Wednesday, April 30, 2008
already of your own words
you will never hear.
what i mean to say
is that i am growing sick
of train-like speakers.
i'd rather you talk to yourself against a wall
in the mirror, into your phone, open but not on.
if all you want to do is talk, allow half a response,
then interrupt it to talk more, go flap your gums
all by yourself. i'm absolutely sick to my stomach
to my lungs to my heart i have become
sick to my ears of the sound of your voice and
i've always warned people who should know
that when i am at my most quiet i am also at
my most dangerous, most angry. i will float
in my silence allowing you to verbally masturbate,
lost in my own fantasies in which i reach out
and grab your jaw and tear it off of your face,
declaring you unworthy of your words, walking
out the door with it held high over my head like a
trophy, baptizing me with every step. i will
take it home and string every one of your teeth
onto a necklace, bleach the jaw and attach rubies
and diamonds and make of it my crown which
i will wear when i intend to do nothing at all except
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
You will say it first, accidentally,
instantly apologetic, and then we will
become awkward, sitting in silences
perched like parenthesis around the words
I will not acknowledge, for the remainder
of the evening. No, I won't say it first,
and probably not even second or third:
You'll have to repeat it a few times,
make it start to stick like a sacred mantra,
before I really believe you. Poets have
this predisposition, you see: poets put
more value on words than we do
on water, on oxygen, on gold, which are
good words to use in this metaphor anyway
I will not say I Love You until I am sure
I can commit myself wholly, blissfully,
unwaveringly to its meaning. I will not tell you
I love you until I have already imagined
each and every way you could hurt me
and reconciled myself somehow with surviving
all five thousand and three of them, in detail.
Monday, April 28, 2008
She ate slowly, this girl who used a voice like mine, sipped her coffee with just enough sugar and just enough cream and didn't worry about a single thing. As she talked and listened and listened, her face dried and the smile began to stick, first in the corners of her mouth, then more and more around the temples. Her conversation became animated and I watched her speak with her hands using gestures that made ballerinas look like newborns.
The girl with my hair on her head stood to leave, and one more person in her young life with advice for her decided to approach her and give it. The reasoning was invalid, but it was heartfelt, and finished off with "You'd be happier if you did."
"I don't know," I heard her say. "I'm a pretty happy person."
She said it like she intended to mean it, and I suspect she did.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Makeda spat in the dishwater; swore never again.
It was the water, you see, that started it all:
When she woke in the night with a desert-sized thirst
and reached for the pitcher there beside her bed.
And then, there he stood to make good on his threats.
Said if she'd broken her vow not to steal from his house
then he could break his not to take her by force.
Jerusalem hadn't enough water to wash off his crime.
Makeda took to bathing with oil.
She would not swim or tavel by boat and when
the yearly rains came, she stayed inside until
Ethiopia's golden sun dried it all up.
Her solace was knowing her son would be king,
did not know Solomon's son would be called a god.
Final victory: Ninth victory:
I thought the time might be right.
I laid down on the ground, on his level,
to make of myself less a threat,
and sure enough, gods be praised,
he began to climb his awkward mangy body
all over my face, giving kisses out wildly;
it was then I was allowed to pet him.
As I was walking away, him chasing behind,
tail wagging, he jumped up and placed
both paws on my leg and pushed.
He initiated contact, you see.
While he was eating out of my hand,
I allowed my thumb to carefully, slowly
graze the side of his puppy face and he
pretended not to notice.
One afternoon after the meal and I
was walking back to my door,
he actually followed me, chased
me even, tail wagging.
The day I tried holding food in my hand
and he cautiously ate out of it before
running back into the alley.
When my car pulled up, his tiny matted tail,
previously perma-tucked, popped up and
When I threw the food closer and closer,
he came closer and closer to get it,
even if he snapped at my hand when it was
too near for comfort.
He came back
every single day
at exactly three forty
when I got home from work.
the alley alongside
Friday, April 25, 2008
Please know my plans: I'll delete every single one of this month's posts when the month is over. That's right. They're effing rough! I'm still working on that day I still haven't posted, because I can't decide if it's a letter I'm writing to the future lovers, a letter my ex is writing to me, or a letter my ex is writing to them. I'm posting these drafts now as a... jeez I don't even know. As proof that this is actually even happening - proving it to myself as well. But then they'll get edited, rewritten, cleaned... and then will come my fourth chapbook, with each of these in order, dates at the top.
