songthe whip-poor-will singing in the bush, luka nuzzles her dark crown into the crook of kottak's neck, says, "I cold." the golden grass sways and kottak's maple eyes meet mine. I nod, stomach suddenly swelling with love like it does often for them; I am already walking to the camper before I realize I have moved, warm, as if the sun has found refuge inside me.
arrow is still asleep there, freckled fingers in a fierce hold on her rabbit, its pale cotton ears hanging over the edge of the bed in imitation of her bare leg. I watch her breathe obsessively. in sleep, she exudes peace. yin. in waking, she's a wildling. yang. In the golden silence, with the dying light falling like stars across her body and the sweet thought of my two still outside, I capture the moment in the mason jar of my mind, store it there for nourishment in hard times.
I tug from the overhead rack the blanket nana poppy made mama when she was a fledgling, press the fibers to my
the cocooning of pangeatell me about continents and oceans
and i'll tell you about highways
and i say:
that isn't an ending,
need to change.
and i say:
we all need to change,
even beauty must adapt.
and i say:
elephant dreams.you are everlasting, transient
& time sometimes sets as a stye's eye
waits in blind patience while haste tempts at fate,
feral faces out-foxing daisies.
sister earth, save me.
help me raise sturdy babies
flaming paths & suckling grass
help me gather growths amass
hatched of dreams, daring things
daunting tasks seeming freed:
seen, a seraphim: flings fawn-wings
careening clean 'cross crispen skies
cradles crystallized creations
baptized by babes howling orations
organized by nations, natal equations
& these earthly elations cause a calming sensation
cease inferior imitation
a knowing being, awake & feeling.
live lightning.I would love to grow old with someone I was young & wild with
that way, one day, we could tell our children: make mischief,
do not be afraid. yesterdays mistakes do not haunt, they wink,
tomorrows' todays are closer than you think.
with tongues, live lightning, let your belly bear the bolt
walk barefoot in the grass, paint asphalt, break glass.
borrow books from funkster's flats,
(do not give them back).
baby, war-paint your face. forget about concerns or grace,
there is no race.
you are the shimmering stars out in space,
you are the sky's blue day,
you are the treasured wings that captured us,
brought us to this bay.
i wonder if the caterpillar.i am
not a butterfly. i don't know if i changed but i know that the road was dustier than we imagined when we headed west in your old beat up Chevy and when we broke down outside of Nemaha there was an eerie feel like maybe we were always supposed to be there and i would have stayed but the word stay always made you cringe, reminded you of dog obedience classes and sometimes when you slept i heard you speak about it. then you'd wake up, scowl and sip your coffee, black. your hair would turn in awkward sleep angles and it would remind me how the rope felt inside me.
it was much deeper than regret. it was finding yourself and staring from a distance, too afraid to call out or, stopping with an awkward outstretched finger right before you would have gently tapped her shoulder, said 'hello, I know you'
and meant it.
hunchback whales.mabe is nine, going on thirty-three.
she tells her mother i hate the way the sun and the moon don't share the sky equally, and i wish mister tompkin could still use his legs and if i could do anything it would be to read a hundred books at record speed and to stop fidgeting like you ask, and also, i'd pet a hunchback whale just once.
mabe's mother, who is busy cooking supper, asks mabe if she is keeping an eye on the twins. tells mabe to help them wash their little hands and to wash her own, too.
mabe's mother tells mabe to also set the table and to let the dog out and to stir the potatoes, please.
mabe stirs the potatoes then sets the table before pulling the lazy hound out from under the bed and pushing him out the door. mabe keeps her eyes set steady on the squirming twins.
the twins are eighteen months, going on nineteen.
mabe calls them tater and tot, but their real names are olivia and june.
tater and tot have golden curls and golden eyes
april 2nd, 2012.iridescently green, jade-changed back of the beetle; a patch of
four and five leaf clovers, clumped together like lucky little mutants
days like this the sun is swallowed in blue skies and gray clouds,
and willows and pines pollinate 'bove my head while oscar wilde
reminds me I am uninfinitely young, bared bones breathing close to yours
and we are reading, words traded, books bent, a breeze between our
knees, supinely suspended to this spinning planet
constellations, eyes.and i believe that gods exist in the lights, in the skies shining eyes shone there, long ago, arised Aries, and tonight, know i may tremble under constellations burning bright but it's naught a sign of fright. in spring frost, wrapped in furs, i shudder in delight.
breathing is easy but I'm terrible at itapril suns always left streaks of
yellow on your driveway
before they sank.
