Without Numbers

the ceiling fan woud have no rhythm
the room with its cracked hardwood floors
and charcoal colored molding
would have no depth
the box within the box
with a shared wall
that slides up and down
to alter each person’s reality
might stick and begin to bow
till it slips off track
and comes crashing down
we might get away with living
forever if you’re into that sort of thing


the wild animal
scratches its way through
insulation and wires
ingredients they can name
not you
and 100-year-old sighs

the woman who hears it
that’s you

the wild animal
disappears as suddenly
as it clawed or crawled inside
your exterior wall
your guess is
as bad as his

the color
of its fur / if
it had fur
or feathers
a tail
how thick

the brick skin
must be
to hold a heart
so heavy
with flashing
and unnameables


who chooses
their final
resting place
without a will
goes against covenants
meant to be
broken / baptized
twice they tried
desperately to save her
they overdid it
was it their truest
misguided expression
of love
nothing can
save her now
the Lehigh
did all it could
to point her east
due east
brackish or salt
definitely water

Winter Solstice

It’s the best
day of the year.
It won’t get any darker
than this—
rock bottom,
jumping off point,
no place to go
but up

toward the light.
A low-riding sun
interrupts the sky.
It’s not an interruption;
it’s a dialogue
to shake free
from fear
of the blues

in our private factories
whirring beneath
another midnight’s
high. You prefer
figure eights
to infinity. Nowhere
does the sun set
in the east,

“keeps risin’
in the west
I keep on wakin’
fully confused”
the song goes.
Why the tears?
Because you’re too afraid
to go home. The City

goes on
without you.
That boy’s going to be 60
before the year ends.
Then all of us
tail end
of the boomers
sixties babies

will start
following behind.
You used him
as an excuse
to ruin your life
till you hear
Rilke shout
“You must change your life.”

How did we get here,
fixed on this point
of the analemma?
No regrets
this far north,
running along
this beautifully flat
lake laden land.

So much light
to come
within your reach
from either side
of the solstice.
I prefer
to stand still
before another reversal.

In This One

You’ve married the wrong girl.
Never leave Minneapolis, me,
the not so innocent bystander.

A rundown mansion with high ceilings
and multiple turrets
on Pillsbury Avenue

your wife inherited
by mysterious means
brings you no joy.

You beckon me to join you
on the window seat,
really a chaise longue

for daydreaming,
a secret kept and discarded
decades ago.

Believe me, I get it—
how it feels to live
the wrong life.

If I had stayed put
in the city where I belonged,
we would have never met.

I wouldn’t know
who was making a cameo
in my dream last night.

How often do you curse
the moment
I first spoke to you?

I wake up to see you
are safe in your adopted home
thousands of miles from mine,

me, still a foster child
afraid of blades scraping
another frozen lake.

Telling On Us

Every acre, bend
in the tidal
estuary, schist foundation,
Douglas fir fungal network,
scorched field, baymouth bar at daybreak
has its own story.

We interrupt the telling
with another stolen narrative.

Oil stains on concrete and deadly fumes
didn’t kill the baby starfish
we captured to keep
as a pet in a bucket
in the beach house garage—
we did.

We interrupt the telling
with another stolen narrative

repeated like a broken meme
till a final dissolve recalls
the most invasive species before
it’s too late.

Ghosts of December 8

the Virgin Mary
immaculately conceived
John Lennon shot dead
in the archway embrace of the Dakota

more popular than her son
our day and night Dad
the 8th birthday
without you

numbers fade
from the page
no one to call
at dawn

that French bistro
on Madison Avenue
in Murray Hill
where we met halfway

you from Jersey
me CT
we were so tri-state
je suis un peu triste

moi aussi

Grand Central
our hello
good-bye stanza

the day’s haunts
this day haunts
the number 8