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Roundabout the room the pictures fade in and out.
They go white and dim with the clouds moving outside the windows. A black cat (the neighbors call it Shadow but it isn't theirs) watches through slits cut in it's green marble eyes a bird on the wire outside, then loses interest. Without any witnesses, the dust continues to float suspended above the end tables and gather on the furniture. In the upstairs, through the last door to the left, an old man lays straight on top of a made bed, like it's his deathbed. His hands lay folded on his stomach. His chin hairs begin to grow out from the morning's shaving. You can see them if you catch the slanting of the rays just right, like tiny white threads reacting to the day.
He is breathing.
In. Out.
In. Out.
He is a child at boy scout camp, and he has just seen a golden retriever for the first time, and it's slobber is beginning to dry on his dirty cheeks. He looks back to the parking lot at his father, who is proud. His father who wouldn't come back from the last World War. He remembers this, even though it hasn't happened yet, and buries his face in the yellow fur. 
In. Out.
In. Out.
He is finally out alone with the girl of his dreams. He's been loaned the car for one night only, and is taking her to see the last free concert put on by the state orchestra for the summer. On the way he passes by the black boys and their idling car tucked into a narrow alley so they can only open one side of doors. He knows a few of them, but more than that he knows the look in her eyes when she sees them. He drives faster, gripping the leather on the steering wheel and trying to find in his mind the grip and pull of the tires on the road, trying to outrun what has to happen. Still she looks back, in the side mirror before he turns the corner, and in silence the rest of the night passes, the stars blocked by solid clouds.
In. Out.
In. Out.
He is in church. He is right, closer, happy. He is outside on the steps. He is wrong, absurd, disheveled. He is on his knees in the hallway between the bathroom and the bed. He is crying, his hands rolling over one another like holy waves coming rising and receding from the shore.
In. Out.
In. Out.
They are fighting the night after her graduation. Her ceremonial gown lies irreverently on her bed, while she is out with old friends. She is yelling and his hands constantly throw up into the air, come down and feel through his hair. The hardwood resonates quickly and with precision to his shoes, and sitting on the stairs she looks through the spokes like prison bars. She looks unhappy. He looks down and fumbles the lint in his right pocket.
In. Out.
In. Out.
He uses the last of his retirement bonus to pay for a down-payment on her first house, and most of her marriage. She is going already showing promise as a resident. She is happy, and fulfilled, and full of beautiful mistakes. He doesn't sit with her mother like he thought he would when the day came, but they exchange benevolent tear-welled eyes, and that means something. That's very big. That's a good way to see one another for the last time before seasons displace and put oceans between.
In. Out.
In. Out.
He is walking the new sidewalk outside the grocery store going home, and across the lot in front of the Target is a marine still in desert camouflage. He is asking for money for a bus ticket home, saying he was mugged after returning from the war. People enter and exit the store without making eye contact, even as his voice begins to strain and his fist clutches around discharge papers, like so many losing lottery tickets.
In. Out.
A wife. A daughter. Thank you God.
Downstairs the cat opens one green marble eye halfway.


Should You Ever Want Again

In the grass,
The lushness of your face half-concealed,
A world's worth of joy,
Compacted into two irises,
Of blended blues and greys,
And hands,
Lightly calloused and sunburnt,
The child come from us,
Standing three feet,
Fascinated by the sounds emanating from the bush,
And my watch wound down,
Frozen here,
In my dreams I continue unbounded.


It starts,
It comes up like a gust,
First through the trees,
Then suddenly upon and over everything,
It starts with a closing of the eyes,
And a brief awareness,
Then forgiveness,
And a feeling of everything,
Of every grain of dirt in between your toes,
As they flex and curl,
Cherish this,
Cherish this,
And forget.


As a child I remember,
My grandfather's solid brown boots,
The laces tied with precision,
With time alone in a hotel room,
And his straight buttoned jacket,
The rain running down it the same,
As it did our car windshield,
His face did not betray a love,
That I was told resided within,
And I love him for this,
For the care with which his feelings,
Were guarded from moth and rust,
And even riding away,
In my mother's slick black import,
I could not help but turn,
To him waiting under his umbrella,
Feeling the rain with his outstretched hand.


You're the truest,
Of sorts,
But I'm tired,
And things don't see as clear,
As in the straight daylight,
Passing unfiltered to the eye,
The slight shine of freshly spoken vows,
Like the dews silent on two flowers,
And somewhere deep in the forever green,
They cross and entwine,
And unite in the forever green.

Running Brings Sweat

I'm sitting,
Atop a camper's fire escape,
In red folding lawn chair,
And watching the fish,
Dart around the lures,
And the fog,
Escape through the gaps in the mountains,
Green and still they sit,
I miss home.
Darling I miss home.


The Blacksmith, at His Wife's Headstone

I was careless,
When I loved you,
And I still think that was best.
Our two children are doing well,
And I've kept food on the table.
Sometimes it's real hard,
When I think about being here without you,
So I try to find as much work as possible,
But I just can't go to sleep most nights,
I took the pillow you slept on,
Put it in the chair by my closet,
So it won't lose your smell.
We gave your clothes to your sister,
Like you wanted,
But I kept one of your summer dresses,
The one our daughter always wanted to wear,
I want to give it to her to be married in someday,
If I can't afford a new white gown.
Everyone still loves you down here,
They don't even say mean things in the bars,
Which, truth be told I visited for the first few days,
But you knew I'd do about as much.
I brought you fresh flowers again,
And my love,
You will forever have my love, Kate.


Your dress sweeps against my pant leg,
Like a steady creek over rocks,
Circling in turn,
I take you around the room,
Until your hair loses its focus,
Until cares are flung off,
Like so many statically hung threads,
No matter what light,
Your eyes forever have that spark,
That would draw me across a desert,
And the look of you knowing it,
Until we're both past the brink,
And your curls slide through my fingers,
And the morning greets us,
With todays and yesterdays paper.

On One of the Brightest Days

When we are happiest,
We will cry out as our hearts crack,
Grinding against each other until powder,
Forms on the ground at our feet.
Cars will stop as people clutch their chests,
Tug at the pink ribbon above their breasts,
Plates will break,
And once again like babies,
We will look to the sky,
But this time with the understanding,
That comes best with life,
And we will reach perfect corners,
One hand up, one to the side,
And so will everyone lose everything,
The cars will be empty,
Barren baby carriages carried by gravity into corners,
And you will see,
Why I was laughing just before it happened,
Just before I told you ______.

And That Was When They Started to Run

I was on the couch,
Harmonica in hand.

You were outside the door,
Sunglasses in hand.

There are just times that I can't do without,
And the snow will fall from Heaven,
And I'll think myself back to Scotland,
To the bed I shared with her and early mornings,
And my breath will catch in time and pattern out,
The pitches that she said spoke of weary travels,
Till the room is empty,
The sound of the air conditioning consuming the air.

Your sunglasses fall as you walk down the hallway.