No Past

“One must be receptive, receptive to the image at the moment it appears.”
—Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

In moments like these
I do what I do
best—steal.

I see your collage
of sea glass clad the curve
of a clam shell

and raise you a cloth bag
laden with leaves, light
fixtures, planks from bleachers, a pale

pink mannequin
arm, the final words
he whispered before

he left the café at dusk. I see straight

through our trial
to time to be served.

Popo is short
for poor poet
as much as it is
for the police.

Helen’s Hour

Bumping against the half century
mark, she recalls (it’s time for that—right?)
a large wooden hour

glass she used to tip. Did it really
take 60 minutes for every last grain
of sand to slip through
that mouthless bottle

neck? She imagines
her grandmother would collect
jars of sand from the rocky beach

that doubled as their waterfront
cottage’s front yard—a promenade
shrinking into a cool rippled
bay. Not a surfer’s surface. She would be

Grandma’s little helper—eager
to pick out bits of sea
glass and chipped shells

for her own bragger’s collection
to tote back to the Midwest
at summer’s end. How did she do it—get the sand
into that perfectly narrow glass

female figure? It probably wasn’t her
doing after all. But she likes to recollect
images as she pleases to pronounce:

The imagination is not dead. It’s alive
and confidently working its way
into the 21st century. And no creeping

tidal shift will wash it away. Her hands have begun
to wrinkle like that old woman’s. And she realizes
this might not be so bad after all.

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.