•    Stakes

The storm cracks the midnight valley

flashing wounds, opulent-silver gashes
bleeding sky

My feet on the gel of the cliff,
metal stakes and rope in my pockets
How the family, amazingly, sleeps
while the tent bows, flirts, teases,
its cheeks round with wind—a stringless
kite about to take off

How the hunter storm ferreted me
from sleep

and flamboyantly I grip
the rope and stakes

•    The where

In the sluggish half-hour
when bathing suits dry,
when mothers stuff net bags with plastic toys
fold towels and lawnchairs
match flipflops to feet—
wavering on the blue municipal pool

I see it first, the answer
to her where!

•    Veer

From the front porch
the red-and-white bike is a monstrous

spinning, the clothespinned cards
whipping from the spokes

all of it catapulted

all of him, yellow t-shirt, gray shorts, green hat
over the hood of a car

•    His

Richie's long scar
across his Popeye bowling-ball upper arm
Blue coverall sleeves pushed up

he showed me, shyly

•    Lame Dog

Tripod! lifts his head

Three spotted paws
light as dancing light on the rock-rim dirt lane

Boys wrap against a summer wind,
warm hand-me-downs but bare feet, bare heads,
scraped knees

On this eastern bluff, waves snap into mist
The friends race along the shelf

and there's Tripod lagging along
taking his dogear time

•    I've heard

Never turn your back on an ocean and never
face into a wave

which leaves you forever spinning

•    Veer

No words from my mother's lips for months
after the boy next door, the one
who first in line at the Good Humor truck
always got the last fudgsicle,
veered his handlebars,
black and white streamers, ring-a-ding bell
into the out-of-town car

•    Stakes

Heart, my heart
first at the smell then at the sight of a fresh scat
mound on the fever-blazened tundra

Earlier a cub lame and bleeding
left alone

•    The where

At least, someone whispers,
she'll have the other

A one of two, a twin
blue as the cement pool floor and centered
on a lane stripe,
round as an unfulfilled whole note

•    His

Richie, to escape
a suddenly toppling mass of vertical
half-inch sheets of cold-rolled steel
had held out his arm,
palm perpendicular like a cartoon white-gloved traffic cop
or a talk-to-the-hand teen

until the furious muscle burst the crepe of skin—
he and his biceps
that strong

•    Lame Dog

Look at Tripod,
lone front paw digging a mighty

hole to China, digging digging
and why not?
Maybe he's found

the reason
O Tripod!
Dig for us, dig!

Published in Beloit Poetry Journal

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