Unforeseen

Nets tangled and wet cast
shadows across a step street. An urban
torch flickers. Those narratives

get recorded large and
blotched on skyway
glass back in this middle

where below there’s tonight’s snow—
laced with diamonds—and a full moon
to guide me home.

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Move Scenario

She’s going to write another
poem about how she almost

moved
to Georgia. And she’ll use
move

at least two more times
before finding relief

for a blistered left
thumb. This burn—an accident.

An embarrassment.
An encounter
with a flat

iron nothing like the wedge
of a building where her former

self began.
Then the move
back

to Connecticut, then the big one
to Minneapolis—not Athens.

One music town
or another
moves

ahead. A northern girl
in the end—so far.

Hermit Crab

Whoever can write
about home on demand
has never been challenged
by the prospect of losing
its meaning. The place where I was born

holds no promise
of belonging. Have seen it
once since I left at six
months. Where I met my husband
means nothing because

there is no husband. If home is
where you hang
yourself, I can almost call this town
on the Mississippi the place. Almost. But
what about The City? The Atlantic Ocean?

It could be where you build
your own Take No Heroes Hotel
from some abandoned structure
with former lives peaking through.

Decade of Origin

I’m no longer
a Manhattan with rye,
the suit with one sugar cube, or
the skirt

garnished with a cherry. I’m no longer
eligible to mix
it up on the East Coast. But
visits taken black

filled to the brim
still carry me home.

Saudade Exchange Rate

Let this table not wobble, my coffee
not spill. Let me not offend

an old friend, remember how
to pronounce the name of your hometown

before I get there. Let it not rain
in New York City

Friday night. Let me discover alternative
spellings for closure, stop trying

to recall how you greeted and bid me
farewell—how I loved it so much

I kept it a secret
even from myself. Let me learn

how to write a grant to pay
for all this incurable longing

neither of us could afford.

Bridge

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
dust
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—
never
no way
when
now.

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.

 

Roots System Hardiness

Minneapolis, zone 4 more so
than 5. New York City, 7. Only odd ones
get full excavation
treatment for this reassembled

world. Don’t forget tonight’s hard
working crooner, guitar
string shredder. Buy the music
for now and for another

night, for this and another
man who would put himself
back together in new time—
more so than zone.

Flat Iron

I may (dis)honor the memory
of our affair. No number
of lies will erase clouds
from a June sky. A man lies

in an empty garbage cart—the clean-up
crew waits for another festival
to end. Can a phone company’s window display
do justice to this first

skyscraper the City sent up
over itself? No one’s going to remember
I worked there too.

Epistolary

Rivers are larger than creeks are larger than
brooks are larger than runs. The man

you couldn’t get to that unnamed European airport
in time with is not the same man

you loved twenty years ago who would never sing
in front of an audience in a greenhouse. Or anywhere.

That was just a dream. Wouldn’t sing for anyone—not even you,
his precious cargo. He is not the same

man you wish would come out and play again. He would sing
for anyone—everyone. Would rather not

say a word when the music stops. He is not the same
man who wrote you a letter—one. Called you

on the phone—once. Meet me in the City. You could be
still waiting for him outside the bow of the Flat

Iron Building. But he’s not the same. Neither are you.

Saint Mark’s to Saint Ann’s

I am the impulse
to give
you that book. I am
the melancholy 

stirring within
as I study a 19th-century
façade that’s lost
its building 

on East 12th. I am the joy
of hearing a childhood
friend’s laughter
still ring the same 

in my ears pressed
against sea shells
we picked up
on our way to discovering 

that one perfectly rubbed
piece of sea glass. I am
the desire to walk

up and down city 

sidewalks at home
and the resignation
that these are visitor 

steps. Here I am
all shadow over stones
ghosted away
and ready to reappear.