Light soaks the sleeves of an old woman’s
blouse, infuses thinning bones, frayed
canvas slippers, as she kneels to weed
her parcel, aligned in a grid at city’s edge.
Scarlet runner beans entwine buckets’
rusty handles, the eager teeth of rakes.
Translucent moonflower reaches
for a second story row.
Tucked inside the woman’s fists
like gold nuggets mined for posterity
the season’s first sword bean,
basil leaf, sprig of thyme.
—published in Albatross, September 2013
How quickly they shut it down--
three men, a garbage truck,
cars backed up, leaves blowing wild.
A gust sends stink: pork rind, coffee
grounds, ferment of rotting pumpkins.
The men haul bags, heave bales,
bassinette, oven door.
They laugh and shrug, step up, jump down
while we turn to look behind
like befuddled owls, no way out.
A driver leans out the window, cusses.
The truck labors down the road
past rows of triple-deckers,
cracked retaining walls.
Someone pounds the horn, and the men slow down,
smile as they swing the barrels like dance partners.
—published in Floating Bridge Review, October 2014
When I hear the owl
call in the middle of the night,
you’re already awake. I know this
the way I know when you’re watching
me across the room
though my eyes are turned
in another direction.
I stroke your graying beard,
trace the deepening lines
of your forehead
as if words might appear,
reveal each cell of you
nightly remaking itself
according to code.
Your fingers brush my cheek
and softly land.
We lie in bed, listen
to the owl
on a crooked branch,
deciphering the darkness.
—published in The Aurorean, spring/summer 2008
You Dress for the Army Ball
It isn’t green at all, this suit
you call Dress Greens,
not the color of living things
but what remains when a river
of ice is drained. You align
your shirt buttons with the front
fly seam, straight gig line
with the belt buckle’s edge.
Pin a grenade to your lapel,
sallow eagle, frozen in flight.
Turning to face the mirror,
you catch your reflection taking aim.
—published in SWWIM, February 2019