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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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.

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

Good Friday Morning

You, cocked smile
and smirking eye
come down into my open
waiting like a teenaged sunbather
happy to risk the burn

You shadow me warm
with sentinel arms
my hands will not
rebel against you
both of us clinging
to this fragile ease

Tomorrow you return
to the gnawing thirst
lock me outside while
you fight those demons
eating at your skin

I return to the fullness
of poetry and fire-fed dreams
empty of your shadows
empty of skin-fueled
present tense

First published in Carnival Lit.

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

Sediment

I’ve been sifting you for weeks
but there is no gold in your sediment
pebbles smooth against my tongue
I bed in your silver-grey sand
sleep in the warmth of your current
I keep losing daylight hours
forget my quest for real worth
I need to get up, get feet forward
find the strike to wealth me old
foolish river, with your glittering light
I won’t find gold in your sediment

First published in Carnival Lit.

2010s · All the Tiny Anchors · Poetry

To Agree Philosophically

It’s not enough that
we have a million things in common
that we can talk for hours
about our favorite bands
and Miyazaki movies like art

It’s not enough that
we agree philosophically
on religion and God
and an unknown purpose
that I respect your convictions
even if they seem ridiculous

It’s not enough that
I can be myself with you
a girl-child at 37
sullen or cynical
giddy and intentional

That I get you
when you see things
no one else does
when your voice drops low
I know what that means

It’s not enough that
we are nostalgic and sentimental
that we are adventurous
in the mundane things
that I just don’t want to go yet
that I feel at home with you

It’s not enough that
I have all the want in the world
when you don’t say
when you don’t show
what you want from me

First Published in Katenhatz (Bank Heavy Press).

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

Monkey Bars & Golden Spokes

Let’s go back
to when you hung
on my words like monkey bars
when you sighed the first time
you ever kissed me,
gave me lottery winning eyes
when you kissed me again

Go back before
my words hung
like bars around your cell
before you clenched
your teeth
at the sound
of my need

Go back when
you studied the curves
of my mouth
sent me to work
each morning
with a tongue
full of blessing

Go back before
every word
had to be measured
and weighed
before an honest response
could mean
I may never again see
the golden spokes
of your irises

Back to when
we were both
eager passengers
Back before
our feet were heavy
with hesitation

Back when
we knew nothing
Back before
we could not forget

First Published in Drunk Monkeys.

2010s · Poetry

Key Hole Apocalypse

There is light faintly pressing
against the rim rubbing soft
past oak and bronze

All the silences have hecklers
all the gentle landings shake
like trains on gravel tracks

All the distances are black ants
on gray clouds slipping by fingers
The gray is a blue child’s breath
The gray is a stubbled man’s beard

It moves in flickers from
left to right, from left to right
a slow finger and then snap

It’s a multi-story parking garage
vacant line after line waiting
for passengers, waiting for solids
to absorb the aching sounds

First Published in Drunk Monkeys.