Discard Pile Thief

“We quote each other only when we’re wrong.”
—Jay Farrar (Uncle Tupelo), from “High Water” (Anodyne)

A half dozen
roses tossed
onto a snow bank. A garment
bag with wheels
going in circles
on a carousel

of time. Three
sisters, one
mother, a wife, two
children under
four. One father—
recently dead. A box of notes

for a novel
scrapped without
a plot. A birthday
gift for a modern
novelist—long dead. A bowl
of yellow split

pea soup without
a spoon. Six
roses in the wrong

kind of water.
The dialogue
that preceded them.

All the quotation
marks she saved
just in case.

O, Brother, Where Art Thou?

No one walks
this way

forever. No one waits
for the call

without some skin
crawling in

the dark. No one wishes
this on you—save

perhaps you. Save
yourself from

yourself. I would walk
that far to meet you

in the middle
where odysseys are

just stories we read
before switching off the light.

Two Years Smoke Free (Or, David Bowie’s Birthday)

Wild winter wishes
rumble through weeds. A plain
for practicing

freedom cartwheels. Late
afternoon fog, or
are they low-lying

clouds dancing just above
freezing? No more

halo, I make my way home
without rings.

Vintage Remake

Dumpster divers go
deep into the dense
castaway fray

seeking souls
sold, gifted, re-gifted,
sold again. Is their retrieval

performance art? I set
the stage with a table,
chairs, worn-out dresses,
a suede jacket bought
used, old bookcases,
more than one pair
of black boots. Am I the set

designer or merely
an enabler?

Questions to ask next time
the lid slams too hard.

Temptation Stage

This is my novelty
act she declares
to the empty chairs
rimming a painted

blue room. Watch me
flash my willpower

through still air. A cigarette,
ashtray, bottle
of vodka, shot
glass, and the number 8

all lined up
on a table
she will not touch.
Now for Act II.