Tag Archives: love


has a week
to make a choice—
to stay or not to stay
to re-up the lease
or gamble
everything on a job
three states away—
and someone
has a week
to decide
between two burdens:
student loans
or another bleak year
flipping burgers
every day
until midnight —
and someone
has a week
to decide
if the second heart
inside their body
will be given
a chance to grow
to the size
of its fathers’ brutal fist—
and somewhere
someone else
is standing at the deadline
having had a week
to choose
whether to walk
toward love
or away…






Old Home Movie

Everyone is ten years younger
in the home we used to live in
where there is a birthday party
for a one year old, now eleven —
he and I are watching it together,
the only survivors
witnessing the difference between
how he was loved and how
his older brother was treated
as if he were getting in the way
as if he wasn’t even supposed to be
in the picture or the video
or our lives —
as if he was a fly being swatted away
by the tail of the monster holding
the camcorder.



Mechanical Room

In the basement
in the home he’s lived in for sixteen years
the man finds a leak in the water heater
while he’s cleaning out the mechanical room—
while he’s rummaging through piles
of tools and tape and fixtures and nails
he’ll no longer need—
he notices the damp corner, dimly lit—
the concrete darker, glistening,
cold and musty, filling him with dread
because he’ll need to fix it himself—
because he’s not going to pay another man
to come into his house
and down the narrow basement steps
to witness what it looks like
to dismantle a life from the inside out—
a few boxes marked with his name,
the rest marked with hers—
and he doesn’t want to explain to anyone,
especially another man,
that he couldn’t fix it, even though he had the tools.
It’s surreal enough that he’ll pay an attorney
to divide his life in half, jaggedly,
like the teeth on his hand saw, barely used.
The man picks it up, considers all the things
he never got around to building—
considers all the lives he’s about to cut down.






“Alvaro and Christina” by Andrew Wyeth, 1968

The Botanist, Part II

When you walked outside
to examine the growth on the magnolias
we planted in my woods last year,
I was supposed to be starting dinner—
putting the water on to boil—
but I walked to the window and watched you
hover over the new leaves—
watched you kneel down to touch them gently
like one of the children we never had.
I knew you’d be leaving soon
after we ate the green beans and the rice
and the five bluegill we caught at Griffy Lake
so I needed to study you a little while longer
to let your image burn into a memory
I could take with me to bed or to work
or to this blank page
where I’ve always taken you, caged you—
This sacred and only place you’ve ever been





Painting by Isaac Levitan, 1880. “In the vicinity of the Savvino-Storozhevsky monastery”


Today the weather
is a grumpy neighbor
I’m trying to avoid
so I don’t get the mail
or disturb the wasps
trying to use the mailbox
as a place to make plans.
So far they are only annoyed
by the twice daily disruption—
first the delivery
then the gathering—
and not once have they
attacked or even moved.
They just appear there
each time I open the door—
never more than a handful
and never in the same spot
so I know they’re alive
inside their plump red bodies
that are like drops of blood
with long black wings—
something almost hideous
about the way they look
in the dark shadow of the box
because I know
what they could do
if their peaceful protest
turned into a riot—
and every day I expect them
to grow in numbers
which is why I have ready
a can full of killer
every time I reach in
to extract the stack of bills
that never includes
a handwritten letter
from a lost love
telling me something
that would cause my eyes
to water and sting.




An Understanding

We rode down together
in the elevator,
the housekeeper and I,
from the 22nd floor.
We are careful
not to catch each others eye
as she pulls her braids into a ponytail
and I pretend to look
for something in my purse,
and I find it as the elevator stops
at the 11th floor
and at the 4th
I almost tell her why I’m here
and why I’m not supposed to be.
I want to tell her I understand
the way she feels about
changing sheets for people
who are on paid vacations
or who are here on company business
that covers room service
and valet parking.
But I don’t tell her how wonderful it was
to sleep on those sheets
with a man
who asked me to come
who asked me to exit
into the hall only after it was clear
no one could see.



“Morning Sun” by Edward Hopper, 1952


Oh miserable universe—

proof that beauty
is not created by a god—

a god
who could will into everyone
a joy
unspeakable, unalterable
if that is how he chose
to wield his power—

it is the blistering ordinary
of any given day
that crushes us
beneath its promise to be all
we can ever really hope for—

unions will begin—
ordained by the same god
who will orchestrate
their ending
in some far-off
inconceivable future—

and only a few of us
will be baffled
by the blind surrender—

by the way choice
is something most people
don’t believe they have.






“Getting Up” by Berthe Morisot, 1885