magnetic declination

living so close
to the Mississippi River
she knows true north

lets lines of scrutiny
resurface along her forehead
under three new moons

and five recycled stars
the same night
robots begin to pace outside

a motion sickness
sea monster pokes its head
above gray before it turns green waves

at the most awkward moment
loses its way
more serpent than yeti

even as the palm of her own left hand
makes her nauseous
she won’t stop moving

will not amputate
will not break her own spine
before the library whisperer’s feet

everything hinges
on these shoulder blades
and those black birds

taking flight
through the propped-open
door to the lab


Sleeps Till Noon

like a teenager
she fails to fully recover
from the edges of a Friday the 13th

dreams in surrealist blue
and appalling white

adjectives with their resting
bitch faces
and snide comments

about size and texture
lay flat on a table
beneath a ladder

aching to be
magazines she would read

in her sleep
if the light were better


“O swallow, calligraphy,
clockhand minus minutes,
early ornithogothic,
heaven’s cross-eyed glance,”
—Wisława Szymborska, “Commemoration”

Here, where buttresses truly fly
or merely the early bird gets
the carcass of a clandestine sea monster
before others wake.

There, where I am lagoon swill
that seeks a culvert
into the bay. Tidal flushing,
I’m more brackish than salty comeback.

Wherever inverted umbrellas
floating overhead
bounce the day’s first light,
the lovers swim ahead to have a look.


words trapped beneath layers of plaster
leave a residue of marble dust whispers

the silence
is an ancient silence
of trees with open wounds

resin bandages not yet positioned
or wrapped tightly

libations spilled
so long ago
the stains have faded

into ghosts of rappers
and saints splayed and vulnerable

the haunt walks out
the back door
free to roam

she wanders along an empty street
till a manhole entices her

she needs a permit to enter
this confined space
they need a permit to find her tucked inside

working letters
into worry stones

she would be a sea glass beachcomber
Baltic amber harvester
if she could stop biting her tongue

when talking interferes

with breathing
when FOMO trickles down
to Grandma

when sadness over seeing another dead mouse
on the running path
gets replaced with relief

it’s not a gigantic snapping turtle
with its guts seeping out
shell intact

when everyone
is recovering
from something

and pantries
have stepped out
of their closeted pasts

no more
hidden loaves
or cans stacked too high

when the power goes out
and whispers get recorded
then erased then retrieved

from a generator
1,000 miles inland
taking the scenic route

and the mermaid cover
no longer
makes sense

and the temperature plummets
as Saturday afternoon
gains momentum

the promise
of vicious river otters
swimming up north remains likely

Weather Inside a Diorama 

I search for intimacy
on a footbridge
that’s been mute
for too many pink nights

then the tunnel
stares me down

I want to ratchet up
a conversation
without echoes
with only the left ear

what’s really going on

with those brain damaged
Americans in Havana’s hotels
the answer sounds so jade
when you say it

I can’t even pronounce
the color of your sonic terror

the one you left to rot
in a backpack overnight
it gets so sticky
with morning inside

Water Poured Over Myths

he catches a catfish
the size of a 9-year-old
boy or girl

a river
while a sea halfway

across the world
dries up

runners risk death
from hyponatremia
more than dehydration

it won’t kill you
to let a pink flame emerge
in the western sky

without reaching for
your iPhone to capture it
live or still

a little thirst
doesn’t mean

you will subvert the cure
and have to start counting
all over again

house vs. home

lar in Portuguese
hogar in Spanish
chez soi in French
ibasho in Japanese

hjem in Norwegian
or Danish
domov in Czech
dom in Polish

I could go on and never reach the perfect
word to describe this yearning
for something I’m not sure
I have ever experienced

I’ve longed for it
so long

I’ve chased wind
across the water
and listened for moon sighs
on cool summer nights

have wanted to dance
on the surface of the open ocean
to celebrate the intangible
and restless beneath

have considered
one night stands
with a parade
of duende spirits

mermaids and Vanessa
the wooden green
sea serpent
who lives in Farm Pond

the dory left
in the Menemsha salt marsh

saudade casts shadows
of jagged waves
on docks and stone jetties
just beyond civil twilight

have heard Portuguese and Wôpanâak
mixed together with tears
and sweat
in my early morning dreams

it’s beyond a wetu structure
that shelters children and lost phrases
it’s the red cedars 
growing alongshore 

The Uncatena & Other Bygones

Too afraid to knock on the door
to those earliest memories of summer.

Fearful the current owner will have an attack
dog, or hungover husband, or RBF.

Too afraid of what the view from the low-ceilinged
upstairs dormitory might conjure.

Of white caps in the pond.
Of the miniature orange plastic ferry boat

and its multi-colored cars
that would run along the porch rail so perfectly.

Of the real diesel-fueled ferry’s horn
that would blast in passengers’ ears as it left Woods Hole.

Of the Nobska Light foghorn’s moan
and buoy bell chimes in the night wind

that would lull us to sleep.
Too afraid I won’t survive the rush pouring in.

I won’t make it to Norton Point
to witness the breach before it closes this time.

I snap one last selfie in front of a break
in the town beach fence.

The wind has downgraded itself
to a steady breeze.

A seagull hitches a ride on the 8:15 am ferry
I take from Vineyard Haven.

The sun has risen to evaporate dew
on the rose hips I always mistook

for beach plums.
Now I know for next time.