This Year’s Color

Radiant orchid
throughout each season—even now
when rain can’t quite

wash away the most hardened dirty
snow. Somewhere the temperature

drops just enough at night
before a warming settles in. Somewhere
someone sings,

“California Dreamin’”
to coax things along. Someone

somewhere is still searching
for a word that rhymes
with orange.

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Toughened or Tempered

A mural on a sound
barrier wall won’t disturb

the peace. A movie
flashing on an ice rink dasher

board will not melt. But
air measuring

14 below zero Fahrenheit
with 35 below wind chill will

make your eyes sting. And who will shed
Dutch tears?

Odds Are

A city club awning becomes
the abominable snowman’s mouth
full of icicle dagger teeth. I don’t want to

wake the beast. I walk uncovered,
keep a safe distance
from the fringe. Let snow fall
on my head instead. I don’t believe in

monsters but know my beliefs
have nothing to do with it—winter
risks, or getting struck by lightning come spring.

Prosaic Dream

You are not in
her dream—merely fragments left
behind to prove

you were here. A small sketchbook,
a pair of socks, one
thick glove, a trace

of your carefully constructed
thought. She handles
the sketchbook but

finds an old-fashioned band
flyer with a letter scrawled
on the back

more appealing. Scans
the words—sees her name
near the bottom of the page. Slanted

forward. You know what
they say about that. And then

she wakes up. No idea
what the letter said
about her or who

it was addressed to. It’s 20 below,
and the cat’s licking bedroom
window blinds again.

Almost Thaw

She waves to the engineer
as an abbreviated freight train passes by—

heading southwest. She’s running
northeast now on snow

and slush. Could be quicksand
in spots, could be something

to complain about. But
she’s already said “hi”

to a XC skier and a couple
of women with dogs. Already made it this far

nearing the north end
of Lake of the Isles

without getting frostbitten
or falling down. May as well lean

in and call it
January bliss.

24/7 Hiss

All the mail
carriers lounging in the corner
café reek

of smoke. Meanwhile there’s not one piece
of even junk
mail in my box. The transference

of my father’s
photo from a filled blank book to a fresh
empty one

is complete. I know the wind
chill is brutal, but
what happened to that unofficial motto?

Neither snow nor rain
nor heat nor gloom
of night stays these couriers
from the swift
completion of their appointed rounds.

Yet now
I can hear the radiators whisper incessantly—beware
what you wish for.

Note: The unofficial motto is an inscription on the New York General Post Office located on 8th Avenue and 33rd Street.