West Hollywood to Pasadena, CA 1998

Let’s just say it, you were a criminal. And I defended you, sat with you, while no other family did. Mornings, driving into Los Angeles to pick you up, me with a pic line in my chest, hidden down my arm, and you, on the day of reckoning, standing before your judge, are sentenced and…

This Rotten Carcass of a Boat

No see um’s dance in shafts of light. He flicks middle finger against thumb, plays a gigue against gouged wood, beats the conveyance that brought him here. His sight dwindling in one eye, pain of nerves, and no absinthe to dilute a life lived for the sake of mastering girl and slave. He feels sand…

We Are All in This Boat Together

She is squealing for the whale and calf to swim to her. She wants to touch a whale. “Come to momma.” “Come on, baby, light my fire.” I want something else. She wants to nail Leonard Cohen his next tour through. Images rush me: Chelsea Hotel, now Berlin, and Suzanne down someplace salty. Alleluia. She…

Listening to the Odyssey at 35,000 Feet

I drift into a grove where a three-sided sculpture is nearly complete. The fourth side wraps like a glove, its red crinkled texture, flesh turned inside out. The robes of the world grow dark far from the stallion land of Argos and the awful reek of those sea-fed brutes. And he chased her over the…

I Had My First Kiss!

My niece’s text arrives as the newscaster announces a bomb landing just outside Jerusalem. Was it what you hoped for? I text back, delight battling instant anxiety (don’t get pregnant!). The voice on the radio intones a preliminary body count. She’s eaten from the Tree of Knowledge and all I see is the garden gate…

Tremor

An aspen by the tree-lined path quivered above several law clerks outside on break; quickly it jerked. It made a kind of seismograph of jagged heart-shaped leaves that twitched and palpitated as a force jolted the city. Meanwhile, more and more leaves fell. To his credit, the leaf blower worked impulsively. While judges and their…

To Napoleon’s Penis

O IMPERIAL WATERWORKS, WHO KNOWS WHY YOU GOT LOPPED OFF DURING HIS AUTOPSY, SMUGGLED TO CORSICA BY A PRIEST, KEPT BY HIS FAMILY TILL 1916, SOLD TO A BRITISH COLLECTOR, DISPLAYED IN NEW YORK IN ’27 (A PIECE OF LEATHER, A SHRIVELED EEL, PRONOUNCED THE PRESS), AND FINALLY SOLD AGAIN IN 1977 TO DR. JOHN…

At the Museum of Don’t Come Back

Memory’s a stranger in a diner eating the blue plate special, rubbing one hairy ear with a spoon. Don’t look back the way a train leaves the station and the countryside shrinks, the tiny red barns glowing in warm yellow light. What I have laid aside extends for miles. I’ve been riding with the crop…

Sylvia’s Hair

is the Mandelbrot Set soaked in brandy and set afire with a drop of rainwater in a loop of summer grass. Sylvia’s hair is a gold-leaf crossword puzzle in Arabic, is 52,715 palominos on locoweed; a storm of grasshoppers choreographed by Twyla Tharp. Sylvia’s hair is all that remains of a lost empire of sun…

There is another world / but it is inside this one

—Eluard Inside the hamster’s cage, beneath its glowing- igloo hideaway, there is another. Underneath the stack of substantial orange paperbacks, realms of highly intelligent dwellers. Beside the fish bowl, a portal to three doors down where the potter resides in her basement of blue ceramic Buddhas. Deep in the gut of a jay, a delectable…

neatly folded on the bank.

They say the earth gulped him like a snake, but earth chews. She must have had him stuck between her rocky teeth, mineral-rich saliva breaking down his will. It should have taken days, not hours. Not minutes. So they say he got caught on a rusting crane. Water orange, water red. Everything we build lasts…

Turning West

I wake again to the psuedo-moon cast by the neighbor’s security light into this cold October room; and turn, searching for the name of an orange flower by imagining the hummingbird’s summer love of it, but the word hides; worrying over a grown child, 3,000 miles away, seeing her walk Boston’s lonely streets after waiting…