Day 1: Negation Poem

March was not
florid or lush, not
overgrown or
dazzling. March
did not cross state lines
or even many traffic
circles, gazing out at
buckling hills.
March didn’t hear the
night amplified, almost
with cicada buzz, or stomp
on any seamy crawlers
near the floorboards.
It did not circle the
hands clasped in praise.


On the third day,
the city began
to sink. Rats scuttled
out from the tiny
garden plot outside 
Pho Viet, and
worms came to 
reclaim the
land block by
block. The cars
floated away
to the outlying 
suburbs, their
wipers glotted
with pollen, and 
the trees threw down
all their cherry 
blossoms, bowing
toward the water, rising
from the Potomac
up into the streets.

Have One on Me

At night, in the long hours
I would take hot
showers, bending my neck
to fit under the European
faucet — using my single
jumbo pack of shampoo
from Monoprix, that itself
counted the days until
home — climbing into
my single cot with
myself, and the cross on
the far wall, and some slap 
of streetlight streaking
across the floor. I laid
on one side, always, 
opposite my heart,
so that I couldn’t feel
the quickened palpitations
that sounded like dying.
In the grey mornings,
the bus snaking its
anxious way into the 
city, past vine-covered
cinderblock and the shopkeepers
in gingham carting out
their chickens, I would
listen to you, and feel 
utterly alone, and 
the opposite, like
fiercely warring
factions at a ceasefire
under the paleness 
of my sternum.


What bathing suit had you
been wearing that
left a keyhole of brown
on your back?
Whose apartment was
this? And why the heels?

What was it like to
know that someone 
could catch you through
a doorway flung open
in the utterly
usual act of pinning
up your hair, the 
almost liquid
bareness of your 
What was intimacy
like, that it didn’t
feel like being
caught at all?


From the photograph of Simone de Beauvoir.

Reasons Not to Write a Poem

Sometimes, walking is enough —
through the street teeming with green,
dodging the sluggish traffic
down 16th, dragging your pant cuffs
in puddles under the fresh-sprung trees
where the pavement’s grown slick.

Sometimes, it is enough to eat —
back of the house, where you can’t be seen
digging your fingers in, then licking
them clean of the tender meat.