Dear Anna,

Even curled in the bottom of the closet
the belt dreams of brighter days.

The pear in the still life can almost feel
the moonbeam at the window.

You don’t have to come to fisticuffs
to taste aluminum on the back of your tongue,
any minor catastrophe will do.

Loving deeply means mourning deeply.
Who wants to live in the shallow end?

On the sidewalk the road is a river.
On the river the sidewalk is a home.

Eventually grief becomes a companion, an almost friend,
something with quality time – coffee,
a puzzle, a kiss goodnight.

Just because your pet turtle never says anything
doesn’t mean she isn’t longing to be widespread.

If you have to do a capstone
pick a topic far from home –
. . . . . . perhaps joy.

I like to think of happiness as a smokestack
puffing angels, filling the sky with bright wings.

At work, take a hula break.
At night, wash your socks by the stars.

In darkness, let the leaf fall from the tree.
You love fall.
It’s the surest way to put a spring back in your step.


The Snowmen in Our Lives

Dear Anna,

Back to the black cat: after the bump
the moon shone down. The red light turned green
and we drove home. I tucked you in.

The little Titanic watch was blackened,
hands frozen at eleven-o-five,
not known to be a significant time.

After fumbling with her zipper for some time
your grandmother asked me, Will you zip up my jacket for me?
I thought she’d never ask.

I think I’ve got one more snowman in me,
before the snow grows up, leaves home
and the kids melt into their lives.

‘Twasn’t long before the man we made
started collapsing backward, face to the sky
from which he came.


Some Days Are Blue

Dear Sweet Pea,

Of course, you will need to find a daffadowndilly of your own,
a place to think and be,
a condition in which you can disintegrate
away from public view,
where your rabbit can disentangle from the barbed wire fence.
You’ve always played well with others,
not getting trampled by impedimenta, not quivering
at the threat of etiquette. Sure, some days are blue,
some days you mistake lightning for paparazzi
and either way end up curled and shivering.
But that elephant lamp has a bright idea:
fly to Boston and take an oblivious stroll
down Newbury Street, fill up at the Blue Bottle
or buy a Dead Sea Mud Mask
at that pop-up Lush.
The air will be the same, gathered away
just for your lungs, breath by breath.
Make sure it’s the lobster roll you’re tasting
and not just your salty tongue.
Remember, the salmon is also disciplined
right before the bloody and battered spawning.
It might not taste fishy, but
there are easier ways to have children.
Just make sure you don’t overthink it.


Brian Builta lives in Arlington, Texas, and works at Texas Wesleyan University. Yes, he has a pet turtle. And yes, it takes forever to walk her around the block.