breathe deeply this wind

taste walnut leaves in the air

sunlight in pockets


children blown about

in the playground, in the street

men file off the bus


robin on the fence

sings bright notes, searches for worms

cat creeps, ears forward


smoke on limn

congregations of new flocks

lightning horizons


the river

mirrors ignited

wineglasses of sun

leaving home

that summer, the park ached

with the screams

and yips of kids and dogs

loosed upon it


it was green then,

pool full, moms with sunglasses

kids with flippers and sea monster floats


people burned weenies, took in a breeze,

smiled at each other

with beer foam moustaches


around, mamas sang in kitchens—

bread steam, meat-and-potato sear

floated over the baseball diamond

crawling with those spidery little guys

on St. Helena’s B-Team beating hell

out of St. John Francis Regis again—


porches creaked, smoldered with cigars

a hundred dogs on every block

raised the living and the dead

at each out-of-sync clock chime


anyone who had any money

bought grape pop in a bottle

a pack of luckies, or a snort of whiskey

and life was as good

as it was ever going to get


that summer, in the park,

in the pool, we watched

young mamas and older sisters

cross and uncross their legs,

snap their swimsuit tops

and pull the elastic out from behind

with index fingers


it was before life became knotty,

before the girls got pregnant,

and things went bad with cops

parents, brothers and sisters


and we all got the hell out


that summer was as good

as it was ever going to get

but there was no way to trace the lines

through the waves in the water

reflected in sunglasses



appleback then, when the hills were too big

we walked our bikes to fire hydrant rest stops

where we ate tomatoes we swiped

from the Everly’s garden, apples from Old Man Cole’s tree

and strawberries, hot and sweet, from the pyramid beneath


back home, we waited for hot rubber hose water

until it ran cold, our bare feet in cool grass

then, we scrambled for the corner of the house

to formulate a lie, make up another story

much the same as the last


it’s funny today to remember how good

stolen fruit tastes when its eaten under hot sun,

bikes propped against our knees,

and the way hose water quenches thirst so well

once it runs cold—


and sad to see how we’re still hiding

in the bushes from the man

in the back door

highway beautification

highway beautificationto make a highway pretty’s

been a problem since appius claudius cæcus

decided to move rome’s legions

faster, farther, and more efficiently


in all these years—nay, millennia—

of pavement engineering

only romans themselves

solved the highway beautification problem

with a landscaping program


the dead would be planted

along the shoulder of the appian way—

perennials for everyone to see


for the rich, broad-shouldered,

single-eyebrowed mausoleums;

middle classes rested, if not chicly,

then tastefully, in sprawling columbaria

kept garden fresh by slaves

later sown into potter’s fields


a hundred thousand miles of memoria

erase the eyesore of interstate,

four- and two-lane,

divided, undivided, turning-lane,

soft- and hard-shouldered,

urban and rural highway


behind guardrails,

perhaps even holding them up,

gravestones, urns, crosses,

wreaths, stars of david, mausoleums,

vases, crescent moons,

bronze baby booties, photos behind glass


gone the need to plant

to plow to mow to send

no need for men in orange suits

to pluck ballooned shopping bags from bushes

to stuff sun-faded wreaths

into black plastic bags

spring-fed pool

snapperoak shaded and pine needled,

free raptor of claw,

iridescent crawdads jet through hairy algae


a school of madtoms futz around in tea-brown decay

while a darter trio—two stippled and an orangethroat—

plot a run against the pumpkinseeds

lolling at the edge of the sapphire seep


a sculpin, the ancient old man, impatient

with the bluegill and shiner gossip

scuttles rock to rock

settles on the snapper’s back


an eye moves with the sculpin

as it hovers up off the shell

and glides toward a stick-tip of a nose


foxfirei came back here to remember

our first night alone in the woods

two boys, their tent, and their pipes


the forest lit up then

as if it knew the life

that would pass between us


honey mushroom and jack-o-lantern

shimmered, blazed a blue path

through this stretch of hardwood


campfire stroked the oak canopy

we talked of god and girls and love

click beetles skittered over glowworms in the leaves


and after, when embers had died,

foxfire cast aurora around us and railroad worms

swung like ornaments in hawthorns


night gleamed, shined, radiated

we sat and waited and watched

silver-crusted, moon flecked, fireflied


heat lightning danced on the horizon

we dreamed of growing up

driving cars, and drinking beer


and we drank and drove

fell in with girls

and forgot this place


the quiet of it all

this vast world where you and I

believed we would live forever


the night just isn’t as bright as I remember,

life just hasn’t been the same

since you’ve been gone


the kid rode for seven point three

before the bronc bucked him skyward

but his hand never came loose


tied as it was by a boy

who stuffed snuff in his lip

and said he was gonna win


the kid’s arm twisted like a rope

he ran, but that horse ran faster

and the boy fell under hooves


round they went, over manure,

dirt, skagweed, and shoe nails

the horse whipped him against cattle fence


men on ponies couldn’t stop that horse

finally a clown tackled it

and socked it one in the jaw


cut loose, the boy slid to the ground,

red cheeked, round mouthed,

a rag doll brought in from the cold