The Reason

The heart has reasons, Pascal said, which reason
knows nothing of. But I think we know the reason.

The man combs his dark hair and trims his beard,
but the woman who swipes left still has a reason.

The plane lost altitude and smacked a mountain?
Check the black box for the official reason.

He said he’d left his three kids at the shelter
when he lost his job, and clung hard to the reason.

If the twister killed the whole congregation
at Wednesday service, well, isn’t God the reason?


1. Past

This sonnet you once wrote is finished now.
Hospital bracelet on the moment’s wrist,
item not found on the Official List—
I am the snicker when you take your bow.

Call me the whisper in the wings, the baize
on which the dice get thrown, the backward look.
I’m the initials in the ledger book
scrawled in a hand you vaguely recognize.

My accusations glare from every mirror.
I know you well and answer to your name.
Each time you smile, my wrinkles show up clearer;

Giving Myself Up

I am tired of having a name.
Every time I wake
it grinds its teeth
like the gears of a moving van
and it smells of soot,
like the sweat of being a man,
and it weighs like a stone
I carry for no one’s sake.

In the courthouse it echoes
down the long corridors
and it creaks in the bedsprings
of cheap rooms and it croons in bars;
it whistles up to the gaps
between the stars
and down to the truck stop
bathroom’s piss-stained floors.


The car mechanic’s counting out his bills
behind the E-Z Mart at one a.m.;
he’ll toss rocks at beer bottles just for thrills
until his dealer comes, it’s fine with him.

He draws in a deep breath and sees the light
swerve from the highway, puzzling the back wall
he leans against just to keep out of sight.
A quarter bag and some fentanyl, that’s all.

His phone vibrates again though nothing’s wrong.
For two years he’s been living in a trailer
with a girl who works at Publix. They get along
even if sometimes she says he’s a failure—