Terrebonne Bay
October 12, 2011

The deep evening-colored rose of the sea  is closing. Sweet crude oil, orange as rust, finds an open pathway into the marsh. And what you thought would be your home, lush with grasses, is no home, drives you out into the gray-glazed gates of sleep. Blood flowers where we don’t see it. And every chance event is a high note racing from stars in sea depths of brightness, and every shock we feel we feel only with the slack ropes of our arms.

September 28, 2011

I call it exile, or being relegated. I call it the provinces. And all the time it is my heart. My imperfect heart which prefers this distance from people. Prefers the half-meetings which cannot lead to intimacy. Provisional friendships that are interrupted near the beginning. A pleasure in not communicating. And inside, no despair or longing. A taste for solitude. The knowledge that love preserves freedom in always failing. An exile by nature. Where, indeed, would I ever be a citizen? This poem originally ran in the October 20, 2011, issue of the magazine.

After “This Room”
September 28, 2011

Something shimmers, something is hushed up. All those feet shuffle off, taking the sofa, taking the portrait. The shimmering slackens. I lie on the bare floor for a long nap and dream I enter the room you entered first. There was the sofa, the oval portrait of a dog, all those shining feet. But the dream flags: you’re not even here. I wake up full of thirst for the way you used to speak.

Freedom and Chance
September 15, 2011

She says, there is another city, exactly like this: same sardonic cat, complacent dog, fat-chested sparrow trilling its brains out before daybreak, identical abandon and thrilling sorrow, familiar machinery chuffing in darkness—belt sander, leaf blower, radial arm saw. But that world is Queens, this is Brooklyn. The law is like wind; it has no self.  There Frank Viola stars, here Julio Franco. Here light is a wave, there a particle. Here we marry, we grow old in a tiny house with a porch swing and complicated locks. There, you plod through deserted chain stores in search of someone you cannot

To My Cat William
September 14, 2011

Mr Boo, be still It’s 3 a.m. Furhead simulacrum of my restive heart You do, you do, you do as you will Bother, bother ... Poppa, Poppa! Transformado en mi gato Oh, mi Dios The things night brings us Am I dreaming Are you really you, or you Companion on this distressed plot Your wakefulness, health Mine not The broken-up bits of me Scattered, shivering like mercury Tickletickle Pother, pother Willie Nocturnes’s now my father Hullo, Poppa Hullo, Sonny Say, wasn’t that you I saw in the funnies Mr.

The Everyday Enchantment of Music
September 14, 2011

  A rough sound was polished until it became a smoother sound, which was polished until it became music. Then the music was polished until it became the memory of a night in Venice when tears of the sea fell from the Bridge of Sighs, which in turn was polished until it ceased to be and in its place stood the empty home of a heart in trouble.

Flesh and Beyond
August 30, 2011

Despite his social poetics, Moss is not a widely read American poet. He is instead “American poetry’s best-kept secret” as John Ashbery says. I suspec

Ostia Antica
July 28, 2011

Down the Decumanus Maximus             till the rutted cobbles give way, just as so many lives have gone before this,             past the stubs of the insulae, while each Airbus at Fiumicino            heaves itself aloft over the beach umbrellas in row on row           where the Tyrrhenian Sea laps, soft; and I, too, have felt Rome drop astern           of that imperative bound west, have settled back and been home by afternoon.           But this time I smell the dust and heat as I walk an open field           to Room 16, Trench 3, Layer 3 where he works, my tousle-headed man-child,        

July 28, 2011

Near his death Chuang Tzu’s disciples asked why he chose tree burial in the ancient style instead of a dignified grave.

July 14, 2011

i. That summer of rain I was a seminarian and visited the Osborn State Correctional Facility. Metal gates opened, closed, like legs crossed and uncrossed. On the mental health ward, behind a small meshed window, a naked man, wrapped in a bed sheet, posed like Constantine crossing the Milvian Bridge. Men hummed in their cells, sticky, strong from barbells. The men had black, brown and white skin, many covered with intricate tattoos like road maps. One seminarian collapsed and was taken to the nurse’s office.