She threw
nostalgia in—
along with your initials.

“Turn all
post-war, pre-washed, personal works
over for good, or
for as long as it takes
to forget

Another message
written in poor
handwriting, stuffed
in a glass
bottle to be tossed
into another body
of water—salt or fresh,
or in between.

In Six Days

The counting may stop,
the spinning through
a thousand seasons
in a day may
become a memory. Or,
it won’t. Who
can predict
how my feet
will move
on the island
at dawn.

Cold Water (April 14)

Maiden. She sank 101 years ago today,
or had started to sink. My father taught me
how to swim in a bay
off a rocky beach. He taught me
how to tie my shoes on porch steps
that spilled onto those rocks—though he said
I taught myself. I never sank
all the way to the bottom.
I’ve always managed to swim
ashore. So many to thank. I could not
have done it by myself.


I can almost taste
the snow—nothing
good ever comes

from that. A late March double
espresso might neutralize
the palate. Might

not. A family
reunion in August resuscitated
to honor my father. I

never went when he was
alive. How can I
go now? August is

the month of grand
gestures, spiritual releases.
August is

the month he left
us. Yes, I told him
he could let go, but

how could I know
what it would be like
to live in a world without

his heart beating
in it? August is the month
when water

falling majesty just
might return.

How Close Are You to the Shore?

Can you walk barefoot through dune
grass at high

tide and predict how many purple
mussel shells

will be uncovered
next? I wonder if this image of you

I’ve constructed
from ash bark and river glass

could come close
to dampening your bare skin.

Long Distance Brackish Exchange

Just past midnight
wishes travel
instantaneously from the south
shore to the west
bank and beyond
(a mile or so). The drop

of salt
water says to the fresh
one in the middle:

I want
to see pictures.

Too mesmerized
by his voice, how he plays
your guitar, to dig out
my camera,

comes the muddy reply.

REM Kiosk

A dream is only as true
as its recounting. Insert stalks

of wheatgrass embedded
in translucent partitions

for accent. An ocean
spilling forth on all sides

gets pulled inside
out to become a Midwestern

lake not frozen enough
to hold those images

of ice fishers under
glass. You shake

yourself awake
to make up

what you won’t remember
one hour into it.

Another Pronunciation

Saudade isn’t saudade
if it is satisfied. When she least expects it, 

other dreams come
into focus under the lights. Dust 

of desire becomes frenzied
particles she won’t try to collect. She’s reaching 

over the fence with its crumbling limestone
foundation to touch another’s— 

carefully stacked against the wrought-iron grille.
She won’t see 

the Atlantic tomorrow,
but she’ll get very close.

Asbury Park

Your name too terrifying
to say, all those wounds
on display before there were scars.
They say you

are rescuing yourself now. But
back then you were locked
out, no one in Ocean
Grove dared to hold the key.

And I say what
difference does it make—graffiti
on a crumbling wall, the crumbling
wall to come down. What difference

now that your reconstructed
boardwalk no longer holds up

my father’s pedestrian prayers
to one hundred shades
of gray ripple and surf.

Now that he’s too far
from any water’s edge
to speak. What a difference
to see you now.