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.

Monday Mornings in August

I do the math the way Dad would expect.
Factor in one leap year, here we are again.
Another last Monday in August falls on this date.
Six years ago, early morning phone messages, how very low

he gets, who am I going to call
to tell me the news I already know?
My middle sister knows how
to calm me down.

I finally let him go
two days before. No one

should have to live without
their words, without
their mind, without

how to walk. That’s not how
I remember him.

My oldest sister says
Monday mornings in August
hurt the most. I know
what she means. Those last 27 breaths.

Connecticut, New Jersey,
even Ireland, could not contain him.
He’s out the door at dawn
to run along another stretch of the Atlantic.

We wave to each other as we cross paths
where I’m beginning, he’s finishing up.
No infection, no act of terrorism
can catch him now.

A gull hovers over the Old Head.
I hear a whisper break through the breeze
to signal summer’s end:
Even so, green was his favorite color.

where’s the money shot

sunny with a real feel of 5
degrees Fahrenheit

another cruel moment in April
gets trapped under ice

no algae
nothing’s blooming

good or bad
here where the climate trickster

of our own making
never sleeps

Frankenstein’s monster drinks
from the fetid future

has not yet learned
how to lie

he won’t open his eyes underwater
he won’t tell us what he hears

in all that muffled blue
his silence is damaged

if he would declare his damage
it would spill then bleed

into the fibers
of a wrongly-folded map

someone has abandoned
on the frozen ground

remember those

pockets of jamais vu
dot the landscape

with crimson-tinted notes
in the minor key

no one asks to be
the hero image

that spans an iridescent bridge
to nowhere

The Wall Will Weep

Never been to Berlin.
This sunny cold
morning in the alley
behind my front-of-
house apartment life
brings me to tears.

It’s the wind
except when
it isn’t. I used to be
all back of house.
Haven’t lived
in one in decades.

The child who plays
the xylophone won’t fear
the way traditional ballads
get wedged in,
how low
his chant goes,

the way trees bend
to kiss her.

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,

sunk relief

not snowing
her cold smile
preserves the space
between empty

their maws frozen
half open

it’s not optimism
that makes her
think so

the smashed rock
glass was
swept off
the bedroom
floor years ago

that she can’t
remember who
held the broom
or the color
of the eyes

that followed
its strokes

that she does
remember the whiskey’s
deep leather hue

that hinge
between alcoholic
palimpsest and
the minor key
that traps images

inside vivid
ghost craters

does not
rust in
this bitter air

Ride to the End of the Last Stroke

I want nothing
more than to be
writing another poem
on a train

as it tunnels through
January fog. Who

knew the impression
could cloak
so well. Who knows

where my bare shoulders
will reappear, or when.

Then the fonts—
so physical, so metallic—
will leak precious
angel spit.


I remember the number
three and the hill
I drew to depict
life beyond the lagoon.

I remember the three
swings and the starfish
we killed trying
to rescue it.

Turns out they split
in half, transform
from girl to boy to girl again
without our help.

Even then, I knew
to feel guilty

about catching an extra
whiff of gasoline
in the old shingled garage.

Even then, I was
beginning to forget why.

21-Gram Dream

Before I died,
the world flashed a still
photo so quickly
I didn’t have time

to measure its border
against the shore wrack line.

Now a film flickers
on storied brick
with no end or beginning—
only the between.

Everything else
hides behind the wrong
color on the wrong
block. Tin tile

wainscoting wraps
around the hem
of a skirt
no one dares to own.


Inches on a dual scale ruler
splay awkwardly
compared to the centimeters’
compact grid.

So quiet in the cafe,
no eavesdropping
will mark the morning.
Just the sound of

fingertips slamming
MacBook keys, a page
being torn
from an actual notebook,

a ceramic mug gently returning
to the table. My thumb
measures 2 inches, just over
5 centimeters. I can’t decipher

the meaning
in that sliver
of well-worn skin.
Can’t decode

the evolution
of our differences.

The miles or kilometers
that separate our memories.

Those leap seconds
desperately applied

to align
our hearts.