The gum on my left shoe as I walk
Across the carpet makes a sound
Close to little spits of radio static.
And the tug it gives my leg lets me
Know I am aware of my walking
Lets me know I know where I am—
I am in my life, and in the library.
This is a rarity for me and I let
The rarity of it in, jog my memory,
And allow myself to wonder where
I was the last time this happened
And am I free enough to smile.



To the snow that fell earlier today
And kept me from diving inside,
Where yesterday is a warm country
Thousands of miles away from here—
Footprints get me giggling about how
Temporary all of my arrangements are
And that my feet are adding a few steps
Against the idea that I am a spare part
Of this day I am too scared to live in.
And, Yes, because it feels special to feel
Like nothing special, and in particular,
In boots, on a sidewalk, late in winter.

(First appeared in Dossier.)



Rebuilding a family's master shower
I heard a mother tell her boy—
Grandma doesn't need a present
This year because she's dead, honey.
And to this he gave a confused "O.K.?"
It echoed square, level, plumb, and true
In the small stall I was standing in,
With grout on my trowel, where I,
The carpenter, filled in the gaps,
Deep between the muttering tiles,
Repeating: Terrible, just terrible.

(First appeared in Living Forge.)



The moon
Above two
Actors on
I wonder,
With no one
To turn to,
If I watched
The moon
The night
The moon
Was filmed.

(First appeared in The American Poetry Review.)



Keep your distance.
If you love me, keep
Your distance when
I die—give me room,
But not so much we
Lose sight of the fact
Of our eyes unseeing
Each other vanishing.
Love will be the trust
We were here entirely
And part of this world.
If you put two parallel
Lines down on a page,
Read them carefully.
Look at them sideways,
Draw the meaning into
The distance, and make
A point for departure.



Say it's a form of heat that doesn't rise
But passes from one body to the next.
Say it flows through you and then out
And back in again like a ghostly thread
Weaving a basic pattern inside of you
That will slowly begin to take the shape
Of what you'll think you can describe.

(First appeared in The Yale Review.)



Polluted with fear, the hour arrives
With the bad faith of saying nothing
Well—keep up your right words,
For the new will trust them: sleep
Is for lunch, and out where the voice
That is still great within us rises up,
Each entity under the sun will map
Their escape route on the back
Of a cocktail napkin before bed—
But who, and how, will we tell it?
Heaven is the color orange you see
When you close your eyes and look
At the sun—but if you could peer far
Enough into the night sky, you'd see
A star in any direction you looked:
When and where will we sleep?
When we find one we can listen to,
But how, and where, it gets out of its
Mystery, and way, we may never know.
Who, but we, did wander through
The murderous chafe of days sublime?

(First appeared in The American Poetry Review.)



There is safety around the smell of coffee and laughter.
And a story so simply told it sounds like our story—
Like your life, a lie you made up as you went along—
Until it stopped working, and then you are the hair
Arrested in the shower and won't wash down the wall.
And it's puzzling in the purest sense of puzzling to you—
Inspiration comes in with a dusty tool bag and leaves.
And you wear that "What the fuck?" expression you have
Every time you experience an aspect of relativity like this.
Everything and nothing infinitely like something and never
Left to be what it is or would become begins to sound
Like math for peace—if you just took an involuntary breath
Of hope and surrendered even more to what happens next
And everything you can't imagine after that, with love.
And that is when we doubt and say you'd have to be dead
Or free. The storyteller tells us only our idea of who
We are is dead. And that we are all our own religion.

(First appeared in The American Poetry Review.)



I pulled the top
Of a white birch
Down with rope.

Every so often
I'd pause to
Catch my breath.

A couple squirrels
Could be heard
In the distance.

They were getting
Closer as I was
Getting closer.

The tree, bent
To the ground,
Was horrifying.

As usual, the late
Sun asked for
Nothing in return.

The squirrels
Made off their
Separate ways.

I loaded myself
On to the birch
Catapult and cut.

High high high
I flew far above
The canopy.

Ecstasy does
Nothing to say
What it was like.

Down down down
I raced through
The canopy.

Tearing my skin.
Lashing my face.
Breaking my bones.

I tried to become
A white deer
And failed and won.

(First appeared in Maggy.)