Would Have Been

Your 36th
sober birthday if
you had lived. I remember

when you told me
you put down
the bottle. I didn’t understand—

my first tipsy
only weeks before. But
that prayer

I now choke on
between “grant me”
and “the serenity”

since you died. That prayer
I thought you wrote
with your second wife. That prayer

I knew had magic
in it—hanging over
the kitchen sink

ready to help
whoever might read it
come clean. That prayer

I pin
to my heart each night
before I sleep. That prayer

enshrines every gift
you, my father,
ever gave away.

Beneath Her

No chance for nighttime
dreaming—a neighbor’s dance
beat disruptions wreck

any hope
of true REM. Her tolerance

for talking to drunks
has diminished
over a decade in reprieve

till it’s shrunk
to the size of a single shot
of espresso

she’s going to sip
in the morning start-over.

They Call It Prohibition

I dream of sipping espresso
from a tiny ceramic cup
in a hotel bar high
above the streets
and skyway. And I tower
over a city that dreams
bigger than it looks. They call it
Prohibition—it’s not illegal
for an alcoholic
to recover the view.

Day 3,000

Three thousand days, three thousand nights, hands off
bottles, a mouth that forms
new words like foreign objects
on the tongue. This counting is not done

on fingers or in the head. It springs forth
mid-tally from a soul
she can count on most days.

When I Come To

after the drug
of eating dirt has splayed me
unconscious, I will resume
my search to unearth
my own history. And rub
stiffness from my hands—
the grip’s the worst. The alcoholic
tradition is not the only one
to be found. Will dig more.


I am that body. Sedated
to prevent convulsion
into permanent stillness. I am

all bodies in motion
and at unrest. I am
this living


where all fury and blame
are rubbed out. Fragile shell—
I am one too.