Hoarder

My daughter casually says
that a hoarder lived in the long-vacant house
that now has a Dumpster out front
and a crew throwing rugs and dresser drawers
from the top floor to the street.
I have heard, too, that there are dolls
in boxes in the house, and they can be seen
if you’re willing to climb over a low wall,
make nice with the crew, find out
that one is named Simon, and ask.
But one neighbor already did that,
and I’m not as nervy as she is,
so I tell myself that it isn’t nice to gawk
at sorrow and death, the refuse of
squirrels, even the dolls peeping out
of boxes, and so my daughter and I
walk past, and it will be another day
that she learns what it looks like,
a sadness you can’t keep
in the palm of one hand.

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Prizes

I took a long break and am still
trying to figure out what to do next:
whether to vie for blue ribbons
or hoard all my pie,

whether there are still some
new buttons to sew on old
waistbands, or anything worth
mending anyway.

There are too many pickle makers
making pickles already — no way
to elbow myself into that
crowded kitchen.

I could examine my own wrist
for a while, or brace my foot
against the fake fireplace —
not go to the fair at all.

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I Do Something with Dishes

I have caterpillars to educate
and people to solve,
a million things to fix and do
before another day rounds
another velvet corner,
becomes too fuzzy to work in.
I do not succumb just yet.
There are dishes to —
I do something with dishes
and something with arguments —
different things,
or maybe the same.

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If My Shoes Had a Name

One time I encountered myself
in a limousine
with flashing lights inside,
a galaxy of pinpoint glitter stars
on the ceiling.
I ordered an expensive pair
of sneakers
to outrun all this luxury,
as if I could leap over fences,
down alleys
faster
if my shoes had a name.

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Salted Abraham

There’s a jar of ginger cookies by the door, dear.
I know how much you love blackstrap molasses.
Put your apron on and come and help me —
we’ve a lot of potatoes to peel before
the men come home. That lemonade ain’t
ready yet. There’s sugar in it, but somehow
it never goes sweet. Throw these trimmings
to the old dog in the yard. That yellow one
that always comes around. I’ve given him
a name, though it’s silly — he’d come running
and wagging just the same if I called him
“Rolling Pin” or “Maple Tree,” I know it’s just
the trimmings he’s after, not any of my
patting and naming. But what was I saying?
You’ll think I’m silly, and I am silly, but
I’ve taken to calling that old dog
Salted Abraham. Seemed almost as if
he spoke it to me one day, tossed
his name to me like a ball. Anyway, dear,
don’t listen to me! We’ve a lot of work —
no time for old fools nor old, yellow dogs.

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Just Before Labor Day

I don’t know what I need to do next
apart from work and not
fall down the stairs again, apart from
visit the dentist and get into an exercise routine
and not grow gingivitis plaque inside my brain
(if it’s not too late).
Certain things take root while you’re paying attention
to other things, such as envy of the over-the-fence neighbor
perpetually sitting outside with citronella tiki torches,
friends and family, companionable laughter
until you want to punch every last one of them,
even the dog, or maybe the dog most of all.
That’s where you are now; that’s the shape of
things to come, apparently — thinking about your gums
and dementia, punching the neighbor’s dog
(and children), knocking over the tiki torches
until the yard is ablaze, though still mosquito-free,
dodging everything you’re supposed to do
before discoing into the void.

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