Here are these old men in a coffee shop in a parking lot in Iowa in autumn, doing a crossword. Their bald spots smart in the sun. The first leans in, Is that a hidden? Golden, golden. Oh slice, his friend says. We shouldve gotten ice, ice.
of Traffic When Its the Sound
All day like like the wind.
Dear Finely Painted Prosthetic Arms, Dear
Crisp Dollars Pinned to the Bride,
At parent-teacher conference night, Silvanas mother walks across the gym to my table, lays her head down and begins to weep. After a few minutes she smears a tissue across her face, lowers her head again, and weeps. We sit like this for a while. I eat a miniature Milky Way. I fiddle with a leaky pen and say things like, Your daughter is very bright. This is New York, and the room smells like socks. Half an hour passes. Silvanas mother dries her eyes, presses my stained hand into her warm hand, holds it, and leaves.
of Wet Beads on Bar Glasses, Dear
Prisms in the Soap at the Drain,
Now Betsy and I are small in some dry state. I go to the campground outhouse where I see an amputee. She is washing the nub where her arm once was. Dazzled, I rush back to my sister to report. Was it black, white, creamy or swirly? She asks. Though I have stared, I do not know, so I lie and say, Swirly. Then I ask when her arm will grow back.
Dear Brand-New Bodies of the Dead, Dear Chromatic Scales Played to Empty Halls Where the Seats Pitch Down to the Stage,
Oh well, the third man at the crossword says. Weve done an accomplishment today. And the last of his hair blows into his face.
(first published, in a different form, in Alligator-Juniper)