Tag Archives: love poems

Couple At The Corner

Couple parked at the corner, 
lights off, big gestures;
arguing perhaps, speaking of
love perhaps, or perhaps of money, 
talking loudly of how one
may stall the other, how love 
conquers money, how money 
straps down love.

A newer model car,
which means nothing. A younger
looking couple, as far can be told
in this light, in this darkness — which
means nothing.

Perhaps instead
they are older 
and reliving their shared past,
or their unshared pasts.  Maybe one’s 
had the love, one’s had the money
till now and they’re looking toward 
whatever comes next
and not between them.

perhaps — old song
in someone’s head. Old wounds
singing to new ones. The world
surging on beyond whatever
they are gesturing toward.

The streetlight 
sputters, then goes out. 

Magellan Song

revised from 2015; original post 2009; poems originally written 1994 or so

when I speak to you
of the way this is 
your eyes widen in surprise 

(or astonishment – the right word
makes so much difference
when one tries to describe the way this is)

it seems sometimes
that there are no right words 
to carry my full meaning

do you think 
I would speak to you
of hearts or say forever

that I would use tired words
remotely resembling
those dry and familiar forms

if I instead had language
that could make
how I feel more clear

all I have for you is known and common
a few small words
offered too early and too often 

I promise you
if I had been alive in mythic times
I would have invented language 

that would have
the syllables
I need

every word would have been a nail 
in the ark that saved
all the couples of the world

the covenant bow
that was revealed 
after the rain had dried 

would have colors
only you 
would be able to see 

I would have been clear enough
to have torn Babel down
all on my own 

if I had the right tongue 
I could reform history 
with improbable, impossible words — 

if I had the tongue
I need to speak my mind today
I swear I could remake the world 

hold it in the corners of my mouth
then offer its fresh contours to you
in a song of Magellan – 

a circumnavigator
now just barely remembered
but once his name

was the leading edge of a legend
an arc of hope
from known to unknown

if I could speak the words I need
I would conjure him
spell him into life this morning

put him to use as we sink our toes
into this cold Atlantic sand — 
look at all that horizon out there – 

its dark line
the promise
of unseen shores –

to reach it we will need new vocabulary 
but for now this is all
I can bring myself to say: 

come closer
stay close to me
sunrise can’t be too far away


I fight hard 
against drowning in nostalgia,

but the way she stood 
in late daylight!

The weight of seeing her 
standing in that light

pressed my body down,
was for once stronger than 

what I handle around her
most of the time, 

and I couldn’t breathe
as easily (or as much in denial)

as I usually can; 
time and age caught me 

and there I was sputtering 
to find some fresh truth to tell

instead of muttering, as I did,
“I’ve always loved you in that,”

as if I was some once-famous crooner
in some formerly decent lounge 

repeating some Bennett Sinatra cliche,  
as if I had ever been in that debonair league

and the sound of my voice would be enough
to bring it all rushing back to both of us —

but it’s the next morning
and I’m still there, still sputtering, 

the remembered voice in my head
choking on something wet and salty 

as I slip under 
the surface to stay.


To wake up naked, alone,
tracing the empty outline
next to you with your finger
before rising,

is to think of the mourning doves
who are no doubt outside under the feeders now
and imagine you are in communion
because you imagine you could understand their calls.

To stumble from room to room this early
without needing to be quiet;
to use her favorite curses for the junkie upstairs
and his parade of suspect visitors;

to put off breakfast until this aching
is so inadequately addressed; this is how
you get through a week without her
being here, all while knowing

there’s more time like this ahead.
Knowing it will end, but not soon enough.
Knowing she’ll come home,
but not soon enough.

Forensic Love Song

Originally posted, 2008. Revised.


