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.