Poveglia Island (poetry)

One sanatorium in particular,
given back to time and riveted
to an island at the seaward head
of a canal in an ancient city,
became like a Galapagos of spooks
where all manner and species
of good ghosts were left
coughing blood and lovers’ names
into collapsing hallways.

-M. Ashley

San Bernardino Christmas

We, none of us, have money
for this. We put up the cross, but
the garage door is still broken.

The cross leans back like a goal
post about to be torn
asunder by the underdogs who
have won the game at last.

We may not be winning
the game at last, but we know
how to tear shit down
even and especially if
it’s our own.

The city tree that was already
dead in October from heat and
disease and not Mother Nature’s
glorious turning—we
put three black sparkly
ornaments on it for Halloween.

Child thieves stole two of them
that night—probably the only real
treat in their lifeless bags.

They Left one out of guilt or

Out of guilt or

we left that one there
for Jesus.

66 Day Poetry Habit: Day 1

Nashville Summer at Night

A soul heavy as wet July.

Steam rising from the grass

lazily curling and uncurling its come-hither fist

in blue efficiency streetlight.

Windows fog over

in droplet-streaming screens obscuring

the midnight hush-your-mouth in each

of a line of bricked and columned houses.

This is a city morally opposed to sidewalks,

where stoplights go down at eleven.

This is a city whose treacherous shoulders I trudged

for a decade in the dark.


In Florence (poem)

An apartment with frescoes on the walls
that lean toward the light, lean toward naughty Roman,
sigh darkly over their birth in the prim pre-Renaissance instead.
They whisper to each other of the hardships of being
mere copies of copies, restored and restored again,
each time by cruder hands.

The apartment, saddled with inaccurate
purple velvet furniture and skinny beds
packed in as if for orphans
is attached to some chi chi hotel with flags out front
that clank against their poles and wave
to the bronzed pickpocket boys in the street
whose clever-eyed discernment is spent mostly on
which girls’ asses are ripe for a pinch.

The pope who built the palace,
now parsed out for foreigners and fornicators,
glides from room to room, to hotel lobby,
to check-in check-out counter, and, disillusioned,
wonders if this torment is the tail end of his
thousand year purgation for loving the woman
who burnt his bread often and shrieked at lesser maids.