you laughed at how
the flowers coughed on me
along the bilirubin pavements
on the way to your house
I confused all the streetlights
for sunsets and drowned in
halogen tidepools in those evenings
when the sidewalks ended but
my thoughts of you wouldn’t
maybe love is the sum
of all the excuses we make for it,
or I’m just too tired
to pull myself to the surface
you roll the blades of grass
through your grips, dusting
your fingerprints with haptens
I’d like to blame you for every
wheeze and rale but goddamnit
I just can’t
my father lived in Indiamy father is a man of many colors.
on the nights when the moon stays asleep,
he lotions his palms with pomegranate juice.
the sugared blood pools in the creases of his
skin, staining it India’s red.
sometimes, my father scrubs his hands until
they are nothing but flesh & fruit rinds.
when he was younger—all skinned knees and pocket
knives—he must've slipped on a thousand marbles.
my father’s father was a welder who rolled and spun
steel into tiny spheres.
when he died, my father’s hands became blue and
free of pocket knives. to this day, he keeps a bag
of marbles on our mantle.
from time to time, he shakes the cool metal into
his open palms and waterfalls it back and forth.
see, this is the trouble with blue hands:
they never let go of the things that scar them.
they try so hard to be red again.
my father doesn't like whistling because
an old woman in India told him it was uncivilized.
she perched herself on the edge of the Ganges River
Vietnama cellar door was beginning
to open somewhere in all of us
emerging somewhere between
the throat and the spine,
spitting out ink as it burrowed deeper,
giving a new place to hide and store
smiles for better days,
a place for matchbooks and
milk cartons and anything in-between
a place to harbor unkept promises and
other multitudes of sorrow.
had been placed on shelves with chipped
high above the earth
were brought underneath us once again
at this not-quite cemetery,
the all-encompassing "i-love-you"
buried deeply in the mix
of scattered blades and bones
as we learned
how to confront skeletons
belonging to strangers other than ourselves.
from passing by the roses strewn
at the feet of the fallen and feeling
the names of the dead on the cold, wet
stone, there became a certain
satisfaction in breathing
and even more in realizing we still could.
and the edge of winter. There are no signs.
I'm tired of this, the searing and the splitting,
metal on metal. I'm tired of myths. Won't you just be beside me,
be still? Let me picture you, just for a moment. Divine
concentration, that's all you take. Don't ask.
Living never felt natural.
But here we are, trying-
All for this one second,
this one flash of perfection. It's tricky
to be a person. I can never get the balance right,
and the seasons are a quilt,
heavy like a sand, damp
faces. Where is your voice, is it
beneath the soft song of the quiet? Your words,
did I make them?
Grandma“Is there something terribly wrong with me?”
I sigh and look up from my book. In the evening light my grandmother stares back at me, utterly unaware that it’s the third time she’s asked in as many minutes. Complex maps of wrinkles frame her wide eyes, each crease charting the grief, joy and laughter of a lifetime she is slowly forgetting. I look at her and I remember the wit and spark that used to punctuate her speech. I remember the way she used to strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere; how she’d find wonder in the simplicity of everyday life. Her curiosity, her sense of adventure, her love of the world and of all the people in it have been replaced by a child-like fear of the unfamiliar.
I look at my grandmother and behind her old, tired eyes I see a young girl who has lost hold of her mother’s hand in a world full of strangers.
“No, Grandma. There’s nothing wrong with you at all.”
curtains shift –
the faint glow
Hello, I'm Me- Nice To Meet YouI stand in the rain- until I’m soaked to the bone with the scent of it
Until my clothes stick to my skin and it’s uncomfortable to peel them off
I crawl out of bed at 2:33 am just to go look at the stars- even if I’m too tired to name them
Even if my hair is still wet from my shower and the tips start to freeze because it’s under 20 degrees F
I walk with my hands grazing the branches of trees- lips turned up the corners
Lips turned up at the corners because I get along with nature better than I do with humans
I give way too much ‘change’ to veterans asking for money- even though I know they may be lying
Even though they may be, but what if they’re not?
I listen to cashiers as they spill their tales of bad days across the scanner- as they scan 10 cans of cat food
As they scan 10 cans of cat food, I smile brightly- one that somehow reaches my eyes- and wish them a better tomorrow
I visit my town’s Radio Shack way too often- the two freq
A Battle of Extremes(MR. CYNICISM, MS. SINCERE, and DR. PASSION congregate for battle.)DR. PASSION
Where's all the booze, guys? Where's the music? I thought this was supposed to be a party.
This is a battle, not a party, good doctor. You may want to remove your lamp shade so you can be prepared to fight.
I didn't hear anything about no violence at this here get-together-battle-party-what-have-you.
That is the definition of battle: Where two or more parties come together and -
- come together and make a whole lot of excitement between them. See? That's what I'm saying.
