05 December 2022

Wednesday morning, Bucyrus

You didn't finish your eggs that morning.

You left them to dry into small yellow pebbles

on your Dixie plate.

That's fine.

Food goes to waste all the time, in any home.

When you warmed-up the car that morning,

you forgot your gloves. 

The chill prickled each exposed hair,

every tiny freckle, 

as punishment.

But cigarettes are worth it.

A cigarette run, that's worth it.

So the car is barely warm and it rattles down to the drive-thru for you.

The girl with faded tattoos, 

various traditional ones in blacks and reds,

blurry and swollen, 

greets you with your usual pack.

Her hand is warm with two-dollars' change.

You may have graduated with her, 

but you aren't sure. 

Your conversation is the same each time, 

and each time, she tries 

to persuade you 

to buy a couple

of Faygo Redpop, 

or something or another, 

because they are for sale. 

Two for one, she says, 

plainly. You reply: 

Maybe next time.

The little sedan stumbles 

back home for you,

parks tiredly, and you exit 

with your treasure,

your soft little prize.

The kitchen table awaits.

The eggs are just 

as you left them, and

that's fine.

Such is the way of life 

for these mostly-empty paper plates,

scattered works of art,

claimed by entropy, just like it is

in any home.

Do You Share

If the fullness of their faces, 

their bellies,

has you considering 

your now empty plate--

shiny with grease, but

devoid of other evidence--

I would implore you 

to reflect 

on why that may be. 

If it isn't jealousy 

warming your temples, 

if it isn't anger 

quickening your heart, 

then whose feelings 

do you share? 

You blame someone else 

for the stain on your front pocket

from the last go around-- 

perhaps the drycleaner,

was negligent with her small, 

fumbling hands?

Perhaps the cook 

at the other establishment 

used too much butter, 

leading to your garment's ruin?

Truly, whose feelings 

do you share,

and to whom are they divided 

and passed around--

broken bread, hard crust 

cracked, with sharp edges--

until nothing is left?

12 October 2022


how are there no secrets among us
when each violent thought
is a crumb wiped
from the corner of your mouth --
careless, messy,
inconvenient, human?
and still, bombs make
little sense --
comm lines are snipped
from reason,
heartstrings replaced
with barbed wire.
those crumbs from before,
they have been collected
by warm hands,
shaped into bricks
for schools, for churches.
and when you ask about borders,
the children laugh.
borders are easy
when there is nothing
to protect.

23 July 2022

Shelf life

When dreams die
in a convenient place
between boxes
of dried milk, you understand
the sacrifice--
the cupboard unlatched,

Some items aren't ready
to be discarded.
They aren't meant
for donation, either.
So your Greed
plans the trajectory,
the shelf life
of your grandest wishes,
and decides that

sure, we won't prepare these
we daresn't use them
but when my daughter is grown

they can be among
the shit that gets thrown away
for being spoiled.

21 July 2022

Not in the cards

I would love to be gentle all the time,
stroke the surface of each day,
coax it into light and being.
I would love to take the warm chemicals
of my womb and alchemize it--
with your assistance--
to bring forth, eventually,
from this kiln of chance
some new beauty, scared and loved.
But no.
That's not what
I've been asked to do.
Goal posts move feet, not inches--
with your assistance--
and gentleness has become
an inappropriate response
with your bear traps
along the path.
Like your weapons,
you show teeth
and greedily
grab chunks of light
from each hour.
How much can be replaced?
How can we fix what is broken
when you don't want us to live?

