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May 12, 2015


“I’m ready,” I said to the stylist, meeting her gaze in the mirror as she held
a fistful of my hair in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other,
even though of course, I wasn’t sure I was. Later, my neighbor would walk
her trio of dogs by my front lawn as I sat on the stoop watching evening advance.
“Your butterfly bush needs cutting back,” she’d say, and it would only be then
that I’d see it was teetering with dead limbs, thin and hollow from the long winter,
while a clutch of sprigs—green with adolescence—clamored for acreage.
Now, pruned, the plant is suddenly thriving, Spring on full throttle, and I wonder
what else has been writhing under it its old bulk, itching for removal and disclosure,
tired of keeping its magnificence, like an iceberg, so far under.  



May 5, 2015

for the anonymous poet

Here is your resurrected cherry blossom, your loud neighbor, the sharp crescendo 
of a buzz saw. Here is your whiff of sunscreen on a warm Saturday, 
the donut with its rainbow sprinkles, a little girl with sugar dust tucked
into her dimples. Here is your back porch, your evening cocktail of dog walk and bourbon.  
Here is your dent on the couch where two bodies watch television to prelude sleep. 
Here is a police report on the inside front page and an ad for garage-door openers 
on the back. Here is your found letter and the old dirt road it travels down. Here 
is a phone that keeps ringing and the one that never does. This is for you,
anonymous poet, who cups an ear to the day's worn gloss, believing something - 
everything - deserves to be heard. This is for you, poet, who knows how to listen.


April 28, 2015

syllables of water

We were trying to get him to talk about the crappy grades poking holes
in his report card as we sat through our platefuls of chicken cutlets and fries
and smoky, brick-red dollops of barbecue sauce. I kept thinking it was as easy
- or as hard - as asking the right question, and set about the task of digging
through the mud as his face floated in tepid, untranslatable silence. I was 
a persistent archeologist. Always have been. I found a thousand different ways
to ask "What's wrong?" and "How can we help?" but he kept rifling through his hair 
in the monastic mutiny of teenage boys. There was a full glass of water  
to my left. I couldn't believe what I was about to do in the name of love,
but we were both tired of this familiar, broken script. I closed my eyes and threw.


April 21, 2015

hovering over Albany

It's not the destination we intended, but a stubborn thunderstorm keeps blocking
traffic, and instead of a final descent, the pilot has us in impotent circles 13,000 feet 
above Manhattan. We're restless after 6 hours in the air, fingers smudged with magazine ink, 
seat pockets padded with spent wrappers. I've never been more ready 
to be home. And yet, an intercom announcement tells us otherwise, and we head north 
for a city I always pass through on the way to somewhere else, my gaze perennially turned 
from its broken industry, hollow old buildings gashed with graffiti. But now, apparently, 
it's going to save us, and we slice our altitude in two. I hear the familiar grind of wheels 
unlocking from the belly of the beast, and we're arcing forward in our seats, delirious
with anticipation and relief, the lights of the runway sparkled with rain, winking us closer.


April 14, 2015

reading Emerson at 38,000 feet

An essay called "The Poet" arrives in my inbox two nights before the flight
to San Francisco. The writing is dense, but I've got six hours. And then, like a dare
or the devil, reality TV beckons somewhere over Cleveland. Real Housewives and
the latest travails of the Family Kardashian. It is tempting to follow them, 
and in between the thick and mealy stack of pages, I do, landing in a rotating series
of Photoshopped narratives. Emerson cajoles, "Every word was once a poem" so
I turn my ear even closer, toward the nuanced language of the rich and shiny,
brandishing champagne flutes like swords. And there it is, in the lines the facialist
missed. That old, raw longing. The same burning question no one asks: "Remember,
my love, how I was beautiful once? Do you?"