The sound of my foot as it snapped at the flank
was viscous and crystallized at the edges,
quilted, like cracking your knuckles under water.

The school bell contracted the calm of the hallway.
I startled up from the glazed desk surface,
breathing wrinkles sweated in my starched oxford,
and, Quick, I took a scissor-kick to the floor.

The neon-lit nurse’s office had goldenrod paint on the walls.
He knotted me a bag of ice cubes that bloated to water.
The swelled side of my foot was pulsing out warm,
pushed out to a rounded form. I limped to my car in the school lot.

It almost rained outside, again.
The sidewalk blocks framed clots of wet, brown leaves,
and the gravel, soaked, would cavity beneath me in a light-drained


We watch the Baltimore dusk detonate to a torn, blunted red.
Pressed for infection, it bloodlets tonight into storming.
Look: the whole night inhales, clots with gauzy clouds,
and the sky hinges forward.
Hands that press down on the back of my neck.

And I sense the vault of the firmament
arcing wide as a sheet hovered over the bed
falling, as sheets do.  Depleted and slow.

We are lying outside: sunburnt and aching.
Each of us sucks strong gasps of atmosphere,
these wisps of insulate air that graze and abandon our heads,
and still. We get nothing to breathe.