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palimpsest (132)

tension slips between

skin and flesh

as skillful as a fishmonger’s

blade slices down

the length of an eel

with one stroke

a practiced motion

without thought

like a priest at prayer

each wooden bead rolled

over fingertips in sync

with the slow muttered vowels

one patterned moment

moving toward the next

with endless patience

as the next ritual waits

for the candle to be lit

the words to flow

less with meaning

than as a balm

to still disquiet

(April 14, 2021)

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like televisions in empty rooms (128)

at night a window becomes a mirror

where I see through my face 

floating upon the glass like ghosts
outside the trees glow in moonlight

I open another door and walk out

across the grass mixing my shadow

with the night’s mottled shadows

as if dark lace woven into the earth

I turn back to watch what I’ve left behind

the figures in the house move silently

from room to room like actors 

rehearsing how they will say what they say

(April 1, 2021)

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Layers (122)

the cat slept all day

turned tightly into herself

a sublime wisdom


snow begins to fall

silencing the day’s hard sleet

the night grows colder


ice brightens the moon

along the bare branches’ backs

like a hot whip’s snap


by morning the snow

drapes the yard as if with light

the chimes slowly sound


a lone mockingbird chirrups

inside the house the cat waits

(February 18, 2021)

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Four poems from a series (115-118)

each breath (115)

a butterfly turns

from the chrysalis’s shell

then flutters away like breath

(February 4, 2021)

problematic poetics (116)

each image resists

the metaphor’s

transformation

(February 4, 2021)

each tongue a border (117)

i struggle to translate

my language to words

i may speak with others

who are closest to me

and who are said

to share my tongue

(February 4, 2021)

vocabulary impediments (118)

talk normal 

there boy

(February 4, 2021)

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doorway (113)

formed out of these walls to shape

the air to separate here from there


beneath the dark winter quilts

my skin presses to your warmth


longs to be more than my limits

more than what’s contained inside


more an opening to other spaces

other ways with different lines


to cross with a limping accent

a creole to hone words into an edge


I know only what I know

my cell wall’s textures memorized


through the season’s slow change

the light and shadow through the bars


play their fingers in the silent air

like puppets alive to the string’s pull