The air on that hill was a novocaine shot
on the first cold night of late summer;
numb stars shivered to shed their light.

There’s Orion, you said,
and that’s the Big Dipper.

And I saw every word inside your breath,
each a point on a map leading home, marking
slow corners that rolled in spirals of fog.

You missed some, I thought.
Look closer. There are more.

      “While millions of stars tried desperately
      to shine,” I wrote so many years ago,
      when Desperation was just a pretty word
      batting its eyelashes across a crowded room.

      Today we’re old marrieds; we barely speak,
      declining politely across a breakfast table
      divided by a lifetime of shared secrets
      and matters far too simple to discuss.

It’s cold again as I search for another
dim midnight stage on which you’d speak
with eyes turned skyward, show me the way back,

chase away the D-word
for one more night;

meanwhile I squint up at idiot scribblings of
spoons and torsos, appalled that the gods
weren’t better artists than this.

I’m through with stars; done.
Talk me some new ones.

(first appeared in Etchings #8)