Atlantic Elegy

We see a little farther now and a little farther still
—C. D. Wright


I ask the rain to remit, but not because I am ungrateful
A raincheck for the rain—is such a thing possible?

In Florida, even the cold is warm by comparison
We sit at the ocean’s lip as it licks the sand from our toes

Consider instead—the terrifying beauty of alternative

I ask the sun to pumice our faces, blind us humble and good
Incumbent sun, so long accustomed to winning the stars’ wars

Consider although—like trying to whistle with a mouth full of             Saltines

We only know what we know
We only see what we see

I ask the space to persist after the hyphen that separates
Birth from death, to leave the parenthesis like a gap tooth

Then to no one in particular, I say: What age is not a tender                 age?


This hapless haptic misses her Blackberry
Such tender buttons, were they not?
The tiny Underwood slick inside her pocket


I ask the lifeguard not to hang the purple flag
For jellyfish and sting rays and the floating terror

Imagine if that were your name!

Also answers to: bluebottle, Physalia physalis, man-of-war

Consider except—Luminara of a word—bag of sand with a light            inside

Synonym for human perhaps?

I am not opposed to the idea of being lost—
like the red balloon, Mylar with a silver underside—
buoyed along these stubby waves

Consider forever—which is a trick command

A seagull tugs the string of the beached balloon
You see it more clearly now: a webbed design, the visage of                     Spiderman


When the rain comes, it is warm kisses, little white beads

Grown-ups stick their tongues out like children do
It’s not over till it’s over—and then, too soon

Psalm in the Spirit of Dragnet

Tonight all the stars are just celestial swag
in the moon’s handbag, flashy & overpriced.
All the angels are pinheads, & not even pinheads of light.

Here’s what I know: I am good
at déjà vu but bad at karaoke.  I am good
at Magic 8-Ball but bad at bicycle-built-for-two.

Axiom, from the Greek meaning “No rebuttals,” meaning “Whatever I say is true.”
For instance, the heart is shaped like a Hungryman dinner,
indestructible as Styrofoam & always divided.

Somewhere in the cosmos this moment
the ghost of Jack Webb is asking the ghost of Harry Morgan
for “Just the facts,” & Morgan is laughing his ethereal ass off.

Axiom, from the Greek meaning, “No facts, ma’am, only interpretations.”
When the smooth, voluptuous moon falls into the ocean,
like bait on fishing line, I see her for the yo-yo she is,
& God, who is learning to walk the dog.

Speaking of dogs, I decree they all shall be mutts & all named Fido.
All shall have spots & ride starboard, at least once, on a flaming-red fire engine.

Joni Mitchell shall play on all the jukeboxes in all the coffee shops, especially
at the Axiom Diner, from the Greek meaning “greasy spoon,” meaning “tops in food.”

But getting back to that moon, who can be such a diva sometimes,
who only ever buys her triple-shot mocha frappuccinos from Starbucks.

It’s a hard job keeping her up all night, that moon.
The baristas are grouchy in their green aprons, swigging their Ethos water.

Now the weatherperson predicts one hell of a zeitgeist arriving on Tuesday.
There is talk of losing all the apostrophes in a bad grammar meteor shower.

Sometimes the sky is calm & white & pleated with cirrus clouds.
Sometimes the thunder sounds like God driving his old Zamboni across a starlit, skating rink floor.

The moon has only a few good moves & is never going to nail that triple Salcow.

Axiom, from the Greek for “stick the landing.”

The moon doesn’t mind.  The moon is already a gold medal.

As for my guardian angel, it’s a toss-up:
I’ll take Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha from Bewitched,
or Nietzsche, as himself, exactly.  


Citadel of our best names—angsty Zooey & chatty Zarathustra,
              wee Zaccheus & mighty Zorro. (Zebediah, of course,                              would place among them.) 

Experiment in endings (A-Z), as in “where the A ends up,” the crooked path
              an A could take toward some arrival’s gate (zig-zag). 
Or Z-pack: superhero strength contained in capsules. 

Like the 7, crossed or uncrossed, mustachioed or not,
              the Z with its dashing  good looks & flaming androgyny,                        its cursive tail & tiger purr. 

That Z, its maze of contradictions, shape-shifter & fortress of finality:
              N’s topsy-turvy cousin, S’s more callous sidekick,

The stuff of caped-crusader skirmishes: ZAP! &  ZOOM!

Enabler of interjections (think Wowie Zowie! think Zoinks!)
              Symphonic doppelgänger shadowing xylophone &                                 disguise

The verbage of bees, buzzing all day in a hive. 

Zeta or zed, its dialectical relatives, or the numeral 3,
              Z’s bodacious brother on its mother’s side.        

Ambiguous, flirtatious, & worth 10 points on the Scrabble board,
              Z turns out to be quite the catch—zany, zesty, &                                      remarkably well-read.

But despite its zeal, Z can also communicate quietly, eloquent as an ideogram. 
              It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring…

How do we know? Just look at the rocket of Zs rising out of his mouth.

Related Poems

Deep Lane [June 23rd, evening of the first fireflies]

June 23rd, evening of the first fireflies,
we're walking in the cemetery down the road,
and I look up from my distracted study of whatever,

an unfocused gaze somewhere a few feet in front of my shoes,

and see that Ned has run on ahead
with the champagne plume of his tail held especially high,
his head erect,

which is often a sign that he has something he believes he is not allowed to have,

and in the gathering twilight (what is it that is gathered,
who is doing the harvesting?) I can make out that the long horizontal
between his lovely jaws is one of the four stakes planted on the slope

to indicate where the backhoe will dig a new grave.

Of course my impulse is to run after him, to replace the marker,
out of respect for the rule that we won't desecrate the tombs,
or at least for those who knew the woman
whose name inks a placard in the rectangle claimed by the four poles

of vanishing—three poles now—and how it's within their recollection,
their gathering, she'll live. Evening of memory. Sparklamps in the grass.
I stand and watch him go in his wild figure eights,
I say, You run, darling, you tear up that hill.