Well Water

To keep my tears in, I kept my eyes shut
through all of last night.

I opened them at dusk and the tears ran
through my lashes and down into my mouth.
My cheeks are bulging out, but they are not
about to burst.

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Lessons from a Graveyard

A wife can outlive her husband,
a husband can outlive their son,
by decades. When the gravedigger
digs their grave and the mason creates
their stone, the mason etches
the husband’s name and dates of birth
and death, the wife’s name under the title,
“His Wife,” and her dates of birth
and death, and the son’s name and
his dates of birth and death.

In advance, a wife can arrange
with the mason to have her name
and date of birth etched on her stone.
So, when the wife dies, the mason
can easily add her date of death on.

A Potomac Oneiric

Orange juice laps down Pennsylvania
Avenue, and people touch their lips
to the flood to lap up the pulp.

No one quite knows where
the juice flows from. All that people
know are clues murmured on
gusts of the autumn wind.

With all the townsfolk distracted,
the Pied Piper breaks into homes
and steals away baby photos in a sack.

With no one looking, Fatty Arbuckle
continues his one-man protest
outside the Supreme Court, praying
aloud for an appeal.

He smells citrus in the breeze,
hears the shatter of glass,
and still he stands,
as the townsfolk whisper
next to a river.

Street Seen

“These are the streets I live on,
bitch,” the homeless man says, raising
his first through the fog of his breath.

He speaks to no one in particular,
it seems. He looks out in the direction
of all of them: the businessman in his
parked car dialing his mistress’s number,
the two college students finding
each other’s hands as they walk out of
the abortion clinic, the third grader dumping
pit her pitcher of unsold lemonade into the snow.

Perhaps the man speaks to all of them.
Perhaps he speaks to me, the sixteen year old
down the street with his hands in his pockets,
showing nothing to see. But perhaps he really
does speak to no one, because he turns back
inside the shelter without waiting for a response.
Yet he never lowers his fist.