Saying It

The Getty

We ride the train up to the museum on the hill
and you point everywhere but yourself:
an actor’s house; mimosa trees; the crescent

of distant ocean; Downtown Los Angeles.
Down there, a Little Tokyo street performer
is telling someone about his snowman screenplay.

Down there, your baby daughter is with the man
you won’t ever truly leave behind. Last night
she touched everything new, asking, This? This? This?

and you made patient introductions: chopsticks,
purse, Anne-Marie. When I first introduced
my future husband to my family, Uncle Dan asked him

Close to Home

The Menlo Park Police Department live-tweets updates
and we find out everything we’ve slept through:
Suicidal subject. Barricaded in home. Shots fired. Avoid area.

Our street’s closed and we can’t leave the house.
As usual, we refresh for the latest, thumbs tapping
their frantic Morse against the general feeling

of helplessness. Yesterday, we drove to the coast
on a whim, it was so nice out, stopping to watch
the harbor seals stretch their giant bodies, sunning

themselves on the rocks like underworked divas,
without a thought that someone somewhere—
in the Craftsman around the corner, for example—

The Weathervanes

What must be the last weathervane in Delaware
turns on its trusty, its unrusting pivot—
above the arrow, a harried copper hare
forever overtaken by the wind
that spooks her north-northeast and beats her there.
We feel the storm press flush against our backs
and run its breathy fingers through our hair.
We’re aware of the wisest direction to run.
We have always been running. It’s why we’re still here.

The Children’s Crusade

Once I spent a winter term in Boston
…………on an internship in children’s advocacy.
…………The lawyers there didn’t know what to do with me,
with my long hair and my gauche manners on the phone,

so I decorated my cubicle with mottoes:
…………GIVE A MAN A FISH… TEACH A MAN TO FISH
…………and trudged out through the cold and slush
to bird-dog the staff in their righteousness.

I was living with a prep-school cohort
…………at a settlement house in the South End,
…………slumming it. I was another dumb blond,
and one night my friends cued up Deep Throat.

Cabin in the Woods

The way is clear through the pasture
…………down to my cabin in the woods
that has been closed since November.
…………On either side the pale geranium nods,
and a wild rose has decided to volunteer.

The field mice will have wintered over in style
…………in that last outpost of my family’s history
with the stained liquor carton, the splayed file,
…………the box of cremains that is empty,
the mahogany desk too big to fail.

They will have made nests from each medium,
…………nibbled off the carpet’s fringe
and shredded the padded pericardium
…………containing the gold pocket watch
that kept time long before my time.

Woman with her Throat Slit

Hello,
Please confirm if you are still alive, because two gentle men worked into my office this morning to claim your Contract funds in our custody. I got your email from one of the files of those who have not been paid for the Contract you or your Parents did. If you are still alive please confirm with your full contact details ASAP  for you to receive your payment.
–Derek Langston

For Grandfather

And then a rock dove, astonished midair, dove
from its own ghost that stamped upon the pane,
in dovetailed detail, a short-lived afterlife
before it all came avalanching down
and I was left to split the difference
between transparence and sheer emptiness.
Lifting a palm, I spread it on the pane

of your still-lifted palm, spreading in pain
behind the far side of the fading moon
of breath now misting up the wall of glass
which splits the terminal in half. Isfahan
nesfe jahan, you’d boast, lifting a glass.
If you’ve seen Isfahan, then you’ve seen half
the world. I’ll see you in the other half.

Composition with Red, Blue and Yellow

after Piet Mondrian

Some lines, right angles, and the primary colors
make out of almost nothing something lasting.
He’s found a new common denominator

in the poverty of paint. Sick of the clutter
of the particular, why not try fasting
on angles, lines, and just the primary colors?

Who says that you need God, a dubious smile, or
even lovers always sadly parting,
to find it art? The common denominator

between success and failure, fear and valor,
Russian and German, or you and me, looks something
like these lines and angles. The three colors