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Reversion

Tonight we rolled back
a month of mornings that crept,
tickwise, the whole of the sky
like the firmament thought once
to swaddle the world,
star-layers and strata
stowing little ellipses
nested like cyclical gears.

Weeks of work undone
in the wake of an error,
but I am untroubled,
carrying only a pick
and a shovel, a drive
to remake what we’ve both wiped away.

Letterbox

Too late or soon to make noise about love and there’s no time for sorrow
– They Might Be Giants, “Letterbox”

Blue canary nightlight left
unplugged, on its side
among lipsticks never
much cared for, separating polishes
turned pigment parfaits:

My visitor asks where the light
switch is, her left hand fishing
among toothbrushes and brow combs,
and I can say only “Above
the shelf in the middle.”

It used to be lit.
I used to visit.
We used to raise glasses, and we raised the barn
behind the riverside house
she left years ago. Her then-future wife
maybe lives there still,
and I wonder whether
that might have gone differently
if I’d only planted the trio of bulbs,
tissue-wrapped favors bestowed at the wedding.

Panserbjørn

I have no record
left of him
but the little card
announcing “Best in Show,” the remnants
cast off from his armor –
mocked out in foam and glue,
rust down from rivets
brushed like the lines
in a porcelain iris –
and the second bear I bought
to craft one of my own,
still unarmored, tagged and settling
on the sewing room shelf.
Plain plush polar guards
half-made Starbuck BDUs,
cigar-box guitar with its neck never done,
Mod Podge and mesh
cracking in a frame, their failed
screen transferring only five
illegible heroines,
bird-white stream onto cornflower cotton.
My intentions snowflake-drifted,
collected until the chasms’ crusts
crumbled with their weight.

Brothers

The choice I expected was which,
but whether arrived
like the thorn of a shrike,
the pierce of a spear,
strike of a bolt at the end of its flight,
its tether run out once the damage is done.

Cross-check

They revamped the airport completely
Now it looks just like a nightclub
Everyone’s excited and confused
– They Might Be Giants, “Man It’s So Loud In Here”

Like the blown-batting memory of a headache
I know was there, can call to mind,
but cannot feel again,
I bundle and belt myself
into my aisle seat,
iPad pocketed, last text sent,
cradled in the memory of terror trickling
through my prescribed haze,
now just a waft of fluttering spore,
occasional, shaken out from shelves
by drops too sharp, jolts too long.
Otherwise, just the fading flash
of light striking a lake,
winking down in my own eyes,
a flare I barely know
how to see around the absence of.

In a life divided like the strike,
split of maul through log
into mine, yours,
we’re jealous with anything ours –

with the Christmas tree and its ornaments
made and bought for our first together,
filled out by old trinketry still “mine,”
swept in the jingle-bell skirt from my first one alone –

and a blue volume signed to the both of us,
not two hundred pages but six months to read,
ferried nine hundred miles for weekend installments,
chapters sequestered from day work,

from far away, from the tears
by the doorway for passengers only,
pages hoarded like firefly moments
caught in a jar on the mantle, lid

punched through and banded, little lights
dancing but fading by morning.
Our book was signed in the summer,
but the New Year has turned

once we reach the last chapters
on a morning that ends nearly three weeks together
as not far away its author relishes
two extra nights in a near-empty house

that brace one end of a stretch of apart-from-her.
My eyes brine at the bottom of page 160,
voice cracks like creak of a stuck basement door,
and you ask me whether I want you to finish.

You carry us all the way through,
even the thank-yous we don’t have to read,
as I wish for the comfort of mothers,
wait for the ocean to cast us both home.

Tedious excision, like severing
mold lines from a crusader:
You razor our home from its played-out old world,
lift it up like a cloud-hoisted castle,
oaken ark driven by many
waters up from a still plain.

It drifts like a lily shorn off from its root
and then settles downstream: little farm,
far-flung tracks still intact,
framed now by scarp and topple,
precipice edges abutting the ocean,
sunflower plains, mushrooms suited
for shortcuts and shrinking,
stippled allium and oxeye ringing the trees.

Our matching maps, new-made and blank,
unveil step by step what’s ahead of our marks,
a half-glimpse before us. An inkling. A hint.

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