Flat Tire

I was already out of the store
loading the potatoes
and the paper towels into my car
when I noticed I hadn’t
taken the milk out of the cart
to be scanned
like the strawberry ice cream
and the angel hair pasta
and the rib-eye steaks
I planned to marinate overnight.
I could have gone back in
to pay for the goddamn milk.
I should have gone back in.
I did not
plan on becoming a shoplifter,
a night bandit—an unsavory
deplorable who cheats and
never gets caught.
So I’m sure it was a coincidence
and only a coincidence
that the FLAT TIRE light came on
before I got home
which made me laugh out loud
and ask the air if it was kidding me—
and then I felt relieved
that the last moral choice
I remember making was between
fidelity and a drive across town—
but I stayed home and avoided
what probably would have been
a head-on collision.






That thing—
the curiosity
the admiration
the attraction
the impulse
the like
the love
you started to feel
when you saw
that we were
about to crash
into the same
forbidden wall
that kept us apart—
put it away.
Throw it away
get rid of it
put it in the trash
the landfill
down the drain
bury it
under the stars
before it starts
to go bad
to sour
to fail
to disappoint—
which we both know
it will.



Where I Am


I know something
you don’t know
about the darkness
that covered our yesterday.
It wasn’t the sky
that forgot to shine
or the inconsiderate clouds
that hovered so close
we could walk into
and through
their gossamer hearts—
it was an accumulation
of emptiness
you have filled me with—
finally spilling out
onto the walls and the
ceiling and the floor—
which is where
I find myself so often
these days—
trying to stand—
trying to reach the door.




Painting by T.C. Steele


All I Need to Know

Your shirt said
and I wanted to do what it said
to find out what you’d do
once you got there—
if you’d invite me to stay
or thank me for dropping you off.
I know how much you love
the water – the way it
can’t be contained—
the way you like to move
in its direction whenever possible
on your lime green Kayak, alone—
which is all I need to know
to make a guess that
I’d be left standing on the shore
like a curious sort of bird,
watching you drift away from me
as I drown in the absence
of your love.



The Botanist

I don’t think he knows
he’s beautiful—
which is lovely and strange
and maybe even telling
of a kind of innocence
that comes from loving
wild things better than
human things, who sting
and wither and grow thorns
that can be hard to pull out
if his center is as soft and fragile
as his Bleeding Hearts—
those plump and tender blossoms
who return to him every year—
and will never break his heart.