Not that Kind of Screed

Again, she quickens
her pace so those footsteps
don’t overtake her. A rhythm

so familiar. Turning
a corner doesn’t shake them.
She dashes across the intersection

sporting a strip
club posing as a cabaret
and a parking ramp—still

she can hear them. Ten
more blocks, she can’t take
another moment. It’s the kiss of road

death, but she looks over
her shoulder anyway. Nothing

but the echo
of her own feet. Not even
her shadow this time.

Didn’t Even Bite Me

It was an English sheepdog
on the island. I got tangled
in the wire—cut across
the tender part
of the ankle. Left
a scar next to the skin
I would permanently mark
later with a plastic
razor. On the same island.
And those nautical rope
bracelets with ends
fastened by fraying
and burning. I had
one of those too.

Beginning with Red

Light pollution
enhances her cravings
for the perfect
constellation, for an evening
spent outdoors
without fear. Each wave
lengthens or shrinks
to spell out
new acts of bravery
in a host of colors
beginning with red,
ending up yellow
just before it turns
green. Snow piled
on a skylight won’t last.

Underpass Echoes

This spill onto pavers
beneath the bridge beside the river
is her reminder—there are other things

worth fearing
more than an errant fish
hook, a fast woman walking

and expecting past you, even this
sting on scraped knee and toe.
Forgetting how to laugh would be one worthy.

Raw Evaporation

Those fears are no
shows. Disappointment comes
in all shades of red
strained through gray. A night free
of summer’s oppression. Without
sweat, she swears
she can differentiate
between a music
town and one impurely industry.

Don’t Say Catalyst

Another city, another black
bird soars over pedestrian

heads. I have one. The least
unease matures into full-on anxiety

about what clouds
won’t hold. I’m not afraid

to fly but do fear those
with the will

to—agents flying, flew, have flown.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Get any closer to the mouth
piece could kill you. The bitch

in me steps outside
the invisible line I draw

each morning. I wasn’t paying
attention. Never thought I could

turn anything out. But fear
and pride conspire to plot

a demise—not mine. Not a suicide
left in the garden.