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.

Whosever Euphoric Recall

Blown away, dishabille, on the verge
of drowning in a shower, she could
not reach 

the real beliefs
you held inside your strong jaw.  The words,
the way you selected them 

from a menu she never got to hold in her hands, the way
you enunciated, an ever so slight
lisp, that tiny gap between your teeth.  You could 

mix potent vodka martinis, she could
drink twice what she should have
been able to for a woman so small.  You were 

in awe.  The reckless collisions—lasting
sometimes till dawn—would continue, on
and off, 

for seven years.  It was not bad luck.  It was not
commitment, it was not easy
to define in daylight. Then she was gone. If you noticed 

she left the city, you didn’t let on.
You moved on—responsibility, a doctorate, a job, a wife.
One evening, it all becomes poison on your tongue: dark 

beer, cycling routes, words
you never figured out how to pronounce.
So you put down the bottle, sensing
she has put down hers.  Beneath the same moon
you are afraid to gaze at, she lives 

in a Midwestern city, where putting down the bottle
has beome an art.  You shiver, realizing she might 

finally get you, might forgive your lisp. Neither of you can know
if you will meet again.  Maybe it would be better
to leave it this way.  Blown away was
beautiful in its time.

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?