A Maze

Once I’ve driven those day
dreams of a dead man
(almost my lover) off the dirt
road, I lay down
on cool stone
to sleep. And dream of you,

a living man
(never my lover). I don’t control
stories that get told
while I sleep. Lyric
never narrative. A complicated card
game I couldn’t play,

I give up and walk down bent
corridors with you
looking back
at me. Is it still there—
that precious
metal band? I can’t see

your left hand.
Into the labyrinth—
a kiss. I wake
to imprint this sweet
consolation prize
on the day.

Helen’s Hour

Bumping against the half century
mark, she recalls (it’s time for that—right?)
a large wooden hour

glass she used to tip. Did it really
take 60 minutes for every last grain
of sand to slip through
that mouthless bottle

neck? She imagines
her grandmother would collect
jars of sand from the rocky beach

that doubled as their waterfront
cottage’s front yard—a promenade
shrinking into a cool rippled
bay. Not a surfer’s surface. She would be

Grandma’s little helper—eager
to pick out bits of sea
glass and chipped shells

for her own bragger’s collection
to tote back to the Midwest
at summer’s end. How did she do it—get the sand
into that perfectly narrow glass

female figure? It probably wasn’t her
doing after all. But she likes to recollect
images as she pleases to pronounce:

The imagination is not dead. It’s alive
and confidently working its way
into the 21st century. And no creeping

tidal shift will wash it away. Her hands have begun
to wrinkle like that old woman’s. And she realizes
this might not be so bad after all.

Permission to Steal—Granted or Denied

I need some midnight
oil. So you say:

This is my dream property. Hands off.

What my fingertips won’t reach
my imagination strokes. Alert in the dark,

these invisible invaders take

everything and clear
the path for you

to make more. Dream on.

Arrogant Cocoon

If she saw what touched
those streets, these steps
she rarely takes, that railing,
she wouldn’t leave her own
skin, wouldn’t believe
in the imagination
and its relatives, would
simply wrap herself up
till it rained.