from across a litter infested courtyard
in front of chipped blue four-plexes
he calls to her: silently, inside the wall of his mind
every time She slips by
he learned her name once
off a postcard misdirected
wish you were here
scrawled in handwriting which could have been his own
he never thought She looked like a Caroline
She can’t see him; he is too still in the sunlight
She can’t feel his presence; he breathes too softly
She doesn’t hear him: praying, wishing
She is the polite smile in place of words
She is the lover who stopped returning his phone calls
She is the daughter who forgot his birthday
She is the friend who has become too busy to share conversations about the weather
She is the son too ashamed to introduce him to his new fiancé
She is the shifty eyes saying she has somewhere better to go
She is the granddaughter who doesn’t remember the songs
he sang to her as she lied awake in her crib
She is his everything, every person, every hope, everything
and he does not exist to her
She doesn’t cross the courtyard as much anymore
got a new job in the Heights and new boyfriend in the valley
never really home he figures
still he watches her slipping by behind sliding wooden doors
“Slipping By” is previously published in Nerve Cowboy (2004).
Wings can fold around a broken body
like a mother’s hold, offering calm and comfort,
yet, with white feather and brittle bone,
it is possible to create shadows with jagged edges
against the walls of littered alley ways.
Do we dare fight nature
in order to create our own identity?
Do we become what is expected
instead of spreading wings and creating
a current all out own?
We have become desperate for new names.
we call ourselves rat face, time bomb, clever,
we call ourselves outcast, twisted lip, beast, child,
never what we really are.
Instead of attempting to reinvent the self
shouldn’t we just accept these marks of birth
and scars of experience so distinct upon our presence.
Let them identify our beings like a mother in a mortuary.
How does one surrender wings
that have always marked existence?
How does one become something he is not?
These wings can never truly be clipped,
just sawed down, plucked and carved,
distinction momentarily hidden
destine to grow anew.
“Identity” is previously published in They Don’t Make Memories Like That Anymore (2011).
Off the highway,
two miles outside of town,
the wind beckons
using a name murmured by strangers.
It writes letters onto the skin of left hand
using an ex lover’s script
and gently presses right foot to pedal.
Open to the sky yet held earthbound,
vulnerable to asphalt and yellow lines,
entangled in turnpikes and exit signs.
Every unanswered desire
is painted inside rear view mirror,
a reminder of the path fate
once predicted, now left behind.
Between the pavement and the stars,
the road speaks violins and lifetimes,
ribbons and balloons freedom and possibilities,
the most gentle of gifts.
On this road two miles out of town,
a longing is conceived,
attached to every rib in cage,
to travel farther, to blister bare feet
with the miles trampled upon.
“Highway” is previously published in They Don’t Make Memories Like That Anymore (2011).