It's a crime story she's in:
betrayal and larceny, few clues.
Someone stole what she lived for,
then made off like a thief in the night or high noon. What shall she
slip a heel on each foot and set out,
making a snapping sound as she steps.
The man she loves smiles
from the drugstore's rack
of magazines, just in.
Looks like he's wrapped his movie,
dropped his wife on a Frisian Island
and is flying his girlfriend to St. Tropez.
The men who love her finger coins
in the stale linings of their front
pockets and whimper "What's your name?"
The job she wanted went
to the man who tells the truth
from one side of his mouth, lies
from the other: a bilingual.
The job she got lets her
answer the questioning phone all day.
Her disappointment has appetite,
gravity. Fall in, you'll be crunched
thin as Fettuccine. Watch out for her,
this woman, there is more than one.
That woman with you, for instance,
checking herself in the mirror
to see where she stands--
she's innocent so far, but someone
will disappoint her.
Even now you're beginning to.
Even now you're in danger.
(From In Danger Roundhouse Press/Heyday Books)
MORNING AFTER THE 6.1
At work we tell
and tell of disasters, wrack
of flood tides, windchill, uncontained
fires, eye of storm, core of volcano.
Remember the Sylmar when the ground
pitched like the deck of a ship?
Power lines jerked and snapped;
electricity bolted into the dark like
We're too happy to work. Survival
has gone to our heads like pirate rum
Dead, stand back and make way--
we are the living.
(First published in Western Wind: An Introduction to
Poetry Fifth Edition, eds. David Mason and John Frederick Nims, McGraw
HURRYING TOWARD THE PRESENT
“No past tense permitted”
- Kay Boyle from A Poem for Samuel Beckett
Darlings, this may be the only
great escape we ever make:
start dropping your past
behind you—seeds, kernels
to be pecked up by scavengers.
You won't find your way back.
Or try this: package it,
mark it Was. Leave it in a locker
at the Greyhound Bus station.
Leave the door ajar. Let
a thief inherit it. You can bet
it'll dog him like it dogged you.
Step smack-flat into
the blasting present,
your heart asserting Now-Now.
You feel neither the pain
left behind, nor what waits
tapping its hard foot
And now, stand up the future!
Let it go on pacing and cursing
as it peers towards your whereabouts,
and the cat’s eye gleam
of its watch calculates
the lateness of the hour.
(first published in The Cider Press Review)
Something kind of stealthy
loiters near my door but it’s not
you—it’s just air turned grainy
violet where night and city
meet. Know what’s going down?
Total eclipse of the moon,
Kid. It’s pretty dim
out. The gas station’s block
of light—like the landmark
at the world’s end—says
jump off here.
If you were there you'd use it
to check out your reflection
on the hood of someone’s car.
You'd use the neighbor’s zinnias
to wipe the street life off your feet,
use your condition as an alibi:
It couldn't ‘ve been me, man,
I'm, like, dead!
You'd consider knocking, take on
that shrewd look you always got
to hide a mind just half
made up, one hand idly questioning
the spot around your ribs where
blood streaked out on asphalt
and turned black, looked
black, in the liquor store blur
and bulb of ambulance. Look
up. That moon. A tablet dissolving
in blue mist, or mauve. I could swear
someone sauntered to my door.
The moon’s half gone—I know
the feeling, sure. And you,
you're gone more.
(Slightly different version first published in