He left home suddenly,
Just ahead of the police,
Or the army, whosever day it was
To reach out and torment him.

He left home,
Unread book left open on the couch,
Dishes left unwashed,
Door still open
As if astonished at the turn of events.

He left home
Just ahead of his brother,
Who, running late
Arrived just after the police.

Years later, thinking
Of the gulag,
Thinking of his brother,
He wept, alone,
Longing for the comfort of prison.


In the distance,
I see him coming, the stride
Unmistakable, the smile forgiving,
Even at that distance

He carries the ghosts of my ancestors,
The last of a generation
A link to a past unbidden
And yet desperately sought.

We meet in the middle of the bridge
And embrace
“A hundred grams?” he says,
His eyes, guarded but hopeful.

“You’ll buy me a vodka?”

A winter, from within

Outside, through the window, it’s gray,
a fine mist oozing from streets and houses
the color of the sky, of the sea before sunrise.
Where did the idea come from that it must snow
in winter? It’s OK. The pure white of snow has no
staying power, anyway, turns to grit and
sludge long before it can be properly honored,
buried in the quotidian grind, a mere distraction.

There’s sense and nonsense in everything,
in the rocks, the trees, the teaspoon grass
that grows willy-nilly in driveways, on roofs,
until there’s no distinguishing will from desire.
We walk among our true selves, we think
we have no choice. If we question it, what remains?

Upon the floors of this place are written histories,
each crack, each stain no less a record than the rings
of the tree from which this floor was wrung, and flung
with generations of lives otherwise gone, evaporated,
and now, I look outside, and it’s snowing after all.

The road moves easily within the fortress skull

One luck-drenched park bench afternoon
while dust drifted in and out of sunbeam
streams eyes closed I dreamed of living
of love-stained moons and lake-bound swoons
and stars so vast so supreme that only
a poor cosmic speck of a remnant spark
unremembered could hope to comprehend it
of the gravity of gravity and all the loose
and hellbound distance between here and now and now
and then the slow sloping dip of the long trip
at a whim an ungrim wager with fate I dreamed
of how in old age our deciduous dreams their bones
still seductive nudge us toward a place arriving
at which we can only look back helpless bemused.