Oreo brand sandwich cookies

When you are eating Oreo brand sandwich cookies, and you bite into a piece of ham and realize that in fact you are not eating Oreo brand sandwich cookies, but you are eating a ham sandwich with lettuce and mayo. The coffee pot dings. Or maybe it was the doorbell. You look up and your wife is standing there, coffee mug in hand, laughing. Oh, John. You’re so forgetful after the accident.

Dinner Time

The western fence lizard,

black scales against blue sky

flips over on stone

hot with Summer heat

exposing his belly, crystalline and blue,

Scales soft and reflective in the noon sun. 

The hawk watches from the tree.

order up.

In the Shape of a Lizard

You kept a lizard necklace on,

even when you slept.

I asked you, “Why do you always wear that?”

You said it reminded you of last Summer

when you lived in Pensacola

and worked at Harrison’s Feed Store.

There was a leak that dripped 

and made a spot on the floor in the shape 

of a lizard in the break room.

I found a

crumpled up letter in 

your top drawer while I looked

for my grey Oberlin sweatshirt.

Written on the letter:

"Sarah, keep this letter and this

necklace, even if you never

come home,

I will always love you.”

I asked you what you left behind

when you moved to Ohio.

You grabbed your green lizard necklace.

Sleeping in the Art Gallery

We were laying under a collage

of a mansion in the woods,

guarded by krishna

sitting in a hotrod shooting 

reflective flames -

Two mattresses pushed together like life rafts 

on a hardwood sea, my body flat and spread

like a starfish, yours straight and pensive 

like a pillar candle, waxy, melted 

and re-solidified over and over.

I reach for your hand and you pull away,

"This probably isn’t a good idea"

Isn’t necessarily what I had 

hoped to hear,

but it was what I needed.

If I was skin on bone,

you were bandaid needed,

but torn away quickly.

UFOs dancing in the rafters,

I fell asleep with my arm across 

you, because my thoughts 

had aligned two stars

at the wrong time.

Krishna laughing from the wall 

could not have guided me.

Flight Attendant

Being a tourist because of a funeral

can leave you seeing mountains

and sunrises

while your mind is full of piles of dirt

and sunsets.

Can a camera hang around your neck

under the palms in California

while thoughts of rosaries hanging from necks,

their beads like black condensation

and rain drops that always fall 

during funerals

move through your head?

Flight attendants bringing 

refreshments and neck pillows

as you fly over farms and cities,

like the boat of charon above the living -

The thought of a black hole forming

in the plane and sucking everyone 

out, ascending them into the heavens

as if their souls are to be freed 

from their bodies.

Rainfall taps on the metal wings.

Variations In the Earth’s Orbit

Sometimes what we remember 

is not the same as what we see on photographs

piled in blue suitcases kept in attics - 

Men smile and show their teeth

like wolves disguised as sheep -

        Grandpa with his sweet smile

        as he hugs grandma in 1973.

        “Grand Canyon Vacation!”

        We do not see the bruises

        from when he drank too 

        much tequila and she 

        burnt dinner.

Clinging On

When I was twelve years old,

my dusty yellow labrador found a femur bone in the woods behind my house,

a bone with a little bit of flesh still clinging on,

but dried for the most part.

And I didn’t think anything of it,

when I thought he must have found the leg

of a deer that had died a while ago. 

Until two men came to my door wearing suits and holsters,

held up a photograph 

and said “Have you seen this person?”

I told them I had not,

and noticed how dry my mouth felt,

like cotton mushed against the roof of my mouth

and against the back and tops of my teeth.

Wedging my foot in the door was not enough

to keep them out,

they would make their way inside,

and they would not find a deer.

Fifty-Nine

There was a cross country runner from Eastern Oregon University,

he wore a gold and black uniform,

the number fifty-nine on the front

that bounces up and down as he steps over branches and leaves. 

October 1985 - 

He’s running and passes number seventy-four

Whose hair is dried out from the heat,

and lack of moisture,

looking like a tumbleweed

worn as a wig.

Two days before the race, 

Space Shuttle Atlantis left Earth for the first time.

Number fifty-nine’s feet lift from the ground 

as if they will join Atlantis.

Fifty-nine wins the race.

Getting Things Out

The Baltic sea spits a bottle out onto the shore

as if it were bitter food.

The musty vessel

picked up by a fisherman,

his hands rough like brown leather.

A postcard inside

with some scribbling - 

May 19, 1914

followed by a single line - 

"Well, I’m glad that isn’t bottled up anymore"

The fisherman begins to cry.

Hollow

Are your bones hollow like a bird?

Have your way,

fly today.