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Desire some sages say
Is the root of all suffering,
Knowing that wanting 
Implodes at the first grasp,
Having seen a child running
Towards the first friendly face
Then distracted by the sun’s rays
Swimming across a bed of crocuses.



My lovely agonist,
Cruel substitute,
Halloween mask,
Candied-apple Lover
In your cheap eye-liner,
I want to lust for you
As my first drop-dead date
In concrete basements,
But you were sent
By some official
In green pants
With a name tag
And ugly shoes
I cannot trust
Right now.

But give me time.
For I need a lover,
As young hearts do,
Some shiny face
That doesn’t nod off
And eyes that don’t close,
And long-fingered hands
On warm washcloths
And piano keys
On a Sunday afternoon.


Ménage à Trois

A third person cannot
Do what two have found
As the right length of a kiss,
Tertiary tongues spoiling
The settled contracts
Of imperfection
That cannot be made whole
By an intruder’s adrenaline,
The huckster’s offer
Of more dazzling fruit
Rotting in its excess,
Or Saturday night’s
Recycled news.


Il Sait

He knew
The names of pick-up trucks
And brands of dishwashers,
What time the sun would rise
Tomorrow or next Tuesday,
That a minor key
Drew him to fentanyl,
That a cloud had enough time,
That a hill would never say no,
That fall leaves gave up trying,
That his wife would
Give it one more shot.


Yesterday he was asked
What he believes in
As if the broken cliffs 
Along the sea
When the fog
Rolls in aren’t enough
Or the children faking fear
Running through a sprinkler.

Trucks and buses
Make wide turns,
Two year olds
Scream in restaurants,
Umbrellas are useless
In a windstorm,
A one-month old
Doesn’t choose
Which nipple is more tender,
The sky takes in any fool’s eyes.


Things Wished For

He learned as a child
To be silent
On buses and trains,
Or as a passenger
On a long car trip,
In his monk’s space,
Making up events
That never were:
A mother who spoke garlands,
A father who felt grief,
A older brother who had no ambition,
A nun who had bad penmanship,
A host that bled
On his first-communion suit
To let him know
That redemption was real—-
All repackaged in the odor
Of things wished for.

Post Mortem

After Frank’s death in July,
She had stalked the moon
When it arrived
In its crescent and full phases,
Forgetting even her name
And the overdue electric bill
Still in the mailbox
From two weeks ago
Feeling, in his death,
The moon’s tempered nods
For her to dance naked,
The summer wind breathing gently
On her breasts and wrinkled arms


A kettle whistling on the stove,
Its voice rushed to the untrained ear
But to this old-habit of a man
A purring of the familiar,
This hissing welcome into the feast
Of the sun’s surprises.
In this hymn of the known
Is to hear your soft feet upon the floor
Your body moving to its own rhythm,
Your head on my aging shoulders,
Your night’s sweet whisper
Melting my desire for any new gifts,
Except this day and an album of you



God’s Imaginings

In the arched beams
Of sacramental wood,
God feels
The steady stream of the willing,
Not the rubber-band
Figures, bent, slouched
Along urine-smelling corridors,
Frail doilies
Of their former selves,
Slouched in their dumb memories
Of medicine cabinet,
Doors aching in
Their hesitancy
To speak of cures,
Doubtful anodynes
Against the curse
Of what He
Forgets to heal.


Your Breath Has Many Colors

Your breath has many colors,
Brown, certain and firm,
Like the park tree
I saw yesterday
On my morning walk,
Sometimes too sure
Of itself, if you ask me.
But, then again, your breath turns pink,
Lightheaded, forgetful
As my grandmother,
Who once found her teeth
In the trunk of her car.
You’ve been known
To go all red on me,
Screaming as obvious
As the blazing sun
I can see out our
Window this morning.
Then swooning into
Your violet breath,
All sensual and elegant
After your third glass
Of Dom Perignon,
Asking me if God
Lives in both of your breasts
Or just favors one.
Your green breath is my favorite,
For it is the grass
Where I can rest my old naked body
On a summer afternoon in July
When we’re half way through
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