True StoryMy proudest day yet, and to top it allyou wrote your first poem.As I drove, you told me our car wasa beautiful white horsewithout a name.And to think, you do not even know that songor that this is a desert.We slipped on slick oiled streets,and you soothed my nerves with a gentle,"Whoa, girl,"and the tires gripped.I pulled up beside a sedanturned dapple grey by the weatherand we stepped out onto a badly drained lot.You closed your poem, saying simply,"The rain turned into glass."
Orion, UpOrion, Upgod is asleep,but lambs are bleating.In heaven, Orion is cartwheelingthrough the southern sky, tall and thinand far away. He is your constellation,and has been these three years.A cigarette flicked toward empyrean failsand falls onto desertplants, unseasonably full from autumnrainstorms that sweep me up, churning and silt-laden,across borders, against the monthsto Texasand haybale sheep, grazingunder a goosedown sky.
Knew Clear Went HerAfter the war we spent our days ticking through the calendar and solving for X--the half-life of hell's own death head metal appropriately named after the caretaker of souls in Roman myth. When the seasons came around we climbed out of the bunker, pale and squinting into our red giant sun, skin sprouting geese in the unfamiliar air. At the center of every snowflake is a speck of dust. When it began to fall they floated down like glowing ghosts. We wrapped our tongues around them and swallowed holocaust
mathGeometry is really a lovelyform of music. These lines are:convergentdivergentparallelperpendicularall of the above p a r a b o l a is a particular favoritesurpassed in its delicious harmonies polyphonies only by the almighty strains of
ProcessiI have been guilty (at times) of writing just to see words on paper.It's literary pornography, the last true victimless crime(for words are not 'people too').At others, I have written as an excuse to hold my favorite pen:a graphite Lamy fountain pen with astainless nib I was instructed upon its purchase toforbid all others to write with it as that could alter andperhaps ruin the stylus--Prescribed Pretention!The sin of masturbation, according to the Holy Roman Catholic Church,requires a penance varying according to the sinner'sapparent addiction to sexual release.I don't write much lately. five Our Fathers and ten Hail Marysand I am clean enough to put pen to paper again.I have a drawer filled withbeautiful stationary,lustful sheets of fine cotton paperawaiting only words lovely enough to match.
virginal you have me feelinglike a girl. pink. developing. hormonal. inspired. want to... wrap my arms around you like your words have (around my heart). run my fingers
the broken patriotmy lover is an unpopular,tawdrymolesteddiseasedand misunderstood whore.she is a cold and hard,stubborn,repetitiveunrelentingand misrepresented jezebel.she has loved and murdered,sacrificed,stolen,bled,and drained thousands like me… and i knew this. and i asked for it. and i gorge myself on her.her voice is raw,grating,beautiful,sonorous,and practically orgasmic.she sounds like machine gun fire,hurricanes,abortion clinics,school prayer,and she smells like a burning flag.
delugeDelugeWe didn't bother filling in the foxholeswhen we left Texas,the live oak crawls with fat-season grubs,the stained chain-link fence, the rustedbaling wire vines climb the telephonepoles. We dug them for each other with our neglect,the silver tea service likea favorite toy.Overhead, unwanted advice and club-footed insultssail like well-lobbed grenades. When the rain finally arrived we turned it,the birds of my neighborhood,finally drowned.
Moving: A YaduWe keep a homeOf unknown humsAnd lonely cats.The sky cracks butHe lacks a raincoat.Fueled by smoke andWords he lands onA branded street,Knows the sweet rageOf meeting too soon and late.This town belongsTo a song manAnd wrongful ghost.He is most sureThe coast will fade their remnants.
a ribcage drenched in dusti have your ribcage, you said.what should i put in it?i told you i'd always wanted a fire,the kind that would fill my eyes with starlightand pump my blood full of passion, butyou're made of wildflowers, you said.a fire would burn you to ash.you wanted to fill my chest withthe sound of a train, whistlingfar away in the night;with the sound of rain smacking leaves;with the sound the wind makeswhen it seems like it's trying to speakand you wanted to throw in thesmell of midnight in augustand the feeling of sand beingsucked out from under your feetwhen the ocean inhales,and the strange little moment ofbittersweet joy you get whensomeone else puts your soul into wordsand you realize you're not as alone as you thought.i told you that if i had all that inside me,i'd ache all the timeand you smiled a sad little smile,because you already knew that ache.because you were a writer, and you ached all the time.i've got it, i said.tell
mutethings have been easierwithout words &we pretend neither of us care;we stuttersplutterlaughing and chokingon puns &when you bend me over nounsi screamloudergrowlmore fluent.the words are there waiting to be spokenme . you . lovemy dear, we've been mutefor so longspeak to me.
