Letters

Nothing is as savory as the taste of an envelope seal

when you’re entrusting a letter to the mysterious ways of the postal service.

I think to myself, “There’s my voice, inside that box, waiting to be heard!”

 

It’s so unusual, how sacred and hidden my chicken scratch feels;

words and ideas are like pennies on the sidewalk these days,

folks walking by them without stopping to pick them up,

examine them, cherish; no one has the patience.

 

But I took the time to stitch name tags into the faded shirts

of new acquaintances, hoping to ship to you tiny identities

and meaningful stories, because I feel so full of them.

I glow with joy and fullness because you listen.

 

The pages only hold so many lines, though,

aren’t infinite like speech bubbles in shared space,

and I can’t decide if you’d rather hear

about the kitten with the electric yellow eyes

or how lonely it is to try and peel back the dust bunnies

of someone else’s past life, try to give my bedroom walls

a fresh start, new paint, and hope to convince myself

that I belong here now. I’m not sure yet,

but I’m sure of you

and how these letters put my lonely fears to rest a while.

They are tickets to the train that’s slowly taking me home.

The Treasure

Golden leaves
That freckle tree branches
Have skipped and scattered
Autumn ground
Like stained glass fragments
Tracing truths.

Down vest
Over blue-flanneled chest,
Your dark soles
Crunch the sound
Of hard leaves into soft ground.

You watch the trees
Being dried and stripped;
The acorn under your foot
Scatters it’s brokenness:

A holy seed;
A secret promise.

The wind breathes yellow
Over your face,
Through branches bared:
“It is good.
It is broken with care.”

The Cowboy

You wade through swampland

without insulated boots;

the parasitic silt and black liquid glass

soaks into crusted jeans, as you choose.

 

There’s a fascinating you find

in being intimate with grime–

the water peels past your skin

and your soul whispers “holy.”

 

So. You spend your days

charting slime and specimens,

reveling at microscopic pincers, wriggling appendages…

at the artfulness of ugliness

and just how delicately it crawls under our skin.

The Badger

I’ve written a series of poems as gifts about/for dear friends, and have decided to gradually post them here. The poems are partly inspired by the word-origins and meanings of the names involved. This one was partially inspired by medieval legends about badgers as intelligent mythical creatures that would burrow beneath mountains.

Legend goes that in a darker age
when men killed myths for power,
when dwarves killed men for gold,
the Badger still burrowed between mountain stones
great labyrinths to hide his treasures,
great puzzles to trick his foes.

Cleverer than the felicitous fox–
the Badger never forgave whenever he forgot.
Lo, to remember his accidental unawares,
he’d brand his own flesh, cut a lock of his hair,
and tuck it into rocky nodes:

because the earth houses memories
beneath its skin like bones;
layers of truth and years of mirth
sewn into strips of red clay and black dirt.

Prayer Closet

I just went to my closet for pajamas,
Dang it,
Stepping over dirty laundry dogs
Breathing in the dark. I reach for a purple sweatshirt,
Foot breaking on a box of crafts.
Dang it.

Even in the dark
My day clouds the room like smoke,
Crowds heavy and sticky into my chest.

I think I hate horror films because
This world and my mind are already a cinema of terror and madness.

I fold the sweatshirt to my chest and exhale.

“I love every fragment of you, just as it is. Every broken frame of mind…I stare it in the face, still fascinated.
Still proud.

I know every heart sliver and lethal thought that ever was.
I grieve the death and madness.
I have worn it in my skin, too.”

I tuck my face into royal folds,
Shoulder slumping against pimpled white wall,
And I drip down it to closet floor,
Tears pooling and face falling
Into dirt speckled carpet and sweaty clothes.
I inhale.

Legos

Dad used to own a muscle car.
“A black Pontiac Trans Am Firebird,”
he told me. Those words were legos
built into a boxy body I didn’t understand,
but I sat on the calico living room carpet,
twig legs folded, lip bit, meditating.

Dad bought a broken down Trans Am.
“I’m going to fix it–but never drive it
in the snow,” he said. For months
I spied on him, a wooden doll laminated
by our glowing computer box, one finger dialing the mouse roll,
eyes of glass. Then he’d pace our gravel drive in his cowboy boots.

I used to dangle my naked feet from our splintered porch
and pretend he was there, too, my imaginary friend–
swinging his pointy boots in the yellow tumbleweed wind.

I used to fumble to build a bridge
between us with my lego-words–
but he always hoarded the pieces.

He never fixed the car. A truck towed it
sometime after he didn’t fix his marriage.
Now that I’m grown he calls every few months
to reminisce about the good ol’ days,
but all I can remember
are the things we never built together.

Blundering through Blarney

IMG_0887
Blarney Castle, Ireland

Black hair vine,

fleshy soot bulbs,

green leaf tongues

mock us;

other tourists pace the grid

of Blarney’s poison herb garden.

Nausea pushes me onto a park bench;

I watch strangers sample the mechanics of death,

their eyes picking at plant plaques,

stripping facts of Ye Olde drafts

and potent potions.

The moving bits under my skin

groan “I want to go home”;

the sunlight kisses my skin,

my sisters clip pictures from

the garden while

mom sucks a cigarette.

IMG_0849
Blarney Castle, Ireland

I take a bracing breath,

push myself onto my heels

and walk towards some hanging vines.

My grey eyes are fixed on

plush pink, flowers,

a perfect place to hide.

I plan to stick my nose

into soft palate

and breath, body

aching for soothing;

they are buzzing with bristling

bees: fat, fuzzy, alive.

I gasp sharp, afraid of poison sting.

They ignore, indulge, enjoy ripe pink petals

and yellow nectar seems.

I’m tempted to clip one from the sky

and keep it on my phone.

I don’t.

I stare at their mechanical wonder,

their synchronized swooping;

I breathe.

Editing

image

Black scratch

pen: marking up words,

rewriting history,

scripting loops over misspelled screw-ups,

unwarranted freckles,

happenings.

The word planks, the dotted i seeing and

still bleeding through.

I wish they wouldn’t.

Didn’t.

Couldn’t.

Each pen stroke is a bar

caging half-seen thinks

and scars

into ink.

Each phrase a car full of half-crazed

passengers screaming something

that sounds like truth

and looks like pimpled, braced, trembling youth.