Until then, this is how it stands.
Bob Marley is getting tired of turning over,
can only do it so many times a day,
six feet under ground, but atrocities are
happening, man, and rolling over is all he's
got left he can do. Tuff Gong sang
to us of redemption, called upon us to be
buffalo soldiers, to get up, stand up.
I need answers, Bob, but you're not here
to give them. Music is freedom, is movement,
is revolution - or should be. Why, then
did I hear today on the sadistic speakers
at my job the elevator-jazz version of your
sacred call to action, somehow sedated,
the magic removed and it became
Sit Down, Lay Down instead of a rigteous
charge. Whose signature made this possible,
Bob? Roll over and speak me some truth.
Or rise up, and find these dollarsick bastards
whose idea it is to make this happen. Let
your ghost descend upon their households,
whispering into their children's sleeping ears
until they wake to grow their hair out
in locks, quoting scripture to their fathers,
wailing out against oppression, buildling Zion
in every backyard.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Today's poem was about the little city I love so much: Hot Springs.
She sits amidst mountains in this
vaporous valley, springing hot.
She shows a little leg and
coaxes the lonely stranger to stay.
She swims in drink, she sleeps
with gamblers, she runs with horses.
She tri-lake, my spa city, she
West Mountain, she Bathhouse
Row, she Higdon Ferry,
she Gallery Walk.
My city will sing to you siren hymns
so you don't never want to leave her.
My city will stand on her front porch,
saying hush, dogs, hush,
watching you leave, making bets
with herself on how long til you come back.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
p.s., i'm still up for the "poem i would never write" challenge if anyone has suggestions. only seven poems left in the month.
My heart is a dusty attic long abandoned
with one old leather chest up against a wall.
A few old photographs inside, no names
written on the backs. My heart is
a great hall with roaring fires,
long tables laden with food,
seating for everyone. My heart is a
crystal lake reflecting her beloved
sky; my heart gets tired of pushing
that old cart around the park and sits
down on a bench to rest a while
and talk to herself. My heart surfaces
to blow a giant plume out her blow-hole,
takes a huge breath and then
dives a mile deep and won't
come up again until next winter.
My heart is a young woman who lept
from the top story and found not death
but a whole new life she would have loved
except she misplaced it somewhere,
probably with her keys. My heart
goes barefoot and splashes in rain puddles,
is a lone buzzard circling, a bronze bell ringing
at a stately funeral attended only
by gravediggers and rain.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Me and Frank:
Secrets I will not take to my grave:
My first kiss was my little sister. My cousin
made me believe I'd been raped as a child.
I still can't forgive my uncle for the way he treated my teddy bear
when I believed it was alive. I still wish my teddy bear was alive.
I don't know if I prefer to date men or women, but
refuse to call myself bisexual. I knew before I married him
that someday I'd ask him to leave me.
If I know in advance that I'm just the other woman,
we'll be okay, but God help you if you hide it. I don't know
if I believe in God, but I do believe in magic. I feel I'm superior
to other people just because I'm intelligent, billingual,
and well-traveled. I think voting makes me hotter. But at twenty-five,
I still don't know how to take a compliment, and if you tell me you think
I'm beautiful, I'll wonder what you really want from me.
I thought I was afraid of abandonment, but as it happens
I'm really just afraid of allowing myself to become vulnerable.
I may be thin, but I still eat my pain. I use my dog to make me
feel better. I use alcohol to make myself feel better. I use sex
to feel better. I believe in ghosts because I believe I've seen five.
