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.

April Ransom Note

I choose this
morning, this cold, this sun, this empty
room, faulty light fixture, interior wall without
art, this last word

affixed to a kite tail
not unwound, not dusted off, or dragged
through the cellar door up the red stairs yet.
A last word

that bargains for scraps
of wood from a broken fence and bare vine stems
to escape traces of the not literally, but lyrically,
cruel.

Grime Written

I will not use
elephant snot
to remove

the truth seeping
into our concrete
facades. I will not

scratch my way
into your heart.

Won’t turn
“Wash me”
into a mission

statement. I’m not
on a mission
after all.

That can’t be
my voice I hear

narrating this
poem prose poem
preamble. That’s not

the man
I pretend to hide
from when

another hot air
balloon crashes
against a sea wall.

And Martha Graham
dances to the end

of a branch
in this sketch.

52

Tomorrow I will be
a full deck of cards.

I prefer only 8s.
No faces

face up or
face down.

Jokers don’t count
except when weeds

become wild
flowers on honeymoon.

I still pick up
my feet

when I walk—run
mile after mile

timing my way
into the moment

when time floats
off. When everything

before folds into
everything to come.

When endorphins
kick in

at any age,
and lake ice

winks at
the sinking sun.

Lining Inside

“The held breath of the world at 5 pm in winter.”
—Garth Risk Hallberg, City on Fire

She keeps her pockets empty.
Daylight is precious this time of year.

She keeps her pockets empty.
Driverless cars will give the unlicensed permission to feel.

She keeps her pockets empty.
Thick gloves interrupt her thoughts indoors.

She keeps her pockets empty.
The time has come to make room for winter.

She keeps her pockets empty.
A small bird chirps behind a tree trunk.

She keeps her pockets empty.
Everywhere else is too full the day after.

She keeps her pockets empty.
The wind slips through so easily.

She keeps her pockets empty.
The park reopens before dawn.

She keeps her pockets empty.
Some skylines regenerate like livers.

She keeps her pockets empty.
No kangaroo crosses her path or breaks her stride.

She keeps her pockets empty.
When an actor forgets his lines, she remembers how to scream.

She keeps her pockets empty.
Geocachers lose themselves inside a discovered letterbox.

She keeps her pockets empty
to make room for an exhale of visible breath.

Escalator Guts

Exposed.
A garbage kiosk
blocks the lower landing.
It’s a long way down. Hardened
debris won’t cushion
the fall. The metallic taste
of words she spits out
lingers on the roof of her

A mannequin in men’s
activewear impersonates
one eighth of an octopus—
the left arm unhinged
and dangling
from a blue checked
jersey sleeve,
extra long.

No beak, no spin, no ink,
no sea, no reason
to trust anything
as it seems. A drawn curtain
means keep out
or keep in.
Not an invitation
to slither through.

Silence coils
a tight spring

under her breath
into an empty lift

she uses to unload
her fear

of continuous loops
and fire escapes.

I Go To

a dark place
with all the lights out
the death of dictionaries
leaves me empty

afraid to speak
more afraid not to

a dark place
where Steely Dan plays
on the radio
and I’m too numb

to change
the station

who listens
to the radio anymore
who listens
for the train

that already disappeared
down a tunnel
darker than the dark
I go to

Gloaming

1. Multiverse

Who left the light on
after the big bang?

Who slammed the gate
and left a noise
swinging loose
on its hinge?

Is your world
leaking into mine?

I hold out
a bucket to capture
our future before
it escapes again.

2. Zeal

When she sees their faces touch
cheek to cheek, clenched

to scratched, she gives
the color green
an unnatural boost
toward a grayed-out sky.

When they say they don’t care,
she knows it’s a lie.

People in the limelight
can’t tell the difference.
That’s a question. Who still says
limelight is another.

She walks a twisted path
along a chalk cliff spine.

As night falls, her natural glow
turns mysterious and inside out.

To Regenerate or Not

how many times
can she knock a figure
off a pedestal
put it back up there
knock it off again

before it shatters
into a thousand tiny shards
of notes and skillfully rhymed words

before a sliver
of a G Major chord
blinds her left eye

before she can run
along a bridle path
free of all champing

and desire
to play with marble
and steel strings