emerge from the rain
dripping, teeth chattering
in hoodies and coats
sweet costumes torn by fall gales
bags bulging with damp candy


these men and their hands
plucks and crashes, tender snares
sewn into folk songs
these men and their histories
the brilliant women they've kissed


a street lamp filtered
through rippled glass, half-cocked blinds
slats of yellowed light
midnight mission, shadowed leaves
thin ribbon of tap water


love-mad travelers
footsteps tracing a gold ring
around the isle
foggy moors dotted with sheep
cats perched on cobblestone streets


emerge from fog thick
as brick walls, iron steamships,
to the harbor cove;
the wary faces ashore
as we drag our thin corpses


ocean, still mirror
in the airless afternoon
our limp, dizzy sails
carve notches in the porthole
counting hours, days, life-times


a voyage of days
cast off with champagne clatter
and shower of suds
but hush, a queer darkness falls
macabre silence of the hold


blue-backed swallows tilt
their wings and nest on the backs
of my open palms
their bodies fold into sleep
and I join them, dreaming


wash the poison from
the curled coats of seeds, drain the
soapy waste water
heat blushes the grain brown
the germ raised like a whip-tail


the era of illness
bus rides broken by long peals
of coughing, raw gasps
the still air pulls with currents:
influenza, bronchitis


awake in moonlight
the dark miles of night stopped
for this passenger
the knife edge of consciousness
sleep thundering waves below


while we watch the game,
pass bags of chips, crack wise at
the glowing tv screen,
the day folds into darkness
the first cold nights of autumn


the room is spinning
with proclamations, sugar
strawberry incense
in a tight circle we pass
dice, toss matches, throw candy


some new tradition
mopey friday evenings to
turn pages in bed
feeling like a cypher, hollow
two eyeballs and no brain


the first niggling ache
like a loose tooth, mice nibbling
on your smallest toe
so quickly blooms malignant;
gangrenous limbs lopped to stumps


fronds of fennel wilt
next to a dozen white eggs
in their cardboard bed
jars of jellies and pickles
tinkle in the opened door


the rat-like whimper
of lungs, pumping with each flit
and fold of skin wings
world of darkness and echos
hear the ground under my feet


milk white skin, baroque
in a work shirt, porcelain
folded doll hands
the throw of your skin's perfume:
cream and sugar, wool and whey


bent tins of clams, pried
open and drained into pots
olives and parsley
he calls us from a cloud of steam
while draining pasta in the sink


ill-lit wind tunnel
black-top garage funneling sound
from the whirling blades
the roar of exhaust fans fills
every square inch, quakes each atom


step and collapse
draw myself up, step and fall
a downward arrow
traveling to the earth's core
doomed to tectonic smelter


two tired sailors,
we drift the living room rug
on the SS Couch
swigging gossip and trivia
like a flask passed between hands


your sweet civic heart
planting gardens between
crooked row houses
calling every neighborhood
by the name it gives itself


my messy kitchen
stacked skyhigh with chipped plates and
brown-ringed coffee mugs
cookie batter and fruit peels
nest between strewn tea towels


wings beat the glass globe
of the ceiling fan, splayed leg
stinkbug shadow
the cat stares, transfixed by
the prisoner's death rattle


ohio roadside
a bleak tree hung with vultures
mortician shadows
their gathered wings hunched ragged
paired gloves, pinned to a coatsleeve


the cacophony
of cheers and spilled gin gimlets
rattle the windows
below, we exchange small talk
grateful for empty foyers


gutters overflow
bearing dead leaves like steam ships
into the old cracked street
my heels click the cobblestones
wet black felt, two drowned moles


world of coiled rings
haloed planets circling
our tiny bowed heads,
microscopic corona
breathing blood between our cells


the morning rumble
black exhaust, the crushing weight
tires grinding the asphalt
to pebbles, to sand, to dust
blown in boiling tailpipe heat


lost in the static
broken signals, weakening
to dead doppler drop
mystery of space within,
where flesh parts invisibly