Tight blue


She comes apart, shirt bunched

about her breasts

and showing hip going to fat—

but not yet.


She turns, skirt falls a little

reveals the elastic line

of white cotton, tag flipped up

like a baited fish hook.


She straightens everything out

with a whisk of fingers, cinches it

all tight with a snap. Nearby,

a breath turns to a sigh.

The lover


Coffee spoons tinkle against morning,

she tells me her nightmares—

house-trapped old women,

ghosts asleep on park benches,

walkers and wheelchairs and ventilators.


She touches her cheek, wrinkles spider away,

veins creep along the back of her hand.


I listen and watch and want to remember

when I spread my fingers

across her skin, calm and smooth.


She kept crackers bedside,

magazines next to the dog,

eyes on the television

nose to the gossip pages.


I used to lie on the pillow

and smell the dog smelling.


The dog is all alone now.




He was once the exploiter

of those who exploited,

found no reason not to reach over the horizon,

see what the world held for him.


But in age, fear grew, clung to him

until he ceased to bring food to his mouth,

and brought his mouth to food.


Photos of firefighter, paratrooper, father

who made his children climb mountains,

build fires, walk deserts.

He thunders across the floor,

the end of an era.

Trier, 1986


Through grape-heavy trellis

we watched a city effervesce

on the river like dreaming.

We ran barefoot over smooth,

cool cobble stones,

drank wine in the sun.


The vines bloomed, hung with fruit,

were harvested, then pruned and tied.

Waiting for a new season,

the vineyard stood empty.

Snow covered steep paths and rows

above the city and the river.


Now, the cathedral bell tolls at midnight,

echoes through mist on quiet streets.

The stream flows beneath ice

by the old mill as if you never left,

and years hadn’t passed between us.


Winter moon


Ice cold, motionless, silent,

profiles silver and gray—


A ball on the grass,

The grill on the deck,

Chairs in the yard,

Vines, leafless, fence tangled.


The ringing of ice cream truck bells,

robins trilling in dawn, calls of children

hang in the air, crystalline, waiting thaw.

The farmhouse

Squares of moon across bare plank;

dust the color of ghosts.

Windows webbed and spiked like teeth.

Snow drifted in the hearth.


In a breath, dust lifts and swirls

through the room like mist.

In the stillness,

a child rasps and heaves.


I rub my hands against the cold,

feel from memory and from genes,

the calluses, the deep joint pain,

the odor of frozen, plowed earth.


Outside, coyotes gather

in the snow, baying

at the moon.

Autumn waiting

Like leaves, those who can’t find home

scatter. Mangy dogs crane necks,

sniff for the dank smell of shelter.


Twilight falls on my porch swing

and into my coffee cup,

flutters up again with the steam,

orange against the night.