Letter to a former loverI wrote you lettersof these hollow woods,perhaps your tongue was tiedor planing out your teeth with supple motionlicking forth a better smilea brighter future, at leastyou never answered or gave wordthat you had seen the fog ridingfrom beneath the trees on grey stallionsor that the woods themselves wereleaning out and giving way andturning grey, mist breedinghollow spines on brittle branches.
despondenti."are you sleepy today?""yes.""but you were sleepy yesterday.""i know."ii.she stirs her pomegranate green-tea until it turns from clear to purplesetting it on her bedside table and climbing back into bed again.her fingers follow the bluer-than-usual constellation veins on her wrists and downto the freckle on her forearm and then the scar on the inside of her elbowcrossing the tendon as if it were crux.and then she remembered that God hasn't been with her lately.iii.today is long and sunny but when she steps outside the humidity creaks her bonesand her skin starts to inflame.she assumes that if getting the mail is a struggle, having a child would be too.iv.often times when she sets her tea down she remembers that her Bible is in the drawer beneathalong with the crucifix necklace that her mother made her.v.her husband comes home late nowadays and she never questions why that may bebecause she knows.she would do the same too if she had a wife who took four different
recappedbath robes andmini bar vodka;recapped full.holds some pride in denialtil second guessingsbring it back.knock it back.hold the burn like a kiss.let it tingle on the lips.refill with water;reset the cap.return it.no one will noticeone morejustonemore.justonemore.justonemore.justonemore.justonemore.justonemore.justonemore.justone-
starspunobserving the romanticismof hooded cemetery kids,smoking cigarettes pretendingthey are not dead.you were always so sureabout my uncertainty,you watchedall my pick up linesdrop things.we built the heatof the evening from the solidityof starlight,pretendedthat two teens at the parkat midnightis the stuff of teen novels(cliches dim onour leaf-gold horizon)your eyes dartedfrom the gray expanseof the churchyard & wanderedin thoughtfulpaths.i wanted to ask youif i could follow. shovethe words aside &remember that i came here alone.i remember our innocencein the static b e t w e e nstars, thinkabout how youth without you is th-awing out the lines in my whittled-out eyes.look to the hoodedcemetery kids,wonder what we'd have been likeif we grew up as nothings,like them. teenagenothings with chiseledmarble in ourvoices, carvedout of our parents' adulteratedlies and the excitement of alcohol.i settle for a star.it's almost as luminousas the after
my soul is leakingthe steady drip drip of it in the kitchensink has me grinding my teethwhat a waste you said, and in vaintried to tighten the taps as I laugheda waste!indeed I am.you told me, pride is a virtue you seem to be lackingand I said pride leaves the blinds open and you laughedand left the the blinds open.Shiny black patent shoes, I watched as you werelowered into the ground and wondered if that's where life got you,if that's where life always got you,then,what good is pride anyway?
Dead languages and bitter teaWe were directly opposed,circling each other in a confining pool,my mouth seeking yours, but only findingthe fragments of composure you left in your wake."Nunc scio quid sit Amor",you said once, and I agreed with you,then looked up what the hell you meantas soon as I was alone.We went stargazing when we were hungryand fed ourselves with the namesand the glow of all the starsthat spread themselves out to tease us."This is what I see in you," you flattered,pointing at the sky while the wetness of the grasssoaked into our backs."You're that string of pearls, right there,hanging around the neck of the sky.You are more than what I’ve been looking for,more than anything I've ever tried to find,"you painted stars and lies.I left you job listings in the mornings,and you told me my fortune,in the bottom of my teacup.We were directly opposed; I told you to leave if you wanted,so on a night too cold for me to see the comfort in your dreams,you left, gathering
Ottumwa ShamanIn Iowa, weeping willows dream ofTigers, born in pagan fog, theirCoat of stripes singing shamanSongs; shrill symphonies of grief.Heaven tilts, crashes, and we raceThe dirt to get away. We drink theEarth with bullets of air and growDizzy, light-headed from breathingSome far off flame. Perhaps a poetWho braved the fog of Ottumwa, andCaught fire. Every cowboy has hisSix chances before high noon, beforeThe fog forms wispy jackals to takeThem home again. Every son inheritsAn empty gun, six voids to fill withAnswers, skimmed and guessed from theCovers of books their fathers usedTo read. There is no other way.In sleeping, I have been to Iowa,And I learned where wiccans goTo make their bed. I do not know nowIf I had dreamed the weeping willow,Or if it had bent low to dream of me.In Iowa, there is no such truth, onlyDepth, and the shaman's song of grief.
