17 Poems Not About a Lover · 2010s · Poetry

Oceans Once Receded

I was a desert woman
who learned to live on cactus boys
learned to run at night and sleep all day
knowing the burn of sky and sand

Then you came with your oceans
rivers, lakes, and waterfalls
I dove in, eyes closed
hoping you’d teach me to swim
hoping to learn your whale songs

I threw away my land shoes
swam under the stars
let my skin pucker in your waves
my desert plants were drowning
I let them bloat and drift away

Then your tsunami receded
first sudden, then steady and slow
I stood naked in your mud bed
for weeks with dripping hair,
dripping hands refused to dry

I learned to pray to wet earth
give thanks for saltwater baths
learned to hear your voice
in the night bird songs

Until even the mud left
took its soft clay from between my toes
the caked earth in my hair
began to dry and crumble
desert wind wiped all traces
of salt from my cheeks

I push myself back into desert shade
live in the evening light
I can never return to cactus fruit
when I’ve fed on fields of phytoplankton
I’ve lost the taste for prickly boys
so I may wither for a while

Until at the edge of some moment
in the pale space between sun and moon
I might hear the sound
of water rushing

First Published in Element(ary) My Dears.

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2010s · How to Unexist · Poetry

What I Mean When I Say Run

Get out, get out
and into the world
a woman like me
would tie your hands with ropes
and hang them from her hips

Get out while you can
and let the wind carry you
a woman like me
would climb from under your boots
and into your pockets
lay you down heavy on her bed
just to rise above you

Get out and wander
be a wild bird
a woman like me
would clip your song feathers
and stuff them in her mouth
just to have your voice
seeping from her ears

Get out and make no promises
don’t even say you won’t
a woman like me
hangs on open window sills
burns her eyes on the driveway’s end
holds all your words
like collected seashells
in her cupped hands

Get out and go far
take no existing path
a woman like me
would strip you naked
press you inside of her
memorize the turn in your face
in the dim light
she’d reach in and pull
all the strength you have left

Get out
She’ll want to cut rings
from the center of your eyes
and string them like beads
around her neck

Get out
She’ll envy the breath in your lungs

Get out
She’ll put a straw to your mouth

Get out
She’ll want you empty

Get out
She’ll drain you cold as death
just so she can pour her blood
into your veins

First published in Indiana Voice Journal.

Events · Feature Readings

Poetry Bleeding #3, 2018

I really exicted to be doing ONE MORE last co-feature with my dearest poetry dad, G. Murray Thomas at Poetry Bleeding on Friday, April 6, at 7 pm. This one will have special guest host, Dave Russo, while Alan Passman recovers from a kidney transplant (GO ALAN!!). The divine, Robin Axworthy will also be joining us. The event will be at Viento Y Agua Coffeehouse, 4007 E. 4th St. in Long Beach. Check out the FB page for more details.

2010s · Poetry

To Hello Kitty From My Little Pony at WE Labs

It’s Christmas outside, green/red lines stretch out like a cat at noon. I am galloping in the stars, cutting holes in the sky like crescent moons. But it’s almost morning and I need a place to rest, be quiet and color my pages in rainbows, like silver trees in purple lakes. Hey, Kitty, did you get over your grudge? Green/red eyes you keep blinking at me. I’m not listening to it anymore. I’m choosing to throw my reins out the window and not look back. I can bring you back flowers from windowsills stolen from dreams of honeycombs and lucky charms and horseshoes (yes, I get the irony. I always get the irony, it’s what I do). So are you in or out?

-MLP

 

First published in Pyrokinection.

2018 · Publications

Carnival Poetry Anthology

Honored to have my poem, “5:38”,  included in Picture Show Press’s first anthology of poetry from the best of Carnival, the online literature magazine. Edited by Shannon Phillips, this beautiful book includes my poetry friends, Karie McNeley, Zack Nelson-Lopiccolo, Scott Noon Creley, K. Andrew Turner, Alexis Rhone Fancher, Thomas R. Thomas, Kevin Ridgeway, Suzanne Allen, and many more. Find out more on Picture Show Press.

17 Poems Not About a Lover · 2010s · Poetry

What I Mean When I Say My House Is Now a Park

I stand on cinderblock walls barefoot
holding my hands out
over the edge.
He says he gave me his eyes
so I close them, walk brick to brick.
My heels, calloused, a line of infection
is growing. If it reaches my heart,
I will die at age seven.
I count to ten, then one hundred seventy.
South of me is demolition, a chain
of commune houses sunken into grass.
It is always so tall here.
The pain in my foot is muffled, a woman
held captive, screaming silent.
I toe-to-toe down the cinder line
towards our junkyard neighbor.
We built a fort into bamboo soldiers.
When we leave here, we will forget how
we need to burn everything still standing.
This place will not be for children, but
black tar parking lot.
That way, it won’t have to remember us.
Remember my seven-year-old hands digging
nails from my feet. A tree house
of death threats can die here or
lie buried under asphalt.

First published in In-Flight Literary Magazine.

2010s · Poetry

Paint

I am wet paint
shine on the edges
round with anticipation

I am smear
brush stroked
dragged up and across
the pores of daylight

I am gradient
my density spread
transient as lost family

I am blend
black father
blue mother
my purple sister
always yellow brother
red child unborn

I am gel thick
squeezed from tubes
swirled and diluted
still knowing my name

I am image
landscape and portrait
abstract or Dutch photographic

I am frame
wood carved and gilded
mat-less and bare skin
open to the elements
dust and finger oil
sunlight, loving sunlight
brings permanency

I am dab and dribble
splattered and flick
I am classic Nuevo
I am rainbow and cloud
I am brush desire

First published in In-Flight Literary Magazine.