There’s the made-for-TV scene
when the cancer patient shaves her head
instead of waiting for chemotherapy
to suck the fallout in its mouth.

This is not a coming to terms.

The Pantry Moths

because when he left
they were gone
of their leaving
I can only say I miss asking
where they came from
and what kept them coming back
all those wings
those almost dead things


Tonight, my mother holds her bottom lid
like a long note, blinking the medicine in.

And something like scales fall.

One Side of an Interview with the Ghost Of Marvin Gaye

A: you let a man see god once and he’ll learn to make a country out of anything.

A: I think what I’m saying is that I prayed to any sound I could tempt out of a body.

A: the bullet is like any other thing born an orphan.

A: I mean it’s just looking for another new place to call home.

Risks Beginning with ‘Answer’

And so perhaps every poem that means something to me these days risks being christened “Tenderness,” risks beginning with “Answer:” before, inevitably, turning and turning in its own intimate contradictions. Visible or not, audible or thrumming at some private frequency, I hear those two words now, affirming that the poem that follows must be a response to what history or memory, the body or faith, grief or whatever haunts us asks of us.