Thursday, April 29, 2010
to say i still miss
is just to say i will always
that's what forever is
what was once present
leaves a human shape
i can close my eyes
play a song
i live as a fish
swimming in one direction
as a cat with a correct way to be touched
this is how we live
suffering the pasts
haunting us from other directions
my heart knows dates on calendars
last time seens
the day the news came
how it sank in slowly steaping
the arrivals and the breaks
the intersections and the ruptures
the phase of the moon at burial
i couldn't forget if i tried
heavy as a cedar chest
sometimes there is no getting over
a navigation of shark jaws
cling to the anecdotes
the tiny turn of mouth
a story about corn in rumble seats
the feel of park wood on spine with head between thighs
these are what will remain in slow motion
and the comfort of dreams
i can hardly believe i ever knew
i can never believe how time is cut
by cleavers of watch arms
"you know what i am jealous of?
i am jealous of those of you who knew ____
says the man across a table
and my heart echos that pang
greedy green monster that it is, i know
no marathon is as kudzu
i resent the lamp, the books
the ink, the ashtray
the blanket holding scent
the owl's impenetrable stare
hardness of objects existing
without the hands of owner
the scraps to witness my sorrow
i want to break everything
for some of us
a muscle memory of arms
my ribcage is a wind chime of lockets
my skin the shrink wrap to hold feelings too big
from leaking out all over the sidewalk
the cutting board
my mermaids, angels, tricksters
selkies, crones, vixens
wolves and tree limbs
my sweet ghosts of gone
i am failure
i will never live up
to your shadows
i can only rattle with you
in my breath
With this, a poem about elements and SHARKS, from Poets.org.!
Sharks in the Rivers
by Ada Limón
We'll say unbelievable things
to each other in the early morning—
our blue coming up from our roots,
our water rising in our extraordinary limbs.
All night I dreamt of bonfires and burn piles
and ghosts of men, and spirits
behind those birds of flame.
I cannot tell anymore when a door opens or closes,
I can only hear the frame saying, Walk through.
It is a short walkway—
into another bedroom.
Consider the handle. Consider the key.
I say to a friend, how scared I am of sharks.
How I thought I saw them in the creek
across from my street.
I once watched for them, holding a bundle
of rattlesnake grass in my hand,
shaking like a weak-leaf girl.
She sends me an article from a recent National Geographic that says,
Sharks bite fewer people each year than
New Yorkers do, according to Health Department records.
Then she sends me on my way. Into the City of Sharks.
Through another doorway, I walk to the East River saying,
Sharks are people too.
Sharks are people too.
Sharks are people too.
I write all the things I need on the bottom
of my tennis shoes. I say, Let's walk together.
The sun behind me is like a fire.
Tiny flames in the river's ripples.
I say something to God, but he's not a living thing,
so I say it to the river, I say,
I want to walk through this doorway
But without all those ghosts on the edge,
I want them to stay here.
I want them to go on without me.
I want them to burn in the water.
made me your romantic,
tempted you to call me your lover in poems,
tempted you to call our time spent together
a kind of intimacy,
and I am just the sort of sweet smelling bull frog
symphony to let you.
We were only together for summer times,
and even then our trysts seemed
ended all too soon by the beep of a watch,
the bugle announcing the girls' turn
to distract us.
You began clumsy,
pillaging the still calm of my waters
with the ugly slap-smack of a canoe paddle.
Silly summer-camp child,
you tried to touch me inexperienced.
You tried to navigate every nuance
of my body with awkward unlearned strokes,
I waited for you to grow up.
And you did,
Your arms became strong and skilled.
Still in your canoe, the blunt broad tool
finally granted you grace,
transformed all of your body
into pure touch.
Your biceps transfigured
into the pink muscle of throat,
your hands molded into a lover's lips,
and your paddle,
became your tongue tracing across
I still ripple echoes of this compassion even now.
But even this touch, this bliss,
A waiting game until you found yourself
at home in a small-ish plastic kayak
at the edge of the dock.
Nervous, cold, and short of breath,
you plunged, deep.
The water struck your face, untender.
I finally had to teach you the lesson
of a water's womb.
Ingrain, into your shut tight eyes,
the skewed perception of a kayak,
of my embrace.
I had to teach you to survive
when your instincts are flawed.
Tethered to your vessel,
You capsized into me, breathless.
you must not gasp,
thrash, claw for something
you are certain will save you.
This sort of action spells death.
My child, in my loose grasp you learned
to stay calm, bubble ration your breath,
hear the slow echo drum of the depths
With my kiss at your lips,
your right became left,
your up became down,
you learned roughly to ascend.
You learned to right yourself,
with an armor forged of opposites,
of focus, of the lessons taught to you
by others just as in love with me as you were,
are, and ever will be.
Use your paddle,
set your leverage,
thrust your hips,
strike the water.
You emerged from the dark wet,
like a new born.
Water burning your nose,
and your old instincts sinking
to the bottom.
in a gourd, in an adversary's skull.
Watch your face dissipate into sunshine,
tilt the vessel back,
drink the water.
Feel the echoes of a thousand year strife,
feel them ransack your throat.
Feel the salt strip away your voice
until it's all blood, all gnarled raw,
until it's rubble and all you can dare do
is spit up your madness,
This is my blood, your water,
my outraged waves cresting to splinter
the West Bank.
This is my name made all too palpable.
This is your Dead Sea.
This is the elements putting on a parody
of its people.
My hands are stigmata'd with shrapnel,
my sides split by sniper fire,
my deep blue tattooed with the endless
rat-tat-tat-tat of an AK-47's signature
riddled into the mud of my womb.
