I come undone

My favorite sweatshirt has a thread
I tug without thinking because my hands
need something to do while my mind
dives into warmer waters. She blushes
when I tell her I like her

ponytail hair loosed around her face
as if someone creased a ribbon
to tie a gift just for me. She smiles
when I look into her eyes
& talk about tomorrow &

other presents we’ll unwrap together.
I don’t know how long this string is
but my mind follows her, my fingers find
this thread & she chases all
other thoughts out of the pool.

Suspended in air

She is dangling in the afternoon like Autumn
on the breeze, painting the horizon in her
favorite colors. I like to think the purples are just
for me as they frame the greens on trees
she’s allowed to stay a little longer.

October finds a way of fanning its leaves
until the hills burn with Autumn & still she traces
the sky with echoes of the sun’s brushstrokes
suspended somewhere in the atmosphere
she always knows where they land.

I put the day together like a puzzle but leave
it out of the box so the clouds can play
a major chord. Soon she’ll sing the stars
into a symphony while I taste grapes
on her lips, greens and purples linger.

I should buy a cowboy hat

As she counted off her medical history one
swollen finger at a time, I saw that feral cat
still self-conscious enough to clean
herself with her tongue. There are always
more cats & daylight doesn’t dim fireworks.

I hear them calling me, the sun making
an apprentice of the moon but still chasing
the dark from my eyes a few minutes longer. I find
comfort with the blanket over my ears
— I can still hear the bangs as I fall asleep.

I realized last night I face West when I lay
drifting to sleep. There must be something healing
in following the sun — she hasn’t mentioned
maladies since I sought that haven & I think
about cats as I shower for the journey.

A hazy night

We sat on the beach tracing colors
of a sunset that would make poets of us all.
She thinks I’m a failed sentimentalist
swimming through snapshots of yesterday

as memories stretch thinner then molt —
sink — settle at the bottom of the sea. I can’t hold
my breath as well as I did that night
the waves sang an opera in shells flat under

the weight of the world. Moments that pool
together in murky water will stir up
a seabed. She saw the face of god
in a cloud but I’m hazier tonight.

A night out

The specials hang precariously
from the menu as we wait
for our drinks or some other memento
of the night. Somewhere a gambler’s
sullen request for a crown
of a different suit threatens to upset
the atmosphere before evaporating
like vapor, airily passing
our server on the way from the kitchen.

She says Issac Newton is floating
in her head & I crave an apple but
I’ll settle for a journey where the sun picks
a number & lets us settle
on a sliver of the wheel. The specials fall
from my menu but there’s no law
against that. The server takes
our orders & the night feels endless.

August and after

August lacks the willpower to hold its breath
through a summer storm. No, the gusts
of a petulant season mark time
on our window, the rhythm of rain soaking me
to tranquility even in the face of ferocity.

Red-faced & resolute, even summer must end —
I see its breath, I see the wind, I see
the trees return to repose as the sky blues again.

We all have endings but with a pilgrim’s optimism
I start on another page of this diary, determined
to find more white sheets have been inked
in the months that fall somewhere
behind a summer storm’s last howl.

With the tides

The sea is high again
today, with a thrilling flush
of wind that circles us
like the willows that weep
around the lines we draw
in the dirt.
She wears
her wrinkles when she smiles
to remind me the world
circles heavenly bodies
in its own time.

The tide
goes low if we wait long enough
& still the stars circle her
hair dancing on the air
so we wade deeper tomorrow.

She swims

She swims in the air, afloat
but not adrift, aloft but
not aloof. She moves
with purpose, as if her lungs inflate
from helium only she knows
is there.

She swims & swims

swims among the oceans
of clouds whose undertow
pulls west where she can find
her fortune

swims but never loses
her way as I hang from a constellation
growing larger with each stroke.

Life is a neighborhood

where trees stand on the edge of memories
& guard property lines

where adults provide more shade
under well-worn baseball caps

where each day starts with yes
even if the sun hasn’t stumbled
into view yet

where the smell of mowed grass cuts faraway
scenes to its perfect height

where nearly everything that has happened
is in the past

or tucked neatly beneath the surface
under a wide-brimmed hat

where the shade is alive & she whispers
because the lights are on.

