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24/30 (for my daughter, 1)

there are loves you will feel that
will split you open from your core,
outward,
inward,
toward,
and in directions
you will not be able to name.

loves that, after feeling them,
If you ever had been able to,
you will no longer see it fit
to question your God.

you are
the kind
of love
that makes
me tremble
my prayers.

you have always had me wrapped
around your
finger, even when your hands weren’t big enough to
hold mine —
your palm-sized hugs choired gospel;
called me altar-side —
I would try to wrap my
entire body
around your hands.

you are
the whole
entire
world.

I cried watching your first steps
your mother had to promise me
all I had to do was say your name,
and you would always come back
and you would always fit in my arms —

I dried my face, and hastily
battened eyelid-levees,
and called for my Grace,
but when you turned around,
so proud that you were like your big brother
your smile broke me back open.

I suppose it might as well be sooner, rather than later
you discover men to be
crying creatures, whether or not
we like to admit it.

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23/30 (For My Son, 1)

I can’t wait
to make
and watch
and dirty
and clean
and feed
and read to
and teach
and pray with
and pray over
and learn from

you

People will stop us on the street to tell me that you look
more like your mother
I will tell them you got lucky
and mean it.

I can’t wait
to meet you,
and meet you,
and meet you,
and meet you;
every day — your best attempts at standing
like your father, until you learn to stand like his son,
until you learn what the name we
will give you means in your own
voice.

I hope that by the time you meet me
I will have learned my own name and
feet
and hands, but
in case I have not, I’m trusting you
to tell me the man you see, and to name
me whatever you want, as long as
it’s me, to you

I just wish that you
wouldn’t be born into skin
that some will only know how to spell
their fear with.
that you would be born into a body
that might not be so
inherently inappropriate and
that your life might be lived without the burden
of defying the statistics they will try to drown you in.

As soon as you’re old enough
you’re going to learn to swim.

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22/30

I spent the morning
reading summaries
of Dante’s circled hell.

Lists of sins and the
hands best known for their hold,
hearts and lives
divided by category:
people who fell in love with
the wrong things
one too many times

And the only circle
I would not carry cross and
bear for you was the first —
where those in limbo
go.

My trespasses
for you will not
be the footsteps of a man
lacking conviction.

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20/30

when her hands unfolded:
they made a table of my lap,
spread uncharted at my fingertips,
turned me to more of a map maker
than the other men
I had dressed as prior.
There was petal and
caligraphy in her palms;

valleys, lifelines dug
or stitched, or carved,
Tigres, or Euphrates or
some other river I haven’t learned a name for —
her mouth opened
and sung cradle.

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17/30 (In Your Atmosphere…)

"You know the oxygen we breathe

is killing us?

Rusting our blood vessels;

poisoning us. just helping

us live long enough to feel

as much of this as we can take —

every heartbreak between

now and when the pipes finally

burst.”

I always change the subject

when I catch myself about

to tell her that I have always loved her,

or that I still have flower, and dinner, and movie, and liquor, and condom, and breakfast, and borders, and pastry-because-you’re-not-fat-and-you-should-be-able-to-taste-your-life receipts,

and the hotel room keys that would hang from rafters like the jersey numbers of star players if our relationship were ever reborn as a sports team.

I’ve squeezed

the toothpaste tube she left

dry, but it’s still sitting on

the counter.

Every few weeks,

She asks if I’m on something

or says “maybe you’ve developed ADD?”

I thank her for caring,

and blame the fluorescent lights.

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16/30 (to the person who broke into my car)

I am sorry that
they never spoke power
into your name —
that they painted
you; covered in rot
and gangrene
until your limbs
learned how to
forget their circulation,

I hope that
my coat keeps
you warm.

I hope that you
can convince someone
to charge your peace
to my Macy’s card.

I hope that you remember
that you are stumbling
because they pushed you

and

that when you stand up
tomorrow,
or the next day,
or the next day —

that when you use your left hand
to find the wall,
and find your balance

I hope that just because it’s
whatever day it will be when
your feet remember their
souls, that you decide to give
the light switch a try

and that you (re)discover that
you are electric.

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15/30

I keep waiting
to bleed-spill-pour out:

i’ve pooled at my feet
enough that

I can’t move without
kicking ripples into the

floor, my edges have
started to dry,

like cold winters
when the shores
freeze first,

I am a lake
laid on it’s stomach

looking down it’s arms
at frostbit fingers

looking back at the ice
creeping up it’s calves

stretched across a valley
between two beds —

every so often looking at it’s reflection in the sky
wondering

how liquid it
really is

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14/30

it was the way
your fingers ran
the waterfalls
of arms pouring
from my shoulders,

it was the way
you looked at
my skin
with wonderment;

you said you couldn’t
figure out how it
hugged itself around
a soul like mine;

that whenever you looked
at me I was standing
between and behind
your reflection,

that my layers reminded you
of fall and that orange leaves
were your favorite kind
of departure.

you said my momma
wasn’t no glass maker
and that you were grateful
I would not shatter so easy,
no matter my track record
covered in crack and crevice.

it was the way
you unwrapped me
careful not to tear anything
that might have been
delicate in ways you couldn’t have known
that made me love you

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13/30

and then
she smiled and
my arms and legs became
aware of one another,
of themselves,
of their distance from my torso,
and from hers, they
started
quivering, exhausted, as the
epitaphs and coffins —
my past and the post-ambles
I was dragging behind me
suddenly felt
like a burden

so
I let them go.
and smiled back.

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11/30

all of our pictures

looked like music, vinyl

after the record player broke.

even the street-drawn caricatures,

exaggerated nosed smiles that slid

across our faces toward one another.

we always sounded

trumpet and tromboned

and even though all we have left are

album covers

and the liner notes we wrote drunk

on bar napkins and take-out menus

and each other’s palms, even

with no way to listen left for me

I still dance to us

on Saturday mornings,

and Sunday afternoons.