We watch horror, Eli
and I, while Laurel sleeps
in the raggedy recliner, my friend
tired from too many office days
and not enough pay
and knowing time drifts now
bracken on the rivertop
moving faster than the eye can
follow. Gold sequins on her
dress glitter as she breathes.
She is beautiful, but worries
she is not.
In photos—I think of a sepia-
filtered shot, taken two days
after this night—she and I look
like the same woman. Hard to
tell us apart, our bodies and
hair swum together,
Ophelias in a Chattanooga kitchen.
Later this evening
Eli and I will go to a bedroom
not our own
fall asleep woven together
while Laurel sleeps alone.
There are still strands of her
hair on the pillow, the same
copper as mine.
I can hear her breathing
through the thin basement
walls, so little separating us
it might as well not be there.
But now here in the den in the mountains:
the creature from a Florida lagoon
backstrokes to the light—the heroine
screams—the hero leaps.
Three figures wreathed in salt-water
seaweed while bubbles constellate
burst, the monster falling away.
The movie over, the television screen turns
blue, washing over all our faces
so we all become, for an instant,
“The cell phone lot”
Planes fly in overhead
while I wait in the cell phone lot
between the highway
and the airport
my brother in the sky
descending, Paul Simon on
the radio. A song about
angels, about time.
Six cars in the lot beside me.
Dark interiors, no one
visible behind the glass.
Paul Simon says
he writes only when he knows
it is true. Ten to
midnight and this sounds
good until I consider
his discography: a lot of
words, Simon. I wonder
in your confidence.
But the music:
he’s right. It is
the only song for now
alone in the cell phone lot.
now on the tarmac
a mile away
rolls to the terminal.
And I start the car
leave with the others
lights on in the dark
as we hurry to collect
those people waiting
for us at the curb
looking for our headlights
becoming brighter, sharp,
out of the distance,
this poem already existing
in a place between me
and where it is n
Warm nights have arrived, that let you sink
into them like a bath: tepid, then
chilly if you rise into a current of air.
Flowers bloom even at night, here.
Cacti curl out over the paths.
We walk, my brother and I: after
wine, after spaghetti. He makes it the
way our mother does. I never quite
got the trick no matter how much she
tried to teach me. The recipes another
thing between us, curled paper with
loopy handwriting I couldn’t read.
41st Street, 40th. I’ve never lived in
numbers so high. Which means
nothing, of course, only what I
want it to, the same as what I
say about the cacti—like spongy
seaweed—or the bathwater—like a
mirror, like a salted sea—
like, like: all I can do is compare.
What are the words for a thing?
For this warm air, this graveled
alley. For my brother, my mother.
Peel a thing like an orange and
palm the pips (again, like), the smallest
piece before nothing. Look.
This is an orange.
But what then? Seeds in your hand:
There is no way to unknow what it
will be. First flowers unfold, then
gold: orange: a fruit. Sweet clear
taste. A soccer field years ago, green
grass-stained knees and a single slice,
sticky juice. Geese overhead. This is
So what is tonight? Dinner with
my brother, a meal our mother
used to make. Hot wind, green
things growing. I won’t ask for more
or add anything else.
I’ll wait until the rind drops off
on its own.
walking home birds
on the line wait until traffic
(nonexistent) hits its only lull
before they lift: a cloud: unfurl.
Grackles make no noise this early,
when the heat hasn’t risen
cars rowed on the street sides
bamboo and palms shirring,
leaves guttered and dry.
It will rain today, though later—
like everything, we’ll wait.
Continue reading Morning Walks
Flint Hills, February 2017
I have never felt wind like in Wichita
my whole body blown sideways when I
step out of the car:
gusts, I have to grab the door
hair strewn around my face
like the grass that stretches for five hundred
miles: an ocean, those hills.
Blue sky trailed with horsetail
plumes, thinned near to nothing.
Wire fences meant to keep something
out—or in—seem useless in all
this space. No lines here, only
Another hour to the border
the only thing I see are hawks and
horses—their lives made private by
I think from above the hills might look
like a sky. All borders erased,
easing together in the middle until that
is gone too.