The City Writes Itself



                                                The city is a fake/ a trick of light and mirror

                                                Crêpe.            Cardboard.         Cake. 

                                                The city/ writes itself/ swallows its own      

                                                tale/ chokes

                                                on its own story.                     

Dandelions’ silver afros,

   Wet green tree tarp.


   Spring again-- Where was I?

Sudden shrubs, blossoms,

                                                A puddle the size of _____ (insert

         anything grand/ anything taking over). 


Skeleton umbrellas part the detritus on Rue Manin/ Blurred

photographs, red shoes/ against wet asphalt.



Turning up the toaster won’t heat the room.





I punch a 15th century stone wall,

   expect styrofoam, corrigated paper, wire.


Five weeks, fist in a cast, a drug to slow my heart:

The size of/ a fist/ a fledgling bird/ goose-necked

anything cupped/ in a careful hand/ Yes,

the heart is a loose fruit

a casual roll of the dice

It’s a handful of sand in a strong wind. 


 It’ll take you over if you let it,

   the rain.


This November

I’ve returned to the city I once loved

In the same season I first loved it.

I search for phantoms, create

language for what isn’t there:

You in your green jacket, the rose light of the café,

the storm that drew us out into the street, snapping photographs.

a fierce autumn/ brown-green sycamore leaves

pasted to the streets/ big as our two hands splayed

thumbs touching/ on the fogged glass/ a small swipe

of nose/ of lip




Inside, they are lighting the candles


Tea-lights      in small cups.


I see you every time I look away.






*This poem was first published in St. Petersburg Review in 2010.