Nightmares

how to meet the hat man

sleep fitfully on the sofa
your back to to door

plagued by dreams of moths
in a house of illness

sleep until his deep voice wakes you
and you cannot move.

“excuse me, ma’am?”

his tall frame curls into the corner
his neck cranes, hat scrapes the ceiling

no light reflects from his face or hands
featureless as a shadow

he watches though the night
and you cannot move.

“i’ll be right here if you need anything.”


when i was a skeleton

i had not the foresight
to fashion a skin for myself
from discarded trash and tarps

the ache whistled through my ribs

my bones dried in the winter air
withering once whitehot marrow
into frozen despair


cold medicine blues

the dogbody of midnight
sweeps past
my ankles

i wake
on the
shitter

Abecedarian in a Dive Bar

any-
body
can
dance

extroverts
frequently
gather at
honkytonks

introverts
just
know to
lie low,
mouse-like,
nibbling
on scraps of
possibility
questioning the
revelers who
swing
toward
utopia

vexed, the
wallflowers’ very
xylem
yearns to
zoom

Grandpa’s Dream

during the great depression
we climb a rotten maple

we shimmy up a rope
i glide back to the ground

while you sway, unafraid
in an army flight jacket

a single living sliver
supporting your branch

What Is A Weed? (For Aldo)

i’m not too keen on yardwork
but i am strong in my own way,
stubborn
mowing strips in my little lawn
with a silent manual mower
raking
the fallen leaves into large paper
bags that the city picks up on
tuesdays.
sometimes the older male neighbors
will give me advice for a purer lawn
mistaking
the unholy mob of broad-leafed plants
for something to be vanquished – oh no
not here!
how else could the barely blushing fleabane
eavesdrop, their heads resting on windowsills
watching
my hands as i set the table for dinner
laughing at the men who fear
us weeds?

The Art of Bathing (II of II)

venus, stepping forth from her porcelain shell

the cream and maroon tiles
of the mid-century bath
are lit by two candles

a great swelling
of peace fills her heart
hot rivulets of water

pour down her shoulders
soaking waves of wet
hair, cast to one side

one hand cupped
to her breastbone
her belly a rounded prayer

The Art of Bathing (I of II)

ophelia, drowning in a pond

afloat in a robins egg blue tub
in a 1970s cream colonial, spring sun
glints off cobalt and white tile

grief’s weight pulls her beneath
the warm soapy surface

a chicken thigh held high in one hand
fresh lemonade in the other
mouth agape, untasting

The Comeback Kid

there’s something deliciously liminal
about a retort on the cusp of articulation

a punch-drunk, cerebellum-numbing feeling
reeling from a hit, piecing your surroundings together

lighting you with a lit left hook when
it looked as though i was against the ropes