A close read
reveals that
I am nothing
but a rough draft
riddled with
misspellings—

a work in progress
watered down by
superfluous adjectives,
non sequiturs, and
smothered verbs.

Love is an editor.

She courts me
with a pocket of
sharpened pencils,
blue and red.

She marks me
up meticulously—
dele, stet
dele, stet.

Decades punctuated
by intermittent edits.

Sunlight slanting
through an hourglass.

Her hair as white
as the final page.

When the end comes,
will she love me enough
to give me another pass?

The weather only makes it worse.
Cicadas sounding off at dusk.
The flowers blooming in reverse.

Your hand in mine.
Pour yourself another drink:
bourbon, two fingers.
Her hand in mine.

Our backyard has gone black,
the summer’s vestigial fireflies
devoured by limbs and leaves.

Lie on your back
and listen to me,
decode the blades
of grass that tickle
your ears and neck.

Love or silence.
Which is worse?

We pull at words
like dark threads,
composing curtains
for the windows
of a waiting hearse.

His wife is as
assiduous as
a mother bird.

She keeps
the windows
clean with rags
and buckets
of vinegar and
steaming water.

What happens here.

He sweeps
the ceiling
and ponders
the meaning
of the word
perspicacity.

There are
mornings
spent fussing
over underused
demitasse sets.

What happens here.

There are
afternoons
side-by-side
on the front
porch glider,

watching clouds
attenuate across
a porcelain sky.

What happens here.

The smallest
sounds never
fail to surprise
them.

How sparrows fold
like feathered paper
below rectangles
of polished air.

What happens here,
happens over there.

I lost my first
wedding ring
that summer

we floated
on inner tubes
coupled together,
drinking ice-cold
beer in the sun.

A flash of gold
and it was gone.

I lost the boots
my father wore
in Vietnam.

I lost the first
pocketknife
I ever owned.

I lost my mother.

I lost my way
in college once,
watching heavy snow
smother the foothills
and switchbacks,
watching mountain
birds turn wide circles
above rough canyons.

I lost track of time but
found my father’s gun.

Winter will always
sound like the whir
of a cylinder spun in
an unfurnished room.

You have to start
by finding things
to burn.

Turn the island
into a tinderbox.

Fill your truck with driftwood
and detritus hustled up from
derelict construction sites.

Scavenge plywood scraps
and lengths of two-by-fours.

Find a spot beneath the dunes
and dig into the still-warm sand,
your rusted shovel syncopating

with the rhythm of the waves,
crunching into the cool dark
hollow of a deepening pit.

By dusk, the hole will be capable
of containing everything you want
to burn.

Set the shovel down.

When the darkness
finds you all alone,
take the lighter fluid
in one hand
and a match
in the other.

Wait for the
wind to die.

If you do it right,
the orange embers
will crack and rise,
truant children
ushered home
by pacing stars.

If you do it right,
the smell of salt and smoke
will stay with you for days.

If you do it right,
the bonfire will
bloom like a flower
and consume itself
all night long.

In the morning,
your work will
have healed, doctored
by persistent currents
and the extinguishing
sweep of high tide.

Tonight the ceiling fan
clicks with every turn.

The bedside clock ticks
and tocks in moonglow.

I close my eyes
and one by one
the light bulbs in
the house explode.

The darkness
becomes me,
I think.

I wear it silky black,
a spider-tailored suit
imponderous as ether.

I focus on the anesthetic sound
of a future breathing inside me.

Memory folds like
an obsolete map—

a distant archipelago
of diminishing stars.

Years ago, I’m sure,
we married in a copse
blue with wild hyacinth.

Tonight the satellites
cut like diamond tips,

lugubrious orbits etching
across a bedroom window.

Dawn always blooms with
the sound of breaking glass.

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