Glances meeting through mirrors.
Immigrant businesses marked by American flags in the entrances.
Hated by one’s mother for good reason.
Where do you go when even your parents are homeless?
Restrain your envy of artists
lest you find yourself one—
alone, weird, ridiculed, poor.
Small towns where loveliness goes wasted.
Crushing the infant, asleep in the most absurd place.
Phone book on the seat for height.
Did Hitler come off as a buffoon during his rise to power too?
Dreams where you are no longer wheelchair bound.
What is most important about most of us goes unseen.
Feeling inauthentic under makeup, but covering that up too.
The realization that the future
in which we placed our dreams
is no longer ahead of us.
The license that being an artist gives to neglect loved ones.
Time, which no face-lift
can outrun, curses
The pet was never more terrorizing
than in the decade following
its disappearance from its tank.
Oily rainbows, contorted, in gasoline spills.
Struggling to write
what you forgot
you had once written.
What remains in the typewriter after death.
Fights where vases get shattered against walls.
Books from sunken boats.
Mothers wondering, not whether
you had a good time, but whether
you were the prettiest at the party.
Rejecting new art on grounds that it rejects
beauty relieves one from having to state
that those finding beauty in it are wrong.
Cans rusted to the shelf.
Couch cushions to muffle the noise.
Fake chicken on the old person’s plate.
Coloring within the lines to get the Christmas bonus.
The flagrant sharing of child porn in the early days of dial-up.
Not inviting people because you do not want them not to come.
You knew him so well—until you found his body hanging.
Fur thinned out at the base of the tail
where the dog bites itself in a frenzy
of holding back pee and shit.
Reacquiring your identity, past
vistas, through hearing
the songs of your youth.
Degrees rescinded due to atrocities later committed.
Accusing someone of pulling away too quickly from a hug.
Crows chasing squirrels into the roadkill lane.
The urge to scrape the weapon
hidden in your hand against
the walls and railings that you pass.
Sewage shallow enough
now to wade through
for bodies of family.
What just happened, and what now?
Withering without attention.
The thing you love turned into a career.
Every White House solar panel
torn away for cameras
on move-in day.
Wondering how to get the beloved
out of your house, not knowing
what to do or say next.
Afraid of change, you would be the Jew who did not get out in time.
Education as a proxy for class
makes it easier to ignore how poor
all of us—even PhDs—are becoming.
Filling the silence between family
long separated takes time and energy,
and so the poorest are less likely to reach out.
Assume that someone
has something to say
and even silences speak.
Those for whom a fortune cookie is just as good as a therapist.
Just because the river’s water is holy does not mean that it is drinkable.
Dependent on the distraction of daily troubles.
Why not just say the words to a creature in need
of words when you already show the love
that such words are to designate?
Studying the photo, which you pass by without care each day.
That urge to prove one’s belonging
to whatever group it may seem
to advantage one to belong to.
In a white grade-school, the one
dark girl finds herself in the role
of note-passer between crushes.
Behind the camera in order not to participate.
When a former student
ends up being your nurse
as you battle to live.
Avoiding cliché at the expense of beauty.
The secret guilt of medical professionals.
Those who do not want to appear
to have missed a joke, but who
hold back laughter just in case.
Searching for someone
to make sure that you should be
Comedy to defuse an attack and uplift the dying.
When being fired speaks well of you.
Startled to find him looking so different than he had in life.
Still visiting the grave—the last one left to do so.
Transitioning from a heartbeat
to a heart tick—one too loud
in bed ever to get used to.
Watching the one next to you sleep,
wondering how such a face
might one day break your heart.
Pictures of former homes.
Every U-haul move exhumes a mess of memories.