In the window

I’ve always had thrift store mannequin
fashion sense though I display
a bit more modesty. I’ve kept things
hidden under designs of all sorts of noises
for so long, a turtle making plans
in the dark.

She has me peaking
out of my shell, sticking my neck farther
to where the air tastes new like
simple syrup in the sun. The patterns
shine in the light, or maybe
that’s just me.

Still the mannequin
changes clothes in the window & she
keeps urging me on.

From the bridge

Sometimes I think about the ocean —
sour water that whispers honey
to coasts spread too thin. What mysteries
swim below the surface,
below sea level, below even the light?

We prefer to stay dry, to permit the water
into narrower gaps
magnifying the depths until we see
ourselves colored in light even
from this height. In the distance

I see clouds slide down the sky
like white petals to reveal their own
vibrant secrets in wispy voices
that splash in the ocean & submerge
without another thought.

Sometimes I wonder what the ocean thinks
about me — drawing breath
like arrows from a quiver but never falling
off this bridge as we cross into
all the sun will allow.

Almost

I was shocked this afternoon to learn
it was still Thursday & not because
my best days are behind me

This day is forever almost — not exactly
halfway, not the weekend, it begs
for a feeling but rarely provokes warmth

Still, the sun sets like any other day
until it rests somewhere below the horizon
& night almost arrives too early

That light switch always gives
a little jolt in this dry air but there’s so much
left to see & I can risk the shock

Now it’s almost tomorrow & I almost see
her face developing in the dark, saying
my best days are ahead of me.

Pair of hands

Balloons swallow the afternoon
air floating beyond my reach to overcome
their fear of flying. The soft balance
of curves straddle shadows with memories
of beach umbrellas shielding peach skin.

We like each other’s company so
we stack rocks like a snowman though
I’m not sure how they do it
with stick hands. I like the shape of things
we build together with our hands.

Checkerboard

Bitten by the slender twilight
I’m reminded winter howls
at my bones more each year,
the breeze reminding me February

marches between itinerant
daydreams. I want to taste life, catch it
in my hands & wash away
the dirt until the sky rhymes

with the ground. The earth meets
in the middle & she sees
the moonlight like a checkerboard,
colors jumping to be together.

The lioness in the living room

I watch her saunter through the room
because there’s nothing on tv
& anyway the flickering light
from the sun bounces off her cheeks
like a spotlight directing my attention
to curtains before static-clung scenery.

She moves in solid waves of hope,
weaving through well-worn furniture
with the confidence of a lioness tip-toeing
through stalks of grass, though she’d never
let grass stains set on the sofa.

On sun-soaked afternoons like this I return
from a long walk — the breeze
almost too cool, reminding me
February is not of one mind
though it’s more hopeful
than some. I sit & think about the spark that hangs
like a moonbeam near her ear as the tv
dissolves to static & she closes
the curtains — her prey frozen
in the dark.

One dozen (or two)

She absorbs the food
in her bowl, not chewing
but vacuuming the thing
clean. And why not? She doesn’t know
clocks — doesn’t know
there will be another meal
in 12 hours, or what 12 hours is,
or what 12 is, only that the wait
feels like an elephant
sitting on her chest & just breathing
is swallowing mud in a storm.

One twelve makes a year
two twelves a day & a dozen eggs
last a week. Clocks mark the time
but never tell the story. Mine
didn’t start with you but
hands spin us together so all that turns
are pages of our book, the clockface
breathing easy as the chapters
swallow us whole.

Thunder tonight

I woke up asleep on the couch, the pins in my hand
needling me to move

& though the night insists on darkening our days
like a blanket tossed

over the lampshade to dull the intensity, still
she shines. This night

should know that thunder waits smiling
beneath her skin

pounding through pores in sweet moments
that bounce like static

which makes the air smells sharp & the days
are never dull.