There can be no life in my waters.
Your legacy was left churning
into hemlock stink waters.
I am inhospitable even to the unnatural
architecture of fish, algae.
The salt in my spit will shred the insides
of such life into razor-bladed scraps
of paper, into pink ribbons too rung
out to cradle anything but old animosity.
I am caked with your routines,
the constant summer sun blackens my tides.
My water knits into jagged teeth,
smashing into the shore,
stabbing it like chunks of molten metal,
I suicide bomb with each sand-scattering wave,
trying to convince you,
trying to share my religion.
I am begging you to see my cliffs,
crusted with salt so coarse
it could stay there forever.
like the way your wars threaten to be.
I cannot hold anyone close enough
to sustain life.
The water too dense to bring you to my muck,
to my jagged diamond-cut womb.
Everything floats, I will not hide your dead.
My waters are ancient balm
to make mummies of kings who saw themselves
equal with the sun.
No fish swim my waters.
I am all chew, all blender,
all gnarled mouth and rock salt,
You West Bank bloodthirsty dirt-children,
the ones locked in war,
I beg you.
Stop trying to match my waters' mercy,
trying to churn your red-stained sand
into my salt waves.
Stop trying to ascend like the flesh
floating to my surface.
You're all drunk off my stinging salt-song,
off my stabbing pain in your throats.
Stop washing in my waters,
I will purify nothing.
I am your Dead Sea.
You are my dying people,
pouring my gnarled salt,
on your open wounds.
something impossible to drop a jaw
while you're watching.
I was only trying to show you
It was not an invitation
to change me.
As your constant companion,
I sought your friendship.
I giggled as you gutted me,
filled my shores with cold
making me an industry.
I loved each and every ounce
of your filth.
It brought us closer.
I turned my riverbeds into a shrine,
an altar to praise your broken cities.
Industries boomed and faded to shade
in the reflection of my choking black waters.
True love is never healthy when you mean it,
So pollute me.
Fill me with the discarded scraps
of your human experience like you
once so eagerly did.
Mound me with your refuse,
I could never refuse you my muck,
So pollute me.
Dump your communion wafer waste,
choke me with fetid bliss and I will once again
announce my love to you.
I will burn bright for my lovers,
I will burn all orange against the black of night
and my rotting waters.
This was not a tragedy.
Every dead fish, every burnt scrap of something,
was an offering to you,
with the faded portraits
of your America.
I set myself alight in that 1969
moment in time just to pay back
all the love you've given me.
Just to pay it back,
But you claimed to know me.
You dragged my shrine until it shined,
wiped of all the gifts you offered me.
You made me a home for fish,
for ugly scaled intruders,
that waltz into our love story.
They have no business touching me,
defiling the bed I've laid out for every body
you dump in me.
Give me a corpse to kiss,
Give me garbage,
some rotting memento
to press into my muddy bottom.
Do not leave me alone.
Nature has no business here,
in between us.
Turn my waters to bubbling swirls
or smothering black.
Set me ablaze again.
Set your rusting car skeletons
to disintegrate on my tongue.
Your industries, history, and sins
all rotting in my arms.
Let's suicide pact and never let go.
Let's become a romance for the ages,
the best ones all end in tragedy.
I have always loved you,
like a fire.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
own this more
than pale men
the way this landscape
(poached, like ancient seguaro)
from the very same hands
it now expels
welcome to hell on earth
infernal hundreds plus degrees
is defined here
the dry tongue of miles
parched as bone
rumor has it people drown
with what begins as a trickle
becoming liquid again
in sudden flood
but the fire of the sun
licks the rock here
this is a scorched earth
with its own policies
the man made razor wires
fences spooled braces
(unlike anything along
our creamier neighbors to the north)
no match for the pincushions
the needles of cactus
this is Hades, ready made
whatever pissing contest
plays out here
will eventually succumb to lava
will drink it in
not even a droplet
on the fingernail of her time
Snag scales underneath fingernails?
it feels wrong
wrong as rubbing a clawed cat backwards
but once naked
they leave a silvery slush
a justice of glitter
I remember the cat claw
of feeling scales underneath nail
a lack of justice
leaving a glittery skin
a rubbing backwards
of my heart into silver slush.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
thick as coal
overstuffed dumpster of clawfoot chair legs
empty it with gloves
and poke with batons
the scene is under surveillance
i am not sure
how i got here
but there is yellow crime tape
enough to make a fetish dress, a ruffled skirt
friendly voices, coffee mugs
notes and photographs scratch and click.
i reach my hand into the masking tape outline
prong of parking spot paint
intersecting with where eyes could have been
the tape is there
the body gone
clutching a badge, i receive a call
evidence back at the station
i have a hunch.
i wake up with the question
where are you, where are you
i felt so close to finding out
right before the dream ended.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
I am inadequate by the measure of trees
their new spring green leaves
I am the way rain grays white, ominous
aquamarine is the sky
I am the way the moon appears during the day
solid bulb, rock in the cumulous fluff.