My left breast is bigger than my right one and
I have dimples on my butt. I judge people with poor grammar;
I judge people with poor teeth. Sometimes when I'm tired of
eating my pain, I spend it instead. I like to go to movies by myself
for two reasons: One, I like movies, and Two, I want people to
see me and feel like they could go to movies by themselves. I'm glad
crack kills. I can hold a grudge like a sponge can hold water:
it's the one thing I learned from my mother after what type of woman
not to become. I wish my mom had died when I was a child,
so instead of knowing she's alive but doesn't care I could imagine
she was loving me from heaven. I like to climb on top
of abandoned buildings to think because the air is more clear
that close to God, whether or not she exists, and some of the
happiest moments of my life happened on those rooftops.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Here's what happened on my paper today:
i drove down highway seven tonight
for the first time in too many years.
you remember: it used to be Our Highway.
with every white dash it all came speeding back:
the one time i tried to follow you, your
daredevil-red tail lights always just
out of reach as i cursed both you and the
insane math you used to justify the speeds:
a sign will bear a sketch of the curve to come
and a suggested speed which, when multiplied
by one point five, equaled the minimum you'd
be going when you negotiated its curves.
the patches of fog that would drift in and out,
the mountains rising and falling around the car
like so many green waves, rabbit and doe
aknowledging the car and turning nobly away.
the times i let you drive my car knowing
the golden egg my father would lay if he knew
while clucking "uninsured driver" over and over
but you could always drive it better than i,
the oldsmobile eighty eight with the bench seats,
your arm around me and your hand inside
my panties, our lungs so full of high school we were
blissed out invincibles, and the roadside park
where you pulled her over so we could make it
on the picnic table: i thought my ass would freeze
to it. and the one night you took the gravel-
road detour, just because you could, and
the herd of doe appeared out of nowhere, all
around us, and the way you spun the wheel back
and forth a thousand times in those ten seconds,
dancing through them as they passed in front,
behind, and over us, and you didn't graze a one.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Things My Father Taught Me:
Dovetailing corners builds the strongest furniture.
Food cooked over a fire always tastes better.
Just how to paddle, just how to lean in a canoe going over rapids.
More than respect for my elders: an active love for them.
Respect for his anger, respect for his firm broad palms.
Respect for myself.
Everything in its right place.
Stand up straight, head up, shoulders back, soldier, chest out.
How to waltz, at my cousin's wedding, standing on the toes of his shoes.
Friday, April 18, 2008
stuck on your arm like a watch
so I drank wine instead of whiskey
as a favor to you both.
Today I parked my car right next to yours,
went inside, did my business and left
and managed not to scratch all my keys
down its length like nails on your chest.
Today again I managed
exactly seven times so far
(and it's early yet) not to call
and say Come Over,
not to send a note that asks
What Does She Have On Me Exactly
Oh look, there goes number eight.
You're welcome. Come over.
I miss you. I want you.
What is it, by the way,
exactly that she's got?
Thursday, April 17, 2008
every night, same route:
around the new hotel, tall pristine and proud
down the long convention center with its landscaped paths
curling back around the old hotel falling slowly apart
and then home again.
Conventions come and go and
the groups that visit them stand out with their similarities.
Scrapbookers wear pajamas, eat too much and carry
rolling suitcases behind them, laden with stickers.
Fishing enthusiasts also happen to be
very-large-truck enthusiasts and jeans-with-boots enthusiasts.
High school musicians like to sit out front of the hotel
waiting for the pizzas they've ordered all by themselves,
playing guitars and pretending they don't
want to kiss one another.
They come to town in so many yellow busses
lined up all in a row like a box of twinkies
and most of them leave their doors open.
We slipped inside a door one night, closed it
behind us, gave a toy to the dog and made
clumsy frantic love on three different seats
before we spotted his leash trailing behind him outside
and hastily snatched up pants and shoes to run him down.
Now, I enjoy being single. I swim in its freedoms,
take pride in actively loving myself:
I take me out on dates, buy me dinner,
buy me drinks, sneak a flask in
to the movie theatre and eat just as much
popcorn as I please before I take me on home
and respect me in the morning.
But it's summer in my city once again
and conventions are coming more
frequently. I round the corner with the dog
and see the Corvettes come in, so many rows lined up
for the show, bright shining hood after clean polished hood,
right in the middle, a pair of perfect seventy-six stingrays,
with absolutely no one to fuck on top of them.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
First to go: Mom's cat named Moses.
I was still swimming
through that age whose memories
only exist now in vibrant snapshots.
I can still see him leaping out of the tall grass
where I'd been searching, over my
low head and I fell down BAM and when I looked
over my tiny shoulder, he'd disappeared.
He was already dead at the time.
Then the blonde boy in my sixth grade class
I never really knew but always thought was
"cool." He did it to himself in our
seventh grade year. Girls who hadn't even
known him wailed for weeks.
