If tomorrow becomes
an ocean, if it swells to the
foot of our bed and wakes us with
salt stings, if all of today’s ripples tomorrow
become tidal waves

I will not forget the
meadows and dunes of you, the warm
smoke of your breathing

If tomorrow we are bound for
separate currents, if we flood
separate corridors, if we swallow
separate ships

I will feel your spirit in
seabirds above my head

I will remember you in islands
I will remember you in sky

Under your tee shirt it’s flat as the Midwest and I
want to live there. I’m sick
of cities, of coasts, of oceans
relentlessly nagging the beach. I want the meat
and potatoes of you, want the obvious
choice for big spoon to be you, want to
give up my cocksure swagger and swoon
over yours instead. I want
the senior prom and the picket-fenced
lawn and the American flag
on the back of your truck, want to fuck
like the other half does—want to god-bless
your foreign body, the whole long slim
length of you, the endless
prairie of your chest, the rough
plain of your cheek, your terraced
ribs, the muscled goldrush
thrust of you. Yes: I want the simple
plus-minus of us, the luxurious,
brainless, obvious-us, want to touch
you in public and relish
how nobody stares. Don’t tell me
your fears. Let’s just swap our worst
pick up lines. If I wanted love
I’d go back to Brooklyn, to the woman whose body
is so much like mine. But I want this whole
wild country, idiotically brave, catastrophically
free, and you, cowboy, to come home, home
on the range with me.

Poem for a Hand-me-Down Toyota

Everybody thought the words would flow like river water from our minds to our veins to our mechanical pencils and ballpoints, effortless. Instead, they choked and sputtered, ran low on oil, became rusty and frustrated us till we lost our patience for language. So on the days when the frost lifted, we’d skip our poetry classes to hit free verse in the parking lot like a cheap high, ankles dangled from the hoods of the older kids’ cars. We’d wax poetic in that apathy, talking like we’d escape, draped so deeply in the fog of our futures we couldn’t see our hands a foot behind us. So we talked then as we talk now, about becoming a someone with the help of a something, a lottery ticket or a weed farm, a better car or a design job, as if having was being, as if something was a savior we could all reach our fingers out to touch, a real, live, beating-heart something that would pull us up and out the way the stars did, the way jazz did, the way two a.m. did. We’d crank the stereos in the idling cars we’d been given by our parents and our friends. Something with a beat, something with a bassline that buzzed our bodies as we leaned back on the windshields, watching the sky and feeling bigger, breath spiraling and pillowing from our lips in vapor rings. Those parking lots heard our most vulgar and beautiful wishes, those wheels spun our innocence till we couldn’t recognize it; till we weren’t children; till the universe was ours; till our confidence wrote itself out of us in swear words, in graffiti scrawls, fuck the man, fuck the system,fuck it all; till the spring-green promise of our youth pooled around us, teeming with life, breathing and twitching restlessly; till we could see our lives stretched out like runways before us, straight things, But there is sanctity in a life that curves like a back country brook path, that stalls like an old leather stick-shift, burn-holes in the cushions, cracks in the windshield giving way to the sky. No matter the exits we’ve taken, we’ve all made it to this place, to this time, to this lobby of the here and now. No matter how rainy the drive, we are here to marvel at the domes and towers of the architecture of the present. No matter what we have done, we have this to be proud of:
We are standing in a building.
All our floors are concrete and all our ceilings are open.
And amidst all these blocks and beams, we are standing here with our engines still running.
And we are tiny, and we are important.