Someone’s shadow traces its fingers across the blinds
makes cups of tea and leaves them half drunk in the sink

takes the letters from the box and reads them
at another location    leaves only the grocery circulars

and advertisements for gun shows     someone else
discards a pair of red shoes on the floor by the chair

to stumble over in the dark    someone bins the little
rind of cheese    the packet of bacon   the half shallot

wears the pink sweater I could not lay hands on
reads the yellow cloth covered book whose title I

cannot remember    and after I’ve turned off the television
and then the light    put my nightgown at the foot of the bed

there   taking the middle   immovable   the someone
else who steals my words    dreams my thoughts

considers my dreams

two tanka

the red rose leaves break
unfold their delicate veined
hands    fan a straight flush
aces high   high flung branches
thorny deadpan poker face

genus tulipa
at night folds its arms up tight
not at all prim   just
cold   like waiting for a light
to change   in late April snow

My love went to the store and brought back Pop Tarts: irresistible,
especially when things seem anxious or off or especially collapsible.

Two boxes, eight silver packets with two Pop Tarts in each:
since I was a child, I could never resist such a tidy comestible,

white icing, rainbow crystals, jam getting hot in the toaster.
I could be disciplined, but I eat them by the fists full.

I just bought a coat and a purse on eBay–not just pastries, then,
I crave: linen and leather and jam are equally fungible.

I’d be better off on a long walk, a prophylactic to stave
off the dread, the nerves, moods so predictably lapsable;

or asleep, where whatever disquiet can be metaphorical:
I’ll dream of colored sugar, of icing, Pop Tarts delivered by dirigible.

The Hole

People walk from blocks away to stare into the abyss.

“What is it?”they ask. There is nothing there. The Hole marks

the space of our emptiness, our ignorance– what we desire but cannot locate,

the exact center, the outlines of our want–we seek our reflections in The Hole

–but for now it is beams, cement, air, dirt, frames, steel, wires–

the promise of a space to come: enclosed, whole, divisive

What will happen to The Hole?

It will be displaced by matter.

How will we know if The Hole still exists?

The presence of something is indicated

by the nothingness of the hole.

it beats like an urgent stranger
at the door knocking

it heaves within its cage, seized and
convulsed, sick with yearning

it wants escape like a voice opening
into an ether of song

it is a vagrant a wash of gravel thrown
tumbling down a slope

a vagabond transient beggar an
accident of fickle drift

yet on this bench in a neighborhood
chapel I sit

listening to a choir sing a hymn
I learned I know not where

if ever I wanted to wander it was
from this place

a place very like it, and here I am
again, my little hum

the selvedge of the song: a fetter
a binding, a curb to

my bent, tongues of flame to sear
a song to heart, mine


(after Come thou fount of every blessing)

Sunday on Emerson Avenue

Over at Jim’s, across the street, they are still

asleep, but the trees dazzle, blossoms

blowing in the Sunday wind. The soft

down of grass has been culled into shape,

the dandelions removed, the pansies trained

into neat little rows. Even the maple seems

to be obeying some grand design.

In the mid-day sunlight, the greens glisten,

the yellows sparkle and pop, the oranges

blaze like dying suns, the reds bleed and bleed.

I observe Nature here, in the urban garden,

a blinded muse, a bound dancer, a slave.

I am no master.



(beginning words of each line taken from This poem.)

The boy was in the hallway drinking a glass of tea.
The boy was in another room bashing the drum kit,
at his friend’s house, crashing on the couch,
went to his sisters’ houses, successively, for their mercy.

The boy was in the kitchen making a cup of tea.
He stayed at his friend’s house with his friend,
the friend’s dog, spent days at the coffee shop working on the line;
down the alley his music leaked from the record store.

He carried a cup of tea with him on the dog walk.
He found himself on an unexpected song rampage,
a spiral that lifted from his chest despite the darkness.
He checked the paperwork, he made a phone call,

he checked the cupboard for its stock of tea:
let us rent his PA system for the wedding, for a song.
He could not find his way to church with a guitar
but the songs came anyway, opened themselves,

climbed out of his body like heartbeats on an EKG
unscrolling from a machinery of breakdown, from
the unwriting of a childhood, from the dissolution
of belief, a plume of steam rising from a cup of tea.