A family friend: Lu Nedro. Ninety-six year old
Roman candle with the fiery mop to testify.
Caught pneumonia and was gone before a
fortnight passed. The viewing was stuffy, not
at all the type of thing I thought would please her
and I refused to look in the casket. I've managed
to forget the funeral but remember palming a
golden buddha incense burner from her
My father's oldest brother when I was a junior.
My father's mother: I was still a junior. My
father survived them both, but not entirely.
My father became a different man.
Seniors graduate and immediately go camping
to celebrate, laughing lots and sleeping little.
Aaron, I imagine, was exhausted: he'd been
our host. He crossed the median. I wasn't
there but can still hear the crash.
I never heard how Nikki went. Her mother
found my address in a notebook and sent me
two programs from her funeral. It was months
after the fact and knowing I'd missed it
killed me, as they say.
In fifth grade, a boy named Xander Smith
asked me why I was already Jeremy's
girlfriend. I said because he'd asked me &
He cried I couldn't because my name
was written on his dental floss. We both
grew up to be gay. I was in Scotland when
his car went off the old Memphis bridge,
was sent a link to a memorial website.
I still won't accept it. His picture tore right
through my belly in a slide show at a
driving safety class. Left it and saw
his published book of poems at a coffee
shop and heard him say, "Just take it,
you know I'd give you one myself."
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Forgive me today, poets, I've no idea what to do:
brave heroes leaping
from couch to coffee table:
the floor is lava!
kick those little legs
until you swing so high that you
feel like you might fly
sidewalks become moats
bicycles are great white steeds
nothing is not real.
three children laughing.
underneath hypocrite fists,
one child is crying.
what joy can be found
in huge piles of fallen leaves
and their destruction.
Monday, April 14, 2008
What is going on? This full moon is already tickling me in fourteen different directions, and I should have had at least three more days sanity before it kicked in. Wish me luck.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
but refuse to bear for you the power conceived
by regret. if i had known her flavor infused
your kisses i would have made you leave,
called you back and made you leave again.
i would have laughed in your face and called you
ugly names usually reserved for teenaged janes
whose only crime lies in that they had the gall to
blossom first. i'd have become a voodoo queen
and painted chicken blood across your door
in the shape of her name. if i had known her unseen
fingerprints were mapping highways out on your
skin i'd have cut it off to make a lampshade
and never lit it up, never let it be displayed.
one beast, three backs.
twelve directions, one blood
painting walls with every scream.
three hearts, one drum,
three mouths, one song.
all praises due unto
one key to one room.
six eyes, six breasts,
one goal, three wins.
shared digits and traded numbers,
then came breakfast,
then came bed.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
a spider spinning webs
in which I trap mine enemies
and promptly suck them dry.
I am patient, I'm unkind,
waiting until just the right moment when
one of my strands is bound
to trip you up, one of my strands will bind
you up and hold you there.
Spider I will slip over and sing to you
while I spin you up in my silk.
Goodnight, sweet prince, tomorrow
you shall be my breakfast drink.
I am become
a snake coiled and waiting
full of venom, full of fangs.
I am clever, I am quiet,
knowing soon you'll trod heavily
upon my earth and when you do
all you'll feel is a sting
as the world blurs around you.
Serpent I will swallow you whole,
digest what I will and then
one week later deposit all of you
that is worth nothing
back onto this earth.
I am become death, I
shatter worlds with my breath.
I am not one to cross a line,
until it's been crossed and then
Reaper I shall rush behind you with a knife
and settle it quickly. Know this:
I never wanted it to be this way.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Wake up. Get dressed. Get in the car,
remember that you've forgotten something,
run back in, grab it, drive to work.
Clock in, get coffee, get water, get started.
Ice down your line, get out the items you need
to cook for everyone but yourself. Cook
for them all but help yourself to a few bites
of the food you couldn't afford anyway.
Prep phyllo wrapped bries. Prep duck confit
egg rolls. Prep penne, prep bowtie, prep pico
de gallo. Prep yourself for the shift you're
already dreading tonight. Clean down, swap
out the line for the night crew, but don't go home
yet. Take ten dollars from the drawer, run
to the store and get saltines, bring them back, clock out.
Smoke a while and think about the poem
you wish you were writing already.
