Passenger to Passenger

“I am a passenger.
I stay under glass. . . .
Over the city’s ripped-back sky.”
—Iggy Pop, “The Passenger”

I laugh aloud to myself
because I can. Diamonds
are funnier than squares,
triangles more gruesome
than the geometry
of our wrecked love.

I’ve gotten close, closer,
too close to the mouth
of a singer as her earring
explodes on stage. Glittery
shrapnel decorates the palm
of my hand. No blood this time.

I see a man
swim with his children,
tossing them in the air,
so they can make a splash
in the world.
I think of my father

and know he is
there underwater
using his gills
to guide me
through an angry ocean
to the nearest sandbar.

I get further
and farther
away. I spend less
time and travel
fewer blocks alone
in the wee hours

hoping to crash
into your imaginary black
jeep with my invisible red
car. I never know the year
or make, don’t care
who chauffeurs you

through the backroads now.
The Stouffer Inn in Public Square
has seen better days.
Goes by a different name.
All the aliases offered
at check-in crumble into

ruin porn, or do they just
ruin porn. Or ruin a poem.

Or have nothing
to contribute
except the image
of Mr. Barney Rubble
ordering room service
in an urban hotel suite.

I write more legibly—
I’m more legible—
in the dark.

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Hippocampus

And a broken woman
writes on the wall
ruin in white chalk:

“Daddy, I waited here for you
a thousand times, but you
never showed up.”

Her poems caption
invisible sketches
of skeletal structures.

Become silent
lyrics to an instrumental

with conga, claves,
baritone sax, banjo or tres,
instead of guitar.

Her unspoken words
translate photos
someone forgot

to delete from a phone
donated to another one
who lives

on the other side
of the Malécon.

Another one
who swims

with porpoises
and seahorses
inside crumbled concrete reefs.

Voice Under There

The narrator rarely interrupts
the steady drip
of poems
into a tin can.

So unreliable.
She would need
to empty the can
before calling in

the next turn
or swerve
in the plot. Before
whispering details

about the secret
tragedy that will liver
punch the hero
before nightfall.

She would need
to have a hero
to intrude upon
without warning.

She’s got nothing
but this piece

of string pulled taut
and an echo
of tomorrow’s rain
vibrating through.

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.

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.

Interrogation Point (U+2E2E)

IMG_3495

what if
tonight’s full moon cracks
spills onto our tree branches

what if there is no moon
at all
ever again

what if an empty room
roars at double the decibels
of a packed music venue

and the voices
are all yours

what if what if
is eliminated
from our vocabulary

and the ?
becomes an earring
you lost years ago

all the answers
might tumble
off the shelf

when you open
the closet door

and the shape of hangers
will signify
our dismay

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.

I Go To

a dark place
with all the lights out
the death of dictionaries
leaves me empty

afraid to speak
more afraid not to

a dark place
where Steely Dan plays
on the radio
and I’m too numb

to change
the station

who listens
to the radio anymore
who listens
for the train

that already disappeared
down a tunnel
darker than the dark
I go to