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True Hearts Marry


When I lived in the city

certain dark yellow hours were

driven straight to my poor, beloved street

Crates of rain were delivered with the mail

Old arguments camped out in the kitchen,

old grievances had my number—

but that was how I learned to write

That was the time when certain deviations

from the norm grew stronger

I let them. I wanted them to live


And still, great forces named in schoolbooks

put me to work in the Schoharie Valley,

where the creeks cackled to themselves

as they beat their fists against the houses,

churning out the breakfast biscuits

People threw pennies at the swans because

that is the currency in normal times:

granite, agate, cold intentions, though perhaps

not in the thoughts of women standing on

the hills above the valley, tall and industrious,

breathing in the chilly blocks of air


Oh love, how I have traveled!

Here and there, long and hard

Heartsick but industrious, I wore

oilskin in the winter, married because

I needed to be married, recovered from

the illnesses that are sold in the stores

of the Schoharie Valley and lied on

the journey that took me halfway

to oblivion. But remember: it is possible

that I also lied on the way back


So I think that I am old enough now

to have fulfilled my obligations to

the populace. Now I have a new message

for my friends who are gathering in the

poor, impoverished city, where the sun

arises with a new understanding: we thought

we were unhappy, but we were wrong


So we will get out the old banners,

strip ourselves naked and climb the

battlements of love. Watch the crows

fly towards the city with money in their beaks!

Women are baking the biscuits of resistance,

declaring that they are the brides of time

Thus am I able to declare that I have loved

my work with bread that is stronger than

any winter in a northern valley. I love, I am,

I do what I can to resist the deliveries of death

and poverty. I speak to women in my sleep


But remember: women never sleep

when they are in the city. True hearts

marry upon the battlements and only age

in the fleeting thoughts of swans


--Published in Book of Matches, Issue 3, September 2021