Winds toss foliage in air.
Birds bend against frost
their wings catching the
last sunlight.  

In cosmic dance snowflakes
light up evening.
galaxies circling abandoned gardens.   

We hunch our shoulders with winter.
Our shadows are long now.
Vain Reunion

She tried to restore
the top half of him
once filled
to the brim
with her.
In the end,
they walked out
a couple of
talking heads
denied the cracked cup
of the body,
but still slept
in separate beds.

Manhattan Oddballs

The affair progresses in three-chord structure:

what I want, what you want, what we never get.

They consider having sex on a rooftop

 or in the mysterious city rain.

 He likes his listening to Morphine Flush,

 a thrash metal band from the late 90s.

She likes hers without a trace.

 They argue, they gulp, they squeal,

they flinch, they prop open their tongue-tied lives,

 they scorn undercooked Peking Duck,

 they chafe at the elbow,

 they sex-whine while his dog barks,

they fall away during post-grunge anti-climax.

_Hands embrace each other, slide through on another
Like raw, wet fish still shivering with death.
In unison they flop, up down, clinging mannerly apathetic,
Then separate, parted by the tide of time. 



_ Look mother,
I peeled away your anger
and stopped building
sand castles
by the sea.
The nation
is riddled with thieves
and no door opens easily.
My childish dreams?
Fulfilled, and laid to rest.

_Rain smell sweetens cement.
Walking against the grain I feel
the old houses remember me,
the homely kid with glasses
who spotted a ghost in the woods
and got the town in an uproar.

No one alive can name that ghost
but the houses with their horsehair
plaster ceilings hold their ground
and the old cement sidewalks
retain the footfall of Buster White
stumbling drunk from the woods, his face

a pasty muddle. Most people
assumed I’d assumed him a ghost.
Fifty years later I’m certain
whatever I saw still lingers
where the river trips over sandstone
ledge on its way to the sea. The rain

brings out the old cement aroma
but also gives body to the ghost
stumbling beside the river
as if commemorating Buster
and all the other local drunks
I’d once hoped to emulate.
Dry bear trees & honeysuckle fruits
crown the crooks of sipping streams,

piles of spent bees & tufts of lavender
pollinate stump hollows. A thirsty man

with unknit bones kneels to fold his prayer
into a knothole; there are flasks & remedies

at the feet of certain healers. The Carolina
turtledove gleans amaranth & pokeberry.

He thrashes a broken-wing dance on a conifer
needle altar offering himself to hawks & falcons;
ransom for two pin feathered squabs:
                                        one is taken—one spared.
_a girl and boy
with their mutual
wrists slit and covered
in gauze
are falling in love
between group therapy
and afternoon snack
they pass notes
and poems to each other
in origami sculptures
kissing in the far
corner of the
smoking patio
away from the
fluorescent lights

until one is discharged
and the other
wails into bedpans
and undermines
morning arts and crafts
in misery,
waiting to escape
to the outside
world for bitter
delusions of a
fairy tale
with bad timing
_I died among the lilies,
slumbering into the dust
they were beaten back
into by the hand of winter;
awaiting their revival in
some other realm; but I
would be anew in spring
some months before them;
and as winter waned and
spring washed the stain of
death from me, I awoke a
new person; and I only
hoped it weren’t some
sweet dream to swallow
me whole before dropping
me to the ground like rocks
thrown into the perilous sea
—a streak of red shot the sky,
painting me in the lilt of lilies.
_                    Chinese Laundry, Chicago
In a storefront laundry
on North Clark Street
brown draperies release
this quiet man

who has my shirts.
He smiles and bows--
how carefully
he wraps them.

Before the draperies
fall back, I see,
for a moment,
in a circle swirling

almost out of sight
three kerchiefed women,
glistening black,
bending, grabbing, sorting.

_ In the settler's journal it is written: 

Addy, the midwife cradled a crucifix.
Your mother gripped a birthing chair,
fragments of the hundred year coffee tree,
towels boiled over fire,
leather strap and guts -
You emerged, glass slits for eyes.

Blood pooled, then froze,
on the floor. Steam escaped in a ghostly
pale as if one soul entered while another left.

She pushed you into the world and then never more.

Addy sang softly in her work, words
heavy with damp, drying what remained
before what remained froze.

In spring, burlap carried the seed
that paid for the land, but this night
men - who would never stand and wait -
blanketed grief, filled gaps, kept back the cold.