“the answer is always in the body”
— heard in passing; a line from a TV crime show

licked and prodded,
it still refuses to express
a secret

in the dark, lit blue,
misted with laden rain,
our signatures revealed:
clouds on our still skin

the mottled shapes
of shared blood can be read
as a novel: here the plot
is thick, here thicker;

here is a second theme;
here, the pooling, the co-mingling,
so confusing to the outsider

though we understand
what has happened here

cooling happens
at a predictable rate
once all factors are accounted for

something unknown to science
must be holding all this heat

the answers
are always in the body

the body is always

A Ghost Talking

A ghost walking, hands clasping daggers on a rain-dimmed afternoon.
Too much on my mind; too little mind with which to hold it up.
I’m not a man anymore as much as I am something glimpsed and incorrectly identified.
A blur in the foreground of an old photograph. The viewers ask, in near-perfect unison:
Who is that rushing by, now almost out of frame?

A ghost walking, carrying captured rainwater in two buckets: galvanized metal squeaking as they swing and slop over.
A vinyl album playing on a modern turntable in a second floor room, music in the wet air.
I don’t know this song but that is unquestionably Coleman Hawkins’ tone singing against the rest of the world’s noise.
A wide chorus hovering over the sidewalk five feet up, at near ear-level. Listeners in the vicinity ask:
is there a break in time that makes this so, and who is that ghost, whose water does it carry?

A ghost who glides or floats cannot be described as a walking ghost according to strictest traditional guidelines.
If there is a ghost carrying water, holding knives, or simply floating empty, that’s something to be understood differently.
You ask: what am I not seeing, what am I seeing and not understanding, what am I missing about you?
I say only that I truly don’t know. If I am a ghost, I’m not a restless, disembodied entity as much as something transparent
I cannot fully explain. You see through me, past the love I encompass, past the life I could offer to you.

Drive It Like You Stole It

She pointed to the road
Said let’s go for a ride
Got the car right here
Let’s get going

She gave me the keys
I turned it over once
Started a little rough
Then it started purring

Asked her, “Is there anything 
I should know before we go”
She sat back and said
“Just drive it like you stole it”

Drive it like you stole it
Drive it like you stole it

Just drive it like you stole it
Drive it like you stole it

There’s nothing safe about love
Ride as rough as a moonshiner’s road
Until you find the sweet spot
Then it’s smooth as a freeway

She said let me drive
I gave up the wheel

I said “I promise I won’t quit on you”
She just smiled and punched the gas
Started ticking like a perfect clock

I’m not the kind to let that go

We’re ticking like a perfect clock
That tells the right time all the time
Ticking like a perfect clock
Clicking on all cylinders

Drive it like you stole it
Drive it like you stole it
Just sit beside me while we drive
We’ll drive it like we stole it


Your tongue’s  
a burglary kit.

Your language
spins and steals. 

cracked safes

and opened rooms,
and all you did

was speak.
I take inventory,

trying to decide
what is missing;

nothing, it appears.
In fact some things

long thought lost
are in fact here now.

In fact, the rooms
are rearranged but full,

all the doors
still close when needed,

and all the dials on all the safes
still spin, endlessly

creating new combinations
for you to test and try.

You are forever breaking
all my locks, all my little codes. 

The sound of your voice
picking its way in. Your hands

turning and turning upon me;
then, the sound

of the heavy door
swinging wide.

Tuesday Fragment

if it all fell to earth before you
like first snow or warm rain

was laid out before you
so you could choose
that which would satisfy you most

could you
open your hands enough
to take it
fold your arms enough
to hold it

if there was one song you could hear
without weeping or turning away

one melody subtle harmony
perfect for humming along
or remembering fondly

could you
open your ears
and hear it
could you 
set your face 
to smile past your tears

all we have 
are possibilities
if we shun them
we have nothing

all we are
is what comes to us
if we flee it
we are lost


When among others
work to appear 
to be one of them.
I use words others use,

talk like them, write
like them. Do the subtle
bodyspeak, the gestures,
the moves.

When among others
I sing their song cycles
within earshot;
poem their poetry too.

