September day

The Rain in My Purse:

The day was September, cool oozing from the dying wildflowers.

Cease beeping, we said to just about everyone.

We put up a sign outside the church: Park your car, forget your anger.

The leaves clattered, practically metallic, the café tables round as coins.


This entry is part 19 of 34 in the series Small World


To be small is to be distant
& vice versa.

The asterisk calls.
It leaves a message.

You turn it all the way up:
it sounds like a small fan.

In some parallel universe
all the stars look like this

& books with too many footnotes
collapse into black holes.


from Fr. ricochet (n.) “the skipping of a shot, or of a flat stone on water,” in earliest use … fable du ricochet, an entertainment in which the teller of a tale skillfully evades questions, and chanson du ricochet, a kind of repetitious song; of uncertain origin… from 1769.


Clouds gather. They’re always gathering. Sometimes the black dog comes to call. It brings
a little news of you: how you hardly think of home since you’ve split, sprinted, ricocheted.

Into the giant Sears Roebuck Catalog of the universe, I’ve sent countless orders.
Sometimes I can’t figure out actual deliveries from those that have ricocheted.

Light rain bounces off the pavement at summer’s end. Who invented the silly rule that
one can’t wear white after Labor Day? Classics are among the best forms of ricochet.

Last night you were introduced at the bar to the Car Bomb: whiskey on Irish cream
floated into a shot glass, then dropped into a Guinness: foam’s heady ricochet.

Skim and bounce, carom, rebound; mash and bump, kiss and touch, sideswipe and graze.
Climb over the fence with me: what’s left to do but watch the fireflies ricochet?


In response to small stone (144).


This entry is part 18 of 34 in the series Small World


The blue plastic eyecup
of my mote-ridden boyhood
still sits on the top shelf
behind the bathroom mirror,
at eye-level now.
I remember how good
cool tap water felt
after the hot tears,
tilting my head all
the way back & willing
my eyelid to open,
& afterwards feeling
the scar & the scare recede
from that bit of grit,
but also a lingering sense
of guilt for letting
all the water dribble
to the floor or sink, how
the eye that tried to take in
a small piece of the earth,
as if mere vision were
no longer enough,
had blinked away the offer
of additional tears—
had refused to drink.


This entry is part 40 of 47 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2012


The night before I left that first time,
I stayed up composing a letter
while the three of you slept. We were

guests in someone’s godfather’s house,
a few murky breaths from the bay;
neon poured through the windows

while the air conditioning unit blew
noisy drafts into the room. Along the sea
wall, peddlers hawked their wares.

Traffic coursed through choked streets
humid as the weather. Before first
light, in the morning, it was time

to leave for the airport. One of you
slept through it, was left behind.
A small mercy, I was told, to keep

you dreaming some hours more. I don’t
quite know now if that was the right
thing to do; or what you felt

when you awoke and no adequate sign
materialized for the apology I have been
making in the intervening years since then.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.


She brought me a cardboard square
from the farmer’s market—

fruit box with a wire handle.
I had wanted it for some other

purpose: desk caddy, mail sorter,
if only for the ghosts of pear

or peach or apple. Mellow skins,
stippled rinds of citrus

—ripe summer smells
teetering on the edge of fall.


In response to small stone (143).

They built it

Hoarded Ordinaries:

This year, the right is rallying behind the cry of “I built this,” a shorthand slogan pointing to the importance of individual initiative and industry. Labor Day is a holiday to acknowledge the workers whose collective effort make our individual accomplishments possible: I am able to build this because they worked so hard to build that. When you drive to work every day, who built that road? When you negotiate orderly, crime-free streets, who protects your safety? When you go to the grocery story to spend your hard-earned paycheck, who stocked those shelves?

Whenever I’m grocery shopping and see a delivery man stocking shelves, I smile because my Dad did that, driving a bread route for years. If there was bread on the shelf when you went grocery shopping this week, it was because some hard-working Teamster like my dad drove a truck to deliver it: it didn’t just appear there by accident or chance.