Like a boot takes the shape

of the foot that wears it, I imagine

my hand might come to take the shape

of yours, your hand—something

I was made to hold, made to move with,

made to let go.

In Room 1224, St. Mary’s




The Mozart Aria fills the hospital room

and Jack closes his eyes and weeps,

his thin neck and shoulders lean


into the familiar notes,

then return to stasis

as the soprano rests.


It’s the phrasing, he says, the phrasing,

using a hand to meet the crescendo,

then to illustrate the softening phrase.

He, too, is softening, the punch line

whacked off, and what remains

is his thrill in beauty.


Just ten minutes ago,

they strapped a purple band

on his wrist, DNR,


the same wrist

where so much tenderness,

so much life is pulsing.

Making Light



Fumbling in the dark

with the matchbook

grateful my hands

are experienced

with making flame—


part of me fears

using them up

part of me knows

it’s what matches

are for.

One Set Up


before the lines are written

asking the players to go

on stage and shine


One Without Candles


power out—

an invitation to fall in love

with darkness




“Sometimes I draw a straight line

and the other artists tell me

to squiggle it—“


all night I re-imagine

our storyline with curves

Next Chapter




Mom, she says, Stop crying.

She’s embarrassed for me.


I can’t stop. After three hours

of snuggling on the green couch,


we are nearing the end of our book,

where the silverback gorilla


and the baby elephant say goodbye

to the girl who has helped them


leave their cages. It is not

the farewell that makes me weep,


though that, too, but the way

that the girl and the gorilla


share a passion for art. It’s so good,

I say to my girl between sniffs,


it’s so rare and so good to find someone

who really understands you.


She looks at me as if she will never

comprehend how such a thing


could make someone cry.

My tears land on the end of the chapter,


leaving a wet trail I don’t

expect her to follow, not yet,


her small hand already

pushing on mine to turn the page.


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