Long Distance Aubade
Spun in the sugar plum daze of daybreak, your face
across a diner table eating hashbrowns off my plate
is so here I could wink at it,
could touch my chin signaling to wipe beard crumbs,
could touch your chin signaling
to kiss soon as the waitress isn’t looking,
which might be often, the coffee only lukewarm.
Sometimes it’s a long time. It’s okay. It’s a dream.
We tip as much as we can. Most times
I wake alone and gaze at the same sky you gaze at
through broken blinds. I’m certain
it’s what you’re doing right now as I fumble
for glasses, pick out wrinkled clothes
from a laundry basket, never folded but clean,
brace myself against the too cold
of a stingy landlord who stifles the heat at sixty-three.
I’d rather press my nose into your chest
than teach Frankenstein to freshmen.
This is what I do: I wake in a nest of your hair,
which isn’t here but smells of peppermint,
kiss where I’d like your brow to be,
leave the bed unmade, wait for the bus
in a puffy down coat. Sometimes it’s a long time.
It’s okay. There are dreams. We hold
each other as much as we can.
What Was the Most Delicate Thing in the Psych Ward?
After Roger Reeves
P, terrified of being sent back to Binghamton,
the closest long-term facility
where you never know who’s
gonna try to kill you,
played board games, usually Parcheesi,
with a man I assume to be her husband
or brother, who came each day
during visiting hours after lunch.
When a nurse said I wasn’t
a lifer, wouldn’t need to spend
my life in and out of hospitals,
I wept, trying to imagine who
would have come to see me
if my life wasn’t mine to decide,
if I couldn’t get myself back from
that side: L in hospital scrubs
all week, nobody would bring him
his clothes, screamed Bob Marley
outside my room. After the third day,
people stopped coming to see me;
at least someone brought my glasses,
moccasins, underwear, sweatpants
without a drawstring
so I couldn’t hang myself.
Sorry I’m Not Sorry
Born with as much blues as bread in the house,
I got sick on drown song night
long bellow low sorrow. Nothing
like a seam ripper
to jab the hand ragged by mistake.
Have you ever made a mistake?
A real one? Burned or held a body
you didn’t want because you could feel
its ruin, and it wasn’t you.
By mistake, I mean I would like
to be absolved. Here are the too long dress slacks
I’ve trampled, too lazy to hem.
Here are my bar receipts from the night
I was more accordion door
than woman. Here is the blood so big
I thought miscarriage. Here
is the man I thought was ugly in his sleep.