because while some truths lend themselves to equations, others are best described in verse


On the back page

Two bull moose, locked
rack to rack
like the knotted ribbon
of old love letters, sunk
in the slough of Unalakleet.
Their forms, frozen
still in battle,
were unearthed weeks later
under eight inches of ice
as two men toured the Bible camp grounds.
Miles south, months
before and after,
a cowhide-booted doctor
who farms loneliness outside Laredo
is fighting the desert
for the dried out bodies
of the hopeful,
their morgued hearts
still seeking, the rich
brown of them borne
to dye the shallows
of the Rio Grande.
They, too, wrote love letters,
found folded on their bones
in old jean pockets;
how could they know
every breath was an apology?
Like the moose, no one told them
where the color of our eyes
goes when we die,
that if we let our hands
speak for themselves,
they would say with their velvet tongues
that love is a thin and slippery
everything, not buried deep

You will know because the moon will weep blood

He never wanted. You
will understand
what the trees
are whispering, Japanese
maple leaves falling
by gaslight, branches that shudder
let nothing harm her as they bare
their bark to the night.
Sirens sound, red
as the cherry of a clown’s nose;
there are footsteps
behind the doorways
and bodies, still,
under our feet; ghost
and more-than-ghost of train,
echoes of fathers
gone off decades back,
gone off and never come home.
Let nothing harm her, he said,
and now she hangs
Christmas lights the color
of bruises, mourning
some lost innocence, some lost
season, the world
turned dark as an air raid
blackout except
for the moon, except
for the sirens. Naked,
the trees are whispering
against the river, shadow
on shadowed water:
you will understand. Under the hill,
the breath of a train whistle,
the silence of a grave.
He never wanted to go.
Girls make a game
of kissing by the tunnel mouth,
missing the solace
of their daddies’ knees.
Please let nothing harm her.
No one laughs at clowns anymore.

Off Texas Avenue, the parking lot is littered with memories

From the skinny brown arcs
of ballerinas rooted
in a coltish breeze,
the first brittle leaves drift
limply to still-summer ground,
yellow earthbound stars
five-pointed like fingers
whose reach is destined to be crushed.
there is a silence
that holds underneath the constant hum
of voices, engines, bike treads;
the same we came here seeking
so many years ago. tiny clam shells
scattered among gravel tell how far
the sea has come, calling
to mind a beach road
i saw once, where a black man
in an old truck rode north
with one arm out the window,
the bed full of rusted chains,
whole oil drums full. like the shadow
of the hawk gliding hugely over the rooftops
that bank the park, i want it
to mean something, to be more
than soundless commentary:
a blessing. a washing clean.

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