The shadow of the jet in whose belly I nestled
grew larger over your town, its darkness drifting over
the house where you lived then with your wife,
until with an irk it touched down in the dry valley
of your runway. All that week you and I went to and fro,
hither and yon, ants on the map, never touching noses,
before I took flight again eight days later, not knowing yet
you existed. Now I lie in bed under your warm shadow,
in the shade of your face above me. In the evenings
we run, noting the faint drone of a descending plane
above us. Sometimes I look up, the way I did before,
no longer envying the folk blithely toasting cheap brut
in coach. Too, I don’t look down from my round window
in the air and yearn to be that tiny car on a back road,
brim full of laughing family. I am here. All that brought
us together is a slim chance in a thousand: a photo
I’d snapped that you saw out there in the wide ether
of an impulse-bought t-shirt which read, “In Kentucky,
there are more barrels of bourbon than there are people.”


The ginkgo by the library
dithered all October
then changed its mind
all at once to yellow.

One maple near the chapel
turned early to orange
then held on, stubborn,
as its leaves dried to paper.

Frost outlined each ivy leaf
at the edge of staff parking:
a silver-white assertion
of the borders of things.


My father, always eloquent before, stumbles painfully now,
particularly if he’s trying to talk directly to me or others.
So he turns his face aside, speaks towards the trees outside.
“I would love to make the shrimp bisque in this book,” he tells himself,
or muses, “One of my favorite movies is Invincible. Top three,” as if no one else
were in the room. The only way he can make the words come unimpeded.
Like stutterers whose speech smooths only when they sing. Like the man
with Parkinson’s who can cross a floor only when it’s painted like stairs.


The morning dawned cold and bright,
and I felt happy.
The poem I’d meant to write
paled before the day in front of me.
It was itself the poem.
All day I read it, the slash
of the jet’s trail, evolving form
till it became bar, feathers, ash,
then nothing. Brittle leaves
littered the sidewalk, tossed
like bets to the track after a race
by fools who think they’ve lost.
Pick up the ticket. Cash it in.
Celebrate your fortune. Begin again.


What We Know

What we know, we know only
because we once did not
back then when we did not know we did not

What we want, we want solely
because we learned what it was to want
endured that gnaw, that knot of lack in our gut

What we will is simply what we do or do not
And do not wills just as surely as do
Our fate arrives: equally final by either route