Sand

The beach-shadows captured
in the photo look dead on vacation.
In the 20 years since, these
ghosts have seen us, too—
two children, digging themselves out
so as not to be buried alive.

Start to Summer

Lost light fixture,
hanging smoke alarms ringing—
I can’t wake you.

The last night:
sharing my twin bed,
your furnace/your face.
When you love me, you rest your head on mine
and leave it there,
forgetting that it’s heavy.
It hurts to feel you, but you call me
girl
 over and over
and it makes us swell together,
melting lashes, singeing sheets.
You never know the last time is the last time.

I bought wine-colored curtains to keep
the sun out, the dark in—
the bed, it was getting so hot.
I don’t know what to do with all this love.

The South in Summer

The south in summer—
feet bare trail hopping
in a cotton-candy-colored skirt, flowing neatly below the knees.
The sun is his periphery and it dips into the water,
shine stretching the length, dyeing the top of his nose:
the kind of scene that makes you regret Godlessness.

I touch it for a moment—
touch the faith, feeling it—
and step onto the tracks.
He’d save you. He’ll save you.
How fast does it go?
About 75 miles per hour, a good clip.
It’s a lovely lemon sunset.
Yes, I’ve been watching from the window.

In the night, the pond water
mixes with his salt-sticky sweat, and never seems to dry—
the humid air lingers, making batter of our limbs.

The bulb light shines down, his face and torso mine,
but his arms are only smoke stacks in the dark.
What I can see, I claim; what I claim, I love—
I try to take everything back.
I climb a ladder in the dark
and cover the buzzing fixture with my fingers,
leaving stripes of black on his body.
Later: the sheets are wrinkled and I fall into the creases.

Whistle Song

You like dive bars, and so do I.
Walking away, my heels lick the road.
No one knows this city like we know this city.

From behind, you bent—
kissed the hook of my back.
Like a tree, carving your name on me.
All around me is stale water.

I look at my hands, think:
these will decay some day.
These will decay and
the things touched—
Your lids close when I look back and
I adhere my hands to the wall and wait.

Down in the cellar,
she smoked hidden cigarettes—
the atmosphere of what she wants.
I stand with the face of a dead woman, my palms up on the counter.
Sometimes you find out things on trains, I think.
Sometimes it’s very inconvenient.

Missed Connections: Treasure Trove

I finally sat down and connected the lines I was gathering for a found poem based on Craigslist’s m4w Missed Connections section. I mostly wanted to write it for the first line—the first line is just awesome (and, absurdly, I wish it had been posted for me). Also, the OkCupid email on the bottom of this post has nothing to do with this, but I just found it hilarious when it arrived in my inbox the morning of my birthday and feel the need to share my apparent spinsterhood with the world. The internet is so weird. Continue reading

Prospect

In the night, the building is still—the pipes dry, the floorboards cold.
Everything is tainted a strange gray, only sleep is in color.
The passing train vibrates her stomach like an eager violin and she knows:
Every night we surrender ourselves—
she will die tonight and wake up tomorrow reborn.
The ghosts of the old Jewish hospital bow their heads.

The ceiling soundlessly parts with the walls, evaporates—
after-blizzard clouds float lazy and full overhead.
Above her, the stars are suspended lanterns,
while in bed, she’s a tree-stuck kite.

The shadows step forward, offering colored balloons
to lift her into the disinterested sky—
she tries to fuse them, loses all but one, shrinks as they distantly pop.
She holds the lingering blue balloon firmly,
keeps it from swimming away.
She remains earth-yoked but looks constantly
toward the balloon as it sways against the sky;
connected, they both dance.

In Common

In Common

My father dove through the sky 19 times—
once while I watched.
No more than four, I only remember his last ten feet
and then ground, the parachute like a dress around him.

Now, on a drive up to Sacandaga Lake:
a diver swimming down toward the trees,
lazily falling like a belated gift.
The colors of his fall were an amusement park,
his chute a ferris wheel and his body a lollipop.

He said, He’s an amateur;
the trained like to dance in the sky,
playing all the way down—flips, tricks. 
(At 10: With an umbrella, he jumped off the roof,
trying to fly. Broke leg, mother’s nerves.)

I always took the first jump, with anything;
none of my kids are that way.
It’s true—I will never fall from a plane.
A roller coaster drops my stomach,
no recovery from Down to Up.

It’s too fast for that, your insides unaware.
You drop your hands from the side of the plane
and you feel like you’re floating—
you’re actually just going down, too quickly.
You don’t even know that you’re falling.
A familiar feeling.

New Year

On the night of the party,
looking out from the 8th floor,
someone asked,
Do you feel you’ve made it?
Do you look at all this and know
you’ve made it?

The inside of me said, No,
said, Where?
(The inside, like bluish tar,
talks fastest, longest.)

After, when I hadn’t left the apartment in a week,
I rested elbows on the windowsill,
breathed onto the glass a white fog.
Around me: the silence that comes only
from completely dark apartments.
Outside sounded like everything.

I opened all the windows wide,
removed screens, quickly but one at a time,
and didn’t fall.

Yes, I’ve made it, maybe.
To the beginning of

In Preparation

When we walk at night with the ghosts of New York,
we float above grates and glass;
we have hit our heads on concrete before—
we have jumped from buildings, sank.

We spent a year wrapped in blankets,
emerged drunk, slightly shrunken;
we had films for expression, books for quotations,
but no banners for our own procession.

Map-inches away, we settle into our lives—
separate, less comic, too lost, less known.
The tea smells better in Omaha—
the mundane, better in New York.

Thin like a flower’s shadow,
aproned and sipping stolen cups of red,
you cook and create
create mold and shape
the glimmer in your hands.
And I watch, overcome.

May Flowers

I took the W on my way downtown to Battery Park and a homeless man was cleaning himself methodically in the seats diagonal to mine. Take off shoe, take off sock, wipe, clean. Somewhere around City Hall, he took out an air freshener and sprayed the air above, around, and underneath him, and I thought, “How lovely, how considerate.” The smell of fake-summer (gardenia, freesia, aerosol) made its way to my seat and I wished that I could know his life. That I could know and change his life.