Before The Move

We are in the floorboards here
I kneel down and lay my hands
On the old barnwood planks
Our first house—big step
Baby steps, first steps, dance steps

The big picture window where
I always beat the sunrise to the sofa
Pink tumbling over a sleeping mountain
A nursing baby at my breast
Another sun another son

We carved our traditions here
The turkeys and the pumpkin pie
The Christmases the Fourths of July
Birthdays, holidays—all holy days
Our rituals rooted in the seasons

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Mutated World Sequence

My husband watches Ozark on Netflix.
I walk away to my laptop, tell him,
I don’t like any of the characters
and I don’t like the plot.

He can see how that could be true,
but he watches anyway.
The show’s been nominated.

Conventional COVID-19 wisdom says
the smart thing to do is stay home and avoid people.

We wait for a cure as hours of scripted
dramas flicker before our eyes.

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Regeneration

I saw you pluck a piece of sapling from the hills
A present, I don’t know,
A sun-scorched story,
A tale
A massive ambience of the liquid time.

But the manner you beheld it
Like you could see through its bare bones,
If you lick up the juice, now and then.

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Thrum

This morning I read about sex toys
a design student was creating for old people
(defined as those over fifty),
a market he felt was overlooked.
One concept was a steel ear trumpet
to listen to a lover’s heart.

You have been gone for many years
but I still feel the warmth of your soft sternum
pressed against my cheek, still hear
your drumbeat vibrating through my bones

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Banana Chain

Banana bunches
hanging down the length

of a frosted chain
outside a snow-swept market

curl with cozy ease
into each other,

as if still
on a tree somewhere tropical,

their yellowness
dawning from their green

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Talking Heads

It’s something to look forward to,
Mom says
of the talking heads
on the evening news,
her portal to the world.

When Dad was still here,
they’d watch together, and in twenty minutes
their own heads
would drop to their chests.

Now she nods off alone
under waves of silver hair,
the ocean at dawn

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Aftermath

the settling of ashes.
the loss between
house and souls 

windows left open
unwashed plates
front door half open
a pink ribbon
on the floor 

cloud shadows
paint the yard,
gliding over
chairs and toys
like still life
before sunset

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Rage is so Respectable

Rage is so respectable. Her top hat’s
made of smoking coals. She strides
the streets and kicks small sheep.
She knits up snarls on telephone poles.

She breathes in daisies, snorts
out ash. Her house is made of corners,
boned with whale. She turns on you
so quickly that she tops the sport Whiplash.

She combs her hair with matches
so the sparks light funeral pyres. Her invitation list
is stuffed with Holocaust deniers.
Her snack’s a cat. The dump’s her park.

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To a Construction Worker in the Hills of Portugal Near the Sea

You hack at your ancient red hills
like those creatures who eat parts of their own bodies
digging for the gold of overpopulation, pollution, and upward mobility
for 60 escudos a day
to deliver the Northerner’s rich dream
and at sunset sit in the old plaza deafened by swallows
and return to the crumbling tile-roofed box of earth beyond the hill
and at dawn once again set the long white caterpillar of villas
creeping toward you to devour you.

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