we write our own endings

the poem is not the emotion,
the dark mouth swallowing
your yolk-burst heart, it is not
the icy tongue around your neck.

it is a remnant.
we write it down dumbly
the same way we worship
a god who one day will destroy us

with the flick of a wrist,
without a second thought.



congratulations and thank you for the poems, half marathoners! and good luck to those carrying on. xx.

hour 12 – spring cleaning in the dementia wing of rolling green village

depression’s daughter, i should not be surprised
at what you find worth keeping:
oranges, toilet paper, salt shakers,
mail, important but unopened,
a few hundred sets of stale oyster crackers–
neat rows near but not touching
photos of your children when they were children,
the way you now see them, and whom you desperately miss.

hour 11 – to all the books who’ve gone before

You, who have given so much
and left my flesh alone.
You, whose love-well has become my own.
You, who bared your spine for
this dilettante pile of clumsy bones,
who paid my fees for Charon–
and called me back

to continue my quiet instruction
on how a person should be.

hour 10 – what is love



just kidding.



what is love?

reaching in the night,
and finding
my hand warm in the golden shell
of your steady breath



hour 9 – futures

sometimes I lay awake thinking               about how ten years from now
there will be fewer of us                         and fewer days for me
to spend with you.                                     under Edison bulbs
in honeysuckle gardens,                         mug of camomile tea. yet
even in this dream i see                            how i am colder,
pulling your jacket around me,                      thin skin eyelids,
and the morning glory vine                               less vibrant,
like colors are in memory.

sunset on the pacific                            pink as a newborn
drawing my hand to yours.                       there is nothing gained, you say,
in anticipating misery. we walk             collecting the pearlescent once-homes
of pea-sized creatures                                   to place on bookshelves
and into our palms. grief                                   is this same transmutation
and too prefers to be held,                     to be greeted as a friend,
as if he is                                                      an idea whose time has come.

hour 8 – half gone birds

Everything changes –
Songs we love
Days we want to live in,
Who we think of during
A slow G7 progression.
Our professions
Our possessions
What holds us and
Keeps us–
Up at night or down
In the basement
Of our feelings
The place where
These dirges emerge from,
Where nothing changes
But how much harder it is for me
To admit what I should call this.


title from sylvan esso, funeral singers

hour 7 – conversion

my mother worships a god of parking spots.
all the problems and all the wars and all those hungry babies–
but i do the easy things first, too,
cross off wake up, make coffee, on a list
that might go on to cure cancer or
walk the moon–
but probably not.

life is discovery, i guess,
every pathetic love letter, every dew-fresh morning
and why can’t they live together
that old witch and her goldfish
why not every odd pairing,
every gift given freely,
every city swinging wildly
on the grand dumb whim of tectonic plates.

i don’t want some white-lined,
sanitized, god of convenience–
don’t ask me to pray.
give me instead those who believe in:

a caught breath, the pause before,
every wish i have for you,
every wringing hand.
the last croak of the percolator,
the welcoming dawn.

sure as that first awareness
of the damn cat outside
and the sun on the window
today’s another knock-down, drag-out, fifty-fifty
and tomorrow is the place
where i gently plant my hope.

hour 6 – hell

It will be not pyrotechnic but arithmetic:
the final tally,
what you’ve done, what you’ve failed to do.
Peering over dispassionate columns of unregistered evils,
it’s God, Peter Singer, and a bottle of whiskey
making good use     of heavy brass scales.
On one side, love – the other
a vast and colorless wasteland
of infinite regret.

hour 5 – how to stop time

Well for heavens’ sake don’t check the mail
Or eat a square meal.
Avoid bone broth, beat cops,
Refinancing, renovations —
Small dogs.

Most of all ignore
The incessant push pull
Of a liver too stupid to swallow this pill.

hour 4 – 14 years

Since I came to you, I’ve lost the feel for seasons.
Your unerring breeze displaces green
into times it should not be, and fronds
are not leaves – and would not choose it.

When I traded for this, my world was made of water
the great laughter of fish and toes and
what gravity does with raw material.
I have vowed my way into so many places,

used branches as signposts but,
never was the water so big
as it is from these dark nights
down the shore.