Staten Island Ferry

Waiting for the Staten Island ferry on Tuesday afternoon,
I am overcast and scattered showers.

How can I describe it?
I left my home for home to see my brother who left home to come home but briefly.

There are children involved. Two long haired little boys who share my face and my sister’s face and their mother’s face and my father’s.

I am going to see my father’s mother and sit in her kitchen with my brother’s sons and we will probably eat cold cut sandwiches.

Lately, the poems have been pouring. It is hard to tell how much home has to do with it. My father’s mother has never seen my kitchen, and does not know what the East Village means.

The closer we are the farther.

The ferry is filling up.
I am dizzy from too much coffee
And there is a pigeon trapped, slapping its wings against the windows.

We push through the water together.
We take pictures together.
I am going from home to home.
We are going from Manhattan to Staten together.

Tuesday is always early afternoon and often overcast. Wisdom will be justified. There are lots of lovers on this boat, and European sneakers, cameras, hair clips, backpacks.

I will only be halfway home when we dock. I can’t know who else is going where.

Sometimes we exit and get right back on.
Sometimes going home is too hard.

I pass the Statue of Liberty again. She shines and is dull.
I never sat on the other side.

The rain is gone, the boat slows.


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Walking Toward Charles

Reading Bukowski in the 4th floor seating section of Barnes and Noble,
I raise my wrist to my nose again, for the third time.

The man in Sephora talked me through the perfumes with notes of rose, and sprayed little paper samples for me.

I let myself be picky. No to Stella McCartney, no to Issey Mi something. oh. Oh yes, to Bvlgari. But not now. Perhaps I’ll come back for it.

Love Is A Dog From Hell
And I am finished with my work for the week. This is the back row in church again, I’m hiding blush and looking to see who noticed.

I’ve got work to do. My lipstick is fresh, red as an apple skin. These poems will not read themselves.

I wonder how many people break a day the way that I do, or who else is carving their life.

It isn’t the irony of ‘tonight’ that keeps me here,
Although I know that is it, in part.
It’s that I can’t remember where my feet should go, and the words on his page are so charming.

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Washington Square Park in October

If I had more time, this would never have gotten done.

On Friday morning in Washington Square Park, the benches are slowly drying. It happens on the West side of the park, once wet, then damp, now dry.

It is hard to know who waits for what these days, and no one wants to admit unknowing. Let me be the first.

Who doesn’t love public correction adores tea without sugar. Yes, I am indulgent.

Warmed by the arches near the same woman I sat by two months ago in a little cafe on Lafayette. I could never forget, how beautiful, head wrapped in black, eyes lined in kohl, baby fat as a pumpkin beside her.

New York is a Craig’s Lister’s dream. 8 million missed connections and I only mean this morning. If I had more time, I would still be wearing these shoes.

The sun makes slits out of wonder, the sun slowly dries the benches.

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For You, From Here

I cannot do this now.
The cat meows in tall grass,
Tiny body hungry.

Let me sleep on it.
Bass moves the brick walls downtown.
Meanwhile the pier is full of empty wine glasses,
Greasy parchment paper in French fry cones made of metal.
No boat in the basin looks familiar.

We used to race the length of Manhattan, or take the real train out to Long Island.
Metal body salty snake in sand drift.

I used to live in Queens and sleep in midtown.
I used to live in midtown and sleep in Queens.
I used to leave from laguardia.

The river runs from here to you.
It moves in both directions.
I am, but the garden.

I was born in St. Vincent’s on the North Shore.
My great aunt was a painter, but the family.
I was raised up the Hudson in a cabin
Full of apples.

Fall out of love and I’m blushing.
None of it fits in the suitcase.
I am not unmaking.

The poem turns into the light.
Tomorrow is now where today was.
Read me into the grass, on the right side.

Great grandma was named Miss Brooklyn.
I am telling the same story backwards.
We used to sell chocolates for money,
We’d eat half then keep all the money.

Grandpa’s cat was named Shadow
After Bubblegum was put down.
There were hard candies hidden in the dashboard.

I will tell you, but rest in the morning.
Do not read me into under the
Door frame.
When the bricks in these walls,
go to sleep.

