The Middle of August

Even strong-armed buzzards
struggle to swim through the air.
The weight of a rusted
steel sky crushes the stems
of weeds into black earth
where roots claw sludge in vain.
Even the oaks,
black and green and silent,
melt like willows.

Thunderstorm on Theodore Roosevelt Island

The rain painted your hair
black, slick as the mud
beneath cattails leaning
in the wet wind. Blossoms
of Queen Anne’s Lace bobbed
with each spark of blue light
as a monarch darted
from the pattering that impended
behind jittery pines. You followed
the butterfly’s fitful spiral with eyes
darker than the earth
between our toes, deeper than
the Potomac as it lay unruffled,
pelted by silver.

Sunlight Falls on Virginia

Red seeps into
the grey hills like rain
into dry wood; the pines
lean in knotted fields that
unravel into lakes strewn
in tatters to the horizon.
Draped in the shadows
of leaves, barn windows
gape at faraway piles of clouds
that refuse to speak.


It is as if the proximity
embarrasses you. Fat and
flushed, you duck behind
oaks dreading your next
appearance: a far-off night
peppered with stars
snickering at our realization
that twenty years slithered
through our fingers. Look
at this earth. What scars aren’t
knifed into its skin by an impatient
God, we gouge with our own
impudent hands. Embarrassed.
Scatter your light through
the leaning oaks in twenty years,
and I will show you embarrassed.

Winter Sunset

Like spider’s legs,
sweetgum limbs splay
across the pink sky,
creeping to its rusted edges
where clouds knot around
iced spires ringing the city.
Cold air burrows
into the spaces
between buildings,
sinks its claws
into the dying streets.

To Ruby Sue

As the bruised January sun
slumps behind oak limbs,
I can barely see
the sidewalk under my feet.
But I can see that
the many days before you
will unfurl like leaves of fern
and that when the summer sky
wrests its freedom from dark
and despotic clouds, these leaves
will gather and cast light:
strings of emeralds suspended
over the decaying earth.

From a Cubicle, Noon

This day squirms forward
like a pebble-flecked
mud road forsaken
and folding in on itself,
curled in murk
under the scabbed elbows
of greying oaks,
their faces upturned
to insects whirring
in a fluorescent sky.

Somewhere midway
to its dreary destination,
it widens to spaces gilded
with incandescent points of green,
where your voice lights the sky
as sun lights the windowsills.

Appalachian Sunrise

The mountains
are torn ends of blue cloth
piled onto valleys
curtained by a cotton fog
that, once unraveled
by the sun, uncovers
worn seams of granite
wrapping boulders,
trees bundled like frayed wires,
poking countless copper ends
into a sackcloth sky.

The Battle of Fredericksburg

A resolute platoon of flies
descended on the cheese.
Ants traced S-curves
from the grass
to half-spheres of sliced apples
spread on cutting boards
while a brown-blotched butterfly
hovered over the tupperware.
Your fingers,
slender like the wings
of dragonflies,
beat the stagnant air
as packs of gnats
rose like smoke
into the reddening sky.

The Last Night of August

The several stars
brave enough to press
their faces through
the light that leaks
from buildings, the light
that oozes upward
and stains the black;
even those stars shiver
as the first dry wind
slinks its way
into the silent streets.