“the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not”
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, from “Frost at Midnight”

I get confused about red. Is it
a door, pair of jeans, or a flashing
light I want to guide me
toward the darkest day? Again, the longest night will stretch

into that moment
of optimism when all shrinking
is done and I can almost imagine
the view from the sun.

Burnt Green

Most—but not all—of the stain
gets removed. A return to wrinkle free
breaths, the smell of snow melt

over concrete, rosewater spilled
on a quilt, the color red buffed
without a hint of orange. It’s not

just about ashes—to strive
for purity even now is worth the energy
it takes to dispute or hang

in willing suspension.
And sometimes we just bounce.

Inside His 50th Chorus

“The guitar’s a-started
Playing by itself.”
—Jack Kerouac, from the 50th Chorus to “San Francisco Blues” (Book of Blues

Hot wind and time
to be 

alone converge
at an intersection 

I won’t remember

tomorrow morning
when light breaks open 

that hill behind me.
The spillage will be automatic, 

will startle longing
in shades of red. 

Don’t ask 

how I know. These are the split
movements beyond control.