Beginning with V

Verb is a noun.
Grief cycles through her veins
the way a tattered recipe
written in invisible ink
signals an unknowable hunger.
His lips numbed by a vacancy,
a wooden plank tilts in the sand.
A green screen curtain
will not return them to another
continent, bring them home.
Scenes from a vacation decades ago
become the virtual landscape
neither can touch.
An outline of her face
melts into a halo
for a Vineyard seagull
perched on a pier piling
before its hurricane demise.
He whispers, “Unplug
every device in the house.
Walk through Minnesota’s Central Park.
Look for the volta.”

She thinks she sees it
in the thawing pond’s deep slate water,
in the ducks’ visible breath.
Ventilators scarce,
vaccine not ready yet,
dumpster vandals in the alley,
violets bloom in her memory
before she lost her sense of smell.

Visitors ghosted in gowns
he doesn’t recognize ask,
“How do you hug a voice?”
One more beginning with V
will not be named
during this stage of denial.

Double Helix: How Did We Get Here?

everything can be delivered
early spring sun sneaks through open blinds
perfect ribbons of light map a path
to a host of shadows
you know nothing of the prisoner
who gets nothing delivered
a loner’s paradise
run amok / what is life

potential in the period
between birth and death
the opposite of this rock
who says it has no energy
like a seed with so much potential
on the verge

they can be destroyed
a curling lock of his hair
volute shells they collected in the cuffs
of their rolled trousers
the aching voice as it breaks over the bridge
they can be destroyed
how many song thrushes stuck
to the branch with birdlime

your mistletoe concoction
pest or kiss or misunderstood
they can be destroyed / the red maples moan
they can be destroyed
novel agents rebel everywhere
in their quest for a borrowed life

Zero

In an urban dreamscape, she kisses

your friend full on the mouth.

His lips collapse from the pressure
of it all. Forget the zero:

the naught, the cipher, the absence.
We passed that exit days ago.
The road blurs into a four square game

chalked before the next rain comes.
They read from your torn copy
of Moby Dick by candlelight
not because they want to,
because they have no choice.

Flattened or exponential,
six feet away or she feels your breath
burn a hole in her neck,
the haunting has just begun
to touch your face
the way these lines collide.
Six feet away or six million plus
between her home and yours.

Inheritance

Your anger and fear and
intolerance for being
human are written all over
my face. You swim beyond
the shoal through these tears
I can’t swallow without choking
on backwash salt. Reverse osmosis
and viewshed moments happen.

We’re living proof
death and the end don’t travel
along the same rail corridor.
I hear your voice, Dad,
propel the breeze to slip through
an open train car window.

I am an Imposter

who draws silhouettes of foxes
from someone else’s memory.
I hear screams
fill the empty night
miles from my open mouth.
My throat aches. He’s out there.
He knows. Even his death fills
with low light in this hollow.

Mar 1

Beware the melt, freeze, melt, freeze
dance of this new month.
Tears shed leave a translucent trace
as they dissolve. Beware the sun
not so low-riding across the sky,
teasing warmth soon interrupted
by a late hitting storm.
It’s the ice, not the snow, I curse—

the handwriting I can read, not
the scrawl bleeding in the margin.
Domino bones topple forward, not
backward, as another lahar drags
slurry farther down the mountain.
These scars: my geography, my home.

February 29

For the leaplings, just for today,
let’s think in alternative fours.
Line winter’s final quarter
with diamonds, not squares.

This is no common year.
A short-changed month gets a little boost
to keep our hearts aligned
with the sun.

I know a couple of almost leap
year babies—both full-grown men,
56 not 14. They don’t count
the way you do in 1|4 time.

My father died during a leap year.
Bowie, Prince, Cohen during the next.

An extra exit sign flickers in the dark.