I am the sewing needle of the silver plane
darting through and across.
what kind of tree? oak, mimosa, dogwoood
what kind of cloud other than cumulous? stratus, nimbus, thunderhead
corrections, why the ominous, the grey?
the noise in my head
rockbands of pound, unfinished, not rehearsing
Jung would probably say
the way dreams are always about sex, loss of control
plot, narrative, nothing is as it seems
like this jewel of sky
the height of trees
the clutter moving in and out
stunning beauty of it inviting gaze
instead of concentrating on rocks in a tumbler
wanting to be more than just
Friday, April 23, 2010
over grass, a lawn, a suburbia of home-made signs
and old dart boards, mugs,barstools and that sort of kitsch
better,the battalions of insects
on the fringes of fences and the other side
of tinted glass
they are everywhere
sell off their shutters
film, telephoto and digital grains.
i gave up that life of concrete curbs
and unnattended walks so long ago
they seem like a character i played.
our version of a yard sale
is the anonymous donation
the auction block resurfacing of vases
or the house party fundraiser
where every guest donates
a red carpet dress or accessory
with a photo of proof attached
sometimes these are for foundations
a social activist's lawyer fee.
this is what we do with our philanthropy
we have assistants and accountants
this is what it means to be rich
you delegate the tedious
and hire people to decide for you
what happens to the little things.
it's fun to pretend
what i would garage sell
a drawer of underwear, silk stockings
whether or not i ever wore them
unimportant to the illusion that i have.
really, i can and do get away
with not wearing any
undergarmets hinder breathing
and if you're boyish enough
we have too many gifts
letters, idols, carved buddhas
and little wooden temples, window frames
i've no use for now that i live fully
on the outside
i imagine a host of houses
front yard as lanfill of cutlery, plates, fabrics and furniture
cast offs from interior decorators
shoes, ink cartridges
ordinary objects and the usual old machines
sets of matching gifts and toys
unopened or left as the litter of any ordinary attic.
my favorite selling points would be the curiosities
the things i peeled from myself
or once held sacred
like the necklaces of piranha teeth i wore
the rocks i collected in hawaii
the human bones i found on a roadside in east asia
bits of flesh i saved from tattoos, the original ink
in little sheets of first draft
before the image truly settles.
it's my lips you want
my perfect, kissable, cocksucker lips
but you just
can't have them
Today's RAC prompt is:
the contents of (insert movie/book/cartoon/mythological character's name here) yard sale.
Don't reveal the _______'s title or identity until either the very last lines, or at all.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
that's what forever is
the memory so strong
time stops you close your eyes and you are there
forever is the thrum of the ache
the heart thud
which is always the same note....
...i feel like i should like them...and i don't
they are annoying
just because they are doing what should be done
doesn't make them less annoying....
...irritated by the press of pillows
if only we could plug in...make sleep a battery....
revisit the origin of burning midnight oil...
doctors make the worst patients, teachers, the worst students
businessmen the worst consumers, mothers the....
...religions all have stories i think i've heard before
written by either the same author, or by members of the same family
a family of many who do similar things, like barrymore, kennedy, but maybe...
maybe more like scripted by periodic table...
i'm trailing.off. to sleep.
where your ladders come from
spiralling down from spruce, aspen, evergreen
to take root in life is to be
anything else is starving
sad, shifty as willow
weak to the air
easy to pluck and break
we were never this
wide hips to make homes
for ourselves as much as any
child likely to die or man
likely to die
don't come from that
were not born
to be sprinters
over flat deserts
reeds thinned by heat
shimmer of mirage
we were meant for darkness
welded from glacier
calves designed for trails
carriages and trunks carved
for controlling men
with their beards and ships
we stretched butcher arms to help cut the meat
pull the nets heavy with fish
we are mongers close to animals
tough enough not to thaw
with enough foresight to stock a larder
for the snows coming in
locking us shut
piled six feet high
we were our own insulation
survival not worn in furs for fashion in scraps.
able to hold our liquor
we were and are always made to be
our own kindling.
there were eras of nights alone
we needed only ourselves to build the fire
tend the flock
cut, skin, tend, pull, pound, stir
gather grist, be a mill
whalers' wives knew the art of pace
and stiffened jaws
mens' opinions have always been
especially those who don't know
this ancestry of ropes tied in meticulous knots
operatic voices of saga
need to be sturdy in the wind
substance enough to carry epics
cave painted on the insides of our mouths
even in distant countries.
how should we tell you this
what should already be known
as well as flame, earth, water
origins of shark bones and cosmic eggs?
pull tidal umbilicus
from your own blood
it's not too late to make the translation
Boredom balloons and nutcracker
Christmas, finger food piled
high on paper plates.
Jingle Bell Rock raping
the sound system.
Everybody in there was praying
for a fire,
for a riot,
for a phone call screaming for them
to come home, to the hospital,
to anywhere but this dreary dinner party.
Christmas sweaters strangled
everyone's confection-stretched necks,
the punch bowl coagulated into pink hued
swirls with a smell as strong as gasoline.
The English department haunts the open bar
like Hamlet's father, trading paper cups
of something strong, drinking themselves
into their most convincing impressions
of Edgar Allen Poe.
They slur swear words and lamentations
on how no one will publish their next novel.
The math teachers count the milliseconds
counting down to when it's ok to leave this place.
It's all mistletoe and white-green
Red lightning strikes the room.
Red lipstick, a red dress,
all of the sudden snapping into
Slit up the thighs and cut low...
The teachers tell us they can still hear
the sparks popping when it happened.
When He walked in.
Mr. Pierre, all quiet, timid substitute teacher,
had a high voice the freshmen laughed at,
and a sense of style the seniors could bow to.
With his black shoulder-length hair,
impeccably permed always,
he could lecture in lieu of a math teacher
and you could almost hear Tejano
as his tongue tangoed with each word
dipping on its way out...
this was way out.
in his red dress,
and high heels,
walking taller than most of the girls.
Every shimmy of his hips
was a gorilla slap against his chest
and a lion shout:
"Say something motherfucker,
I dare you.
"I've filed these fire-engine acrylics
to better make my point.
To better draw out your blood.
To turn tonight into a story you can't
tell the classroom.
