17 Poems Not About a Lover · 2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

I will not apologize

for not being
soft-lipped
doe-eyed
for not laughing
at all your jokes
and if I put my hand
on your shoulder
it will not be an invitation
if my fingers linger
which they will not
you will not have the rights to me
to my round parts
to my fullness
against your bare bones
I will not apologize
for not being
giggle-light
batted-lashes
but more
teeth barred
and fist clenched
my gaze always at the door
on the clock
holding breaths
waiting
for you to learn
my name is not prey

First published in Al-Kemia Poetica.

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17 Poems Not About a Lover · 2010s · Poetry

Center of the Nucleus

Another word for father, static
the chaos of electricity in white noise
every pop and crackle of it
holds so many nots
If turned slow motion, we can
hear all the misfittings
how many wrongs inside of us

Another word for mother, lightning
the flash of white against night
it circuits through tree limbs
into heart stops, into heart starts
If turned slow motion, we can
feel the strangled paths
motion of trembling feet stumbling

Another word for family, carbon
the black of what’s left after fire
after smoke and embers suffocate
resting in the ashes

First published in Black Napkin Press.

17 Poems Not About a Lover · 2010s · Poetry

Boy, Emaciating Slow

What will I do with your skeleton bones
when your teeth can no longer hold
the flesh of your lips? What brown eyes
will fill the spaces in your skull
when these ones dry up, dissolve into vapor and dust?
Will your bones keep memories, keep the rhythm
of your laughter locked in marrow—
how your small hands grew into man,
how I kissed them tipped in icing,
wiped them from grass and soil, held them
to my cheek as I sung you to sleep?
What can limbs and ribs and vertebrae do to capture soul?
What does your skin encase when you are sloughing
out from under it?
Where will your soft curls rest
when your scalp surrenders?
When the cords of your throat fray and limp,
how will you say I love you?

First published in Angel City Review.

17 Poems Not About a Lover · 2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

Keansburg Park, 2012

After a hurricane, you must sift through the rubble. Be it car or house or theme park ride, all loss is for grieving. For months you will bloody and purple searching for what’s worth saving. On the news, there is always a small child who’s managed to hide between the gaps. Keep searching for her. Or, if you’re the one buried, make yourself heard. At some point they will begin to haul away the wreckage. They will want to clear land for rebuilding. But if you’re still searching, be louder. Keep kicking through splintered wood and twisted metal. You cannot and will not find every savable piece, but remember that small child. She could under the Ferris wheel. At some point, you will also call off the search. You will also want to clear land. But be prepared. When you stand on the edge of the sifted soil, a new loss will settle in. As heavy as roller coaster. If you stare into the ache of what was never found, the weight may collapse you. The name of that child may trouble your sleep. You must find her. Use the old wood or the old metal, but build a new park to welcome her home.

First published in Angel City Review.

17 Poems Not About a Lover · 2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

Black, the Consumption of Song

It’s still the music—
how is replaces the pulse in your veins
how it stops all the other voices,
your own cut-throat deafening.
You still swallow volume
guzzle it down like hard cider.
In that way, songs can sing from the inside out.
They balloon inside your heart
pressing up against limping muscle
until its ache rests in them.
You will always have it—
when love after love after love leaves
it still gets darker. Still you
wrap your skin in minor chords
mummy-tight until you can only move
in the way the rhythm sways.
You don’t fight that.
For a while you are carried by it.
You rest in black—
how it still comforts you.
Sometimes and eventually music moves you forward.
Slow beats for slow steps
when you are ready to hit the ground
on your own swollen feet.
For the rest of your days, you will—
as you always have—exhale melody.

First published in Cadence Collective.

17 Poems Not About a Lover · 2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

How I Stopped Naming Lost Things

This is where I don’t know what’s next
this is where I get lost in the desert
forty years of circle wandering

This is where I try to fill the cracks
this is where I see how much I can fit
how many pages I can write
how many nights of alcohol
pushing limits where I thought I’d stop
the line I wouldn’t cross

This is where I close my eyes and lay back
in the thick sea salt floating
underneath stars I can never count
This is where I stop
naming anyone friend or lover

There is where I keep stirring
the increasing mess of me
dissolve the powder
I am pudding-thick and ready to serve

This is where I am the forest fire and
the arsonist and the fireman
mask wearing and sweating smoke

This is where the word you
is cut out in tiny rectangles
and collected in bags for confetti
where I forget what clocks I am watching
what timeline I had to follow
all the things called age appropriate

This is where I am done
and done and done knowing
that I ever knew

 
First published in On the Grid Zine.

17 Poems Not About a Lover · Recordings

Seventeen Poems Not About a Lover Recordings on Soundcloud

April is National Poetry Month (NaPoMo) in which poets attempt to write 30 poems in 30 days. One of my big goals of 2018 is to really focus on my personal poetry again, so I thought I’d dive into 30/30 this year after a 5 year hiatus. So it hasn’t worked exactly how I meant it to. Instead of writing a new poem every day, I decided to do a poetry focused thing every day. Writing, revising, hosting, featuring, and recording. To celebrate the upcoming release of my new chapbook, Seventeen Poems Not About a Lover, I recorded all 17 poems and posted them on a playlist on Soundcloud. Click here and let me know what you think!

 

17 Poems Not About a Lover · 2010s · Conversations with Gravel · 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.

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.

17 Poems Not About a Lover · 2010s · Poetry

Gill Growing

I will give to you my lifesaver. You who are sinking in the ocean
alone. I didn’t see you diving over the edge, but you say you want
to sink under, feel the weight of ocean crush your chest. I know it
gets exhausting. I know because when I dove down as deep, I grew
gills. It was dark for so many years I stopped believing in sunlight.
Breath is memory. You will remember how music makes you dance,
but water keeps it from you. You can’t move through currents like
hallways. You, gill growing boy. I keep throwing down ropes but you
are not done sinking. You still need the weight, so I will wait for you.
Watch you from the surface while you walk ocean. I don’t know
when your arms will grow strong enough to pull yourself up, so I
give you my pen. Write me letters. Send them up on rays of sunlight.
I will keep them at my heart until you are ready to surface.

First published in Paper Plane Pilots.