in a month.

I will be starved
for more before another blood
memory snaps
all the tree branches
and crashes on
the roof at noon.

The drinking
glass I smashed

last night
will heal by evening
if you want. If I want,
I go to one
of those corners
and search

for exposed edges
to my heart

to file down. Any
woodworking tool will do.

Within Walking Distance of 52nd & Lex

Invisible or forgotten.
Not both.

To slip through a moving crowd
on a New York City sidewalk unrecognized,
without falling through a subway grate.

To walk past a construction site
without a glance, let alone cat call,
directed her way.

To ask Siri a simple question
and get no reply.

Or, to go whole weeks
without a single text, email, Facebook message,
phone call to reply to.

To discover he really did leave
to catch the last ferry
without her.

To be given a choice,
she keeps slipping through,
dodging ironwork lattices.

It’s not a cool breeze,
but a steamy, cloying one after all.

Inertia

a box full of springs
a barren field

breath visible in cold air
a long crooked trail through a forest
overlooking an ocean

a notebook left on a table
in an outdoor cafe
its blank pages flapping in the wind
the first red leaf dangling from an oak

the dot on a lowercase i
rolling under the couch
stale bread crumbs scattered on the floor
a whole basket of glyphs
covered with a gingham cloth napkin

anything that gets caught in a sink drain
centrifugal force and other myths
wrapped around a rock
tied to a string
before the spinning begins
what’s left when it stops