No, It’s Mine: The 13th Stanza

Syllables smash against
the whitewashed concrete floor below.

Now all I can hear is the sound
of someone else’s ocean

in a conch shell I find buried
beneath a cedar shingle shack,

destroyed by fire. It is no accident.
The day my father dies,

I do not recognize my own name.

Letters taste foreign
as rusted hinges

and shallow pools
of savory brine.

One Hundred Days, or Memento Mori VIII

Why count the piled-up
hours of grief? As I get closer

to our number 8—
another day

in the last month
of a depleted year—

I realize even tipped
on its side,

its resemblance
to infinity

is a mirage. Even 8
is not immortal.

Sandy Hook Light

for my father

We step inside the octagon
pillar. And we ascend.
Each turn of the spiral
stair breaks another one of your words
from its memory foothold—

loom ing
bar ri er
in can des cent
sand bar
un der tow.

Syllables smash
against the white-washed
concrete floor base below
and dissolve without leaving
any echo
residue. 1764, the year
it was built, splits
open—decades spill
onto the treads we’ve just climbed.
By the time we reach
the lanthorn, the Fresnel lens
freshly cleaned and functioning
into the 21st century, the sky
has cleared for us
to see in all directions—Atlantic Ocean,
Jersey Coast, Verrazano Narrows
Bridge, the Empire State
Building 20 miles north.
In the heat trapped inside and panorama opening wide, whole sentences fly
off our tongues, circumnavigating
enunciation. Did they jump,
or were they pushed? I can retrieve them
later, if you wish. For now,
it’s just you and me, Dad,
on the beam
that can be seen 19 miles
at sea on a clear night.
For now, we are the fixed white light.

Permanent Pause

Birthdays are present
tense even when the honoree is past

tense. In a year’s time,
I will surpass him in living

years. It’s a lie
that we can’t catch up

to, surpass, one another. I make
no predictions. Stand still could be

a quality of light
or shade of blue. I can see

only glare—no faces reflected
in the atrium wall, could be

a window if
you’re into that kind of thing.

What Was That You Said about Capricorns?

No longer his day, it will
come around again—
through slowly stretching

hours of light into shrinking
nights till contraction and expansion
trade places, then trade

again. Just after that final click
to go in reverse, his day
will return. And I hope to be

around to touch it—those untouchable
vibrations and holds.