January, I met you last in sober resolve
a bet with my conscience lost
by February
that month frivoled and forgotten as masked March set
and days to weeks to months later
April disappeared with her disasters
and in May they bloomed bloody
a vicious, unfolding pattern
then June, an inverse of her former selves, was stoned and indignant
a domino of vile days marching on through soggy July
whose dearth of freedoms at least held me a version of close
toward August, where I rose as a meekly kindled long-dead flame
returned again, never yet done, and on
through something like September
I let creep in a loneliness heartier than any fall former
until October erupted
withered and giving, I found life in a sour wine start
still, an ending, and leapt into a fog of weeks,
a queasy November, and finally December
found footing on soft ground and now
another January rises, her life unknown and familiar
together and thicker and simpler and my
conscience without for once, bound beyond myself
for another year around some sun
as and with and for someone

swamp song

mama begs her baby for some wishes and she says
pointing to the center: dead dead dead.
from the outskirt of a circle, vicious thumping at a chest
seeing centered on the enemies, bring their heads
baby hasn’t tasted teat milk and hasn’t yarn to spin
and she weaves from empty spools
and she blankets mama’s din

is there a right side to a spiral, sinking slurping down a drain?
or is this our sovereign swamp, the bugaboos’ terrain?
treading tired on the peat are these calloused childs’ feet
and while mama’s pleading patience,
baby sinks beyond her knees

still she’s steeled and seeking saviors, weak and vapid and in gloom
but if meaning is the matter, this miasma metes a vacuum
and so mama’s sipping stomach acid
in intrinsic flagellation, begging baby choose:
leaky canoe, cement shoes, what to do?
baby blinks and says to mama: lead or lose,
lose lose.


in the morning when I watered the plants
the trash truck backed and beeped its way by and
one neighbor in an oversized black SUV burst too strongly
up the street, then gruffed her tires to the curb
squeaking rubber and scowling
to let the collectors slip through before
she shot down the remainder of the outlet, squealing onto
the main road and rupturing this morning ritual of
crow squawks and municipal noises with her engine growl.

and even the family across the street, whose coop was clucking
into the morning din, sighed relief through breakfast curtains
as her roughness dissipated into sea fog and
the chickens finally quieted down, perhaps though just because
enough of their work was done to quiet into Wednesday dawn.

that afternoon I wondered what the other neighbor noticed
as he gathered his cooler, mask and hardhat from the passenger seat
of his little red truck, the one he parks across from our front door
did he hear you mumble in the street, crouched and staring
through sunglasses at a burst milkweed mess,
questioning the dry stems as you snipped carefully
around butterfly eggs and scrounged what’d gone to seed?
did he notice me in the sun spot on the steps,
looking on softly from below a furrowed brow,
nose atwitch at the sharp smell of sliced stems wafting up the walk from your workstation,
or was he as lost in a thought as we were, perhaps blind to everything but a summer moment, last year
when his daughter bounced
out of the passenger door and soccer-cleat kicked that truck’s bumper
affectionately, her cheeks aglow from a well fought win, his too.

I wonder this as I hear Kate across the street clanging dishes through an open window, as she laughs in her kitchen, preparing dinner
and the crows caw in waves, hummingbirds cackle at our too brown salvia,
and you sweep the sidewalk smooth.

a word i am owed

the yellow angels of my underfeet, these little golems
little fishy mimics little gilled wisps
promise “I am upright I am straight-backed,” tell me
rest grow rest grow rest hunch less
little loves little prayers
alive as my own whims they are granted
and so
I take their smoke on faith of fog and burn
I deliver each a name in turn:
patience pain filth forgiveness youth and yearn
a rounding into the self I wove away from,
hurts of sturdy history gathered as thin strands to shred
in bold fabric I blazon a song to my own
tingling roots,
notes to rattle each cell loose
cadence is that
or a frequency beneath it something fearful something
rotten, no
are wrought from all, you
are a word I am owed