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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The Beard On My Face

She used to touch the beard on my face,
Whether nascent or full,
And stroke it with two fingers.
She would indulge in the bristles
As they bit tenderly into her chin
When we kissed and kissed
The way we used to
Kiss and kiss.
She loved when it was mostly brown and a little blonde and ginger
And loved it more when the white began to overtake the brown and blonde
And touch of ginger.
If I shaved because it’s not our world but theirs
And I must get along sometimes
She would be sad but understanding of that.

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the still water that runs deep

somewhere on the coastline of my memory, two girls and a slick canoe
glide across a blue puddle, their opposite oars dipping in tandem.

one girl stands and stumbles like a wave overcome,
while the other sits and stares at their watery window.

beneath the girls, liquid glass and undersea sidewalk.
beyond them, a fish’s bones settled at the brink

of a sandbar’s black out. the girls are only canoeing because
the wave-like one is scared of fish, and feels their lips against her feet

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i forget i fell asleep with you and can’t think of anything sweeter

you fall asleep with coffee breath, & the rain starts, hitting the sidewalk
as the dog whistles. the dog is whistling next to you & everything is
silent still. i imagine the noise of nothing sliding through the house. at
our world’s end, olive bread. so we ripped it off the loaf. our last meal
in the big house that no longer feels like ours. scattered we are,
segmented. yeasty fingers finding mouths & tasting only closeness.

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First Light

First light through the curtains
I find myself simultaneously
four billion years old
and newly made as bread dough.
Pillowcase wrinkles
on my face are spacetime,
my bed aloft on cosmic riptides.
From here I can see every particle
entangled with every other particle.
From here, reality is infinity
expressed in intricate calculations.

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Venice

the hardest thing

about this memory is
how it keeps coming back

to me, still

holding warmth like peach tea
left out in midday sun like
the midday sun that came

floating back

across the canal white rose petals

skitter-scattered

across the ruffled surface
released by hesitant hands and

coming home

shivering.

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Our Danny Petoskey

The anniversary of his death is the cruelest fishhook. Yanking us back, violently. When the days turn crisp, as they have now, when summer fades and autumn crawls into our tiny farming town—that’s when we most grieve our fallen classmate. One year we tried to ignore the date, but the hook came anyway and somehow was even more brutal. So now we meet it head on: we make a day of it. The downtown is strewn with somber-black ribbon. Coffee is shared and then, later, whiskey. We pass the yearbook, we muse, we moan. If a stranger such as you wanders by, the story is told in fullest detail.

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the door, the tornado

that was so big it could hold a thousand hearts racing
at the sight of a face they thought would never show up again
beating down the road like a breathless storm or worse,
finding only the wind’s racket forced into a fist
perfectly rapturous and strange how we’re all picked up
and dropped off at some other threshold. fate and chance
met up this way, plucked and flung in the same gust
like a thousand seeds mingling into entirety.

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Snapping the Threads

Tickertape, the entire sky is a New Year’s prom—
Streamers ripple, pour:
cars, floats, crowds waving
grey-speckled from news reels.
Here’s a war time ceremony preceding
the main feature. Here is intermission,
a pause between acts…

Now real life resumes, paper to be filled.
Thread after thread, it’s a delicate balance,
an arachnid dangling to plunge
like Amelia Earhart.

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