Bamboo Shoots

Before three days of rain,

your green bullet faces

barely poked through

sun-baked clay.

 

In the loam, below

late afternoon, I admire

ecstatic upturned palms

of radish sprouts

 

awaiting their Rapture.

Then I notice you,

now standing taller

than my head.

 

You are hollow

sentinels, black and lithe

as newborn crickets

chirping warnings

 

below my bedroom

window. This is a space

for which I am grateful

you have decided

 

to defend with your

eager lives, spear-straight,

into the slippery

panting night.

You Slid Out One Night in the Cold (No Note)

You leave so curiously;

I panic-pedal my bike

until dawn searching

this drunken town

for your scent,

your sarcastic chuckle

and pathetic beard.

 

My list of reasons for you

leaving if you had left

an itemized list:

the fiery car crash;

my shattered arm;

your jealousy;

and survivor’s guilt;

gone violent, wrong.

 

You’re long gone as am I.

To Texas or Iowa

because you always

liked the squenching

confines of leather.

To think I once believed

in us, how wildly I surrendered

and how, after ten solid years,

the heart yearns to return.

Phytoplankton

As the Perseid meteors skitter across the island sky,

we don goggles and leave bathing suits on the shore.

 

You drag me past breakers until I no longer

feel the sure sand beneath me.

 

A panicked gasp for air before we dive will never

afford me enough time to marvel at the plankton,

 

clinging desperately to our hair and masks

like tiny phosphorescent comets.

 

Your grip may be crushing in the descent,

but I still perceive minute miracles,

 

creatures striving to illuminate a vacuum

black enough to drink us up.

For Lynda Benglis

Oozing magnanimous, your molten

talent slithers across the walls.

 

Leaden meteors melt, folding perpetual,

leading  back to primordial tumult.

 

These are  the  liquid sculptures you dream

and understand deeply,

 

but you say your hands muddle intention.

You say your pewter splash is too grandiose.

 

I need you to remember the morning

you placed flattened musket balls

 

deftly along my spine. You flitted gentle

as you positioned each exploded flower

 

onto a vertebra with fingers

steeped heavy in grace.

pupils=universe

Some mornings you will find me turned toward you–my nose barely touching yours, my chin tilted upward–enjoying your sleep. You curl fetal, a small animal (chipmunk or flying squirrel) as it clings to its mother (pseudo-goosedown pillow with blue piping). I trace your temple; you whimper. First melon-tinged light sneaks past the blind slats as you squint one reluctant eye open–a gold-flecked iris in bloom. Pupils unfurl like clenched buds bringing my day break. I breakfast beneath your vast lashes. And, when dawn’s light is just so, I understand the big bang theory, your pupils–my universe perpetually expanding.

Bird’s Eye View

Anemic late-afternoon sunlight twists, chokes

through the rhododendron tanglewood

as you pull me upward.  Birdbone hand clasps

January-cold hand.  You crow about your

mountain crest, laced with gods, at odds with the sky.

This view will stagger, you promise.

 

I stagger to the top, panting, squinting, afraid

to open my eyes fully to an unforgivable vista,

spiked with arthritic, spindly trees.  Distant,

odd smoke stacks puff empty as promises

into a blanched sky.

 

My ashen breath comes in shallow, empty puffs.

You point, but I cannot hear you beneath dead spindles of air.

Tanglewood writhes upward; branches beckon like gods,

whispered promise of flight.  You clench tight;

my hand is cold beneath yours

and twisted as a crow claw.

SCRABBLE

I hesitate when speaking

to you; I slosh

R’s and squelch

Q’s, deliberating

a careful approach to my

seven-letter manifesto–

QUARTZY.

 

My smirk

skitters along,

a childlike triumph,

which you’re quick

to crush in an onward

rush of splayed

fingers.

 

You clear the board.

Maple letters scatter

and rearrange themselves

against the white pine floor

in words you struggle spiteful

to spit

out.