she is a child with sticky fingers

She ran away from home
off from the one brown bench and making friends
with the blue heron with silver wings.

Her sticky fingers
ran skipping through raw and naked waves
during hurricane Floyd’s slip and slide.
Sliced air in spirals swirling
while smoking opium in a
red wig and rainbow Mardi Gras dress
with her new friends,
and the Allman brothers.

Again and again, she licked and
returned for seconds,
loving that manic dancing frantic excitement

almost as much as
the crushing low.

hit by a bus on Eastern Ave.

the girl snuffed ink
freshly printed and pressed from every
corner paper and fliers and stickers
on lampposts and street signs.

she stumbled Eastern in a haze
ink sinking into the grooves
of her fingerprints and pupils
and never looking
fell to her knees while her nose
smelled deep the black asphalt.

in floral housedress
an old woman watched
while one wrinkled hand
patted lightly grey hair
matted on that one same side.

The Firehouse Coffee Company

Day after day, I have these cheap wood
Tables and chairs,
The constant chatter of
Two women, both wearing the same
Grey of the winter sky
And the one man
Sitting curled in a brown leather arm chair
In the very back, under a brightly lit
“Firehouse Coffee Co.” sign.

I don’t imagine that he is waiting for
A simple letter like I am.
Too intense, he is more like the stares of
Those painted black eyes of the Blues Brothers
Who sit and greet all us caffeine addicts. Or the
Strangely blank face of the firefighter on the pole
Who is forever a stationary decoration to this house.

He never looks up, which makes his features
Resemble now the bleak abstract
Paintings of the great Baltimore fire, smoke
Ash, soot, and still he never
Looks up at me; he does, however, take a small sip.

No, no, forget my previous thoughts,
This man in the corner is not any of these,
He is a government spy,
A landscaper,
A dock worker at the Canton port,
A philosopher and student of Keats.

He is a muse to all of us waiting on a letter.

The Man in Patterson Park

The man’s gnarled hands
fingered his coat collar absentmindedly
and pulled it close to block
the relentless cold March wind
his back curled over slightly
and what had been immaculate posture
fell to gravity and weight of years.

Secrets loves wars won and lost
the battles that were never his to
fight and die for. He, without regret, considered
himself dead since his return
thirty-seven years ago.

The park bench dug into his jeans
with splinters. The man dug his hands
into a snack bag of Cheetos, lightly
devouring and sucking off the cheese
from his fingers. Across the way
a squirrel tenaciously nibbled a nut
and the whole of the park groaned beneath
another gust of March wind.

Satisfied momentarily, he lifted his head, back
still bent. Dogs, babies, people all
were walking by, trees heavy with blossoms
drooped towards the ground, and
ducks circled aimlessly in the man-made pond.

Above them all on Hamstead Hill
the pagoda glimmered with a light that
seemed to shine from the inside. With
respect, Union ghosts let the man
disappear into the park bench with
a contented sigh.

Cast away

he spoke to himself
with a soft slur like sand in the mouth.
his eyes rolled around in his head
like waves lapping the shore.

he tries to remember, but her face becomes the rings
around the hot island moon predicting the rains.
he pictures her lost on the horizon.
he punches the palm tree till his hands start to bleed.

for years alone, he knows only the coconut rum.
it stains his lips brown as his skin tans to leather.

he passes out
in the hot island sun. he snores
while dreaming of nothing.

On My Back – Ceiling Fan Above

Mesmerized
by the fan
while lying on my bed,
it circles
in expanding loops
my tired mind desperate
to
keep up, keep up, but no,
I fall behind
then, the blades
start to blur
into lines,
rings like Saturn,
I follow mine, expecting a fall,
but they keep on, keep on,
I expect an
abrupt brutal end but
they keep on. I watch until my eyes
twitch,
blur,
settle quiet
into a Trance,
the quiet wind has dried the old tears and
created new ones.

The quiet wind
has stilled my lips
And I am no longer alive as before.

Domesticity (pasta cooked past al dente)

Now quiescent words
Between us—
Earlier it was all howling shouts
Starting those
Angry tears that I hate so much.
Shaking, shaking,
A sapling expecting to survive a hurricane…

Then, what was it
About the way I was standing
Spoon in hand like a weapon,
The water boiling over and creating a hiss?
What was it that made you deflate faster
Than me reaching over and
Turning off the burner?

Now, silence,
We sip wine and
Eat pasta cooked a minute
Past al dente.

Dreaming hour

Upon the late hour,
the fog and mist settles in and tucks my bones
into a soft sense of belonging
so I may sleep at once.
But no sooner do I close my eyes
then fantastical bright lights,
the colors that used to dress my body and flow through
my veins and out the cuts in my arms,
are dancing off into some distant masquerade.
In one scene
cutting through the fog that is now a sea
a shark is there.
And he moves so carelessly to and fro
gently cutting the waves. Suddenly he is by me
my hair extended in a hello, and
with an understanding, he passes.

One Night in Mission Beach

In the shadows
Of a steaming bath with Turkish detailing
And palm trees framing its lovely face,
So gently,
Like my wet hair to my forehead and neck,
I was held in arms
Bigger than my own, bigger than my fears.
Arms
With strong muscles and hands
That seemed to seek out
My weaknesses and my dreams
On my wet appendages and
Underwear not meant for swimming.

And the jet stream pulsed around us with bubbles,
And the sky seemed to spell out in its stars,
You only live once,
Live it up.