TSM 179

It's no secret, our old place
needed a tonsillectomy –
drafts wheezing down the front stairs,
horsehair plaster poxed and patchy
like a sore throat.

I know you hated it, 
your sleep uneasy for twenty years, 
a bad wire smoldering in your dreams.
Ours the only family
that had to practice fire drills.

The new bracelet for your birthday
has one stone for each squirrel
that died in the walls,
and one for the feral cat
living in the porch roof.

Let this autumn exfoliate 
our memory, shed old tissue for new  –
the leaves drifting down 
like dead skin, like paint peeling
from the siding.

The Sunday Muse

TSM 178

When you let me sleep-in this morning
I dreamt three tornadoes

set down with wood and splinter,
untangled brick from mortar –

whatever color I had imagined
blinded by the Sandman's fury –

a grit and rubble sutra
of a black and white world.

What of it? I was 
three faces of Adam

to the wind, threnody
for the lost brother of the Bible –

I had stood between Cain and Able in the field, 
suffered the first blows as they fell,

for my failure, my exile greater than Cain's –
I was wiped from human memory.

Thus saith the Lord, thus my name
blown and scraped from the page.

If I chamber three bullets in the cyclone, 
not one, and the wind spins them hard,

What game am I playing?

The Sunday Muse

TSM 177

Any final appeals to you gaoler, joker,
Earl of Poughkeepsie?
That my hips and knees,
shoulders and elbows,
their ball and socket truth –

Would become mortar and pestles,
the crucible of age,
turning, turning in a widening gyre –
daily grind
making meal of me

Hangman, oh hangman,
did you have to save 
every fallen strand of hair,
weave life's every twist and turn
to the end of my rope?

Strike me this, Jolly Rodger –
as I drop from the yardarm
through empty air, wind and rigging 
creaking in the wooden blocks –
let my soul unfurl to sail

The Sunday Muse

TSM 176

Brown and mottled, 
hints of green and greasy,
a dog turd on the pavement
shifts, wriggles, takes flight –

Was after all a bird, evolved
to urban perfection, camouflaged, a
gum-wad and trash 
chameleon –

Jersey side, city tow trucks 
bag abandoned cars,
their rusted fins 
like clipped wings –

A windshield's three bullet holes: me, me, I 
check my rattlesnake boots in the mirror,
my Colorado birthright, Eden 
and Genesis with fangs –

As if the whites of my eyes still hide
my mother's pearl-handled revolvers,
dangerous and cordite
as her smile –

What did you ask me last night 
at 3AM? Are our dreams
just a thin paint job
on the rust of my ambition –

You and I who crawled 
back from the sea 
and returned to land,
a reflux of salt tide –

rises in the sullen river,
lapping at the pier.

The Sunday Muse

TSM 175

Shotgun ravens
awaken the forest of your hair,

blasts from air conditioners
wing memory, our flight or fight or dance

response of bees hummed and hemmed
and hawed in this new glass hive,

hexes your scent of ocean 
as curled and waved as the crow flies –

anything but straight,
anything but the fleeing from there to here

with even bubble wrap from our boxes
packing heat,

night falls, collared
in a noose of 100 degrees,

hits the pavement,
pops and wheezes,

and we've yet to plug in the lamps,
the apartment a shadow of wings,

while across the river
cop cars and firetrucks strobe –

a dark angel, you shimmy
in your underwear,

the lights of the city
our disco ball

The Sunday Muse

Hurricane Vows

At the ACME supermarket 
a cyclone hit the tuna fish, water, pasta isles,
like Nantucket shoals that will not be spared.

I find a few bouquets of flowers left in a bin,
choose the least beat-up roses,
and bring them home.

On our wedding day, remember
the hurricane blowing down the arbor
while we said our vows?

It is our anniversary tonight.
We celebrate, as we must,
the maelstrom.

TSM 172

Baudelaire slowly chews
another handful of coffee beans –

Flâneur-in-chief of all Paris,
dandied dregs of the Seine,

he wrote: it wasn't the caffeine
(of course it was always the caffeine)

but the grit, the grounds
the dirt in his mouth

that brought his tongue 
to press into earth

like the taproot 
of a dark flower.

He lines his cockatoo's cage
(all flâneurs keep cockatoos)

with pages from his books
he tore one by one

saying to the young Rimbaud
the bird sang a better song

out its ass 
than its beak,

that all poetry 
was merde

The Sunday Muse

TSM 170

More dead stuff now it's those crabs 
with eighteen eyeballs – skyballs on stalks, 
periscope glass-eyed Mary's, body parts 
litter the beach like cracked faces
looking back from the sand

I shake my claw at the sky, defiant old man
still skittering sideways through life and you 
let go my hand, slip into the tide a fish –
school away – sunlight echoing off your laughter,
your voice receding in sonar pings

Because I said it was time to leave this place,
return to the city, reverse migration 
of the gannets – streaming in flights 
back to their roosts in the tiny rock warrens 
of Manhattan

Searching for you from above the water, 
my wingtips brush the tops of the waves
hoping you feel my touch like cool sheets 
drawn back from your shoulders.
I dive, transform,

but you are not fooled 
by my clownfish act, my doll-fish face
a lethal disguise –
how I would pull you from the safety of the sea
and leave us both fighting for breath.

If I fail us, then return me here.
When at dawn the dogs come
to leap in the waves and devour 
the broken promises of crabs, 
do not deny their pleasure –

leave them to roll in my ashes.

The Sunday Muse

TSM 169

Your hips the road trip
rock skip hip-hop 
refrain of the sea 

40 years our wild ride, side
by miles sliding by the passing time
on wide open roads 

Until here the sand-path ends 
in beach plum kingdoms taste 
on your lips slipsliding needs

Speeding curves my mind has
the bends brain wave ocean staves
octaves higher and higher

Like rose hips winding trellises
tethered to the crux of  you, 
communion of the journey's

Madness that heat rises,
your wide-brimmed laughter 
at the speed of light 

When my whammy bar transmission
went in gale-force winds
we watch the crash the curl

listen now to the metal seas
how you
drive me to distraction

The Sunday Muse