headlights

black patches curving slick
the moon
extraordinary in its bloom
lights last flecks of
webbed snow

two by two geese
flee into darkness
tracks melting under toe

I’ll meet you here, tomorrow
Jack says

as Seven Sister skate the sky
moon raining crystals.

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September 1997

I asked sleep for a few favors.
So a lightbulb became
the sun’s sojourn;
a notebook, the expectant grass;
a crayon, the watering pot;
a scrawl, the gathering dusk;
a train horn, the private night.

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A Thousand Dolphins

Because (in part) a disgraced president invented the EPA
rockfish and croakers have returned to the Chesapeake Bay,
and new life frolics at the mouth of Baltimore’s river.
Beneath the silent bows of sailboats on the Patapsco
rarely seen dolphins ride waves like metallic rainbows,
the silvery curves of their bodies stitching clear skies
to the blueness of gently roiling waters.
Who could imagine such a fantastical outcome?

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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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How Deceptive The Moon

Night air carries superstition, poison’s veil,
cry of hunting owl, unbound mastiff.
Deceit manages the moon.
Dire blaze of comets fall
whips at cries of disembodied voices,
chaos of sordid death by border lies.
My reflection is running water,
an impulse through exile’s grasping past
profound as sin and consecration.
Floating in inertia, admiring
ennui through its idling passage,
I cup my hands to my mouth, rising
in terror, singing for redemption.

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Hockey Smell Poem

Clubs you like a rank bludgeon,
it does. It’s in the hallways, waiting
at the elevator doors. Smell
like an elbow bent six years
and peeled open. Shelled
spongy scruff, a man-shed oyster
rot. Yet
that stink, like the sea’s,
is rich with promise. It’s not all
charnel. On every tide an elegance
of power in skaters
fast as gulls and as fierce.

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At my parents’ house on the one-month anniversary of my sister’s death, which is also the three-year anniversary of September 11th

it snows. Too early for snow but seasons change.
On the warm ground snow falls all day,
fat white splashes not quite like ashes, but
with a purpose, a quiet, eerie mismatch of
What for, why, how can this be.
There’s a hum. I can’t hear right.
This silence is deafening.
I hate snow.

A chainsaw sits near the door of my childhood home.
The door’s knob wore down and fell off.
The door forgot its name, is listening for it in the wind.
A pair of rubber work boots stand nearby.
They rub together, rattled by a cold breeze, a
synthetic scratch, scratch, daring me to enter.

Read more "At my parents’ house on the one-month anniversary of my sister’s death, which is also the three-year anniversary of September 11th"

The Dogwood in Early June

I’ve waited seven days for this dogwood 
to unfurl its white cups, to drink the light
it gathers. Other flowers have passed
their season, our path matted
with pink rhodie remnants,
but the dogwood shows off 
in open space between cedar
and fir. 

Sun fills each cup as I witness
from shaded days steeped in protests
heated to burning, to melting, 
to truth yelling and tears. 

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To Settle the Night

Sky streaks lavender and orange to lowering blue.
Night chill rises, flicking at pants legs, leaf piles,
dampens sidewalk to footstep skate.
Beyond the greasy click of a security gate,
last birds circle to settle on a sleeping roost,
scavengers slink the hedge lines,
eroded wastes of tree root, fence rot.
Phone-nervous, the late-working husband,
lover late with wine and Chinese
hustles towards an unsettled greeting.

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