Jan 22

Something simple

I’m always thinking of last year, yesterday, crooked sentimentality 
For something I never bothered to appreciate at the time, or, 

Something you didn’t. When time kept gaping like a jaw
For instance, breath curtailing a heartbeat for my sake  

Maybe the first time you noticed or maybe the first 
Time you thought it out loud. I was thinking 

Of you early in the morning, thinking of your 
Fingernails in the hours before the rosary 

Opened into my palm though I am not 
Religious, and the Hail Mary clings 

Limply to my teeth; before the 
Walls swallowed me in my 

Own silvery light. Whose 
aura is this? Whose favo

Rite mouth and dark 
Jacket? Too engulf

Ing. I’ll never b
Other to think 

About it 
Aug 07

cape cod

who carries the little bottles?
fills them with sand and glass,
corks them tenderly, risking
cuts or bruises for tourist-
shop pleasure and free wifi?

I learned last week
that all my life what I've called
beach plum- bobbly
fruit green to red- is in fact
beach rosehip.
I've never stayed long enough
for it to purple 
or be made tea. 

everything here- everything
that is surface level want-
seems so devid of pleasure 
and paper thoughts and purell
save masked beach tourist giftshops
never gaudy only grim
in the prescense of wanting
seagulls with harp string 
legs and withering chests.

I coud give my memories 
away, scoop my brain like
hospital pudding,
and still I will be
caught between fisherman,
hawaiian shirt, & whatever 
the sea has asked me to be
on any given sunday,
in any given lighthouse,
Jul 25

I complain about loving I complain about not being able to do it

you’re just complaining I 
love complaining I love to complain but
also to be quiet 

you’re doing all these things because you can
I’m not doing anything because I can I’m pressing a hole in the wall. I’m 
pressing a hole
in the wall as you complain. I complained
about this wall color.
I don’t feel like a person I complain
you are a person! you say
the bump in the wall
swells like a tumor, or a blister. 

I complained about my blisters the ones
I got from running in the rain in plastic
birkenstocks. complaining was just a secret way 
of saying I love this I should complain
about your frustrating perfections more often 
so you know
that I love you.
Jul 25

every city only the edge of god

outside churches with slush
or in tights & the sunshine—
boston, chicago

new york, montreal
paris, and dublin.
i like them dirty & hopeful,

near liquor stores
& goodwills—
they are

pulled up hair
and some irreplaceable 
childhood longing, 

an undeveloped muscle memory.
all the lit candles,
every prayer not for god

but for the city herself,
with her
edges and echoes 

fluorescent palpitations 
and bleeding sidewalk cracks,
24 hr cvs more sacred than scripture

starless sky genesis
puddled sewer holy water
T ride pilgrimage

drunk profanity a hymn—
if only someone 
were listening
Apr 18

I left the window open

I was brave enough to leave
the windows open last hunting 
season, although the bullets have
a tendency to scare my heart from her post,
even though hunting season 
is a maze of gunshots.
who am I to cry over a deer
-this isn't tiger king!-
but it is my life
the risk I take of being frightened 
is mine/only to hear
the crickets one last time
or footfalls on
the patio
or someone crying
off in the sky
Mar 13
poem challenge: CJP-COVID19

Sonnet for uncertainty

Freshmen held hands,
I shared a bag of popcorn with my sister,
and the subway riders gripped poles—
what do you call kissing with a mask on?
In January I read about pandemics in the car,
but it was snowing then.

Now I have a cold and everyone I talk to
takes a step back.
I can only assume
there’s no theatre in quarantine 
but even from the window you can watch
winter dripping away.

It’s not the right time for touch, no,
I check the New York Times instead.
Mar 06

A reminder about the boy you love

(as told through a swing dance and a physics textbook)

The boy is but an echo 
The boy is but a tune 
The boy is but a sharp
The boy is but a scuff in wood 
The boy is but a pause between sets, a present

science promises pasts and futures 
slip into each other.
I couldn’t tell you why,
I couldn’t explain how the fabric 
of space and time dips 
and spins and stretches, 
but if you watch the dancers’ shoes;
how they turn on a dime, 
when the floor becomes pure grease 
and every glint of heel is a star, 
you will understand, 
you will see it in the way your friend
plays the flute, keys clacking. 
It is all only interaction, 
quanta shifting.
There is no “here” or “this” 
just as there is no “him”: 
he is only atoms momentarily stable 
before returning to dust, 
like some bible verse the liars got 1/4 right.

The boy is but a blip. 
Dec 20

Dreams III

(for e) 

in two years we will be back in the bean bar-
no just listen to me for a second-
and you will be playing piano
and singing with your voice 
like a crystal vase and will have forgotten my name
or maybe the other way around and I 
will have forgotten my name
and the shoes I wore on this night-
this very night!-
when the christmas tree is like an arch
bruising the sky
and no one is on church street but somehow there’s not 
a single star to be seen 
except when I waited for you 
to come out of the house and stood 
for a minute and didn’t wish for anything but happiness
and isn’t this happiness?
here with you drinking a coffee and watching everyone love each other
everyone miss each other without being gone
their effervescence is subtly vulgar
and now that I think about it 
happiness is rather lonely 
and both of us believe we would rather
Dec 20

Dreams II


I had a dream where I was so sure
that even though you are as stoic as a block of marble 
and drive yourself to the doctor and the
grocery store
and you’ve told me to shut up
& I’ve been afraid and also awed
and you bought your own car
and run a business
and go to parties and 
sit vaguely in closets and I barely know you,
that your mother still schedules
you a haircut appointment every 6 weeks
and she still drives you
and smiles at you in the mirror 
when she thinks you are not looking
and would like to believe as fervently
as you do that she knows nothing
that the painters are the ones leaving the 
cigarette butts in the begonias
and it’s almost endearing how much
you wish your stepfather to be a  claudius
but anyway when you are sleeping-
when you come home-
she sits on your bed and cries

Dec 20

Dreams I


we all learned in 3rd grade
why the sun sets at 4:30 in December
and sometimes I dream about this
or maybe not this specifically but anyway
I wake up knowing the light on the 3rd 
grade classroom door and knowing symmetry
and knowing easy Wednesdays,