Poems from "Sharp as Want"

You Teach Me the Night Sky

Don’t say Milky Way
say River of Heaven, stars
like stones, woodsmoke

 no, not stars, say myths
of fire, say Cygnus, say—
oh, the sky is filled with

sadness, don’t say sad
say moon, say orange, say—
the moon is an orange

tonight love, tonight
Aquarius brings water
for us the sky is

an old god in blue
and a boy with an orange
in his coat pocket. 


Lake Superior Haiku


don’t say complicated, say
something like light
on the underside of


geese, don’t say geese
say love, say two hands
one mitten


don’t say mitten
say skin, say nothing—

The Odor of Violets

How a molecule is a group of atoms arranged in a particular way. How these
arrangements of atoms float aimlessly around the world and stick on things
like orange peels and old letters. How you can’t see them even if there are many
together, such as when you pass a bakery early morning and all those loaves
of bread are baking. How eventually many molecules of water will make a drop,
but many molecules of the scent of a violet will not make a violet. And this—if
you shift even one atom in the simple molecule of the odor of a violet, you
might have instead the aroma of a rose, or a rumpled bed sheet. What I mean
to say is—how late last night the smell of your hair came to me out of nowhere,
damn wandering essence, the same way it did that afternoon I kissed you behind
the soft curve of your ear. How it threw into disarray, again, all those molecules
of muscle I had finally set in order in the space beneath my ribs.