Four thousand miles a year
around the block. At three
eighteen we roast marshmallows.
pick up friends who need rides.
Holding together in sand piles
of children and dull friends,
suburban mother strangled to death
by broken shoestrings and smothered
under mounds of holy tennis shoes.
Buy everything.
Nothing comes without its price
and inflation drives up
the cost of even shoestrings.
That sphere where you tighten
eyelets is my head, pared
like an orange, peeled and
Pared, peeled and sectioned,
fallen through stacks of dirty
laundry, picking up pieces,
always missing some part,
the sky fallen down to
the dirt and grass growing
out of the buildings.


Two artists

Two artists in love
fight for the air they breathe,
claw words from each other’s throat
to wring and squeeze dry in metaphor,
the fiercest competition.
I hold my breath,
give you permission to quote
me. Feel robbed when you do.
Word joggers, we compare laps
at dinner. Sneak out notepads
before dessert.
My nightmare memory of Ariel’s
copyright. I wake up kicking.
An old Leonard Cohen line
our contract signed in blood.

Sometimes when we make love
I hear the crushing of bird wings.



At four I scrawled across
the white-washed basement wall,
my first poem in bold
black grease pen,
a high point followed by
a long dipping plateau,
circles curving over
and over themselves,
feeling the absolute flow
of round.
The artist intently involved
with her creation,
the rough prick
of the cement surface,
the rhythm of each
primitive letter,
it must have said
this is me.

#31 to Los Angeles

Staring into the nostrils
of humanity
you sleep together
sharing smelly feet
and house slippers
snores and indigestion,
no doors to close
no shades to pull
the rattle of paper pillows
the clanking of doors
the all-night glare
of station lights
and nameless destinations,
days of rotten coffee
old people and
tuberculin air.

Too long the victim
of public toilets
and filthy linoleum
home becomes important,
with cobwebs in every corner
laundry to wash
and bills to pay
it gives some substance
to this life
tenuous as the trains,
home where it’s
quiet and private
and you hold me
when I’m sleeping.




For years
my throat
mute by
cold daddies
and mean men
Nazi teachers
and husbands
out of town
or fair
always hungry
and friends
who come with
the sound of silver
in their empty


Always in night
temples alone
I picked petals
and dropped
them balanced
point to point
quiver against
my blood dripping
down the altar
midnight eucharist
the poem
my sacrament
and daily

III Cannibalism

Your fork pricking
my flesh you said
you wanted to eat
me bite by bite.
I thought it
but now in the
cold night
shadows of your
neon marquee
your story
told in bold type
my words ripped
from the page
lying flat
I know
there is
nothing left
electrified death
a crushed S
in my hand
screaming, “Give
them back.”

IV Love

With my face smashed
at the wall you
said love
and crushed a
response from me
a moan
you thought it
my last breath
flattened out of
me by the weight
of your self-gratification.
The sound of your dreams
and the silhouette
of your back
too familiar now
I ‘d rather sleep



Driving along
on our anniversary
I say, “talk to me,
so I feel like I’m
in a relationship
instead of a truck.”
I can tell by your
face you want
to steal that line
and tell not to.

Later, sitting on
the bench
like old people –
and enjoying it –
I say we are
the big movie.

You like that one
and ask what
the earlier line
was, but by then
we have both
forgotten it.



I see a baby in a stroller
who looks like he will grow up
to think like Woody Allen –
if he doesn’t already.
Sagging jowls before the age
of one, and eyes that say
it is all too much trouble
to care about.
I picture a kind of Borscht Belt
humor about poopy diapers,
a two-foot world view
taking Seuss sardonically.
His mother does not seem to know,
pushing him about as she shops for books,
he is probably ridiculing her in his head
for what she is reading.



I hope I die
when the cupboards
are clean,
not today
decades hence.
Still, at their
worst, I take
a certain pride
in leaving a
pretty tidy life.
Not the kind
with floors &
floors of the house
stuffed & crammed
with unnamed secrets.
The only secrets
I have held
were in my heart
& what they were
I’m not sure
I could say
even now.

Some people
don’t care
what is found
out when
they are gone.
But I do.
Not so much
what is known
as how it’s
treated when
I am not here
to ferry it
about in life.
The way they
read the uncle’s
love letters
which he had
I hope that I
have time
to dispense
of things as I
see fit,
or dispose of them
I haven’t any love letters
to worry about.
To sad a fact
to think about.

A woman I know
does, and thinks
it best
her grown sons
not walk into
that hidden room
where her life
lived before
their birth.

I wonder
if there might be
someone I will
never meet,
who will want
to know me.
Finding my journals
in some dusty box,
perhaps my favorite
pen down at the
all dried out.