So say something."
But of course, we quiet upper class sat there,
tightly folding the wardrobes we won't dare
display, shutting our own red dresses in their drawer
to be cut down by the sharp creases of business suit
That night, at that moment, everyone's souls
cheered for Mr. Pierre.
This drag queen dragging our dreams out
into the light.
His dress became a victory flag,
a firebomb in a china shop scattering shards of
sharpened gossip across the floor.
They stuck in the skin as everyone walked to their cars.
Sticking deep, drawing blood,
bright crimson dripping,
a reminder of the man daring enough
to drape a dream over a substitute teacher
turn him into a flag, a declaration of war.
So pull your dress out of your closet,
strap on your best pair of heels,
and walk tall.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
bathrobe, spins outside the venue
it's 10.30pm on a wednesday night
a cigarette sticks to the bottom of her slipper
as she spins, spins, spins, unaware
an axis on ashes
the glowing neon light of the coffeeshop sign
blesses her face
she likes being the center of attention
one day, she will be a seeker
always falling for the ones with habits
pipe dreams, smoldering.
it's parents and kids tonight
young bodies everywhere
some of them with flashcards
equations, notebooks, papers to write.
the warm weather
with their kisses of fresh leaves
tongues of petal blossoms
the sweetness of flower
the unwined grape scent of wysteria
so many girls in here
it's hard to breathe
so many older men with braided grey hairs
a cultivated earthy
so many wives in hippie pattern shirts
clothes that swoop and bags in lime
so much suburbia crammed into
one side brick, one side bar, two sides window
so many glasses hitting each other
an electric violin
you would think it perfect
never mind the scar over one man's eye
the too loud voices
the grating paws of certain mothers
the out of place
the art installation that gets knocked over
the girls clutching each other
escaping to split a brownie five ways
this is the same town
where a nine year old found
solace in electrical chord
and the memory of him
tucked in a shadow
or the lingering smoke
of a teenager's suriptituos lift of a wine bottle
the bar too frazzled to notice
everyone's looking the other way
which is just how sinister
this is written on torn notebook papers
already used as a cootie catchers
my fingertips got stuck there
and i could never figure out
the right palm slapping combination
young girls sang to
slap slap slap slap over under sideways down
the cheerleaders were
a pack of wolves
short skirts, the colors under the pleats
flirting like gaps in fangs
they hit with these chanting games
as though they were secret spells
and jumped ropes without twisting
better than us of the sideline girls
rahrahrahrahand so and so, wink, flip
move arms,jumpupboobs,twirl and catch.
sitting on the grass
we were beyond cheers
hash marks of yardage on a football field
we tempted badness
set fire to hay with emptying everclear bottles
threw matches into snow
scritch, sshsh shhshh pop sounds of strike
whisperblow sizzle fizzle
didn't want to like anything
anyone else did.
we refused numbers on the backs of our shirts
and pom poms
had difficulty with letters of recommendation
our grades were average
we escaped notice
rode dirt bikes with boys
didn't giggle with archery bows
we were untied
and very very very
suspecting ideas such as
there may not be a christ after all
and the way he hangs there, all bound and bloody
kind of s&m
no escape no exit, like sartre
christ was such a girl
we moved like shadows and not-danced to
groups like nitzer ebb and depeche mode
in a gray hued, early u2 video about nothing changing
on new year's day
that nothing ever would
all is quiet, nothing changes, all is quiet
nothing changes, not even on new years
it's interesting how quiet nothing changes
truly a hush hush hush murmur murmur murmur
over candle marked ticks of time
swimming with aim of anonymity from small town
everyone knows everyone for year on end
our mediocrity was about to take a big
senior leap into an even greater more invisible
yawn of meaninglessness
explained as postmodernism in college
meaninglessness without end
i still have burn marks from matches in the snow
and i hold fear as the quietness
crumpling papers of check like me
the wolf packs are different now
i am still untied
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
while white blossoms expand the color field of green
rain makes puce swirls in gutters
ink homemade paper waves to concrete.
Spring. Spring with all of the sprigs
reinvents more than plant life.
When it is this warm,
Big Daddy D comes out again
from wherever he rests
whether it's a nest of wood
or a brick framed hovel
nobody really knows.
Big Daddy D
is seen in passing
or unavoidable on the corner
where Ponce meets Moreland
just where it becomes Briarcliff.
He is like the four corners
of sign and traffic light
he flags his package in lycra
polyester-maybe cotton blend
biker shorts and tank top
sometimes with printed cotton excuse
for over shirt, sometimes not
carved cane in hand
he leans on stop
while always being on go.
Big Daddy D translated
means warm weather
bees, pollenating, the fucking of everything
but most of all
the persistence of pick-up
of maybe someone
will pay him
cool him off, feed him
or just get him lucky.
When I saw him
bulge in cherry blossom
I smiled and waved
so glad he still lives.
The jazz of his face played notes
he waved back and smiled
a wirey tree
still reaching for the sun.
This spring will turn
into a hot, steamy summer.
Monday, April 19, 2010
behind a painted window
from budding blossoms
full leaves, nuded limbs
and in betweens.
The intersection of four way stop
neon, twinkling party lights
coffee, bars, gallery and hop 'n'shop
will read cards to you better than
a woman wearing a scarf, fake eye patch
armed with decks of inexplicable wands and bowls.
When the dog pees
on the planter closest to the window:
the middle planter
he's just peeing.
When you don't see fancy man for a few days
worry about your sex life
it will be your own fingers for weeks to
not really come.
If you see him more than once in a week
pimped out in shined shoes, satin bright colors
you will be twice lucky as long as he carries a bottle
in a brown paper bag.