Water the dog.
Pet him a while and wish you'd had time
to take him to the park like he deserves.
Promise to bring him a pork bone later.
Go back to work. Clock in. Get water.
Get tables. Put on a smile and make them believe
there's nowhere you'd rather be. Pretend you're at the place
you'd desperately rather be. Between tables, write
a few lines about Grandmother Spider moving into your car
spinning single declarative strands across your windshield.
Throw them out. Run food. Refill waters. Sell wine.
Get into an altercation with an uppity bartender.
Put him in his place and regret it all night.
Settle your checks. Find the missing one and
print it again. Settle up, sweep your tables,
Smoke a while.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
set my alarms and say a prayer for my sanity.
Tomorrow may or may not be better but Sunday,
I will count these tips and then,
me and you dog, we're going to the park.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
out and across the lake, slow.
my ten toes, skating.
In 2006 I needed to write at the end of March. So I got thirty pieces of colored paper and put dates on them all for April and taped them up all over the apartment. I went around writing a poem on one every day, and it went so well I carried on through May with different colored papers and found my house a joy to inhabit. Then this year came around with spring making me feel all tickley inside again, and come to find out that April is actually national poetry month and sometimes people take a challenge to write every day. When I did it the last time, I was very forgiving. Two days I just posted quotes. One day I wrote an essay about my job's microcasm of the nationwide macrocasm of the migrant worker issue. One day I translated Neruda's Poema XV, which good god damn is a tasty piece. I'm definitely intending to write something every day this time, but maybe once or twice it will just be a haiku/senryu/short-observational-poem. Just so you know.
Love you guys. Holla back, I'm seeing tons of views and I have no idea who.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
A dear beloved friend of my heart has just had three things happen to her that she did not deserve. She’s been accused of having stolen something she clearly didn’t steal, and as a result, the accuser has filed a restraining order and will be taking her to court. Plus in the meantime, other drama is going on around it, and the poor girl needs a smile.
Poem to make Becca Jane smile.
Becca Jane, baby girl, I think you stole something.
A certain Mister Justin Timberlake went to the trouble
of bringing sexy back and yo fine ass look like you
sho nuff stole it. I mean to say I think you
stole something. I think you stole cute
from Shirley Temple you stole sass
from Amelia Earhart you stole fine from
angelhair pasta I mean to say I think you’re alright
but girl quit stealing smiles right off my face!
Becca Jane, baby girl, I’ma file a restraining order
against my SELF for you, you’re so fly
I can’t stay away: And I mean to say if anyone
was going to try to restrain you they’d better bring
lions and tigers and bears, oh my,
because you’re a force with which to be reckoned.
Fuck Dorothy: you are a Gale
a tidal wave, a lightning storm.
Women as powerful and wholesome as
beautiful and righteous as you are few and far between.
I mean to say when women like you get born
restraining orders become more and more obsolete.
Becca Jane, baby girl, I’ma take you to COURT.
The one with a basketball and we’ll play H-O-R-S-E.
Or maybe C-A-T and be done quicker or
H-I-P-P-O-P-O-T-A-M-U-S and stay out playing all night.
I mean to say I’ma take you to a royal COURT
and put your queenly self on a throne with a crown
I’ll make outta of clover flowers. Did you know that
a group of kangaroos is called a Court? I bring this up
only because I want you to know that if you
were a kangaroo I think you’d be a fine kangaroo and you could
steal my ball while we played your name in the
throne room all night.
Becca Jane. Baby girl.
Be a duck and let water roll off your back.
Be an eagle and just soar above it all.
Be a lightning storm, be angelhair pasta, be whatever you want,
but I mean to say at the end of the day you’d better
make sure you keep stealin them smiles.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
hard to read my smoke signals.
i always got nervous when the time came for
ollie ollie oxenfree -
i'd much rather keep myself hidden
keep my love hidden and
if no one ever goes seeking
we'll both stay hidden forever until
someday someone will find our skeletons
in a forgotten closet
and write this epitaph:
Here Lies a Lonely Girl and the Love
she was Always Afraid to Share.
but tell me how do i spell out in smoke:
the time i have here could be
your time these kisses i have could be
your kisses if only you wanted them;
but you don't want them at all.
