2000s · Healing the Heart of Ophelia · Poetry

July 1970

for my mother at 20

You seemed taller in the trees
Hair parted hanging long as limbs
How high did you climb then
How long did you remain
among the leafless branches
Twenty year old girl
Newly mothered
You must feel young smiling
Quilted dress does not stop you
You stand up and lean over down
It is dusk on another day
You swing— arms open— in the forest
Fingers spread wide
Thick red cardigan
You must feel free
I only knew you this way
Homemade dresses and open-toed shoes
You hated feeling closed in
You did come back for her
You must have known
As the woods grew dark
A new decade was upon you
A chance to begin again
The mountain air, crisp
I imagine, filled your lungs slow
Head tilted back as you swing
Back, smiling, and
Swing forward

First appeared in Healing the Heart of Ophelia.
Recently published on Cadence Collective.

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2000s · Healing the Heart of Ophelia · Poetry

Concrete Decay

He was a redhead, freckle-faced boy.
His eyes were pale blue emptiness.
Fair skinned with blonde eyebrows
that got lost on his forehead.
He squinted all the time,
when he looked at you,
when he listened.
He was inarticulate and lacking grace.
He was a white-trash junkyard kid lost
in the wilderness of waist high grass and bamboo.
Lost in punk rock and Billy Idol snarls,
mohawks and dog-collar studs.
He bought me a Barbie tea set
and I felt like he loved me.
I forgave him for nailing My Little Pony
to the wall with a hairspray-spiked mane.
He came to my church with a motorcycle and tattoos,
after the Marines with spaceship conspiracies
and patent worthy inventions,
with his red hair and freckled-face
and his eyes as pale as ice.
I saw him on Christmas Eve
after his release with his crystal-meth mom.
He hugged me with his sweat-lined skin
at my job at the discount store.
I sunk away from him and his toxic residue.
He called me his little sister, but I only smiled
back a discount employee smile.
I stepped back from his oozing disease
that poisoned his reasoning,
that made him eat dogs
and break into automobiles for a place to sleep.
I stepped back from the dementia
he wore like a tattooed-robe on the day before Christmas.
When in backyards as big as city blocks,
the grass grew as tall as children,
we could hide in the long blades
like rabbits resting from the bloodhounds.
We built a world of bamboo forts and yachts
through the holes in the chain link fence.
We mastered block walls between junkyards
and guard dogs and newly constructed condominiums.
We lived adjacent to a graveyard of demolished houses.
We explored the wreckage like Greek ruins.
He was my brother then in our world of demolition.
Wild and without restraint,
the games were more than hide and seek.
Truth and dare. Did I dare?
Red-haired with children in a line,
waiting to prove bravery.
I am not that kind of sister.
I left the game.
I left the decay of concrete
and steel rusted through.
I left the forts and yachts
and green blades as tall as children,
as tall as rabbits.
I left my half brother
as I went back to my work
at the discount store on Christmas Eve.
I left the disease I saw seeping through his veins.
I am not his sister.
I went back to counting money
and separating credit slips and ATMs.
I am not his sister.

3-9-01
Included in a forthcoming project called Please Judge: Short Stories Based on the Songs of Roky Erickson.

2000s · Healing the Heart of Ophelia · Poetry · Unanchored

Pale Yellow

This is the one, I decide
The one I will speak to
I must be four years old
stamp says “Aug 78”
I am squatting low in a pool
of dirty water near dark green masses
maybe algae or fungi or moss
it’s all gross to me now
the background is thick brush
low hanging wall of green leaves
I am smiling
swishing the inches of water
below me- I am in the shade
lucky me
blonde haired child- little girl
nothing on, save pale yellow shorts
my knees pressing on my bare chest
flat thighs and calves
the kind of smile is
one I had on before the camera
centered my image
I was pleased to be there
fingers on the surface of
the unclean water
my rear hanging above the sandy bottom

It’s not going to happen now. I refuse to take
her from this moment. I will not speak to this
one. She is perfect and unsuspecting. She
trusts me as I am looking down at her from
my living room couch. She believes I will allow her
to stay there out of the August heat. With her pale
yellow hair past her shoulders, she has no cavities.
She has not yet lost her baby teeth. She is free in
the stream bed alone in nineteen seventy-eight. I
am not going to be the one to take her away from
her perfect moment in the shade out of summer
heat.

7-29-00
Originally published in Healing the Heart of Ophelia, 2001
Also appeared in poeticdiversity, 11-1-13

2000s · Poetry · Unanchored

Disconnected

There will be no funeral.
No ritual ceremony to close this story.
I loved you. I did.
I swear it over sacred things.
It’s dying. Suffocated and left to starve.
This precious fragile entity is a waif of a memory.
It waits to leave this life,
Hardly holding breath.
I used to feed her. Bring her fruits.
Bring her grains and sustenance.
There will be no funeral.
No condolences. No sympathetic cards.
We will die quietly. You will not visit.
You will not see this as a God sent gift.
You will hold to principles and assumptions.
You will allow time to consume us.
Time will erode what we fail to nourish.
It will die of suffocation.
I am suffocating. I am wilting.
You will walk on by. You will go.
To your priorities. To your well planned life.
I weep and mourn for death.
There will be no funeral.
You pruned this off your burden.
This will not be certified. Just gone.
I don’t know what your love means.

5-29-05
Originally published in We All Bleed the Same, 10-3-13

2000s · Poetry · Unanchored

Earth Colored Hair

You were there in my dream
An angel with earth colored hair
Limbs like rushing rivers
As dark and wild as a forest full of fairies
You were tied up like a fault line
Aching to tremor
To crush the stone walls of your mother
Built like dungeons above the ground
You were an aftershock before the fact
Ancient earth rising
Tearing land from history
Your feet tangled deep
In the roots of your mother
She could no longer bear your enormity
An angel bent on destruction
Destroy the landscape
Destroy your inheritance
You fractured through your tragedy
Like a summoned winter avalanche
I had no sanctuary
From your earthen massacre
I waited to be consumed
By branch and bone and soil
But I woke from my dream
With saddened breath
You, an angel with earth colored hair

4-4-02
Originally published in Chaparral, Summer 2013