It’s OK. Life gets complicated. I’m tired, too,
I beamed, mentally, at the ladies in line ahead of me
at our golden bank. But we never did make a connection
as they argued about finances and health, both poor.
Life collapses sometimes, and all of us can break —
last night, I watched (over and over) a YouTube video
in which a ride at the Ohio State Fair comes apart.
What message in the arms and legs flailing against sky?
Replay, replay, replay the moment before a human
realizes — just before he hits the ground.


Lawn Meadow

At first it looked like a grave
a patch of dirt
with a single red flower
in the middle of your lawn
but lately it has become
a rectangular meadow,
and I see cosmos
(Sensation and Bright Lights)
poppies (the little kind,
not the ones that are like
small dogs)
larkspur or bachelor’s button
something blue
and a drift of white
which I would say is
Queen Anne’s lace, but
no one plants that on purpose.

Did you send off for
the packet of wildflower seeds
from Cheerios?
Some people said that was
ill-advised, greenwashing,
and that a California poppy
growing in Illinois
is not really a wildflower.

But then, I’m an interloper, too;
your meadow cheers me
from the middle of your lawn,
and I think of you
uprooting a patch of grass,
wondering what would happen,

I know this:
It’s an act of courage
every time you plant seeds
to attract bees.


Job Interview

Your misery is not
but we think it’ll do.
We bet you’re an ugly crier,
but splotchy tears are better than none.
Sit right down, and we’ll show you
the paper bag people we made
when we had no actual people,
before you walked in.
It’s fortuitous that you’re here.
We’re out of paper bags.


Walking My Dog at Night

But what would I say in my 911 call?
That six or seven young black men
were standing on the corner with a phone,
saying, How much do you need?
How much what, and what did I really see?
Meanwhile, the police would come
and possibly ruin a night that didn’t need
to be ruined that way, and there I would be,
the white lady whose biases are allowed
to dictate how other people’s lives will go.
But still. Still, there’s menace in the air tonight,
and the smell of weed, and I’m spooked by
leftover firecrackers from 4th of July.
Every time we take the last walk of the night,
I imagine it — what I would do, what it would
look like and sound like, how I would be
forever changed. Would I scream? Run?
Hit the ground? You’re allowed to think
I’m self-centered in this scenario,
because I am. But what would I say?
That something has finally won, or
something in me has broken?
That after 20 years in Chicago,
19 on the South Side, I’m now afraid
of young black men, afraid of them
when all this time, I only meant
to be afraid for them?