I-64 East

The lone slight girl by the highway
in the plaid shirt, pink backpack,
pokes out her thumb at the trucks,
the wind as they pass close
ruffling her cropped hair
so her blank face disappears.
The public radio station gets
fainter the further I get from town,
until the sharp concern
in the announcer’s voice
goes grainy as the photograph
I once found lying in a house
in the mountains with a collapsed floor,
privet sprouting like a crown from
the chimney. Far out in the country,
the signal doesn’t stretch anymore,
transforms by turns into the sound
of water rushing over rocks. A politician
arrived in town today, but I cut out early
before his plane landed, gunned the motor
and got gone. The sky blushes
clear down to the tree line. The stars
appear again. They’re brighter here,
out where there’s nothing much –
pert near enough to navigate by.



we live, “evil-averse”
what we call our careless now,
impoverished, we improvise
wealth, we laugh, for

luckily, we lack for naught,
our cup of morning norming
not numbing entirely, tenderly
we embrace, unembarrassed

as we grin goodbye,
bid to business a brisk hello
for the day, relish these riches
for we guess how quite quietly, quickly

they wash away
in the wave’s lightest flick
against the cliffs,
at night we clink our coupes

importune fortune
for more time, our tines
poised above a pile of peas
whose small cannonball stacks

could at any point collapse like the apse
of this frail frame of boards,
this elemental, skeletal, as-yet
merely studded-in cathedral


Eeks mark the spot where I once stood
under the shower’s needles, blood-red
dye from my hair running in rivulets
through dried volcanic mud tight on my cheeks.

Inked in: a pound-sign for a tramp stamp,
hashtagging myself criss-cross to show I’m it,
I don louche lacings and bows and snaps,
finding each tight and tender trap-

ping of my manufactured allure
a spear-lined pit that instead snares
me: for all my intricate cottons and rubbers
were ripped by force from earth’s tender nethers

Not Yet

The trees stand shivering
in their lacy skivvies
thin arms, upraised hands
held out in surprised outrage

I bring my coat back out of the closet
and button it up, bite my lip
without thinking, till there’s a deep
fault where my teeth just were

The thaw sends a gush of mud
and trees as large as houses
root balls like huge dish brushes
They pull at any living thing that’s near

which includes whatever’s bloomed too soon


May is a moist cake with a large crumb
a month that makes loam squirm with life
when lightning slices like summer’s first knife
through the last few buds hesitating to become

The Lang Reed

OED word of the day:
Lang Reed, n.
[‘ With the. A period of scarcity just before the spring, when winter stocks have run low.’]
Pronunciation: Brit. /ˌlaŋ ˈriːd/,  U.S. /ˈlæŋ ˌrid/,  Scottish /ˌlaŋ ˈrid/, /ˈlaŋ ˌrid/
Forms:  pre-17 19– Lang Reid,   19– Lang Reed,   19– Long Reed.
Origin:Probably a borrowing from Norn. *

The furnace ignites but goes out ere the fan clicks on.
The lemon thyme has dried into a crisp sachet.
I set it out on the back porch and watch the sun sink
behind the warehouse lofts a block over at close of day.
We have an hour more of twilight than we did last night.
And yet we have, as well, one hour less than we did then.
From far off, the neighbor’s pear blooms look snow white.
We stay at home and bundle up, content to bide with kith and kin.
In one week, spring will come, at least in name. The hardware store
has not set out its store of herbs. Tonight the low will dip to 22.
The freezer holds a block of stock that’s redolent of shrimp and corn.
It smells like summer’s peak, a haze of honeysuckle and dew.
The moon wanes away till it rises late, a sharply convex horn.
The stars are sparse, faint crumbs of light on a cloth of frigid blue.


*  Etymology:Probably < an unattested Norn compound (compare Old Icelandic langr long adj.1 and Old Icelandic hríð snowstorm, period of bad weather, Norwegian ri, (Nynorsk) rid period of bad weather, onset of bad weather, illness, etc., Swedish regional rid onset of illness (cognate with Old English hrīð storm; probably < the same Germanic base as Old English hriðian to shake, tremble, have a fever: see note)); compare Old Icelandic langafasta Lent, lit. ‘long fast’.
Old English hriðian is cognate with Middle Dutch rīden to shake, quiver (Dutch rijden, (now regional) ridden), Old High German ridēnrīdōn to tremble (Middle High German rīden), as well as several nouns meaning ‘fever’: Old English hrið, Middle Dutch rēde (Dutch †ridde, †ritte, †rit, †rijde), Old Saxon hrido (Middle Low German rēderēterīterit), Old High German rittorito (Middle High German ritte, German (now archaic) Ritten, †Ritte, †Ritt), all < the same Indo-European base as Early Irish crith, Old Welsh crit (Welsh cryd), both in sense ‘action of trembling, fever’.