the first time

the first time i noticed
i wasn’t from here
was before heaven
ever hurt anyone,
and the sun’s
music didn’t
have to break
through dark land
just to get attention

i understood filtered
fingers plucked
our hearts up one
ray at a time
through native
free-range animal clouds
who liked to travel
with us on the way back
from Milford lake

i felt God,
or an angel,
or something I didn’t know
pulling my head
out of the Bronco window
in the heartland of it all
while Cheryl sprinkled
two drops of vanilla
into our Pepsi cans,

::

for Real Toads

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I think of you once a month, Cheryl

at communion

I have to tell you
that the sweetest
dumbest girl
in front of me
swallowed her bread
immediately

and I wondered
if she waited
for the juice
because
she was like me
who couldn’t stomach
the stuff

if she
needed a Cheryl
to pinch her nose,
ward off gags
and upchucks
and whisper
“blood of Christ”

::

Playing it again with 55 for Real Toads

Go Back, My Friends

The crisis is we’re porcelain.
Go back to 1980-something.
Cheryl delivers a baby boy.
It’s embarrassing, how I mix
happy-for-you with my fears.
Go back. 2000-something.
Becky says it’s leukemia.
I’m losing it, I’m breathing
in &out, (again) re-living
the breaking, the chipping,
the living &dying
my friends &man.

(for Quickly)