First Monday in Summer

I drink hot
coffee in the rising
heat to cool
off. It works
the way no liquid could
when I was

drunk. When I would use

any day of the week
during any season
as an excuse. But nothing
can stop me
from memorizing
the long light of now.

I Remember Vodka

Is it enter or exit
through the red door—I
forget. A tumbler stands
squat on that counter. It was that easy

to reach across
decades to discard those too vivid
memories. A high pitched voice ruins
this whole non-narrative

hymn. I crumble
on a stoop behind a threshold
wide enough for both ways.


I baptize myself in rosewater
to shield this body
from those thoughts. A reminder—
we all have a scent. Alcohol
breath that burns
the back of my neck
in a crowded theater was mine
a decade ago. It’s true—we’re the last to know.

(Day 3,009)

This drive to go back to excavate
a basement after the building has been standing
graveless (shallow or deep)

for a hundred years is just the kind
of thinking that gets me
out of bed on cold winter mornings.

Without tobacco, without alcohol, this is
what’s left of my underground.

Truth in Transport

Someone’s placed a photo
of a boat on the side
of a train. There are buses
with bicycle racks
on their grilles, people walking off 

planes onto moving
sidewalks. And there’s the pigeon foot
I discover on a curb
a mile from home. It smells 

like nothing, but there’s
rot in the air, could be
a dead squirrel, could be dead
leaves. If you can smell my decay,
will you let me 

know?  I can never
tell how I get translated—never realized
you could tell 

there was alcohol on my breath
when I kissed you good-night.


Under the Influence of Alcohol and Architecture (Day 2,398: Take 2)*

She believes she can stand tall against shadow,
affect the light
into afternoon, identify the stone
figure staring at her as she turns a corner 

to enter
another establishment
old as sin. It could be
hers—wrapped into the dirty 

canopy fabric above the narrow door. 


* The title comes from the Preface to Luc Sante’s Low Life.