The Fourth of July

This morning, as steam escaped then plumed
from the kettle’s mouth, the day’s first airlift flew
overhead with its woeful thwap and thrum.
Inside it is some frail lady who, overcome
by potato salad, people, and heat, succumbed
to stroke, or a man who, tinkering with the pontoon
of his boat back by the engine, lulled by fumes,
slipped quietly beneath the green surface
for five full minutes before his absence was
noted, or else a kid whose fingers turned
to streamers and confetti after he lit and burned
a quick, wonky fuse. We hear the wail, see the flickering
red flare of the van now parked two streets away, musing
on the sacrifice of these who give their lives on this day.
At noon the shadows turn, go the other way.


On Undressing

this button wants
free of its placket,

will slip the leash
at the first inkling it can

these cobwebs whisper
what’s beneath

donned lightly
the sooner to slide off again

lines imprinted in skin
traced with a finger

this clasp wants
unmoored from its hook

one strap slinks lower
and lingers

silk pooling darkly
in the crook


only when you slept
was I free to eat my fill
that’s why I left you

one day you got a
flashlight: “open wide and show
me all.” so I did.

you would stand afar
watch my group gab at the bar
chew your straw, alone

embarrassed myself;
you could do a wolf whistle
on your blue les paul

you liked me until
I passed that test you didn’t
then your eyes went cold

Elegy for a Honey Bee

Soft, plump, wrapped in striped fur,
you lay small and still in my palm,
severed back end yet stuck
in the meat of my thumb

so unlike that svelte hard
shiny other one that landed
on my forearm the next June
while I ran away from the swarm,

whereupon, pumping my arms,
I crushed her against my skin, unaware.
She would, I know, have done me more wrong
than that if she could – if I hadn’t first, ere her.

That day in my mom’s van,
after the tweezers had pulled
from my flesh what was left of you,
there was a white welt centered

by a tiny black dot. My hand throbbed
with your venom – still aches
for all the sweetness you’d have made
that the world will never taste.