Suite 520

The line of chairs up against the walls
are vigilantes keeping track of the fish
hunkered behind a bubbling castle. Relax
say pictures of waterfalls and grasses.
From tables that grip the bristling carpet
People and Redbook are flashing their teeth.

Eyes shift as they keep tabs on the porthole
of the swinging door where one by one
we follow versions of our names
to a small room. Curtain, papered table,
pivoting screen where they show us
the scan, and how the wait goes on.

Skarn

I scooped up a mass of wet clay.
I doodled in the margins.

In the negative space of branches
I built whims and scenarios
and in the streaking weeks

of your dying I stretched open
the speck on the map, squirmed through

and we landed with a bounce
on the pine straw. Tang of resin,
wiggling campfire and jokes.

And we climbed the famous mountain,
and into the pool of the famous waterfall

we threw stones and listened
for an affirming plunk. The wind

sidled through the woods
until we arrived above the timberline
where the air became too fine,

A Country Known to Prayer Alone

The night is old as sand.
Underneath lie cities

where people sang ballads,
passed platters of oysters

and frescoed the loggia.
Our nerves are twanging strings.

Sleep like a dredger scrapes
the room where our feet stare

and sift new positions.
Wall, chair, bed edge. Coffee?

the nurse asks. Water?
Sleep detests a vigil.

Sleep yearns for things that sink,
that burrow down. The sand

is old but strong enough
to keep the morning out.

As the Crow Flies

Down the alley and over the fence.
Across the field, behind the waterworks.
C-section, getaway car, skip a grade.

Canoes and portages, the Cumberland Gap,
the Silk Road, express train, the Suez Canal.
Get me there, get me there sooner.

Squeeze through, scooch under, flying leap.
Trapdoor, hidden staircase, escape ladder.
And here is the ribbon on a branch to mark

the shortcut to the beach, the edge, the brink.
Let me stay here a little longer.