Doesn’t Check for Rings

One stop
sign, two
spritzes of rosewater, three
sips of iced mint
tea, four
acoustic guitar tunes,  five
kisses on the lips—we
almost got away with a sixth.


I baptize myself in rosewater
to shield this body
from those thoughts. A reminder—
we all have a scent. Alcohol
breath that burns
the back of my neck
in a crowded theater was mine
a decade ago. It’s true—we’re the last to know.

Absent of Choking

You once said if I didn’t smell
like smoke I would smell
like sex. Now that the air has cleared,
I just want to smell

fresh coffee brewing
come morning, an old book fanning
open in the afternoon, traditional Tibetan
incense burning come evening,

rosewater splashed on my face
before I sleep.

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.

Slender Language

As I become a lake
in a river, I narrow
my view to lines broken 

by bridges, galvanized
steel spider
webs over my head. 

I would forget the Liffey,
Erie Canal, pomegranate
seeds tucked inside a secret 

pocket of stolen narration.
Would recall another Retreat
Drive and wish 

to be remembered
for the scent of rosewater,
not the words I couldn’t 

say slowly enough
to make you pause.