small stone 4 – water

i tried desperately to collect what i could in all my mixing bowls and pans, opened
the bathtub faucet and watched the stream weaken while the water outside
from the busted pipe bubbled up under the frontyard grass and lapped a course
down the driveway into the street. flowing away from my house, from the bathtub,
from all my efforts to contain it, from me.

Essence – Poem

Essence

When she brought home little samples
of cologne, wisps of scent
in slender tubes, he tested them
brutally, slapping the wet notes
against his neck like any novice
applies perfume, without respect
for the delicate molecules,
rubbing his wrists together
as if trying to start a fire
with his skin, or worse,
spraying the air
in front of him before walking through
it like a curtain, as if stage-
frightened by that most sensual
of senses, that reminder
of his mother’s lipstick
or an earthy garden
moistened by rain. Once
they were all drained,
he resurrected an old vial
from a cabinet beneath
the bathroom sink, the bottle-dust
thick as velvet against his fingers,
its fragrance potent
with time, its smell
in the soft slope of his neck
like a hallway in a high school
building long condemned, or sex
in a car.

Waiting for Bolivar Ferry – Poem

Waiting For Bolivar Ferry

We wait our turn
on a weekend
when tourists and teens
converge
on the peninsula
to stretch their skin
in the sun: engines off,
windows down,
radios up,
as if the beat
proclaims
some inner rhythm
of parched hearts.

A sheen of boys
begins to volley
for attention, girls
in open truckbeds
cake makeup,
spray hair
already starched
with heat.

The shoreline
brings the sleaze
out of everyone,
the steam
that shimmies up
from the concrete,
the stick, the sweat,
the hidden grit
that slicks
to the surface.

We are waiting
for Bolivar Ferry.

When it docks
we’ll all pull forward
in tight metal rows
onto the boat
that will slick us
like plastic
six-pack scrap
across the sea.

Asking the Water – Poem

Asking the Water

I am sitting on the concrete steps that file down into rocks at the jetties and fade into sand. He does not know me, stands at my back, to my right, as I watch the ocean blind the sky with its own light, watch the skin of sea split open like wound, the white-edged lip of broken water lean towards land, then draw back. The shore

is incidental. Or maybe I am, or maybe it is he, standing behind me, saying: If there’s anything I can do, words that fade like something wet slipped into dryness. He knows how that sentence ends, everyone does, touches my shoulder instead, turns to walk back up salt-dusted stairs to the yellow car that brought us here, the car that will take us back,

and water whispers at my feet, tangling between rocks and shells, the tidal hush of secrets.