He Loved a Parade

A patriotism
I did not inherit. Along Asbury
Park’s Main Street
heading toward the shore—the last one

we watched together. Tears
came to his eyes when bagpipers marched
past in their wool kilts. Their drone
pipes in near perfect harmony. Fireworks

have frightened me since dodging
M-80s in the Paris metro
on Bastille Day,
then in the New York subway

every 4th of July
for years. I could never keep step

with a group. Always got the incurable urge
to cross the street

in the midst of it all
against the flow. But now
that he’ll watch no more
parades, a single bagpipe

opening wide those first notes
to “Amazing Grace”
is a freeze
tag tap I cannot ignore.

Sagittarius

A lull toward late
fall, messages arrive
scrambled. Those born
on the light shrinking side

of winter solstice
carry an extra
burden. We must generate
an expanding light

from within. And it just might
illuminate the shoreline
for those of us now walking
the boards in the afterlife.

To the Lighthouse and the Jersey Shore

Less than a month to prepare
for a stretch
of 960 moments
that have lost
their luminescence.

I pick up
a flashlight and laugh
at the minor beam
I try to control. Dream

of a lighthouse
freed of its hurricane
ravaged land guiding me
to a place where he’ll be

walking on reconstructed boards
to the rhythm of the tide,
beckoning me
to catch up to him.

Loopers

Hairless brown ones
drop from urban tree branches
to clutter the sidewalk
with warning signs. Nowhere
near the Jersey Shore,
memories fall harder
and evaporate to become
invisible sagas
no one wants
to repeat. I would give
anything to see that condensation
on bark again.

Thinking About Red Birds Again

The flight across pre-spring
parkland on a hot March
morning, or the sinking

to the bottom
of the Atlantic. Pinging
back and forth between

ocean and river, bicycle
wheel and open
window won’t revive

verbs that prefer
to remain dead.

Garbled

When her grandfather paid her
a nickel for each half
hour she could sit still

and mute

neither could know how
her father’s words would evaporate
into close Jersey shore air

for free, how the other capital A
disease untreated might do the same
to a friend she can’t bear to be near—

and stillness becomes

permanent. Even if
she kept those nickels
all these years, she couldn’t purchase

a reprieve
from either for anyone.