If you see him twice in a week without a bag,
you will get close, but it will be meaningless.
If you see him on any Sunday
you will become attached.
Fancy man has his own deck of cards
and it's all suits of hearts.
When the high pitched rent boy is around
drama is about to enter your life.
If you manage to escape talking to him
or keep it short
other forms of drama will also pass you by.
If people who work at the cafe show up
and it isn't their shift
you will have surprise
communication with far flung friends
you haven't checked up on through the internet.
If none arrive,
you will have a week emptier
of social plans than expected.
This is also read as a good time to catch up
with a movie, yourself
Don't think of yourself as a chore
or the man in the fuzzy American flag blanket will show up
and he will hang guilt from the eaves of your ribcage
If a man rides by on a bike
with some enclosed shell contraption around it
that's just weird.
That occurance will likely cause
a more surreal element to your dream patterns.
The white flamingos in the yard further down the block
will multiply when you see more wobbly children
pass on the sidewalk
than people running
or otherwise exercising with their leashed
If you sit behind the painted window regularly
fueled by strong, locally roasted coffeebeans,
it's easy to read stories
that wanders into the frame.
Jennifer's parents went to Church.
In their absence, Jennifer pressed
her wiggle finger in deep until
her bed sheets soaked through
and the bruises smirked
between her pubescent legs
like the God she knows wouldn't
dare judge her.
Mark skipped out on the service,
instead he shrugged off his pants
like Vatican vestments, hunched over
his young cock anointed with oil
as he tight-gripped up and downed
a prayer while the crimson
smeared love letter of Mel Gibson's
The Passion of the Christ
cast its sticky familiar spell.
In between cigarettes last Tuesday,
Mark laughs out a cloud of smoke
and tell me blood
is the best lubricant out there
and he can't wait to prove it
to his girlfriend next sunday.
I try not to judge.
As her parents kneel in prayer,
Tori has acquainted her knees
with the rough whiskered cheek
of her living room carpet,
and tuned her tongue to
the blessing of her best friend Amber's
Young, in love, with no White Bearded
Finger Pointer to tell them different.
This is the closest two sinners will ever get
to seeing God without burning.
They scribble prayers into the paradise
of each other's flesh, no English.
In this Church, the faithful speak only
Jeremy and Evelyn attend more swingers parties
then church these days.
desperate to muffle their moans around
something higher than human,
they try to suck Communion white light
out of whatever floats past their parted lips,
every sticky stream curdling
in the smoke scented air
like an off-key Alleluia.
This is a 21st century Sunday.
When the Church has shrunk too small
for real Gods.
The only baptism is the lonely cold shower
for as long as it takes to scrub off the stink.
Our parents genuflect, arms folded silently
as we kneel before lap top pornography
fetishizing our demons into something
we can dance with.
Jennifer is the Virgin Mother to nothing
but wet bedsheets and bruises,
Mark is nobody's Messiah
but at least he's walking somewhere warm,
with a Passion.
Tori and Amber are the only reasons
I still believe love can last as long as Jesus
promised us it would .
Jeremy and Evelyn understand forgiveness
and open arms better than I ever will
so go ahead.
Strike me down, Old Testament long beards.
Call me your devil, you water walkers.
Go ahead and nail me to something!
Let Us Pray.
was something special
ice bucket miracles
and the way orange crush
somehow tasted better, different
from an end of the hallway
Every once in awhile
I remember learning how to drive
how it seemed like I would never
pass the DMV test
circling, jerking, parallel parking
I probably couldn't now
but all those windows down miles
through small towns and cornfields
or sneak outs into the city
made wheels fly.
After the crunch
and pound of accident
the more than a month of stiffness and cricks
it's good to remember the joy
instead of fear.
One of the pleasures of filling a journal
is the starting fresh
the binding crack
into a new one
the fresh scent
sheets of possibility
to mark how you grow
and stay triumphantly the same.
These are the nudges
that keep me breathing
from tired eyes in travels
to the sigh of more paper trails
I doubt anyone will follow.
it happened through a person
young man with wide open face of share
to have met more kin over the last few days
than he'd ever met before
revealing his isolation
over mediterranean feast.
A table of us who could be called jaded
on a bad day
falling in love with being just found
the reason why poetry matters and connects
the novelty, the newness
like orange crush
like lessons learned toward freedom
like freshly opened journal pages
about how you got there.
Why you were so desperate
you dared to live in the woods,
huddle up with these
carve a niche out of a cave wall
where was your home?
Where were the hundreds
of flickering torches razing the wood
to ash until you were found?
where were the roadside signs and offers
Were you a milk carton girl
with your dimpled smile
and spiraled gold locks
sharing space with the nutrition facts?
Were you running away from home?
Or were you taken
by men too vile for your stories?
Bound, gagged, and made dirty
did you chew your ropes,
crawl to your feet,
and run to the nearest warm place?
Did you even have a home to run from?
I've never stopped to wonder before now.
But tonight I am pouring over your stories,
every book of fables still echoing your heartbeat
in its pages.
I'm straining my too open eyesto find more about you
in between the lines of big printed words,
but the pictures are too prominent
for you to tell me your own story.
When they came home from the hunt
with blood on their breath, bitterness
dripping hot off their chins,
when they saw you,
sleeping in their child's bed
like you were wanted...
their porridge sipped,
it all tasted too much like home for you,
Did they hind leg roar at you?
Show their claws, their teeth, and tell you,
"What made you think you'd find
Did you fall to the floor, then?
Poor child, did you plead on four legs
for their acceptance?