Cheap VodkaAaron was gulping down his anger with cheap vodka, hiding from the world to drown in his self-induced sorrows. It was a routine, at times – fighting then drinking, drinking then fighting. It was as if he wanted it to happen. Today was no different, and the tears that ran down my face were a testament to how the day had gone. I had been beaten down by resentment; disgraced for having an opinion. I knew, at this moment, he hated me. And yet, I loved him. Don’t ask me how or why, but I did, and I wanted to marry him for some god-forsaken reason.We had been together for over two years, and I felt it was time to make that commitment. The night I brought it up, he began ranting at me again. He asked me "what difference would it make for us" and "why should we pay for something that wouldn't affect the nature of our relationship?" I couldn’t tell him, I didn’t want to tell him. I wanted to be myself again; not living in worry about losing him to someone else because I
carouselwe laughed like children high on m&ms,danced like we were carousel horses,and jump-roped our way through obstacle courses.I saved our footsteps in mason jars,in case we ever needed to follow yellow brick roadsto get home.home was an illusion:honesty without truth,apologies without forgiveness,I kept home sandwiched between"never" and "have to."caroline, they'd say. caroline,stop being such a dreamer. stop takingus for granted.I packed every apology possibleinto my breath, left runaway plans lingeringin the silence between family.when I found you dancing in the street,I listened for merry-go-round music.I tried to take you with me, I'm sorry.instead I left you breathless,left you safe, left without you.I took our footsteps, just in case Iever needed a way back home.sometimes, I wonder if I left youwithout a safety net.
Twenty: I'm afraid I'm growing oldi.Coupons and sales magazineshave become more than just junk mailand the holes in my pantsseem more patchableand I wonder just how muchmy sparse jewelry would fetchif I said I saw the face of Jesusin the glimmer of my pearls.ii.I am beginning to miss the sea I grew up onso much that I will read bad poetryjust for the mention of a salty ocean breeze.I feel landlocked and sometimes I'm afraidthat I will never see the worlduntil I have retired from it.iii.Faith says her life is full of asking.I wish mine were full of answers,but I too have many questionsand only Time will answer them for me.iv.My mother just turned sixtyand her eyes when she looks at herselfin pictures from the '70smakes me realizethat my time, however long,is short.
still,"i want grandchildren."that car ride ruined some thingsthrew a wine bottle at the wall15 years sittingit was good enough orit wasn't good enoughall the silence forcedmy pride to jump out the windowif any rested in hershe showed it off like a speech bubbletied it to her teethslammed it in the doorhad it under her pillow for monthsand years and years and yearsthere was no statementthere was no outstretched handjust steering wheel clenchingknuckles white and jaw taut(all because who i bed was not her mindful oftimeline perfection)i still think i'm a tumor--she shows it off like a speeding ticketi put a pin through iti put it on her sweatershe never wears it
relearning i. stardust scatters with thedirection of my pupils –maybe secretly i am anastrology teacher, waitingfor a sign to winkhappily at me. ii. excuse the ramblingnature of forgotten questionmarks, but tell me:would you like to be theobject of handwritten clichéswould you like to whispersecrets in my palmand would youlike to be the possibility iii. air brushes against myskin like the torn petalsof a flower still standing.[ hold your head up high, honey,and tell tomorrow to wait justa while, iv. so you can figure outthe difference betweenpatience and having all thetime in the world. ] v. stardust glitters from thecreases of my hands.perhaps i am not the teacherbut the pupil,relearning how brilliantstars can shine.
WaitingWe are still waiting for the thunder from the distant stars,The echo of mortality,the whispers of a storm, half-remembered,in sepia-coloured hallways in buildings that smell like books.Time gets slow in waiting,ghosts are formed from the wanting,taking shape in the spaces where sunlight,or moonlight doesn't touch.The stars shake from the vibration,and the ghosts shimmer in anticipation,but we can't hear your voice in the dead of the night.
Sonnet 4 for my grandmotherHer flowers, softly pressed against her palm,have lost their quiet gift of sunlit breathin lieu of gentle summer's song, this psalmhushed now by looming mute of living death.The owl's lonely mating cry rings outagainst the fjord today, and still I findher shorn cloth adorning my clouded routehome. Roughly textured skin of night confinedmy skin; however, the small trestles builtfrom earth to hidden light behind the moonguide me to her in sleep. Her petals lilttoward my lap, hold me until the roombecomes a slowing top. They fall the wayshe falls. The dark blends calmly into gray.
Shadows of WhalesWhat I wanted to say was that I remembered the clouds,that I watched them paint shadows across the ground,giant birds of prey gliding across the aether - whales,lost in a different sea, to floatwhite and pregnantwith all the sounds of things; thundering outthreats of the sky, sounds full of furyand the disease that catches you off guard"Open your door. I must come in."what I wanted to say was that the echoes are the samethat the pulses of sound are just pieces of the originalinstead of slightly dimmer copiesevery one a heraldof the silence, soon to come.I wanted to say things that, maybe, you'd listen to -that sort of alabaster sound that grabs your chinforces you to look deeply into brimming eyesand then tear yourself awayone piece lessslightly less whole.but there are reasons to believe,tiny imprints in the sand that spin the shape of feetthat glance softly against your shadowthen fade into the oceanwhere the whales once were,before they became the casters of
Why I Don'tWe are too permanentfor the transience of poetry,each brief line speeding on towardthe next at breakneck speed.And I have never been one for writingepics, you know that.