A Basketball Left Outside for the Winter

Your form looks seasoned

from the endline.

Your streaks faded

where winter has fouled you, 

squeezed and stretched your leather,

tugged at your jersey

while the rest of us 

spent halftime behind a closed garage. 


Benched, you inhaled and held for a season, 

retired by the base of the hoop.


You wheeze a sluggish breath, 

air leaving you in whistles.

Neglectful months 

have rendered you unfit.


Can you lift from the sideline? 

Train the draft from your core? 

Polish court grime from the 

creases of your rubber, 

repaint your patterns

and roll into hands worthy of traveling? 


           Sneakers squeak near you,

           toe the boundary line—

           an afternoon dribble before 

           it gets too hot to play

           with shoes on.


           See, the way your shadow 

           stretches across the court, 

           taut, perfectly whole.

Graham v. Connor (1989)

Guns become soundless 

when their ringing

is omnipresent,

when their bullets 

are metronomic, 

when their tragedy

tastes prosthetic, 

grieved in phrases 

between sips

of morning coffee, 

lukewarm on our tongue. 


Their sounds 

were shrill with virus 

long before our illness 

forced us to listen. 


We think we know 


when bodies 

have been 

in lockdown 

for so long,

their chokehold is 

an army knot 

strung into the polyester 

of our legacy,

their gasps 

gusts of air 

behind claps 

of a waving flag. 

Quarantine in Overview

I have reached the back cover 

of my journal, blackened three 

yellow legal pads, I’ve soiled 

dinner plates with my dreams, 

self-published my poem in the 

blank pages of The Bluest Eye. 


I have taken to my basement 

walls to chart my meditations, 

the branches of my imagining.

Saddle Brook County Park

What would be my heaven? 

Trimmed grass, fresh with streaks. 

Trash cans just emptied, 

their bodies stretching shadows on asphalt. 


A swing in residue motion, 

slowing to stillness, 

its rubber seat still warm 

with a child’s joy. 


Distant voices and 

closer birds,

hushed and hastened gossip, 

circles coexisting. 


A forgotten soccer ball, 

a rusting metal bench, 

heaves of a passing jogger. 


Gradients of light 

as evening settles, 

from my parked car

around the pond’s winding walkway

through its forested trail

to the field

and back again. 

Heavy lids,

blue to a yawning grey. 


Night sounds clatter in the 

plastering dimness, 

a paradise lulled to rest.



my heel balances between floorboards, 

halved by the middle creases, 

my foot will not slip into lava—

no quicksand will swallow my limb—

the flatness of my arch 

will not coat in the pollen 

fetched from the day’s 

outside stepping. 



my nail pierces my palm, 

I can pretend a wasp found asylum in me, 

burrowed into my openness—

abandoned me with a kiss so sobering,

I felt its sting

long after it left me in  

my aloneness.



coffee chars my mouth,

my tongue turns to graphite

and I speak in stencil drawings,

calligraphy in licks.

If I make a face, you will laugh.



this space stores memories,

my days file between ventilator gusts—

I pen through moments,

my tongue marking revisions,


tasting freshness at junctures

as they pass.

What We Watch

Do you, too, see wings in trees?

Cardinal feathers ruffle far-off branches,


swaying in an outlined oak.

Surrounding twigs, a stencil etch from this perspective—

embers poke holes into a canopy. 


Do you, too, watch shadows across your porch? 

Lamp light dim,

morning glow draws in charcoal lines.

A backyard swing

sketched from its model’s hanging—

the seat catches wind, 

a portrait swells and retreats.


Do you, too, make shapes with your fingers?

Lips pucker between thumb and palm, 

a chapel erects from intertwined hands.

Wrists hook, fingers stretch, 

and a butterfly joins our play. 



a swallow tail docks on my window—

its toes kiss the glass, 

its tiger print wings span back, 

a rest between flight. 

It scans my sculpture hands,

my skin pale under kitchen lights,

and it launches—here, then gone. 


Ruth—look, how our garden has grown.

Basil bushels in our backyard,

stems entwined from weeks of nurture, rest.

Leaves yawn, 

roots stretch

the sleep from their limbs.


Our porch, a museum of color. 

Amber petals backbend, heaven-facing,

crimson glints 

under morning rays,

emerald leaves embrace 

cardinal sprouts—

a celebration 


we observe from our corridor.


We extol behind covering.

This feast of weeks—these four walls, our Earth.


The sweetness of health

is in orange slices, 

the richness of life 

in cheese and cherry wine. 

Masks muffle our songs, Ruth, 

but we savor the honey of

hallelujah between breaths.

Yellow Wallpaper

The lining of my living room.

Silence strips its finish, 

stillness thins its shine—

Confinement streaks 

in tassels

from ceiling tile to floorboard.


Whose jaundice fingers 

reach between frays?

Nails julienne the air, 

wave to me. 


A yellow tongue

laps at the stillness,

scratched and gouged and splintered, 

a desperate whisper.


Eyes peek from behind the wall,

and her gaze pities our bondage.

Regard this imprisonment, 

these bars between you and me. 


She—legs marred by paper restraints.

Me—I can’t unsee, stunned into stillness.

Together, we lament our separation. 


I could still be golden, 

her eyes seem to say.


Our oven timer palpitates its ticks.

Moments—They skip in dysfunctional time.

Offbeat, their cadence—a sputtering chime.

Distrust the countdown our timer depicts.


Seconds elapse, but they falter and pass. 

Study the timer and measure its count. 

Catalogue time in a careful account—

How many ticks will this moment amass? 


Routine lays waste to the blending of days.

Timer, beat steady—Give form to this phase. 

From the Baby Shoe Lost at the Park

Will you remember me?

How my fabric held you, 

my child.

My strings enclosing you,

soundly, protectively.

Will you remember me

cradling your sole,

inviting your first steps 

on this graveled sidewalk?


Your mother’s hands 

pinched your palms, 

but I balanced you upright—

I nestled your weight, 

the wholeness of your gravity, 

and you pressed down, trusting. 


When did I lose you, my child? 

When did my laces loosen, 

release your heel

from my folds and

abandon you to Spring air—

How did I expose you, so soon?


I lie fetal now.

This sidewalk, my bassinet. 

My insole catches pebbles 

kicked from passersby,


and I remember you.

Your toenails, ingrowing,

tickling the underside of my canvas.