"Your poetry speaks of America and the transitions of the soul...
your poetry speaks beautifully."
..Michelle Boleyn


I want to write about a balmy night, the sky a sweep of clouds,
crows diving into pines, the feathers of light a gibbous moon
flings low, but I am stuck inside in Pittsburgh, eavesdropping
over diner coffee from a barstool in a donut shop, this time
over the shoulder of that cantankerous harpy who occupies
my old house, the place from which my dreams were launched,
and from where she boasts she has hooked up an extra washer,
is taking in laundry, will not pay the water bills or the rent,
and just won't move.

I want to take you with me on a sunny walk alongshore day lilies,
droopy-headed dropping blossoms in rows tidy as a run of sailboats
slipping by the San Francisco skyline, neat as kites, easy and steady
on the smooth bay breeze, a moment's elixir.  But back in Pittsburgh,
there are storms driving me in to where I watch my gypsy father
stumble drunk with wanderlust and burning with the fire of cognac,
staring from our kitchen window at that frayed clothesline flagged
with bedding above a backyard choked by a flood of dandelions
and doldrums.

I want to hold you to me in this poem like huckleberry and fern
do the mossy trout stream bank, eucalyptus perfuming the air
whipping the coastal highway, barns puddled in dewy light.
But I am crouched inside a dark corner of somewhere I left behind, 
my neighbor's voice rumbling in on a consonant strung tongue
of her Old Country, recounting how she hid with her mother
from soldiers in a grain pipe on some abandoned farm back when
the earth shook as bombs fell in whistles and booms from above
and behind.

I want to send you with these words through this shape-shifting
landscape past a cypress windbreak at the next turn, give you
a nosegay blushed pink by seaside daisies at the water's edge.
But back in Pittsburgh, a flurry of noisy nightbirds is breaking loose again
on orthodox church bell peals, the hillside an echo of women singing
at the untended grave of my mother, the pinwheel I propped there
for a new year faded by spring light, its leaves heavy with the weight
of coins I pasted on, pennies I found tossed in my path by some gods
of good fortune.

Back in Pittsburgh, I get stuck inside, alone and on my back again
in bed growing claws and bird wings to take me where I have come
to be, no longer dreaming windmill farms I now pass by, their petals
spinning celebrants of air on a palette of sky.  But in Pittsburgh,
there is always an explosion of light back in that amusement park
where I met a mechanical fortune teller queen in a penny arcade,
who, each time I looked for a way out, slid her card predictably
down the shoot to me, and with all the words I ever needed for this: 
good luck, good luck.

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