25 February 2010

You Make Me Hate the Water

You make me hate the water--

fish floating up to greet the skirts of bloated bodies, hearts brimming,
fanning like gills.

Water gets rid of prints, rusts the sins. Your wife will never know. If so

you can blame it all on the siren, the stupid bitch with charcoal eyes
who hates the water
but you lied
and said it was romantic.

I looked right into your face, your grunts a hollow bellow, eyes fevered with alcohol.

It's easy to say I'm sorry. It's harder to drown,

gasping, sirens seeing nothing. You make me hate the water--

21 February 2010

The Ritual

After summoning Grandma
to be in charge of the toast,
Grandpa goes to work--
his tools are a large, empty
Cool Whip container (sans lid)
and various boxes of fiber-dense
cereal, mismatched by size
but situated and ready
on the kitchen table,
loyal soldiers
waiting for instruction.
He pours a generous amount
of Wheaties, then sprinkles
a half-a-cup of Wheat Chex.
He goes sparingly with the
Rice Crispies and is liberal with
the tablespoons of brown sugar.
His last step involves whole milk,
which he pours until the cereal
is barely seen. "I like it good and soggy,"
he says, and I cringe.
By this point, Grandma is ready
with the rye toast, darker than I
personally enjoy, but perfect for Grumpy.
He carefully applies the Country Crock
and leaves the burned squares vulnerable
on sheets of paper towel--
he knows the cats love
his breakfast as much as he does,
and again, I cringe,
but he breaks bread with his animals,
and he shares laughs with his babies,
and he is determined to enjoy.

20 February 2010

Structure Sign Play

The lights change when they intersect, a product of prism.
There is no way to mark the shift, only that a shift takes place:
between red and orange, a boundary; between orange and yellow, another.

I wrap my fingers around the cool edges
of difference, a token of my appreciation.

Dispelling is disarming, disintegration. When I insert myself,
I've already changed, particles to waves, binary boxes checked.
Colors bleed into shapes, the origin traced; I am the space between.

17 February 2010

Photographic Memory

That man captured
in the background
is not part of our story,
and yet
there's that
indifferent face,
looking off, unaware
of its permanence.

I wonder about him,
his grand canyon dream,
the noise budding in his throat.
He will never age, not
here. We will never know
his name. Exposure limited,
there is only
so much to learn.

14 February 2010

At least I'm inspiring somebody,
quietly, gracelessly, breathlessly, located in a clumsy swipe at sleepsand. Neither of us acknowledges the other woman.

It's the underdog's story once again,
and all the chocolate is gone. I wait for the room to collapse
before discovering I have to tear it down by hand, until my brain is bloated and my fingers are pulp.

These ghosts we've been following are as lost as we are.
You said I dressed like a victim. It comforts me to know you haven't the heart to kill me.

If I touch you, will you break?

13 February 2010

Immanuel Can't

Transcendentalism always tries
to break the news gently, running
her fingers through my hair.
It's actually a pain in the ass.

I sing good morning to
the hummingbird. I finally
get to see her perch, still,
resting. She matches the trees.

I match the trees too today,
seduced by chance encounters
and indirect communication. Each leaf
is a note for the sky, a love letter.

Dancing is not my favorite; that's where
the wind and I disagree. He doesn't want
a rumor, just an opportunity. I cannot
be persuaded to trust just anyone.

Transcendentalism loves to exploit
the parenthetical aside. When I'm
invisible, I can't use your figure
of speech, love letters be damned.

07 February 2010


Plato hates me: all cold
toes and symbolism.
Banished, my next meal
comes from a can, cold beans.
Fuck you, Plato.
That's what Aristotle said, anyway.
If I'm a writer, then I'm a deceiver,
a believer in puzzles and artifacts,
tangible weapons like irony,
giving weight to sugar and magic tricks.
But even Plato loved Homer.

Crisis averted, shoulders bare,
he encourages me, the dear poetess,
to wear a shawl. "Cover that shit up,"
he says. That's what Aristotle claims, anyway.
With a wink, I can starve romantically,
blink tears away. I rub the smudges off
this glass and fill it with warm water.
If I concentrate well enough,
the tea will steep without outside interference.
If this is the thanks I get, then
I can probably deal with that.


"All men are dogs, or wolves,"
he said, cigarette protruding, dangling.
"So some of us are loyal."
I was waiting by the hearth, a poker
by my side. "And I suppose I'm the moon,"
I said, blinking furiously. "Or is that
too silly?" A dog from the pound's
gonna have a history,
and some of it might not be pretty.
He might growl if he thinks
you're being a bully.
Still, it's too silly to be truly wanted,
so I'm cowering in the corner.
"You aren't going to bite me,
are you? Just howl?" I ask.
"If you're the moon,
do I have a choice?"

The Tempest

The wind is future oriented--
memorizing no moment,
waiting for nobody.
Meanwhile, the spider lays her eggs
in dirty laundry, fashions
a nest within the seam
of a favorite shirt.
She considers no one but herself--
not the skeleton that dazzles
the window left behind,
not the danger of this new space.
Strong breath, wind that carries with it
a purpose no other wind has, or does it?
I blow, I evict this family, new and naive--
refugees left to wander, so many of them,
the wind immediately forgetting each one.

Lake Merit

I watched the turtle in the water,
not knowing if it was alive.
He had to remind me that even death is useful.
Once we no longer need this skin,
something else can use it,
be nourished by it, appreciate it.
I only thought about the turtle,
not about the scavengers, the slight waves
in the water that made the turtle move.
I was happy to see it at first, innocent.
Just like I was when we first
saw the rabbit by our stoop.
"So cute," I probably said,
not knowing any better.
Later, we found it in the same spot,
frozen, and we grieved.
What do we do with our love but spend it?
I stop making connections beyond
the larger creature, beauty stopping
before the cosmos but after the pulse.
The microorganisms deserve a fair shake;
they're here too, feeding and yearning,
and Jesus, aren't we all.

05 February 2010

He Thinks He's Teddy Roosevelt

Fake smiles, trimmed with fake concern:
I know a cue when I see one.
With Arsenic and Old Lace, you
at least smile at all the right parts.
I suppose there is always a gap between
how you are with me and how you are with practice.

The gun in the glove compartment is yours
if you want it back. I'm sure you'll need it.
Unless your weapons have changed.
Last I checked, they did not:
We set the stage in black and white,
supplies ready, organized. I remember.

The acid burned through the flesh between ribs,
between yesterday and today, between smiles.
After that, my nerves were exposed; I thank you.
I thank you for needing me, looking away.
Still, I find myself waiting by the phone,
waiting for another job, another careful plan.

Does anyone call a random number
just to have someone to talk to?

02 February 2010

Silent Treatment

I see my shadow, but I've
got nowhere to hide.
No lair seems a feasible option.

I'm asked if I'll stay here, but if
it means I'll continue to endure
cold wind on my back, I'd rather not.

I'd rather go
where I'm actually wanted,
and I don't feel wanted here.

If today repeated itself,
repeated itself, I might
eventually take comfort
in knowing your pattern.

Instead, there is none.
You lock the door,
take the key with you,
and I'm the bad guy.

Today, my shadow is bigger than I am.
Today, I focus on the lies you told,
trinkets left by the window,
my only escape.

Because you won't speak, you force
me to be silent. I'm not supposed to tell anyone
the stories you collected,
strung tightly in the dark.