Wind Sock

No matter how
he bends, he doesn’t forget
to smile. I wonder
what you would think
of him—but you won’t tell

because you’re dead.
You wouldn’t dance—just nodded
your head. That lilt. The music
was what mattered most to you,
then nothing

but the bottle
beside your bed.

Then there was only one way
out of the ICU. No more
going in either direction
on a boulevard with car dealership
wind socks to draw you in.

I Am Chronic

Each poem, drunk, diary
entry. Each smoke, vitamin,
obsession. Each song
lyric, verbal tick, chapter
read. Each piece
of chocolate, mile
walked, resentment nursed.
I am each reprieve.

No Anodyne

Another symptom—repetition—
a narrative loop
you thought was only running
in your head leaks

out. The sound is a drone,
explosion, premonition, reaper
grim about the mouth.

Unnatural Causes

To identify where
it all went wrong, when
isolation became a drug
as potent as anything

ingested, when ingesting
became impossible

to pretend to be
some kind of god
with flame-retardant wings.

Into this Autumnal Equinox

This rain may mute
the full moon tonight,
may turn my thoughts to wet

brain, incurable
delusion, doubt, immobility.
I cannot blame

those clouds or any weather
pattern for this disease
of selfish, vicious obsession. It fights

back by sitting in wait
to rot my body—power
greater than myself. I won’t decay

today, will walk into spitting
wind to become present
inside a drop of cannot know.


When her grandfather paid her
a nickel for each half
hour she could sit still

and mute

neither could know how
her father’s words would evaporate
into close Jersey shore air

for free, how the other capital A
disease untreated might do the same
to a friend she can’t bear to be near—

and stillness becomes

permanent. Even if
she kept those nickels
all these years, she couldn’t purchase

a reprieve
from either for anyone.

Letter to a Young Alcoholic

When I was you, I was
still drinking
from a fountain on the edge 

of some urban park. I was
a city in foreclosure
from itself. You are a better you 

than me. I can wear my sidewalks
with pride today, but the night
once stole my stroll 

towards the dry well, sand
and twigs left to clog the gutters
leading to my heart. Would you want to be
me, would you sip from my cup?