POEMS

Violets

Violets — In the thick  of our holy quarrel you leaned in  to whisper  the most important thing, but were silent,  and I wanted to leave you  alone across the table on your device,  but I knocked over our old vase  spilling the violets, and you looked at me as if before they fell, you’d …

The Salt

The Salt — I set out to attain nothing more than myself, and before long,  had no money  and only one tooth, the price I paid to locate this exotic kingdom, where mud-caked holy men  wander barefoot from place  to arduous place, where the people need salt,  find it in the sea, call  what we …

Hero Worship

Hero Worship — My big brother Harry was something: Leave the crude undamaged beneath the sea, he said, sold his car, and even refused for a time to ride in cars. (Later, he lived in a car.) Immediately after college, Harry changed his name to Harrison Redwood, moved north, and chained himself to an old …

At First Blush

At First Blush — At first blush, it appears an unambiguous portrait, the subject a man in meditation— adamantly upright posture, well-cut jacket, background in soft focus. From another angle, one sees a woman with a broad, strong face and red hair. Viewed from a third angle, the subject is a beast, half-covered in sleek …

Vermeer

Vermeer — When she was getting close  to the end, we cached the hospice morphine  in the fridge behind the ricotta cheese, in case. We moved her bed into the living room,  where she could look out onto the Hollywood hills.  She slept and slept. Waking, she said she’d dreamed she was a delirious little …

Causation

Causation — Acquittal is caused by crime, tooth decay by Cupid. Winter causes diligence which causes nuns, and Popeye is caused by spinach and the ocean. One leaf causes Fall,  which causes New England and sin. Sunset Boulevard causes hitch-hikers and Cadillac Eldorados, which cause men  to reach over, causing night sweats. Insults are cause …

Date

Date — When she arrived, she did not say  too much about her journey  or the mint tea she drank en route. We did not lament the destruction of earth or bring up the vegan position on dandruff. We watched an old movie  with women in hats as big as braising pans.  and when we’d …

Table for Two

Table for Two — We dreamed of a life of pâté en croute, always arriving with a fig mostarda, a life in which a contralto-green cilantro pesto  could be counted on to refresh the gamey lamb. Why should the search for perfect cheese puffs be less important  than the search for pure black or the …

Notes for Wedding Vows

Notes for Wedding Vows — We’ll watch black and white movies exclusively. I will not be fat. There will be acoustic guitar. It will be feng shui. I will not smoke indoors. I promise I’ll stop doing that thing you hate. Also, the other thing. Two or three children—you decide— I’ll read to them about …

Self-Portrait with Tree

Self-Portrait with Tree — I want to have you, I murmur to the photograph in an airport of a tree on a ridge, its frail silver gelatin silhouette leaning against a bright sky. The shadow hovering at the edge of the frame must be me. from The Salt

Trigger Warning

Trigger Warnings — I believed I knew the contents  of the firing chamber, knew  the sear surface and hammer materials, until one day at the zoo, as I leaned on a railing watching the gibbons balletic, I saw in the acrylic panel enclosing the cage my own reflection, an unarticulated skeleton in a specimen jar. …

Melody

Melody — When I met you, I was a house-sitter  in my own body, eating pastries and  dozing off drunk in the shower. When we talked, words leaped out of my mouth  like animals released into the wild. You unwrapped  your life like a talisman, spoke  about years and ways you’d ached  in a postcard-ready …

Dear

Dear — I saw Mick Jagger once with his girlfriend at a café two tables away from where my mother and I were eating lunch. “Mick Jagger!” I blurted under my breath, as if I’d just arrived from the sea floor. My mother was eating a wedge of cantaloupe in her manner— first, the silver …

Sword of Glass

Sword of Glass — It was my father’s father who at last came to dinner from far away, gulped a whiskey, grinned, and said When I have a whiskey,  I feel like I’m a new man & then the new man wants one, too my father pouring another & the new, new man also wanting …

Flight Plan

Flight Plan — Let’s speak to each other in the language of paper airplanes, bend our edges in to meet and fold the quiet into shapes, mold our wings according to the soft geometry of handmade things. Let’s use our time aloft to catch our breath and clear the air before we yaw, pamper back …