and all i've ever wanted is
exactly what i'll end up getting:
in this closet
Monday, April 7, 2008
springtime and the green clover grass sprouting like wild exclamations write about
wisteria climbing everything in sight, dropping its blossoms and its sweet scent like seasonal calling cards
write about the love you wish you had each april.
stunning suns setting later and later every evening write about
mornings making you put on long sleeves then afternoons that make you take them off
write about the need for someone’s arms around you tight.
the promise of mimosas due to bloom in a month or so write about
the lake still ice cold but so high you can’t wait to swim in it again so you jump in anyway
write about the kisses no one is giving you.
evenings spent on porches simply sitting write about
grilling out just because you can again and eating outside too and staying out even after you’re done
write about going to bed alone.
spring is supposed to be about new beginnings i coulda swore write about
baby birds cheerfully singing you awake when all you want to do is shoot them in their loud mouths
write about the lovers that never did you right.
summer will come scorching soon and burn it all down write about
swimming in a heat so fervent and sweltering it feels like just what the medicine man ordered
write about sweating it out, leaving it behind.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
she don't love me anymore.
said my babe done up and left me,
she must not love me anymore.
something must have caught her eye and
she walked right on out that door.
my babe left me just last tuesday
how i'm gonna pay the rent?
you know she left me just last tuesday
now how i'm gonna pay my rent?
coz she went drinkin just last monday
so my money's all been spent.
looks like my baby's really gone
but she done left all of her things.
i said i think she's really gone
and she sho left all of her things.
i'ma go on down to pawn
and take all her diamond rings.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
In 1981 I was seventy-three and some girl sang a song
about my eyes: it spent two months at the very top.
I tell you this as an introduction because you may not
otherwise know who I am. To be sure, there are
many things that you do not know. For example:
You clearly do not know what it once meant to be
a Hollywood dame. You know parties and cameras and
fashion and parties but do you know the weight
of Struggle’s yoke? A husband ashamed of making wages
equivalent only to your tithings who will not let you
buy a home until he’s the one who can afford it?
You do not know shame and being made to wear it:
Hollywood did not throw me a christening
with fireworks upon my arrival. They first only used me
to screen test other actors, fifteen of them made to lie
on top of me and give me a passionate kiss. I laid there,
a modest virgin praying for death or stardom already -
turns out they’re really the same thing.
Insincere, they called me, and frivolous, at first.
They would come to say feisty, forceful, intense, and once
an English barrister would call me, in court, a
"naughty young lady": it was always my favorite critique.
Can you know what it is to come from nothing?
You are no single mother borne of a single mother,
no boarding school babe, no ugly duckling watching films
for a religion, dreaming dreams with such strength they have
no choice but to become realities. You took a role on a screen
and screamed like a horror queen; I took a role and
became horror, unpretty, unsympathetic and fearless,
combative, convincing, consumed. Would you have shaved
your hairline and eyebrows for an Elizabethan role?
Today’s beauty will wither and fade and blow away
and you will be left with only your soul to show
for it all. Will it be ugly? The city whose name you wear
like concealer held me tight through my last hours,
when I was too weak even to fly home to die.
Pretend for a moment, as an actress, I beseech you,
that you were not born with a mouthful of golden spoons.
I was only forty when I heard them use the term
"soft lighting" - you will overhear "Botox" one day.
You’ve already learned to dangle the public from your fingertips
like my trademark cigarette, but what will you use,
if cancer takes your breasts, to charm America,
your fourth husband, your own doubting face
in the mirror each morning? For myself, I can only say,
"I did it the hard way."
Paris, darling, be easy on their eyes if you must,
but tough on all they have left like an atom bomb.
Friday, April 4, 2008
like a paper doll tied up with twine,
no strength to move her fragile paper limbs.
Adolescence hung her head in shame
while everyone pointed and called her names
and brought their scissors out to have a trim.
I suspect there’s a less lame-o rhyme for limb I could use here... but then I’d have to change the second line in the next stanza as well...
Adolescence’s legs swung in the breeze
while scissors threatened to snip at her knees
and paper tears fell from her paper face.
I’ll tell you what Adolescence is:
She’s not grown up, but not a kid;
a feeling that you don’t fit anyplace.
She’s thin but not quite thin enough,
She acts it but does not feel tough,
and one strong gust could carry her away,
and every laugh within your view
seems to be aimed right at you.