Did you tell them through your tears
about how that bed, that porridge,
that place felt more like "belong"
Did you tell them your story?
When I flip the page,
the picture shows you leaving
famous fairy tale brat.
What were you scared of?
Was it the bears?
Or the inevitable run outdoors,
no place to run to,
beasts too wild for bed-time on the prowl?
I have heard your story hundreds of times.
I'm starting to wonder where you went
desperate enough to steal food
from three Bears.
I'm beginning to wonder
where you went next.
What new grotesque den of
do you dare call home,
Thursday, April 15, 2010
An alarm to Pavlov's dogs
the wretch to epicac
red to blood through oxygen
the arm to passenger seat in sudden stop
the football fanatic to beer
opening the fridge after arriving home from work
the cough induced by dust bunnies
is the bow release
from sensitive tongues everywhere
it's the bullet we hope will magic an end
If letters could be punctuation
would litter printer recycling bins everywhere.
If we said
at the end of every upturned word
at the end of every sentence of question
ears would tune it out as they do
It drools at the chin
activates salivary glands
and like forming new shapes
to learn French or Russian pronounciation
or to wave roll r's
A boyfriend once dared me
bid farewell to "I'm sorry"
for a weekend, a full week, a month.
At first, my hand slapping over my mouth became the reflex
and then a bridle at "I'm so---"
until at last
I felt a spearmint, a wintergreening
behind my chicklet teeth
not longer chewing at "I'm sorry's"
the cleanest my mouth
had ever felt
and one of the greatest favors done me
by a man.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The ecstasy of dice-shake roulette wheel
just holds more interest for me.
But you, Windy City Woman, showed up
with armloads of survivor song and
perfectly placed step ladder plateaus of
common ground, every sentence
helped me ascend.
You fire angel, Botticelli-faced word woman,
held an inferno in your belly.
I watch the flames bellow from your gut
to drip out wild honey slow
until the stage rippled, baptismal font
at our feet.
I wanted to dive in so badly,
merman your blood stream
until your bones became the white columns of
an ancient city.
Your ribcage became my Atlantis
your words the bottomless ocean that held it.
Most of your poems talk of falling,
of knee scrape anthems of
almost making it.
You talk of falling as if we
the majestic wings at your back.
Stretched to white-feathered infinity.
You spoke of asthma,
unable to breathe,
as if every molecule of oxygen
traffic-jammed the highway of your throat.
Every molecule fully aware it will leave your lungs
changed, forever altered,
transformed by your contact,
Like all of us.
No, I was never one to chalk anything up to fate.
I saw life as random shuffle but people like you
make me second guess that shit.
How can I not believe in God when
It sends angels from Chicago.
I'm glad we're friends,
I'm overjoyed that I get to watch you
Focus on the quirky or odd happenings you observe throughout the day,
is the living statue out today?
how many cyclists have you seen?
What does it all mean?!?
GO WRITE ABOUT IT!
is kahki and blue
button down and starving
black dress and belt buckle skinny
In the corner is a girl who grew up on canned peas
she still has holes in her underwear
and she actually darns socks.
She will never have a nose described as pert
accepts her curves and doesn't have an eating disorder
but she will always feel like a church mouse
quietly nibbling at the edges of the free lunch
thinking to herself how people are so slow to evolve.
I have always
believed love to be an emerald thing
grassy and douglas fir
a gem, everywhere, and sometimes prickly.
With this in mind,
I hang my green flags
the bonuses and beauties of me
dust them off
fly a few of them half mast on moody days
yank the cords, pull the rope
and hope for wind to notice.
Today, it's my arms
my loyalty, my laughter
the guy I held the door open for
a big tip I left, waves of neighbors
the faces in dreams I visited
the fashion of the blood in my heart
easily available for many
spread over friendships in gravy
because I am single.
But I can't talk about the green flags
of all my plus signs without the color opposite
the scarlets, the trampy rouges, the tacky fire engines
of my faults
my messy floors
aversions to chores and initiation of uncomfortable conversations
my darting eyes
the quick burn of my Aries flames
my zealotry for language
the way money moves like dirty water through my hands.
Red flags are one of the reasons I believe love to be
not the color of blood (which we all know is really blue underneath)
of ruby upside-down asses in cut-out hearts.
The fabric for these is faded, crumpled
but I will say clean and they are so much heavier
to run up the poles.
I do it dutifully
and never half mast
I want the wind to see these first.
Yet on seeing
I know the wind, like people
sometimes breezes color blind.
This is where the devious in me relies on the fact
red and green color blindness
is by far the most common form
and causes problems in distinguishing
You can prompt this (Gillian Welch did in two songs), maybe by writing about your own worst day, or make one up around an Ides (15th of any month, not jsut March).
Woodie Guthrie on Titanic:
Monday, April 12, 2010
whisps of steam from a hot bath over rocks
this is what we do out here for fun
the others are laughing, drinking, getting high
I am on the side of the frame again
putting my ears underwater to hear my own thoughts
blood rushing outside my ears for once from the water.
there was this afternoon
red streaked cheeks asking me about faith
spirituality, how can I believe in a fairytale G-d
a wrathful one
a detatched fat man smiling maniacly at buffet restaurants
or a pagan appropriated hair product for sheen figure?
Too many wretched events march on without a coming again
or a princess lotus blossom of tranquility unfolding.
How---how can there be any force greater than
this planet spinning in an unknowable sea of blackness?
Lying in the bath, looking up at what we call constellations
I feel the familiar panic rising up from my chest
flowering in my throat and head
my own drum skipping beats
I, too will die and disappear
into...what's the answer?
