June 12: 22 Years Later

It comes around once
a year like any other
with a morning,

noon, afternoon, civil
twilight reminder. The Cuyahoga

River at dusk. A boat docked
in the Flats. An outdoor stage. The opening
act. Guitars. Dance in black

leggings and a royal blue
floral button down baby
doll dress with pockets.

Is it mine? The first
kiss, beer on tap, another kiss,
more beer on tap. Stouffer Inn, magic elevator

carpet. Room service pizza.
Clothes off. Jokes on
all night. Nothing dies

within your reach
again. A child who would be
21 by now is not mine
or yours—is the night’s own.

June 12th

Yesterday was another
one. Twenty-one
years—but why keep

a tally? Yesterday
I heard his signature
song come tumbling out

of that Irish pub
on the mall. Part of that romance
on public transportation

series. The only kind I could know
other than this pedestrian love.
Really that’s all there is

for me not quite
half a lifetime later—so many
of the original players long gone.

Into the Waiting

Blue, red, and green
lights flash behind
a translucent airport wall. I won’t touch

but will imagine
how it might feel
to be so powerful—creating waves

and particles
in all shapes
and sizes. I can almost see through

this flat space. Almost
hear your safe voice again.

Rumble Strip

For non-drivers a dead man’s
curve exposes an inner belt
deep within. Just as suddenly,
just as lethal, just as exhilarating

for the survivor. But I
don’t know if I should accelerate
around this grief.

Cleveland Graffiti

Burned out, abandoned with warnings that exhale
on the stern facade. One letter per pane, tagger’s red
paint spells it out for me:

E N T E R           Never        mind

the barbed wire fence, I
wasn’t planning to make that leap. The clock
on that shuttered Romanian community center across

the street reminds me
it’s 5:45 pm
same as last fall and the visit before that. Still there will be
more stairs to climb.

The Other Inn

Mowrey’s Tavern, Cleveland House,
Dunham House, Forest City House, Hotel Cleveland,
Sheraton Cleveland, Stouffer’s Inn
on the Square,

Stouffer Tower City Plaza Hotel, Renaissance
Cleveland Hotel at Tower City
Center. Too many names spill
over her memory of Public Square, the Terminal

Tower when it was still terminal,
but nothing gives. She forgot
to take notes during the seduction.

Here it is—the reason
she built the Take No Heroes Hotel.

Fact or Fiction

The details have begun
to fade—was it June
or July? New York or
Cleveland? Who were you 

opening for? Was a body
of water involved? I could sprinkle
these memory ashes
downstream into the river 

deceit. The truth: 

I haven’t forgotten even one
detail. Down to the pocket
in my dress, later chewed and torn
by an innocent Airedale. 

The truth? Do memories drown
when they’ve served their purpose?
Is two decades long enough?
What if they float?

Ohio Cruising Altitude

Is this the right number
of times to have lost
myself to this sound—yours? To fly

solo over traffic
air currents low enough
to see each housing

development curl
into its cul de sac
mortal coil, to trace

each bend in the rivers between
Cincinnati and Cleveland—Little
Miami, Mohican, Cuyahoga,

Chagrin. To be high

enough to know it is possible
to survive this state
without losing my sense

of direction for the gathering
of waters. The tally stretches across
the greatest mud. Take me home.