What’s reason? You know true fear needs no base.
I slip between "she" and "you" because I want the poem to remind people of their own adolescence, but wonder if it works or if it’s too awkward or if there’s a way to fix it.
But Adolescence has paper wings
budding and growing and dying to sing
into air and take her far away from the crowds.
Adolescence got away just in time,
her tough paper arms ripping the twine
and soaring up to float among the clouds.
Adolescence is a lonely bird
made of paper, she feeds on words,
so when you feed her words, do not be rash.Who’s got an idea of how not to have to repeat "feed her words" here?
Withhold ugly, don’t use dumb
feed her beauty and brilliance, achievement and fun,
’til a paper phoenix rises up from her ash.Again: too obvious? I could come up with something different I’m sure of it...
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Last night’s dream had me back in my father’s kitchen.
Which also was once my childhood kitchen, but isn’t anymore:
I’m no longer a child, I don’t live there, things have changed
and the only person still there
is my father.
It’s my father’s kitchen today, and so that’s the way it was in the dream.
Except my sister was back too, and so was my father’s ex-wife:
She also once was my mother, but she isn’t anymore.
Certain things happened and
I had to live my life without her in it.
Sometimes families are funny that way.
Last night’s dream had me scared and overwhelmed.
Which should have therefore had me brave,
but sometimes dreams are funny that way.
They show us things we think we’ve learned
but haven’t yet mastered.
We all want to learn things;
I want to learn how to be brave, keep my head,
be wise, even-tempered, live above anger.
It’s something I’d been proud of improving until last night’s dream,
Which started with a fish.
I was at my father’s sink,
the sink i grew up with, cleaning a fish that was huge it had
skin and eyes and gills and i
couldn’t even pick it up and
she was there, yelling at me i was
taking too long the
fish was going bad.
Last night’s dream had me screaming:
Please stop it!
and heaving the fish in a rank garbage can
I see color in dreams and sometimes even smell
and this horrible garbage was stinking to hell
so I ran.
Last night, in the dream, my ex-mother was pregnant.
At sixty. Hiding it well until
I came round a corner to run into her big exposed belly
in a striped shirt where lines became waves;
Her face was so many things at once…
it was shock, it was fear, it was anger, betrayal,
confrontation and guilt: her face was a novel
of feelings without names.
3 black crows that used to be her soul
screamed at me through a hole in the mouth of her face
"don’t judge me, don’t judge me, don’t judge me."
Screaming it like she wanted me to, to somehow justify
the judgement she'd already given herself, but I won't.
Woman, your justice would freeze beer.
I'd thought I'd awken then with that realization
but the dream went on and there was an altercation.
I’m not proud to say it: I joined in
lost my head, blew my cool
and woke up with my voice coming out of her three mouths:
"I’m not ready for her yet, I’m not ready for her yet, I’m not ready for her yet…"
Kissing my sleeping father goodbye in the dream,
telling him I wish I could stay and work things out but
I’m not ready for her yet.
Sometimes life's messages can be funny that way.
I want a mommy that loves me for me but she’s not
Ready for me yet I wonder if
She’s having dreams in which she’s a pregnant fish,
stinking and gasping for a breath of cool water
but she’s not ready for it yet.
Guilt runs through her veins like ribbons
and they’re all tied up in knots.
Tonight in her dreams I’ll untie them.
So she can become a baby
in her mother’s kitchen and I’ll defend her
until she’s strong enough she’s ready for love.
I’ll tie her heart to my apron strings
and we’ll forget all about last night’s dream.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
on the back of a tornado,
Tugging reins, pulling bit
into teeth, whipping wind.
The tempest tossed, you just rode harder,
Through this house and into me,
Making lassos of my veins, carving
clouds with your teeth on my skin.
The storm and you left and
people milled about the house,
Shaking heads, wondering aloud
"how them walls are still standing?"
It’s hard to understand until you realize
Maybe they just can’t bring themselves
to let go.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
take, eat, this is my heart.
and i’m cooking it up hot
for everyone i meet, for people
whose names i will never learn.
devour it and leave me
with an empty plate
dusted only with lonely crumbs.
you may politely decline,
but only the requisite once.
take more, please, and know this:
i simply won’t have it
any other way.