26 May 2022

I did not know

i did not know 
the death rattle 
would come 
so soon after 
the plastic one 
was gifted
as a hand-me-down. 

i did not know 
you would be stolen in an afternoon, 
before a summer vacation. 

how dare anyone do this to you. 

to deny you the discomfort
of growing into 
odd features, 
gaps in smiles, fixed. 

no. instead, 
you were stolen. 
no one had that right. 

and out will come 
the phrases 
we have heard before, 
about heaven 
gaining little angels, 
about prayers, 
"let me know if you need anything,"
"i am so sorry for your loss," 

and none of these
words, these deaths 
will serve 
as a unifying action, just 
separate fingers 
dancing, as they do, 
across little keys, 
until we say enough.

how many are enough

08 May 2022

Mother's Day, 2022

Dear V,

It's been two years since you left. It also just so happens to be Mother's Day today. 

To say I think about you every day is an understatement: there are moments, feelings, that are super-glued to tasks. I worry, for instance, about your disapproval of my poor housekeeping, of not making my bed, of not getting out the pots and pans when I'm depressed. 

I worry about the white lies I tell to spend more time resting. Then I remember that you used to do that, too, when people would take and take. You wouldn't tell them to stop. You would be softer, surprisingly. You would just tell them to pause, via a little white lie...

I think about you every time I see an animal. I saw a fox tonight, disoriented or perhaps hit by the car ahead of me. I prayed for it. I cried for it.

I prayed, also, for the sick cat, one of yours, now under Dad's care. I pray and pray. I pray for more capable hands than mine to tend to these wounds.

I can give love and a couple of resources here and there, but I can't often give my time or my physical self, and I'm so sorry.

I hope you can forgive me. I hope you're still proud of me, of what I can do...

I miss your stories, even the ones I've heard over and over. A night owl, you would rock back and forth, spill secrets until 3:00am. And, oh, my guilt for feeling weary and tired... My guilt for not wanting to spend breakfast with you those last days, after you'd gone and bought those Wheat Chex and that soy milk... You didn't know I had plans in the morning. I probably hurt you in small moments like these -- when you made choices that were meant to be surprises for me, but I'd already made plans. Damned plans, interrupting play, interrupting opportunities to laugh with you, or help you...

I hope you can forgive my broken promises and unreturned calls. I tried to catch them all, but I'm sure I missed quite a few.

Now, I picture you rocking in your chair, with a book, killing time until one of your granddaughters called you back. Beautiful lady, so generous with her time, never bored, always thinking aloud -- I hope you know that I always appreciated you, and I always tried to say so.

I miss you so much.

Love, Shanny

26 February 2022

The worst of the artificial tempest


Hitting that main artery,
only just,
the shot still matters-- 
incomplete and harsh and cold. 

A small morsel 
among the rubble 
with ringing in her ears
knows not where

her dog is,
so she calls out
hoping someone can hear her.


The body dies gradually--
nerves tingling, as if waking up--
but communication is complete.

Arteries jam, then close,
but she can still pull herself 
up and out 
of the shell
as cold gives way to heat, then fire--

a burst of activity and noise
as the ringing stops 
and the sirens begin.


She is the tiniest thing,
the most fragile package,
the most scared little girl
with lungs rattling
and eyes burning.

Her city, her surrogate, 
could no longer
hold her and patiently answer 
her many questions.

So, she waited,
between crying out
a name she knew.

She waited for a friend

16 February 2022

Estate Matters

Grief is love and
love is grief and
this house held you
until you grew
your grief--
and when
you are quiet,
you can hear
the floors
with the womb
at the center,
wide and much too warm.
Love is grief and
it calluses over and
you try to just
let it
but you can't.
This house held you
until you
grew up and out,
arms outstretched
and aching.

Can you ever forgive me?

29 January 2022

A Miscalculation

God's mouth gulps,
breathes into a burner phone:
Maybe this spell
will ignite the torch,
the fire illuminating the scene
of the accident,
and maybe they will be moved.
Maybe they will act with more
than the occasional pail,
the occasional dropperful
of tears.
Maybe they will witness
that light reflecting in
a neighbor's scared black eyes
and see themselves, a mirror
suggesting more than sympathy.

The sharp crackle
on the other end of the line
gave away
the listener's position.
"Even after all this time,"
the listener responded,
"your trust in them
is stronger than their love."