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.

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.

Stations

1. weigh

2. polling

3. train

4. filling

5. space

6. police

7. bus

8. first aid

9. fire

10. subway

11. work

12. TV

13. weather

14. way

And the radio played without station or stanza break deep into another Friday night at the end of March.

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.