She Becomes

a solitary woman
in an Edward Hopper painting. A silhouette

on an empty
bed, she gazes out an open

window in a New York City
five-story, walk-up. Hair pulled

into a dancer’s bun, dressed
in a pale peach nightgown. Bare

thighs—this is not
loneliness. She becomes

in awe
of herself

and the world
in early morning.

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.

Day 212 (When I Am Home)

I am New England dirt,
the taste of beets out back.
I am not brownstone—
not urban by birth. I am

still in quarry depth,
the scent of cars rusting beneath.
I am not ocher—not red
iron ore impure. I am sipping

fresh water from a claw-foot tub
turned spring, overflowing
to Bone Lake at dusk
and warm. But I am not

the moon to be collected.
I am not forty jokes memorized—
not working a room,
timing accent and plot. I am

ready to mark this laughter
the colors of a flower bed
against brick. I am the line
drawn purple—blues and reds

of a road map
preparing to fold everything
I am
(except magnetic north) in place.

The Thrummed

I’m the one he made first. Still leaning
against an unpainted wall and unstrung
in his mind. Far

from perfect, my curves are a first try. But
he finished me
well. And I’m a hit

at campfires deep
in eastern New York forests.

Ashes East

She can catch the train
at the next station down

the line. Still sit forward
and watch future

vistas become now.
A national cemetery with endless

rows of evenly spaced
headstones. The mother’s there

and the father she never knew. But
not the son.

They Were Identical

She pitches pennies
on the floor in the back
of a New York taxi cab
with twins

she used to know. Thirty-five
years. Nap dreams mean

nothing unless she chooses
to shape them
into visions to augment
the afternoon light.

She’s not going to
google those boys—

learned her lesson.
She doesn’t want to kill
off any more of her past
sooner than it needs to expire.

Saudade Scraps

The crumbs
she brushes off

the table will become
the place

she dreams
of reaching by train

before civil dawn. And
the rhythm

she feels
will overpower anything

any one
of us might hear.

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.

Leaving New York

A walk on the just opened stretch
of High Line is hardly

the wild side. If this is my lizard
brain jotting down

these notes, I may as well slam
back another mug

of black coffee, check the time
on my cell every ten

minutes, keep walking
into fragmented images,

unconscious hues
of primitive thought. I’ll stick out

a forked tongue to hail
a cab for the memory

of other rides and rest
stops to be secured.

Dial an Arbor

One hundred Bronx trees can speak
along the Grand Concourse. She wants to believe
they’ll speak

without the drink, will be interactive, won’t tumble
into monologues
with the arrogance to think

they are so different. She’s going to continue
to listen for them through light
rain and substantial winds. The stories they will tell.