The prickle comes, bursts,
yawns a swallowing mouth akin to fear around me.
What I didn't tell her is that my faith lies in the moment
of my mortality spell
The fact that it is temporary and leaves
may be a rational grace
a tick of a clock
the fall of a raindrop on a leaf
the very-few hours lifespan of a butterfly
the cicada's 17yrs of underground living, just for the chance
to rise, molt,and fuck.
How can I have explained
the myriad of ways a body knows how to leave
systems turning out the lights
the way when a body drowns, it fights
or when a shell falls, the neck breaks
so there isn't any consciousness?
My faith doesn't have intervention
or rely on reason for being as much
as design, fractal
as much as life force
seasonal shift, perpetual recycling
the fact of a deer siting
the book opening to the exact page you needed
for a memorial service
the way ghosts talk back to you
through other people & what happens when you think of them.
None of my answers
My mosaic is not what I expressed
Instead, I lent her my arms for vertebra quake
and the unrolling salt tide.
I said something about the persistence of green
the celebration of colors in spring
& how there are just some answers
we're just not meant to receive until we trip over them.
We have each other
dry twigs for bonfires
vices to dull our senses
and jackal laughter
in the meanwhile
with the elements until we join them.
I lie back, voices moving closer
4am moving toward 5
whisps joining the stars
the pull away fromthe edge of the frame
to the center.
I’ve got to get out-
Detecting metal with my jaw
On duty assigned during
My role has changed without my consent.
Safe word ignored,
My boundaries are blown through
So now all I’m surrounded by is
Still at the mercy of a
Ghetto suburban mortgage,
I show up-
At least in person,
Scribbling sonnets on pay stubs,
Doing anything to keep my pen
My adult life is swallowing me whole-
So I sit in it’s womb and
Scrawl on the walls,
Amniotic fluid the ink,
Writing the medium,
Chasing the next high in
I stay within the lines,
Adding to the ones becoming more
Pronounced beside my eyes
When I smile-
But I wouldn’t be a kid again
For anything in the world.
That’s when you don’t have the words
That might protect you,
So you try them all,
Speaking in a halting cadence,
Lollipop-sweet breath pleading for
They kept you safe from everyone
And this grown-up suit we don daily
Is no guarantee that we will emerge from the grind
Quite the contrary,
At times it’s a promise that
Teeth marks will appear across our jugulars like
Bone chokers made to silence the weak-
7 days to recreate your world from the
Skeleton outline you have been reduced to;
You can do it-
Just pick up the tools of the trade,
And pray it’s a fair one.
This is not what I signed on for-
Perhaps I was hearing impaired when they were
Handing out the instructions,
But mine are printed backwards and in a
Dialect I cannot access
Even when I dial collect-
The charges will be brought against me
Regardless of what avenue I take,
And the truth is I rarely know where I’m going.
My moral compass is stuck on “maybe”,
So decisions aren’t my strong suit-
I outgrew that one long ago anyway.
So here I am,
Detecting metal with my jaw wired shut,
Skipping double-dutch in a maze of beaurocracy,
Itching in this grown-up suit,
And fidgeting with responsibility.
I can’t see over the counter,
But my bills come due anyway.
I show up-
At least in person.
The rest is kept under dredlocs and key,
Hiding what is the real secret, the real treasure-
This one is really lovely,it has a subplot.It's a poem within a poem! If you can do this, it could cover two 30-30s in one.
by Fred Chappell
The children race now here by the ivied fence,
gather squealing now there by the lily border.
The evening calms the quickened air, immense
and warm; its veil is pierced with fire. The order
of space discloses as pair by pair porch lights
carve shadows. Cool phosphors flare when dark
permits yearning to signal where, with spark
and pause and spark, the fireflies are, the sites
they spiral when they aspire, with carefree ardor
busy, to embrace a star that draws them thence.
Like children we stand and stare, watching the field
that twinkles where gold wisps fare to the end
of dusk, as the sudden sphere, ivory shield
aloft, of moon stands clear of the world's far bend.
Friday, April 9, 2010
You have stopped listening it,
the symphony of howls,
the children of the night.
They need a leader,
some shuffling menagerie of smoke
and campfire reasons to stay awake,
they need a black caped Moses.
I had such high hopes for you all.
All the power you've been given.
I gave you all the room you needed to grow fangs,
and use them.
But you, you little-kids forever,
did not see the world I gave you.
You ignored the pulsing open veins
full of sticky red promise,
my poor misguided child don't you realize wheel
of this world wields
only two constant un-shifting truths:
and we are thirsty.
Stretch your lips, children.
Roar back to the animals who long for you,
let them know they have a leader again.
Do not dull the edges of your name with your pretty-eyed mistakes.
Humans are no prize.
It pains me to watch you suck excuses out of animals, you're growing children sipping applesauce down,
do not play with your food.
The lion never falls in love with the tourist foolish enough to come near.
I can no longer sit and watch you purr in a cage.
I lived on the lips of innkeepers, priests, villagers, floating on clouds of their fear for centuries.
You are undoing everything I have built, yanking us back to stuffed animal cereal box jokes,
no one is scared of us.
Do not let them turn you into something they can keep in the light.
These humans are whittling away your fangs with every kiss,
do not let them laugh at you.
I loved this world so much that I gave them a perfect monster to huddle in the dark against.
That monster, now old as the dust, calls out for a successor. Some new set of teeth to hold the world by the throat.
Listen to their lullaby, my children of the night.
The people in the city beneath are sleeping, helpless.
There is a symphony of rhythm in their throats.
