Salt and Pepper Poems

the book of love poems

laid aside . . .

through the window

I see a man and woman

get into a London taxi

(after Virginia Woolf)

freeway empty

on Christmas morning—

the space

where the skid marks

change direction

two cars backing up

towards each other

in the clinic parking lot—

is this, like the morning’s diagnosis,

what the future holds?

jotting down

my doctor’s appointment—

an eyelash

stuck to the nib

of her ballpoint

at the end of the day,

I clamber down a flight of stairs—

what is it like, I wonder,

to do this in smoke and dripping water

one hundred times

autumn rain

begins to fall . . .

an eviction notice

blows from somewhere

down the street +


in the gutter . . .

a man sleeps

in the darkened doorway

of the pet shelter

missing-child poster

stapled to a telephone pole—

my neighbour’s porchlight

still on

at 3:00 a.m.

babies asleep

in facing strollers

the rise

and fall

of their mothers’ voices

scattered clouds—

the pieces of bright sulfur

we place by the tracks

to mark

where our pennies are

an overcast day

without rain—

she sends me e-mail

to tell me

of her new boyfriend

a book on Hiroshima—

in the picture

of survivors

the one man

with closed eyes

she rises quickly

to answer the phone—

the empty rocking-chair


its rocking

doing laundry

after the argument—

for a moment

she holds his best shirt

by the collar

dried persimmons

on the kitchen counter—

again you tell me

of your son’s


I tell her I grow old

have a paunch and need new clothes

that the wild geese have flown

and winter is approaching

—my mother laughs

father’s letter

put back in the envelope—

mother, he says,

has facial palsy

and a new dress

April comes

and now you are gone,

you, who told your guardian angel

each year on your birthday,

not yet

words do not come

for you

on your passing

till the first warm day—

the blossoming plum

overcast sky—

for the first time

I wonder

where my parents

will be buried

These words I write

Again and again—

Nothing in them adequately reveals

Knowledge or emotion,

And yet again I write them

the salt and pepper

together on our table—

you lift them

and swoosh off the tablecloth,

set them down again, touching