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March 31, 2015

en route to the Statue of Liberty

He was brought here, no doubt, by parents aiming to hit all of Manhattan's
high notes, their wallets jammed with receipts from the whirlwind tour. 
The boat's peeling through the water, leaving whitecaps in its wake, but he
doesn't look up at what the brochures were raving about. Instead, he fixes his back 
against a center pole, slides to the floor, and I find myself aiming lower with my gaze,
ignoring, too, the advance of the woman and her torch, that defiant fist,
her glorious green silhouette against a faultless blue sky. 
I lean back in my seat, lean back to ten years old, or eight, when the rush and clamor
of time was meaningless, when magnificence was the island around my own feet,
when I needed only my chin in my hands to steady the world into focus.


March 24, 2015

airport poem

Even on a Tuesday morning, the flight is full. You are waiting at the gate
for the signal to gather your things and board, but in the meantime, 
your gaze goes to a television screen, where CNN is reporting a crash
somewhere in the French Alps. There are less than two feet between
you and the man sitting opposite, heading back to Newark with his wife
after their visit to Fort Lauderdale. Maybe you even ate at the same restaurant.
Maybe you passed him, unknowing, in a grocery aisle at home weeks ago.
No matter. You are here, now, sharing this strange, uneasy limbo
as rescuers fly in to search for survivors and reporters assemble their stories,
both of you searching the sky for answers, your knees almost touching.


March 17, 2015

upstairs, where the trouble is

A faucet's slow, leaking torture. The hiss and hiccup of decaying radiators.
A shower stall poorly set and the wall around it pockmarked with eroding tiles.
I turn and head upstairs to the room reserved for the occasional guest—
the soft, undisturbed bed, a sparsely filled closet, a single window opening
to sky. If I wanted to disappear, I would move here, this quiet asylum nested
away from each taunting disrepair. Months could go by and there I'd be,
propped up on overlarge pillows, thumbing through adjectives, building exquisite piles
of paragraphs while the faucet still dripped and the radiators still flickered and the walls
kept crumbling. I wonder how long I'd last on this cottony island, how many pages I'd fill
before I needed some trouble to save me.


March 10, 2015

an inch of vinegar

You're saving it, apparently, for a salad you keep forgetting to make.
In the bathroom's mirrored cabinet, a flick of nail polish left at the bottom
of a small glass jar. There's a rumpled bag in the garage holding a clutch of dirt
that will likely not root the plant you've yet to purchase from the garden store.
These leavings, these leftovers, this clinging to the maybe useful - the house
is full of both optimism and neglect, a store of Lilliputian portions
incapable of meeting your large and shifting demands. The coupons
you are so scrupulously stockpiling. The last dregs of living room paint.
A spool of thread down to its final three loops. A candle with less than an hour left
you hold onto, nevertheless, certain you will need that light somewhere.


March 3, 2015

what we mean

I took out the trash to apologize. You made dinner to thank me for finishing
our taxes. I stayed on the couch for my bad mood. You went to bed early
to excuse yourself from yours. The croissant, a peace offering. Two loads of laundry,
repentance. The sidewalk you shoveled while I slept, something resembling
forgiveness. When the words fail, the house still rings with conversation,
its rooms like wide mouths, the unswept floors, a burgeoning embrace. A kiss waits
inside every spent tube of toothpaste. When the milk sours, we fall in love
all over again. So I am saving the garage for the hard argument.
You are keeping the basement
in your back pocket.