Poetry

Running Away

I found a boat tied up at the water’s edge, rocking, rope frayed, oars banging in their locks. At home, you never knew what might happen. A surprise a minute, they say. In the distance dark clouds, no trace of the other shore. It might have been wise to have brought a compass and life…

Nocturnal

We’d only just begun to scratch the floors  with our own furniture, unfold the box flaps  and hang the walls to look like our walls  in the old apartment: familiar faces, fruits.  Then we heard it, the long scrapes in deep   grooves overhead. It came from the devil’s  peak, after we’d turned the bedroom into the…

Etymology of Definition

DEFINE, meaning “the degree of distinctness in outline of an object, image, or sound,”           sound being some motion invisible to the eye, progenitor to an empire of echoes,           although empire implies dominion, a definition demanded from its subjects,           all of whom are subject to their own purpose, “one that may be acted upon,”           which is…

Em Dash Ode

I’m attracted to the em dash—that bridge across the void— a balance beam—a baton passed across thoughts—the sexiest break—the turntable’s tonearm before the groove kicks in— the “Electric Slide” of punctuation—(it’s electric!)—not an en dash  or a hyphen—an expanded truth—playing the long game—the schemes  between chess moves—all the small mercies—the giant oak on Corning Street …

Waiting

Not the rose carpet, nor the steady breath of the ceiling fan, but the patch of sunlight squeezing through. You’ve been here before. You’re early. Unlike last time—stuck in traffic. The other passengers in the Keke Napep did what people stuck in traffic do: smile at strangers, tell the driver to change the radio station,…

The Bone Player, William Sidney Mount (American, 1807–1868) Oil on canvas, 1856

His smile stretches wide to hide           a familiar, hollowed-out pain, minstrelled, ready to play           on command. How differently he’s portrayed           from others in his day— butternut brown, a burnished glow           lights his torso. Gold vest and grey frock coat,           pre-Civil War, dapper. In this version of the story:           he’s not as a slave working in…

Driving Away

Before she brought me forth, I wish she’d known how much more she’d need to take away, the mom I knew marooned in Alabama. Moves to MS, FL, and TN, and she can’t return without a flat tire, financial fiasco, old lovers making pilgrimage who could undo the curse but instead scrape off the lonely…

The Viewing

We found the cardinal near the bird feeder: stiff, eyes fixed, wearing the brightest red coat of any bird I’ve seen this summer. With a shovel I lift him from the dirt, show him to my daughter who gazes upon the orange bill, the rigored body, leans in close enough to touch.  Was it raptured?…

Reruns

I search online for causes and find that most are tied to loss. A child, a parent, a friend, regret. For me, the I is lost. The most awful things happen hours after a session, not another for a week or two. The Therapy Curse, I call it, covering the years I’ve lost. Sometimes I…