This Inventory Is a Lie

I borrowed a list of resentments
from a stranger

on a train. I’m not even pissed
at you for dying. Maybe later.

I was once—angry—when
you accused me
of starving

myself. But even that rocking
is an empty dinghy

beneath the old drawbridge—
no sail, no wind.

The Eve

She wears
no mask to honor
those dead—in her own
voice. A preoccupation
with cemeteries may end
tomorrow. Or her identity
will be revealed
by other naked means.

Howdhecatchem

You say let’s celebrate
Columbo—not
Columbus—Day. I’ll dirty
my trench coat
for you. I could be a detective
the way I’ve perfected the stalk
without disturbing

anyone, especially the dead. I yell
at those people
who climb on the red metal
sculpture in a public garden.
It’s not a slide. I’m no grave
digger. Archaeologist—never. Who
gets to say what’s sacred or how

to achieve closure? It’s time to give
those bones a rest.

Will to Resume

Time to read
a chapter in a novel, watch
a movie start
to finish (without interruption), listen
to anything but
songs from Nirvana’s Nevermind
on the radio. Time to tuck
the tributes, altered memories, grief between
pages of a journal
you’ve been rereading
(without interruption) for two months. Bible
studies will be held
on Sunday evenings in your favorite coffee house.
(He’ll still be dead.)
Those girls will continue to grow.
Sometimes leaves will turn and fall
at the same time.

Lesson Plan

If I study the word
“long” from every measured angle
I still won’t know what
you meant or felt by those right-slanting
letters. And with you

dead, those secrets will remain secure
inside a locker
I’m not meant to discover. If I do,
I‘ll pretend not to remember
the combination just so you can

teach me about numbers again—

however it is you ghosts
do that sort of thing.

The Dead Can’t Hurt

No longer in the run around, she traipses
across an invisible line
between mentor

and visitor, room
and mask, smile
and lie, tears
and truth, lover

and ghost. A new
preoccupation might not be so kind.

Civil Delusion

Humor me—let’s pretend
you’re not dead. I’m young
enough to think I can still

drink. To believe you
think about me 30 minutes
before dawn, 30 minutes

after dusk. Not all promises
will be broken. You’ll make me laugh
more than cry. And I’ll see

that ridiculous smile,
those chuckling eyes,
when I can’t stop

writing these poems
about a dead man.