coffee at the library

If it were a television series we’d sip
out of unlabeled cups
and not smoke cigarettes on breaks.

If it were a dream we’d be considerably
productive despite the air conditioning
and our naked bodies.

If it were a bad joke the red-head
would be reading to the blonde while
the brunette got married in the stacks.

If it were a Friday we’d find a seat.

If it were an answer to an obligatory question posed
by the uninterested but pointedly cordial roommate,
it’d be “alright” while biting a banana.

If it were a teen-novel we’d be broken up
and the only seat left was the one beside you
and the hurricane we heard the adults talk about
but didn’t truly consider had just begun to hit
so I couldn’t leave—
in fact, I’d have to sleep there.

If it were a disaster they’d only have
small cups and hazelnut,
they’d close at nine. 

Alas,
I have fucked up the cupcakes.
The plight of the party-planner.
I had suggested some cheese, an aperitif.
But she simply wanted cupcakes.
"Simple," I think.
I think it is a simple request. 
I’ve been sedentary for quite some time now, though I’ve
stood to reach for a pair of socks I’ve just purchased.
"It is the summertime," I think, "my friends birthday," I think.
My feet are less cold than exposed and I must be in a supportive
chair to continue on with my poetry.
The only park nearby cannot escape the road, and even when
your palms tickle the grass there’s the idea of later.
What’s for dinner, what we’d like to drink, moving forward in vain.

I wonder what Caroline ate at her friends’ summer
parties. A vegetarian for fourteen years.
"Probably nothing," I think, "maybe a cupcake,"
I think. She swims for half as many hours as her age
and pulls at the wet spandex bunching between her back.

She doesn’t notice her hunger until she sits,
doesn’t ask the time because her mother
is coming at eight and she’d like to keep on swimming.

MY HEART

I’m not going to cry all the time,
nor shall I laugh all the time,
I don’t prefer one “strain” to another.
I’d have the immediacy of a bad movie,
not just a sleeper, but also the big,
overproduced first-run kind. I want to be
at least as alive as the vulgar. And if
some aficionado of my mess says “That’s
not like Frank!”, all to the good! I
don’t wear brown and grey suits all the time,
do i? No. I wear workshirts to the opera,
often. I want my feet to be bare,
I want my face to be shaven, and my heart—
you can’t plan on the heart, but
the better part of it, my poetry, is open.

—Frank O’Hara

the dog-owner’s moral dilemma

dog: “I wait all day but I have no perception of time.”

dewy and dumb as a july night
on a july night on a porch step
in the city you might have,
should have left.
where i am the salt above your brow,
bags packed for a transcontinental
   down your cheek
      to the pacific.

you nod your head and i go
dodging some potholes along the way.
it’s always the same:
turn right at what’s left of the time
you were too old to fall off your bike—
"asphalt is a bitch"—
and straight through the hairs
of an inconsistent beard.
i go onward
laughing about residual tokens of youth.

i move slow in the valley for a last view.
nestled between your big breath and
your little breath, i’d tell the tourists
not to fear the wind, 
but keep a steady foot.
the man in the wheelchair agrees,
perched on the peak looking over
toward the water.

i 360-cannon-ball into your ocean
always to tread before i float

i am glad i have not lost you. you should know that i am about to peep inland empire. (ashamed i haven’t yet)

you are percussion
in a tunnel, a dozen
doves in a shoebox

MAC lipsticks

shy girl,
myth on hold.
pillow-talk.

feeling disconnected from many things.
keep having dreams about people i admire snubbing me
"she’s losing interest"

i think that’s my biggest fear. i need to start writing again

come home, let me make you
some dinner. it’s nearly july
and the lone fan hums
the song of consistency.
we know all of the words;
we pay all of the bills.
    it works.

when you need olive
all you’ve got is canola.
"blasphemy!" says the mother
thirteen towns away.

but we laugh at our substitutions.

maybe we’ll dream big
of the Mediterranean basin,
planning a month in Italy
over paper plates.
maybe you don’t know
that I don’t have a passport.

but how could I break it to you
over what’s left of this incredible
asparagus salad