Quitting

I’ve been thinking of quitting ‘storytelling.’

It’s a badge I’ve been wearing since Windows 98,

Since before metal pins on backpacks and graphite horse sketches were cool.

We’ve traded the dial up pace for a cyber-shouting race

And I’m tired.

 

I’m trying on ‘listening and rest.’

It’s nice to not fight for light.

I don’t want the lead role in the spring musical, regardless.

Please. You be Maria Von Trapp. I’ll come and watch your blue dress spin.

I’ll probably cry when your high notes tremble in our hearts, beautifully earnest.

 

When did this thing that I love to do—

Rearranging heart fractures into little mosaics

With dusky hope and shaking fingers

When did this thing that I love to do

Lose its simple earnestness?

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.

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.

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.

Honest Thoughts from a Wedding

One fresh foam white bodice grew from a chitin mermaid tail;

bride: bliss was the veil fanning from her forehead.

I wear fresh cut hair, short chic on tall chick;

new feels model beautiful—in the wake of bridal bliss, feels magical.

Back of the room view: young men tied to cameras aimed,

clipping moments out of time to hang up and dry.

Preacher strings short thoughts with too-long threads;

I daydream: who is the photographer in dapper threads behind his lens?

Hearts and mouths erupt—“Man and wife!”—now it’s time for cake.

The sun and his moon cut with hands and hearts eclipsed.

Now: Let’s dance!

My eyes lock with a best friend, words unspoken said:

what marvelous mountaintop moments; what handsome single men.

Mass-Produced Reverence

Sound kernels baptized on behalf of holy veterans flick my face,
shot by elastic radio waves,

striking my eyes, stinging sights into a pixely Warhol style of
vomiting violent neon signs—
kosher brands and canvased advertisements,
Public Service Announcements:

rows of SPAM cans burping tobacco spit over the sides,
rows of green gun barrels with purple flowers flailing out and into the mud,
rows of Marine wives and children with faces blue and black and yellow and

CRACK. Another sharp kernel. SMACK. Another automated sentence.

Like postcard stamps punched out
one right after another
sending out to all corners of the States
the message of conditioned reverence:
blessed art thou for being Saved by the Military.

 

For my sister.

Murder on Your Tongue

Photo by Mateus Williams via 41.media.tublr.com

This is what I hear
When out of that heart
You speak:

Like grown men of an African bush tribe
Clip-slipping their feet in the hot dust
Around a broke-fire
White dark dirt shoves up
Out of the roots of the earth and
Races up on the heels of them and over the high-topped feather headdresses of grown men
And rising up and out the sound of an overwhelming shout of challenge and victory and defeat
As the sound rages out of their muscle-y burnt bodies and their heart beats
Step-step faster
Out—
Run
Out—
Shout
Out—
Live

And then you are
The one who ran ahead
To shove his spear first into the lions mouth
But got torn in half by its jaws.

This is what I hear
When out of that heart
You speak:

Death to mother
Your sister
Your brother
To your lover

Like every other somebody out there
Is a lion that needs to be taken
Down by a man
Like you.

Poem originally published in Promethia Literary Magazine, Spring 2013.

Hair

Dirty fiber optic chords

clumped into burnt hemp rope:

hair. Each dead cell strand a

weak wisp of my fragile femininity.

Male friends, almost-loves

drape banners of caution over me—“Men like

Their women with long locks.”—

but I ache to tear off the dirty blonde titles

and watch them flutter to the floor between

silver blades.