Tag Archives: free verse

Go. Lightly.

I try, and fail, to imagine what it’s like –
To not know that you don’t overturn a planter
on the kitchen counter. To have no way of
summoning the words to explain why you did it.

There is dirt, dirt everywhere, and she is
fixated on the barely-visible cookie particle
between the stove and the fridge. She
can’t stop wanting to get rid of the television –

the assurances that it will be removed when
there is sufficient manpower to do it
soothes for only a minute, perhaps two,
and then it’s back to the why. Why is it there.

Her world is shrinking. She has a vague memory
of being active in the morning, of making things
look better, but cannot remember the simple
actions of reaching under the sink for the

cleaning supplies. Her sleeves are always
stretched out, sopping wet. She moves
a knick-knack, a framed picture, then moves
it back again. This is “cleaning.” Hence –

the dirt piled on the kitchen counter. I think,
who knows what she would have done with
it if we hadn’t come up here just now?
may have put it back in the planter. She may

have tried to put it down the disposal. I have
so many trust issues now, and yet she trusts
me implicitly; she obediently sits and eats her
toast as we try to manipulate the dirt into

a Stop & Shop bag. She drinks her juice and
marvels at the cleanliness of the counter when
we have finished. And I can’t get mad. This
is not her fault. She doesn’t know any better

And this is what I simply cannot understand.

What I do understand is the power of words.
Not please don’t dump dirt all over the counter,
but Maybe the older you grow and the less easy
it is to put thought into action, maybe that’s why

it gets all locked up in your head and becomes
a burden.
I am reading Capote to her. In her
well life, he was a favorite. She listens, rapt,
laughs at everything you’re supposed to laugh

at, like she remembers having read it the first
time, and then again. And again. Golightly’s
frantic monologues soothe us. And in these
moments together, there is understanding.


must needs
always be about
excess. We must view
them from afar, twinkling,
perhaps sort of comprehending
that we’re witnessing explosions.
So why the outrage over extravagance?
They’re doing their jobs, blasting garish
luminosity from checkout stands and monitors,
ever reminding us that we are light years away.

No Title

I want to keep these flashes snug,
protected in the blanket
of the warm August nights
from whence they emerged.

Windows down, Rick Astley blaring,
you demanding that I listen, listen to
my God. Majestic.
Bigger than the man,
bigger than this whole summer.

Has it been six years since I heard from you?
I stopped trying to glean meaning
from those final messages long ago,
maybe the Year of Our Lord 2009,
around the time I curled into a ball
on the living room floor, making
the most unholy noises,
grieving my own projected losses.
None of them came to fruition.
In case you were wondering.

Where are you, I wonder,
other than right here
in this corner of my limbic attic,
firing away at random,
bringing you to me in the middle of Panera Bread.

Where are you, really, other than in my memories?

I’m dealing so much with memory now, Keith.
It’s all I can think about.
There are proteins which can destroy them, memories.
Proteins banding together to make you forget all of the things that made you.
I pray nightly to Something Out There that they won’t get mine.
To lose you again, and not even realize it.
Come back. Stay.


I can’t summon a happy place
without bringing sorrow into it,
like tracking gravel on a freshly
cleaned floor. I’ll fill it with things
I can’t throw out: concert tshirts,
love letters written but never sent,
proof of purchase seals from items
that are no longer manufactured.

I’d walk into it, and the floors would sag with the weight of my failure to retreat.


Have You Never Been Mellow?
– Olivia Newton-John

I. 1972. Motion.
I am going on only what I’m told here, from parents,
grandparents, people who were there and could retain
the memory of the constant blur of my hands, my feet,
always moving, even in sleep. 2 am rides in the car,
being placed on top of the washing machine during
the spin cycle. My father would push me in my stroller
to Nantasket Beach, unbuckle me at the point where
the white sand ended, and let me run. Keep moving.

II. 1982. Entenmann’s.
They were uncomplicated, small, easy to consume.
One by one they’d go down until they were tasteless
and I was just after the sensation of chewing,
of doing something that happened automatically
and without my permission. Because I thought
this was nourishment. Because in hindsight
it had nothing to do with sustenance and everything
to do with keeping my mouth full so that I wouldn’t scream.

III. 2002. E&J V.S.O.P.
Not quite bottom shelf, not entirely respectable.
I was the punchline long before I’d heard the joke
about you, about us. On a cold night, walking home,
I can still smell you, your siren song smell of bad apples
and battery acid tang. But this was never about quality.
Indeed, most nights you never even made it into a glass.
This was about how fast you could get me where
I needed to go. Oblivion always trumps unwinding.


My mother could see entire universes
in an empty walnut shell.
She worked in miniatures –
pipecleaner bits became trees
in Lilliputian panoramas
that she’d sell at church bazaars.

I followed suit, making entire families
from bread bag ties and toilet paper,
launching them on ships of tinfoil.
Stories from trash, something from nothing.

My wonder gave way to chagrin
at the age where labels took precedence.
I was embarrassed by resourcefulness,
wanted nothing to do with makeshift ornamentation.

Want overrides need until
you’re not able to improvise anymore.
There is no potential in the incidental.
For a time, I lost the ability to create.

And so I keep gluing flotsam to jetsam,
cotton balls to felt,
making something from incongruous nothings –
something approximating home.


Because I said so is insufficient; I’m not
able to come up with a better answer, one
that will stem the flow of whys and
yield a little quiet, a respite from being
expected to know the answers.