When fucking though?
My own language, my own 
tongue — and no, not when
making love or even having

sex — those are their words,
not mine; no ruined sensibility
of theirs for me. I speak my singular 
rumbletone hard stop when

in the swing of fucking, speak it
with the Other I’m with, coding and
decoding in the moment
of utterance. Tense agreement,

plural touch. Grammar
of switch upon switch
across skins. Private syntax.
All the cipher we can handle.

Greenwich Village

at eighteen, visiting
for the first time,

summer midweek
getaway with first love,

we walked by a Tibetan
restaurant late afternoon

while an unseen trumpet player —
maybe on a low roof, perhaps

in a window one floor up —
swung a perfect version of

“Rubber Ducky,” and we started 
singing along as we 

walked and swung our linked hands
back and forth, as we almost

skipped, as we 
sped through perfect light

toward our hotel room and 
perfect night.


Originally written 1999.

I want to climb to you
as if you were living in a tree house
and from there look out at the world
from your level

Even though I’m afraid of heights
and would be paralyzed
and clinging like a rug to the floor up there
I would give up safety
to try and see things your way

Pinned down like that
I might have enough time
to learn you

If I could stick a pin into myself
and use it to hold my form intact until the final stitch
or set one pin in place to hold my bones tight
or use one to make holes in my skin
to receive ink for primal tattoos
that would last crudely forever and speak of things
that I will later wish were clearer and sharper
If I could feel the sharpness
of all the pins that could hold me in one place
and through these pains begin to feel things your way

I would

I would fall off a ladder
by slipping on a banana peel

I would open the door
on a cartoon cliff and stand abashed
for just a second
in a canyon of white space
like a temporary Coyote
watching your Roadrunner dust

I would even do impressions of myself
until last call at an empty comedy club —
stop me if you’ve heard this one before

What I want is for you to become a season
(I vote for late spring
so I can anticipate a full summer’s heat whenever you approach)

What I want is to open my eyes in the morning
and immediately adore what I see

(when what I see is you)

What I want is to see your own desire come toward me
and split open a fresh box of white candles
then set them all to burning

What I want has a name
(your name 
the only name)

Sometimes when I hear your name
I feel like I’m passing a church on Christmas Eve
and I want to be there
walking with a censer
among the faithful

chanting your name
the only name
your name


Peace is a glimpse
of my partner
lying zig-zag and still
under our sheets, seen
in dim light as I rise
and tend to our insistent cats
at dawn,

reassuring me 
that once this is done
I can return to her side
and fall back to sleep
in as good a place as I can find
in this brightening,
frightening world. 

That there is still at least
one safe harbor 
is enough to let me
remain awake for now
and face the light
that comes now to reveal
what has lately come to power
during the night
from the dark.

Private Language

I am trying to explain the delicacy
of our private language
to a sparrow,

hoping the drab bird
will understand enough
to translate it

and let it pour 
across morning
outside our window.

I hope it will mean something.
I hope it will succeed 
in bringing what we say

into fuller being. 
I hope nature draws it in,
holds it close, passes it back.

I want to hear it in the rain.
I want you to hear it
in the rain and wind. 

I want what we whisper
to one another
to become a shout

everyone hears.
Make it a battle cry,
rally chant, holy song,

Love, you know:
what we say in secret 
to each other

could carry the world
if they could
understand it.

One Worn Shoe

What I can offer of myself
for you to hold onto here:

a worn shoe,
a loose tongue. Mileage
and incessant talk about 
mileage. I show
every step, every stumble,
and I won’t shut up.

One broken shoe,
clearly a discard.
Not worth picking up
from the pavement,
really; stories
spilling out from that floppy
tongue, out of holes
and near holes.

By their nature shoes
are not about hope
once they’re broken in,
instead are about trudging
and when there’s only one
they’re barely noticed unless
one trips over them and then?
Gone, trashed, tossed —

one worn shoe of a man.
Dust in the folds. Dim shine,
politely called patina.
The sole a tattered page.
I’ve been places, though,

and could go farther
even though there’s no reason I should,
even though it looks impossible
that I could go anywhere ever again — still,

how soft I’ve become.
How uniquely gentle I could be
to your touch.