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.


For MJN crossing beneath,
for NYC connecting across,
for The Brooklyn Bridge rescue working destiny

Advance your vantage
point, collapse
your facade of steel,
your gutted concrete floor.

Collide your bridge maker
with mine, collage your hand over mouth
with my eyes shut,
vocal chords in strangulation—

a scream
a void

to coalesce to convalesce
on one promenade
of material unidentifiable yet.
Coordinate the crossing—

bare feet
ash caked faces

no veil could protect,
suits meaningless, ties undone
till they become arms swaying.
A human chain

of events. A human
behavior changing—
no way

They designed bridges
to be passageways.
Make them good
to get no further

than this. It is still where it has been,
the destination stands
between these pedestrian elevating towers
still here.

Ursa Minor

(originally posted July 30, 2013)

I could use a child’s wooden foot
stool to reach the last

days of July. Painted red
or a mustard almost

too rich to see
in summer. So much has been written

about April’s
cruelty, but it is the majestic

peak of August
I cannot bear. Such a short distance

to pitch and tuck
into a somersault

down an observatory crowned
hill toward fall. Before

the month ends,
my father will die

all over again, and life will continue
without him. No ladder will stretch

high enough into the sky
to reach all those stars we reckoned our spirits with.

August 27, 2014

A fox follows you
till fear makes you
sprint to lameness. A swim
in the ocean

in your dress awakens
your hidden desire
to be out

of control again. Your hair
may smell of seaweed
and salt mixed
with grief

for your father—some called
Running Fox—now dead
two years. But the air

you breathe
in this moment
brushes the Atlantic Ocean
across all surfaces—your face.

Cannot Speak Montana

What I saw is a secret.
In whispers, I must only hint at
a northern Rimrock ridge,
a chain of snow-capped mountains called Beartooth,
unnaturally drawn carvings into a landscape from plane view
I could not identify,
irrigation ditches said the gentle guide at road level,
a canal where I would go
the last morning to pray,
the only way I know how.

Monday morning on my feet snaking a bicycle wheel-wide path
without falling, out of practice, forgetting the verses,
all the pauses and kneeling that must be choreographed just so

till I see what I must only whisper,
till I can take my trail mass to his bedside,
tell him louder than Roman chants
that I ran along his altar,
was trailing after him one more time,
while he rested half a lifetime of roads
into the quietest missal you can read
only if you close your eyes to hear,
your ears to see.

It is a secret
I must whisper. Two nights ago
with your hand tight around mine,
your breath tight around time,
yelling with lips through which nothing comes,
defying you to give me more road,
more trail you have in you than a mere cartographer,
to unfold before me,
whether or not I will be able to fold it up flat again.

I must only whisper
how the ridge and the ditches and the sky captivate,
can only whisper
how you, my father, must not die tonight,
can only whisper what you see, have seen,
I saw, am seeing—
this secret Big Sky.

Another August

Again the month
of grandeur
in grief appears
on the calendar.
A grid of days

leading to the day
the floor, the foundation
to my house
of stability gave
way. A crumbling

to open
all invisible doors

to go forward
without him.


Some days all I can feel is
my father’s handshake. Called a vise

grip by more than one old
beau. An addiction to finger exercises

he did while running
every morning. They kept my own

hands occupied
in the early weeks after quitting

those smokes
he hated viciously. And I still practice

them now that I have returned
to the road and to fight

back tears. No matter how many sets
I do, memories are all that’s left. And the way

they left his mind
too soon.

After the First Year

Let the counting
continue invisible. A voice
so beautiful she’s afraid
to listen for it. If it’s the best
she’ll ever hear,
what then? What key
do ghosts sing in?

12 Months

Just after midnight. Day
365. Just as time
closes the circle
tight, another one
in a parallel life
opens just a crack
to let in the light
of all the sunrises
my father did witness,
all the waves
he did hear crash
against all the shores
he claimed
with an intensity
in his eyes.

Just as I wonder
how I will see it rise
through a late August
storm, I remember
I could let go
of the immediate
future to breathe
more freely into this
slowed-down now.
I could address
my father directly,
and no one would care
if I believed
in spirits. And so
I do know

you are out there
whether I can see you
or not. This day
will break
as it will
no matter what.


Come full circle
is not complete
without the last five

days. Can I keep
the pace of grief
steady? Sequential

dreaming is overrated. Change
the setting, change
the internal

dialogue and all the reed
instruments collected
in one long

narrow room. Corridor
songs round their notes
best without cracking them.