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The Times

The history of teal

or how to take the coffee back

or what about hymns we sung

and how come you don’t listen

after you ask a question

and then there are the overflowing

dresser drawers

and unshowered days

but I’m not drinking

because the body is better clean

it rains in new york like the city needs it

 the taxis are all wearing red lipstick taillights

I’m not complaining about the man whose hair

curls around his collar but barely

in Galway there is this pier and this fog right

but I’m supposed to be here now

and if I keep writing I’ll get better or I’ll go to grad school

and that will be something

because more debt is something

come on sweetie you don’t need help

to pull this off

but no one told me and I’m not grown

enough to read between those lines

and the tendons snap back over the bones

underneath skin and it feels like a rubber band

guitar or like working the long shift in the morning

or like prayer with holes in my shoes

how I chose this

phone attached to brain waves

because it looked better than not taking

the mark of the beast

the end of time is the beginning

of a new surrealist era

and my body is a cello

the history of blood retells itself in gold

the hotter the wax the faster it dries

I am sealing myself

a letter written backwards

who’s to say what the trunk can hold

there are these paintings in the rain

and you’re busy right

and my mother is a gun but don’t ask how

because it always comes back to this

writing thing

the history of a color unfolds in light

blooms like a jungle flower in rain

you were always pits of cars

the cupboard closed

on fruit too ripe

the light that set the house on fire

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My History in Parts

We took your mother’s car.
(Pushed) through bramble
across mud and rocks.

It ends
in a stainless steel kitchen,
still slick from high tide.

Nothing swallows the hunger,
(or ever does) bite through a fence.
The outline of an overpass,

meanwhile my own (home)
is somewhere between McDonald’s
and the trestle.

We went to the water
(always) I break
the silence into a

ship passing. It wasn’t
the lip of a
rusting can that woke me;

(although last Christmas, yes)

(I watched (you watch) the slow
wind of a clock)

It began at a birthday party (I was)
so pink with present (we wore pearls
in the cradle)

and now how long my fingers
have grown, my mother knowing

We slid the van door
(in the dead of winter)

my father’s headlights
shattered through our frozen

I am always (driving) home
(in silence)

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Coming Back From Brooklyn

Every morning I wake
To an audience of brick.

The house is a crowded place,
As all bodies are.

And in such sleep
the dance is gone
hips no longer moved
By marionette or drum.

What smoke unlocks the roof latch,
Whose stairs lead out of here?

I tuck myself in to a lullaby of heating and cooling systems. The song depends on the season.

Away from sangria and the moon
I look for the 14D bus.
At this hour, lots of things can be found:

A red cap climbing a scaffold, two fat grey rats wrestling over a paper cup, vampires and their cigarettes.

I always cook for myself with garlic, the other ingredients change.

The things I am afraid of are easy,
human and animal faces that stay still on moving bodies.

The bed is broken at the bottom, thin wood bent and cracked.

I used to cry,
And still do often.

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Poem Sleep

If you are tired
Write anyway.
I am falling asleep to the song of myself again.

So many things get written
In so many bedrooms
Before sleep.

I was twelve once
And still love a dark room.

There is religion in a pink sky
Ambitious as New York.

God sounds like rain
On a quiet river.

Most of my body is giving itself over
To forget the parts of today
That my mind blinks my eyes awake to.

You are a lullaby as much as a drum skin. My back is angry at the sleep it isn’t getting.

I lay on a bed in a city.
Around me, poems
Write themselves
Til I listen.

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In Silence

I guess there are always
a thousand things.

In the city,
down the mountain,
in the city.

I didn’t want to throw away
a good word, so I reused it
on you.

It isn’t that I am unkind,
you weren’t listening.

I try to remember that the same water
cycles through a fountain.

On every street
there is a rattle snake,
a telephone, a plastic bag.

I speak from memory
and the same water cycles through a fountain.

In the city,
down the mountain,
in the city.

The next thing won’t surprise you.
See, I told you.

If every line is a party,
the snow will fall thickest
in the valley.

I know how these tests work,
there are a thousand ways
to eat a meal in silence.

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The Next Line

I love hearing you read.
I never know the answers
before you say them.

Something about silence
in a poem
and I’m home.

My mother pulls her robe
closer to her body.
She is smaller than I am.

I tell myself not to think
about headlights when falling

The wind pushes through,
even here. I am not a mother,
should not know how to coax like I do.

They watch from windows,
my waking
if it’s too late.

God does not.

Things pile up.
It happens so fast
and I’m home.

Going back through
the books I left half-full
but did you read them?

Satiated is a hard word
to sound out. My mouth
contorts to make it.

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