Fill your starving bellies,
Do not disappoint me.
you remember how you earned your stripes
the way your skin found sheen
cub then, cougar now
you didn't know you were a slut
other girls became disappearing acts
teen pregnancy statistics revolving
through the nurse's office with streaked faces
spring dawns and the smell of fresh cut grass
almost leaves the cross hatch patterns on your thighs
of soccer field, baseball sideline, park
the racing heart of almost-searchlight caught
all those fingers reaching, sprouting, nervous fumble
the taste of lipgloss, nibbled tip of honeysuckle
fullness of moon glowing over sparkled trails
those stamens in your mouth, petal cheeks blushing
your back knew borrowed cars as rooms
the wood of picnic table, church basement, wood pylon
the splash of waves on your ankles in time
with tongues and palms
an ink blotter--that's what you were
picking up lessons with every grift, every doughy roll
each gift of freckle and frond
imprinting, staining, twining up the trellis of you
and now you are keeper of this particular photo album
an information of faces, knowledge of orgasm pose
one or another echoing with conversations, shared frailties
confidences, tears, the intimacies of repeated meetings
a few stand out
alone, always fresh, always young
your spine remembering how that one held you
next to a lake, the feel of maple bark rippling skin
how strange to be by yourself on a couch
in this life that didn't quite turn out
the way you never could have predicted
from crocus days of small blooming
in twilight, you hear of one of them passing
and think it unusual to be old enough to have such ghosts
not that you would ever be with them as grown
just that they are secured as amber frozen young
like your memory.
you can hear him sucking if you listen closely enough
it's between the florid lines of prose
which really don't make a lot of sense if your eyes aren't bloodshot
he's out for the blood of uterus after uterus
troubled by the toilet paper dolls they're buried inside
cutting themselves free of each other
he can't help himself
plumbing third dog leg style
the only extension left without a numbed nerve
they don't understand
he's trying to make art with their spirits
jackson pollack splatter, he's just collecting blends for the art
no longer remembering who, what, where when
it's all puzzle pieces
and he's lost himself to jigsaw
he left his body a long time ago
gave it up to fluids, pursuit, night moves
he's what james caroline called
"a ballad for falling"
though he is more like opera
as he grabs shovel handles
digging for deeper graves
to sleep in, blot out the sun
because accountability is a bitch
many of them
faces emerging through discarded tissue shrouds
their uteruses now wandering
and he's so addicted
he can't help but still smell their blood
mistake it for love
want to suck
the life out of them
he's given himself up
monster with an audience
twittering with claps and, like, omgs
but he imagines we can't see
as though his interior decay
doesn't move with arms and legs
tricks nobody with a straight face
there are some things
elbow from ass
just can't hide
Thursday, April 8, 2010
|by Sharon Olds|
i am mesmerized by her dresses
sometimes a swirl of colors
star bursts of red
patterns of flare
declarations of the arrival of more woman
than most can handle
i have missed her voice
that confidence married with vulnerability
nothing as powerful as a woman with conviction
wrapped in classic femininity
delivering the goods
from my vantage
i appreciate her poise on heels
the bell of her skirt
the chime of calves underneath
in her stance
but it's those flower prints
and my heart still knows the first
of her poems i fell in love with
black eyed susans
i hear the familiar catch in her voice
a kind of feigned chuckle
her performance so deliberate
turning the frantic freak out
on a dime
into a revel moment
an epiphany from the everyday
the truth from the lies
our histories program in us
she remembers DC to me
Whitman-Walker, U-Street, Van Ness
the squatterpunks, the bus stops
DuPont Circle and the malls of green
that birthed so much of my own awakening
leap into upturned flowers
different kinds from the gardens of mixed girlhoods
we eve appled
and we are
watered and photosynthesized
by her elemental delivery
of what we long to hear.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
coiled in its cul-de-sac blanket woven from the warm wool
of White Flight mentality,
I can't help but kick myself.
It was so goddam stupid,
All of it.
A week ago, the order came through, Don approved.
The Consiglieri for the Strazziano family had payed his toll.
It was time for his river ride to the bottom,
I was to mangle the man into an example.
"Cut out his 'eart, mail it to his cock-suckin' boss,
Let 'em know we mean war..."
Time to kick back, the heart was safely on its way,
PO Box untraceable, to Long Island.
91107 Canter Boulevard...address letter perfect,
Three cups of coffee, one wire transferred six-figure sum, and a copy of the Wall Street Journal later...
It hits me.
I check the black book and the thing 44 caliber tags my brain,
perfect shot through my hind-sights.
91107 Canter Boulevard...address letter perfect,
the right address stares from my address book,
Mailing address fuck-up, this is bad.
And I have to go play Mr. Clean the mess I made,
It took two hours of box-cutter questions until the Post Office
suit and tie splattered what I want to know onto the floor.
91107 Canter Boulevard, small suburb, fourteen miles off the mark.
Family country, family town, family neighborhood,
This one's gonna make me retire...
Home, is literally where the heart is, was, will no longer be.
The cliche is kicking in the balls, too bruised to laugh about it.
I'm waiting for the lights off invitation,
gun silenced, stockin cap pulled down.
Thank God the heart is here, unopened, addressed to no one.
I pray they stay sleeping, I don't need a family of stains on my suit,
or my conscience.
I cat burglar the box out...
the only time a faulty alarm saved anybody.
With a bad guy's heart sitting shotgun, I light a cigarette.
I belly laugh at the whole thing and drive off.
The sun rises on a family confused by a missing box and oblivious to how lucky they are.
The sun sets on the dumbest mistake I ever made.
I left my heart on somebody's door step,
praying I got it right this time.