2010s · Poetry

Jigsawed

I am missing too many pieces
my pieces are broken
my pieces do not match

I am pulling pieces from my mouth
wet and teeth-bent
my pieces fit nothing

I am turning over the edges
over and over and over
my pieces are dizzy
drunk-stained and torn

I am scraping off layers
of Disney-glossed pictures
my pieces are spit gray
my pieces fall behind
tables and wall benches

I am pieces glued on
I am pieces shoved in
I am pieces forced together
pieces and pieces and pieces

all Picasso and bent blue

First published in Ekphrasitc California.

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2010s · Poetry

Bows

for DM

I want bows. I want them tied on the tips
of my fingers. I want the end wrapped up
like a gift ungiven left at the party we
never had. I want to open it before Christmas
before families who keep expecting life
to be a painting, a 1950s Norman Rockwell
digging his claws in my neck. I want to repeat
the refrain again and again so I can memorize
it. So I can feel the comfort of the familiar.
I want to make a circle around my head, my paper,
my rectangular room, to return to, to come
back again, to summarize the dust on my fingertips
covered in bows.

First published in Spectrum Anthology.

2010s · All the Tiny Anchors · Poetry

Car Accident, 14 Months Going

Everything with you was
like a car accident,
the kind someone expects

months before, but when
the point of impact arrives,
no one is ever prepared.

Seatbelts and airbags don’t
stop the severity of its
suddenness or the metal

frame collapsing and crushing
through skin and bone. I can
brace my elbows to my chest

stop the outside coming in,
but the forces stay in motion
and you crush my heart

in love. You leap out just
at the edge of the overpass
leaving me descending forward

in suspension. I chose
to keep my door locked
and feel the fall, feel

the collision. I still won’t take
one single moment back.

First published in Poet’s Haven.

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

Record Scratch

How many times do we
replay the broken record
How many times do we
get up and jump the needle

Do we hold on for nostalgia’s sake
Do those crackle-rich and cotton-
thick grooves sing better songs

How many repeats and repeats
until it’s time to retire or never
Just resign ourselves to unrest
get up again and again

Records don’t learn new songs
They don’t unscratch or smooth out
Should we pack it up and
store it in our memories

Move on to modern times
where everything and everyone
is easily replaceable

First published in Poet’s Haven.

2010s · All the Tiny Anchors · Poetry

The Atmosphere I Miss

At this point, it’s not him
I miss, not his back of
red-brown constellations,

but my own atmosphere
I knew naked in front
of his flat screen TV.

It’s not his goose-neck car
orange and black enormity,
but the happy surrender

of the passenger seat,
not driving, not road-thinking.
Clear-minded, I miss not

making plans on Saturdays
and on Sunday mornings.
It’s not his tongue,

or its softness, but
the fullness of my mouth
at its opening.

First published in Poet’s Haven.

2010s · How to Unexist · Poetry

Dancing with Damage

Sometimes I let Damage win.
We’ve been wrestling for days
on the edge of my teeth.
No matter how much hair pulling
or ear biting, sometimes
I give in.

I curl up like a small child
and lie in her bony lap.
Some may say I wear her
like a cross on my back,
but she’s the one wearing me,
wraps my heart around her like a cape,
splits my head across her knees
using them as shin guards.

As a child, she ran me
like a bully-sister,
warded off the boys
like Buffy with her stake.
She kept all my keys under her tongue
clenched by pit-bull teeth.

I learned to pick my battles.

She can sleep for weeks at a time
in her coffin-bed night.
That’s when I dance all night,
swim moonlight-naked,
run head-first for love,
and make no more apologies.

When she wakes again, she yanks me down,
my legs kicking–my fists punching. I thought
I was done with her. I thought
we’d shared our last breaths–
but we’re here again, now.

So I let her pull me into her embrace,
crying like a knee-scraped school girl.
Then, after a while, D and I lie on our backs,
listen to records as loud as we can,
and sing along until our throats hurt.

First published in On the Grid Zine.

2010s · Poetry

Colors for Bruising

1. Swell: fluids rush in panic, raise the skin
like a flag, damage still unassessed

2. Purple: t-shirt logo wearing of pain, most
celebrity, most sympathy for self

3. Blue: first layer under, uglier, sign of longer
lasting mark

4. Green: usually on the edges only, ghost
sleeping under your skin

5. Brown: dead blood vessels dissolving,
novelty gone, even you don’t want to look

6. Orange: almost gone enough to be rubbed
off with spit and thumb, will it away

7. Yellow: untraceable outlines only faith
remembers, sing it a lullaby, let it go undreamt

First published in On the Grid Zine.

2010s · Poetry

Base of My Spine

A fluttering tension rests
at the base of my spine
a tight coil bound by string
wound up, spiraling
to the base of my neck
I try to sooth it, I say
“I love you, base of my spine”
but it only trembles
I try to ease it, tips of my
fingers trace the lines up
through the base of my skull
pressing soft, I say to it
“I love you, base of my skull”
but it only tightens
I try to listen yet it will
not relax or surrender
it will not release control
I say, “I love you, tender skin”
but my heart knows what
my body is suffocating for

First published in On the Grid Zine.

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.

2010s · Poetry

Smiling At Strangers

This is where I stop biting my nails
This is where I kick off my shoes
This is where I wear a shorter skirt
This is where I put on all the jewelry

This is where I stop answering calls
or checking my email
or returning the texts

This is where I spend the money
and show up by myself
and leave way past my bedtime

This is where I stop holding back
or saying his name
or not smiling at strangers

This is where I get off the couch
and out of the deep end
and push my toes into the mud

First published in On the Grid Zine.