2010s · Poetry

Tracheotomy

I said it all. Slit a line down my throat and pried it open like a dissected frog. I bent over and shook my head upside down to dump all that shit out. I don’t have time for ulcers anymore so I cut a line through my esophagus, past my heart to my stomach. I used the sharpest knife I could find and scraped them out. Word after word corroding the stomach walls.   daddy, sick, penis, bedroom, underwear   My hands covered in black-tar memories. I scrape them all out.    father, protect, shhhhh, coarse hairs, vagina   I thrust the knife in deeper until I find the last of them.    child, baby, girl, dim light, daddy    I washed them all in the sink. I scrubbed, rinsed, and dried. Then set them in the full daylight sun. Some I kept, put them on the highest shelf. Others went one-by-one, slow and deliberate into a grinding disposal. The last of them rest safely between pages of poetry.

  First published in Then & Now: Conversations with Old Friends

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Long Beach Press Telegram

The Long Beach Press Telegram published an article written by Mary Anne Perez about the poetry and literary scene in my community. I was thrilled to help spotlight all the amazing things my friends are doing.

Antonio Appling, Sarah Thursday, Nancy Lynee Woo, Bill Friday, Shy Butflyy, and Ra Avis are local poets and writers from Long Beach who come together to connect, create, and collaborate. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)
Top row: Bill Friday, Nancy Lynee Woo, Antonio Appling Bottom row: Sarah Thursday, Shy Butflyy, and Ra Avis (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)
2000s · Healing the Heart of Ophelia · Poetry

Throat

I remember more than I want to admit
More than I can say out loud.
So much of it has never passed
through my vocal chords.
I can recall a picture at will.
I went so far as to type it out.
I can hold the pages in hand,
but I am afraid to see them.
Afraid to hear them read aloud.
It remains in my stomach,
where I stuffed it.
Sometimes it surges up like vomit
and I catch it in my throat.
It’s like a rope pulled tighter.
My pain sits and I can not speak.
I am voiceless.
I find other things to talk about.
It settles back down.
I move on.
I have ulcers.

First published in Healing the Heart of Ophelia (2001).

2015 · Publications

Heartbreak Anthology: Fuse

In October 2015, I was honored to collaborate with my friend, Larry Duncan, on a project called Heartbreak: Fuse, by Karineh Mahdessian. This project partnered male and female poets to write about heartbreak together. Larry responded to my poem, “Liquid Forget”, with a poem called “Forget Liquid”. The anthology includes work by of my poetry friends, including Raquel Reyes-Lopez, Marc Cid, Sharon Elliott, Donny Jackson, Kelly Grace Thomas, Wyatt Underwood, Sean Gunning, Angela Moore, Bill Friday, and too many more.

(Apparently this acknowledgement was missed until recently.)

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

What I Mean When I Say Ageless

When we met for the first time—
not as friends—the first time as possibility,
you were aging in reverse past twenty years,
some fresh-faced boy fumbling for admiration.
You brushed my arm. Shoulders press and retreat.
I secretly hoped we’d never find our way home.

But your father face returned—I met this man
many months before. We were friends
but so much older. Eyes heavy with marriage
and house and family and work responsibility.

When we met again for the first time—
past possibility, in the space of immediate now
where time is irrelevant and skin speaks
all our words, your face became child.
When I counted the spokes in your irises,
I looked down at the escaping years
dissolving through your teeth.

Let’s be children in some night parking lot
without the weight of older lives.
We’ll climb into ours beds as all time—
as delinquency—as heavy sage—
as eager limbs—as singing rosies round
and round, spinning into the music.

First published in Four Seasons Anthology.

2010s · Poetry

Some Haphazard Line Tied onto a Kitchen Table

Be here. Be centered. Be a girl on the verge of everything.
Be the wrong kind of naive. Be the wrong kind of experienced.
Be nestled in pine bench seats. Be as bright as fluorescent bulbs.
Be a mother cooking spaghetti. Be ducks in blue flower tiles.
Be a wall telephone, spiral cord stretched for miles. Be a
pimpled-faced teen. Be a former homeless child sleeping
in her own room. Be dancing on clean white sparkled
linoleum. Be a shy step-daughter. Be a visiting sister
towing another man behind. Be glass tabletop,
chipped edges for all night D&D. Be a pile of
endless dishes. Be cooking sherry snuck by
seventeen-year olds. Be cartoons. Be drawn
on the refrigerator door. Be gaping windows.
Be a kind of glue. Be her best memories.

First published in Like a Girl: Perspectives on Feminine Identity.

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

How Quiet Kills

I speak you to the wind
and she carries the notes
of your name to the sky
I stand, hands empty
waiting for god
to speak you
back into my chest
but there is only
white
noise
blurred whispers
of everything
layer upon layer
of sound traffic
I speak again but find
no voice, no music
just cold
hands
open

First published in Spectrum: An Anthology of Southern California Poets.

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

If Poetry Is Parked Car

My heart is bottom-pink
and raw, not knowing
how many beats to give
beats to exhale

All words crowd into the soft
spaces, roof of my mouth
cutting inside cheeks
rolling off lips

All quiets are questions
my voice too loud
my hands too clumsy

How do I protect you
when I’ve just been born?
When my spit edges
in the corners of your drink?

I’m dumb, backseat fumbling
legs over knees
arms over shoulders

If my skin in moonlight
is softest, how do your hands
melt into my scars?

First Published in Carnival Lit.