Collateral Damage

Mother died. Father fled. Chaos ensued
as though I were swarmed by hornets

unloosed from a nest hidden high above.
His second marriage magnified the buzz

and stings, my hands tied behind my back.
After seventy years, there’s still a gallery full

of fierce memories. The debris of the natural
disaster that divided self-before from self-after.

I fold and refold the blanket of experience,
unable to make the whole lie flat again.

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3 Degrees

Even the universe was young once
but though it was small
its events were immense
and shaped the course of all that followed
the matter inside us
the starlight around us

No memories remain of that formative time
but its afterglow is everywhere
faint but unmistakable —
three degrees in the background
pervading our world
whether we see it or not

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Sky Communion

Last night the sky was a child
coughing into a blanket, drawing
itself from a pale aurora jabbed
with another storm on the sun,
as if it’s got a circle of old friends
jumping tombstones. There might
have been a tribe of younger stars
dropping empty green rose-stems
through our curtains. Except last
night the child slipped its ghost
and stretched the sunrise against
the river trees.

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Garden

The dad plants a garden
in tiny yard in front
of six family
digs up dead rose and forsythia.

In school the kid
gets a box of seeds
to sell for PTA.
The kid don’t know anyone with land
for growing all stuck in apartments.

The dad buys four packs,
marigolds, portulaca,
zinnia, balsam.
The dad finds old bricks
makes a ring in center of garden
to fill with flowers
and all along front border,
tomatoes, cukes, peppers
all fit into little yard.

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What the Snow Covers

is the witnessing grass
pressed down by boot
in joy or fear and
cut by dangerous blades
and neighbor’s gazes.

What the snow uncovers
is the secret parade,
the pawed passage
of shivering midnight
moonlight scavengers.

What the snow covers
is its own white with
further white, soft light
made heavy after its
nomadic fall, the flakes
ache to settle, nestle, wait.

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Homework

In science class we learned
the hottest point of steam
is at the tip of the teapot spout—
where streams of swelling heat
rupture the cooler air.

After school, I do my homework
upstairs in my room.
My kid sister murmurs
somewhere,
playing family on her own.

When the clock clicks four
the stacks of the factory moan,
and the sky
gets smudged with smoke.

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