My stepboy asks me will I help him lift our healthy dog across the fence to visit Gumboot, who’ll die soon. Already he’s all bone: all parapets of spine, all open jaw of hips, all of course ribcage. This can’t but first be seen. Yesterday a stranger knocked next door with thirty pounds of Bil-Jac from his truck. He eats, Ms. Bello told him, her coalblack arms crossed up above her breasts. Just not so much no more. I do fill his bowl. Now my boy rubs Gumboot’s ear. He’s dusty, says my boy.…

Read More

Winter Rye

Only these few days in its life will this baby grass be this peculiar shade of green. Pretend I didn’t plant it. Pretend its seeds blew in from another planet. All it knows so far is autumn and the sprinkler. For all it knows, it has landed somewhere perfect for a grass’s life—say, an Ireland planet, or a planet wholly rainforest—and every day will be like this. Snow will never fall. No ice, no drought. And a giant pink primate will tiptoe up to water it twice daily forever. But it will only be…

Read More


Indian Clinic

Here in this lobby, waiting for my name, I’m aware of my pale face. Over there sits a very black man, maybe four-hundred pounds, a tube to his nose from a little wheeled tank. Centuries ago, his cousin and my cousin sneaked from their village and kissed in an Appalachian cave, darkness but glimmering coal walls unmined. Healthcare is free in America, should you carry a quantum of indigenous blood. It’s a federal promise, a guardian-ward guarantee that somehow survived when other treaties were…

Read More

A Call for New Poems

During your eulogy, your mother’s pastor, who’s never met you but knows you wrote poetry, reads One short sleep past, we wake eternally. Your brother elbows me to commandeer the pulpit. Already this morning we’ve finished the bottle of Scotch left behind on your desk. Before the sanctuary of your hundred friends, I suddenly pity the pastor, his theme as unresolved as your whiskey. Were I to finish his, I might recite After the first death, there is no other. I instead tell the story of you in…

Read More