To the Snowman on Ocean Avenue
Forgive us, our sullied tires, the lip-stained cigarette butts
that grimace the white of your back. Twelve stories up,
we’re huddled around a window singing hymns with a man
whose days are fewer than minutes on parking meters.
I love the oblong shape of your body, your darkened
base three sizes bigger than the rest, the slanted trail
of your crooked grin—a typo on a funeral bulletin.
The charcoals on your face will never be embers
of a dying campfire, hear stories we’ll tell of this
Brooklyn night, my ex-wife’s uncle now dead of leukemia.
That weekend we walked the dark shore along Shinnecock,
the moon’s slender, custard reflection a candlestick
on the bay. We had no language, yet, for divorce.
I dreamed you, Newport Saint, Patron of the Lucky Strike,
early in the morning, on the porch of our rental in Sag Harbor.
You were tall as the skyline, pristine in your crimson stole.
A goldfinch perched in your hands. The twigs of your fingers
were unbroken, constant—your own gilded Hamsa.
-Dana Point, CA
We toast to a lack of better words, over turkey,
vegetarian meatloaf, red wine, & potatoes.
Chris asks, why can’t we find peace in each other?
It’s before the election. His wife says, we all regret.
Truth is a papier-mâché mask. A house fly, blank face, a crow.
My father-in-law pours us another glass, our mouths unripened
blood. I’ve skipped meds four times this week. I’m ash.
Pale as whiteboard. After dinner, we shoot darts downstairs.
The rain plays the street’s untuned chord—I saw a citrus tree
in a garden outside a Catholic church. Once, I ate a lemon
whole. I wrapped my belt too taught around my waist tonight.
Once, I noosed it around my throat. Taking notes on the plane,
I busted a red ballpoint pen. Once, I couldn’t scrub the blood
from the palms of my hands. Of what I know of commitment,
I remember packing both our bags before we left. Once, my voice
on speaker in divorce court via phone—we touch glass to glass,
hold hands in prayer, toss frustration at a cork board. I trace
smoke from Chris’s cigarette, hear a rain gutter’s vow to the curb.