If This Reservoir Could Talk

no turning back
I clear my throat

to drown rumors of no Lefthand Run
Creek on this map

in February the robots don’t need
as much room to dance

not if / when
I wait for the Mississippi

to reply / do the math
1 billion gallons in my belly

71% blanketing the Earth’s skin
you and you / 60% river

and me and vast oceans
of relative blood memory

decommissioned in 1993
I am laughing

as geese and herons
and ruddy ducks tickle

my murmuring meniscus
limned at the edge

of civil twilight
when it’s time to go

to the cold room
I will be ready

salt brushed off / fountain turned on
chain-link cloak long gone

hands spoken for
by the owl

in its winter diorama
everything cardboard

touched by moonlight
what can be seen inside

the hollow of a wolf tree
remains a secret / next / I scream

there is more
than one cure

MSP / LGA / MSP

let’s fly with it / mess with
the messenger’s snow lips
time I took a shovel to him
and I in my quilted guilt / want

to keep talking
about the swan / the one
your brother knew
her cygnets floating beneath

the spot
in the sky
where he ceased / fear
and altitude and claustrophobia

and the thrill of recognition
the skyline always appears
from the side I don’t expect
and then the walk with purpose

awakens in me
ice melts / freezes / melts
repeat / here we go again
small / smaller / smallest

fish in the pond
the city in my heart

I am somewhere
in the West Village / 1985
wishing I could wrap
the red scarf around my head

into a hip babushka
that actor with long dirty
blonde hair wears
greatcoat collar turned up

black lace-up boots
vintage pink floral dress hem
visible beneath / fishnet tights
tying it all together

another arthouse film
unreeled / anonymous
our CT educations tucked
inside ripped pockets

just in case
the wind picks up
outside the White Horse Tavern
some of us still wish

we could meet for real
drinks upstairs inside
Old Town Bar / argue
about those damn Hinsdale urinals

some of us slowly
move on / once again I steal
a chance to remind strangers
I am the story

tucked inside facing pages
of a band bio
that stuck together
during the printing process

I am the stitch dropped
from a perfect binding
I will never be ragged
right / look at me

hard enough
I will spill
onto the hardwood floor
I have always insisted on

when carpet or concrete
might have contained
the sound of loss
more completely

so much has shifted
in flight
she would not recognize us
she would still build hotels

on Park Place
loan me money
to pay the rent
when I land on it

Brom & Nina
native New Yorkers
moved to London
divorced / I never saw them again

Brom died in South America
I wonder about Nina
some people don’t want
to be found

rectangular glass
embedded in cement gives
riders below a chance
to consider something besides this

crumbling / draining
rock / don’t forget
and so I do
forget to look

for the Mandarin duck
in the Central Park pond
or in the Hudson
near the 79th Street Boat Basin

I shrug my shoulders
tighten muscles to will away
Minnesota January air
that whips around Manhattan

did I bring this
with me / this guilt
like a thief nowhere near
close to giving up

the plane home
always lands
so smoothly
even in night snow

Hydrology of Melt

no names / we all dance
naturally when you turn off the lights

words arrive by candlelight
flickering their multi-colored tongues

still sits alone in a corner
wondering how

the ailing bearded dragon is
feeling this year

no one wants to play with her
as she plays hard to get

with another dictionary
words seeping through the tattered cover

in the shape of a lovely lion
or pretty penguin

warnings sound in sudden bursts
of vaporized knells

don’t let the cut and paste fool
you into believing

the results of water tested
for invasive eyes

don’t cut the pasty fool
out of your life

before you’ve tested how well
your eyes adjust to the dark

a memory won’t hold still
it will only hurt a bit

fog hides the boat
you thought was lonely

you really don’t know
anything about the port side

or how to identify tule
in the marsh

your right foot
always faces east

Water Dancer

She knows this dock—
each splinter, barnacle,
hurricane-spared stilt.

It is not a plank. It’s where she walks.
She knows how to dive,
has been doing it for years.

No easing into the wash,
she plunges in and is used to it
before others awake.

This is underworld—closets, caves, shelves,
trenches, forests, hydromedusa, brittle
stars, Painlevé’s camera.

This is where she should live—
she who is a sponge
is a sponge is a sponge.

She will never work a room
on dry land, works the ocean floor
with the precision of a jelly bloom.

To become exposed to air,
the rising sun. It is her death
to appear before all of us.

Metal crushes metal on a distant street, emergency
sirens approach
closer, closer. A muffled distortion underwater.

Leave her enough sea room.
She would rather synchronize her own sculls
outside a tank

than be confounded by a mirage of closing night roses
she can’t reach without a body.