I should have anticipated such a gross misinterpretation of the facts, given your appalling track record with regard to such things as facts.
I'm sure it was an honest mistake, a result of a miscommunication. We can all be friends still, right?
Aside from the battle, of course.
I wouldn't have it any other way.<
HomesickI am the river's son,
my arteries flowing turquoise
and turning to rapids
rushing around my frame,
filling me with this sense
of buoyancy, minnows
tickling my sternum.
I am the river's son.
My palms caress each
silty shoreline, every
battered bank and bend,
and these places I know
so well become me
as my fingerprint,
even the bridge above me
inflamed by the afternoon
sun-glow, burning rusty and
the steel blue sky.
I am the river's son;
I bring my home along
like hermit crab,
where I step
I pull water from the earth.
She rusts the world green,
garlanding her hair
with flowers and sunrise.
At first, they clink
waxy tulip cups and gossip
over the corn tassels' latest
monarch fashions. They pallet hay
into sleepover mattresses and braid rain
through each other's plaited
cattails. But though her palms
toast eggs from hens, her
dream-clear eyes flint ice, and the
green reflecting from manicured lawns
will never match her envy. She
scorches her enemy from memory.
She strokes sun-kissed knuckles
across reddened scalps, skirt
rustling with fairy fire.
She casts a flippant glance
over her shoulder, ignoring
for as long as she can the
lady in red turning trees
to skeletons and grass
to gravestones. They
meet eyes at last - vibrant blue
to dull brown - as
the sky bows gracefully
from glass to ice.
She stores her elegance
in pumpkin stems, and she
crunches apples with rotting teeth.
Cloaked in a gown
of red and gold,
she beckons him with
a brittle finger. Ice
yellowthere’s this picture of some rooftops in new york
and over the rooftops there’s this rainbow
like a question mark lying on its side like it’s not even sure
that it should be a rainbow, it’s like when you exhale by accident really
softly on birthday candles and the flames ripple a little and everyone
thinks you made your wish even though it was just
a mistake, it’s a rainbow like that, like it happened
and the picture reminds me of this one day when i was
looking out the window of ms. azeglio’s office when i was fifteen
as she talked on and on without
saying anything, talked about fixing me i
watched out the window and there wasn’t a rainbow not like
there is in the picture but there almost could have been one because
someone had let out balloons and they
kept going up all different colors too with their ribbons beckoning
and ms. azeglio she turned
her head to the window at one point and she saw
a yellow balloon floating up there by
Grave Robber's DowagerThe people of this town were just waiting to die. That was Maggie’s favourite thing about it, there was always business. Her husband used to go out at night and dig up someone who wouldn’t be missed. He’d have the body on the table in the basement before midnight. Maggie would strip the corpse of its clothing and its valuables. The clothes would be washed and resold, the valuables pawned off or kept depending on her mood.
Her husband would clean the body up and just as the very first rays of light were creeping over the horizon, a man with a cart would come by and take them away. It was a good living. Maggie and her husband were comfortable and proud of having such an efficient business.
Normally, the work never got to Maggie, but every so often she would buy a candle or a leather purse and wonder if it was someone she knew. That was silly of course, but every time it happened she couldn’t shake the feeling of ghosts hanging around her for days. Her husband unde
the world doesn't need beauty sleepmother earth is pregnant;
her curves yawn -
molasses stretches of dark,
dank night freckled with
i yearn to rest in the cradle
that the small of her back
the roads untangle like
veins unto her skin
after being held so long
in the fist of pre-dawn.
drunk in slumber, red-eyed,
beautiful - morning will
come yet, the small child
born in the rafters of
but before her date,
mother earth shifts in her sleep,
love settling in the wing
of her hip -
exhaustion dilutes her blood,
consciousness touches her golden
shoulder on his way out the door.
the flower clubdear preacher,
i've got something to admit
i was in the field
i was watching the flowers get dressed
well they're just so pretty naked
petals tucked into their sides
and watching them unfold
i was watching them pull down the sunrise
and put it on themselves
so i'm a sinner for it
cause i watched them bathe, too
stand around together in the shower
a hundred ladies in their beautiful skins
pink small ones
big blue proud ones
letting the droplets collect and residue
on their finery and shamelessly bare leaves
well that's my confession preacher
i watch the flowers strip and tease
tense shiftsand here's the first letter:
there are some things in life you can't escape.
the feeling of his fingers entwined in yours,
and maybe the way the wind blows on your ears lightly,
teasing teasing teasing because it knows
you blush when your cheeks get cold and the tip of your nose goes red
and it knows
he's going to have to give it a kiss to warm it up
(also because he can't stand how adorable it looks).
