The First Time You Spoke to Me

As they lifted to clouds
swelling over the peaks
of marble buildings,
the color of your eyes
hovered between
brown and black–
the bark of oaks after rain.
Steady in the wind,
they kept secrets sheathed
deep beneath weathered layers
while your fingers
intertwined like roots.

My arms tangled at my chest,
I leaned at an eager angle–
a spindly green stalk
daring to stare upward.

Rain in August

The plump sky,
swollen with thoughts
evaporated from the swarms
that scurry out of buildings–
aspirations of lipsticked women,
regrets of men in wilted oxfords,
pastel daydreams painted by children–
all of these
in one violent scream of light
leap to the waiting earth.

Flagler Beach, Dusk

Dangling by thread
over hungry water,
the sun bronzes
knarled arms
of scrub oak
held statue-still
in the seabreeze.

an osprey peers
between piles of foam
that pockmark the blue,
circles a blurred target,
while in the west
black battalions of clouds
whisper prayers
before their screaming assault.

The Middle of June

Far from now,
when ice clouds
gash the sky
and bitter air
burns your tongue,
remember these days
and how they were
dropped on your plate
like dollops of preserves–
ugly, luscious piles
of flesh and syrup
liquefying in the sun.

On a Rooftop, Looking into Your Eyes

The drowsy oak limbs
circling us are roused
by eddies of wind—
swirls loosed from
gusts breaking on brick walls.
Your hair sways with the limbs.

If these seconds
swelled into years,
if the long and tedious stories
of our past and future
didn’t bind our wrists with twine,
if the glass-and-plastic city below
was silenced and the universe
began and ended
at the gutters clutching the eaves,
we might be happy here
until the oaks collapse.

The next train leaves
in 20 minutes, and I will be on it.
Shuttling through the tumult
beyond the oaks,
I will watch with closed eyes
the wind sway your hair,
listen as it scatters our voices
like the seeds of dandelions.

To the Grand Old Ditch

The tight-skinned Potomac
chatters sharp syllables
as it roils over rocks
in an steadfast dash
to the city.

Fat with silt,
you laze belly-up
in a cradle of mud.
That black smirk can’t conceal
the source of your contentment:
abandoned like an old man
with slurry-filled eyes,
you slowed just enough
to watch evenings splay
stained-glass patterns under trees;
hushed just enough to hear
katydids recite their sonnets
to crowds of stars.


More on the C&O Canal:
Trail of the unexpected: The Grand Old Ditch

The spindliest weed

looked at me with eyes
dark like earth after rain,
holding her slender arms
in an insistent half-circle.
The sun behind her
burst into minuscule blossoms
in the spaces between
strands of her hair–
Queen Anne’s lace
smoldering white
on a backdrop of blue.
Swarms of days
buzzed past like gnats
as she inched tendrils
further into forgiving ground.

One of the days began with
snarling shades of orange
and ended when
the dark eyes turned away,
leaving the tiniest,
deepest holes
where her roots
once held tight.

A Snowstorm Begins on Wisconsin Avenue

The first flakes
hesitate beside the windowed bluffs
that overbear the city,
spiral past brittle canopies,
and jitter to the streets
like moths lost without light.

In seconds,
soft seconds measured by
swells of clouds
as they break on peaks of buildings,
a turbid white
blooms in the lamplight that fills alleys,
while the snarl of a bus
pouncing from the curb
is siphoned into the chasm above.

Winter Cold Front

The black trees
huddled in playgrounds and cul-de-sacs
have been stripped of their warning flags;
the wind slithers by sleeping buildings,
tightens its coils in the streets,

Tightens its slimy muscles
until they thrash
in a thousand directions;
the bitter rain
bruises the silence
as it beats the windows.
Fog strangles the city
until it blushes a lurid blue.

As We Move On

Always remember that I ran to you.
That on a November night
I noticed you ahead on the damp sidewalk
and in that moment was crazed
with desire to rid the universe
of its most bone-aching aberration:
the city block between us.

Remember that as I ran
I held nothing in my hands
but a bundle of mums
already curling
in the coming cold.