Hattie Shares the Honey Wine

Hattie’s brother died
by his own hands,
she reads the menu,

says order the 50/50,
half of this and half of that,
and we use our fingers

to scoop Ethiopian wat
in soft injera sponges,
come for the open

mic, says Hattie,
it’s tomorrow night.
Hattie is a painter

of the old wall kind,
shaman of the fallen,
she peels off

the burned-out
boards, gives the dying
one more story,

day after day
in paint, patient

like Baltimore, like
slow jazz, sweet
as honey wine.

The Island

My bed is an island
filled with dreaming,
a white raft to hold
soft bodies that I cherish,

my children,
my lover,
my own treasured and
broken vessel,

sleepy and satisfied
at the end of a day,
each of us afloat
for just a little while

as we travel
through our chapters,
or dissolve
like chocolate

on the tongue.
It is the place
I write alone,
or think of you,

or think of nothing,
an empty mind
on a quiet shelf,
or perhaps a busy heart

so full of questions.
At night we rock
upon our sea
of starlight,

sweet shelter,
skin to sleeping skin,
to remind one another
we are alive.

City People

In the dark tube
of the trans-bay

black windows strobe
blank nothing
to the ear punching

screech of track
on metal. It has been
half a lifetime

since I breathed
with this city, and my eyes
linger long

on all the flashing
faces. I am startled
by the humanness

within these tattered
train cars,
and by the

force inside
the stranger’s smile,

like a private anthem
to all that is