she thinks that maybe there ought to be a coffee shop on this corner-
she tells him so, with a wide sweeping gesture that
knocks her scarf into his eyes
and he wears it like a mask and smiles-
but on the other hand, maybe not;
it could be a park, you know,
overlooking the bay right here, see?,
and the little children could watch the boats come in,
steaming toog toogs out to make them smile and clap and wave.
and he's watching with a half-smile
the way her eyes light up and brighten the lonely shoreline sidewalks,
he'd spend a lifetime making that corner i
Stories about our fatherOur father is fourteen in this story
so we must imagine him young and slim
bobbing on his toes, the quiver
of his racquet like the quiver
of a cat’s tail.
We’ve seen our father play before,
sitting courtside with our action figures
and paper dolls,
deadened to the minor explosions
of balls striking asphalt.
But we are surprised now by the
in his face, his eyes moving the tight loop
from court to net to opponent
and back again.
And it occurs to us
that we haven’t occurred to him.
Our father is pre-marital,
his world blazes between these
But soon we look where our father won’t:
To the stands where
our boy-faced uncles jeer
beside our grandmother, thin and erect
where we know her
soft and stooped.
She raises a hand to the metallic crest of
her hair and calls out,
David! What’s the score!
And it is understandable to us
that he pretends not hear.
That his shoulders twitc
longingi scuff at sidewalk bottle caps,
mouthing your name as i pass shriveled milkweed stalks and snuffed-out cigarettes.
once, the clock hands pointed north. they mock me now with each degree elapsed,
each angle pointing to a slew of compass-rose regrets.
mouthing your name as i pass shriveled milkweed stalks and snuffed-out cigarettes,
i hear the second hand’s advance tally my silences like rosary beads,
each angle pointing to a slew of compass-rose regrets.
if only i could pull your name from this unmerciful stampede!
i hear the second hand’s advance tally my silences like rosary beads.
every dull tock measures out those quinine conversations, sly unripened smiles, and yet i know
if only i could pull your name from this unmerciful stampede,
the cobwebs binding me to mute labyrinths of time might let me go.
every dull tock measures out those quinine conversations, sly unripened smiles, and yet i know
your redwood hands could be the ones to rescue me, and then
Seeking Your StarMarch 20, 2014
Some stars burn so brightly, they burst before they see the cosmos unfold. You shared the warmth of your glow with as many as you could before you rose too high for the sky to handle and scattered sacred stardust across it. Your legacy is seen in constellations.
A few days later
Mom called me to the window today to show me a lone star in a cloudless sky. She said she thought of you.
Mother's Day, 2014
Nana told me at lunch today that she heard footsteps in the room where she keeps your urn. She went upstairs to greet Papa several times, thinking the footsteps were his, but found him sleeping. Our waitress gave each woman at our booth a carnation. Outside, sunlight adorned our skin and held us.
I could have sworn I felt you holding us, too.
June 21, 2014
I took a plane out of Chicago to get back home. The sun set mid-flight, tie-dying the sky in orange and red. As we rose over the clouds, my jetlagged eyes rested upon a lone star pinned against
tonight i am old againtomorrow morning i will be
two again and scared of the shadows.
i will be two again and i will not
look out the window unless you are
holding my hand,
i will be two again and my father will
be the biggest man on earth again
but tonight i am eighteen, i am
eighteen, i am
holding the world in my chest and it is
beating like a heart (well then it must be my heart)
china digs a pattern in my backbone and i
am red red red red
i am a communist daughter and
the trains to shanghai will leave something
to be desired
i am eighteen, i am
all the life in the world
stacked around a schoolruined spine
and the world moves softly and she
touches me gently with her face
and then slides away.
tomorrow morning i will be
five again and i will be happy,
i will be five again and i will not
look at my body the way my mother looks at her body,
i will be five again
and people will just be pretty, people will just be
people will just be
but tonight i am eighteen, i am
grouse magic.the birds & the butterflies all fighting & fucking like the bees back home, my toes browning under florida sun, my heart all fluttering & aching & pulsing purple gold & green, & I'm learning to let go. still, I look for pop-pop down each orange grove dirt road, knowing pop-pop is dead. & I reach for you in the passenger seat, knowing you're not there. this knowledge makes it hard to breathe until I dance, my heaving limbs throwing themselves into the beat with abandon, a ballsy balancing act. baby, bye. I drive, make temples out of muddy pastures, spend my last dollar on a music-man just so I can stop searching for your hand & I am howling with the wind, & when she howls back I am taken aback, as if in my search my breath stirs hers, as if I've tapped into the secret language of the world.