2010s · Poetry

To My Obsessive Brain

1. You are a master of over complicating.
Turn oneplusone into a journey through
a valley plush with blooming, through
greyvine and crushinglimbs, dark intothe
hollowing night.

2. You are a master of over examination.
Conversations in constant playback.
Scratched record withnooffswitch.
Scratched record withnooffswitch.
Scratched record withnooffswitch.

3. You are a master of over loyalty. Same
mascara since 1990. You forget you don’t
havetostay or forgiveanyone or listento
anyone’s silence. It’s not your job to
unsilence them.

4. You are a master of over logic. Tell
yourself when X therefore Y which cannot
be * because it’s not a letter. Letters are
rules tofollow by smartgirls and you have
to be a smartgirl becausefeminism.

5. You are a master of over counterpoint.
The fuckoff because you will neverbe a
girl who doesn’teatcheese. Stop living
inmyhead stop callingevery 6to10
months I still loveyoubut shesgone
and youhaveto say it out loud
say it beforeit becomes stoneagain.
Yourfucking brain.

First published in Incandescent Mind: Issue Three, Selfish Work.

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2010s · Poetry

Suffocation Is Anxiety’s Friend

she says
I have paper bags in my throat
she says
I am coughing up light
she says
mother is recycled pulp
she says
he filled them with his shredded drafts
she says
paper-cuts are her father’s tongue
she says
she speaks around them, crumpled masses growing acid soft
she says
sleep was the first lover who left
she says
mother is glue-handle secure
she says
she’ll swallow stones to make them pass
she says
bags will either suffocate or fuel brighter flames
she says
salt-pulp are her father’s hands resting on her shoulders
she says
she’ll wrap her mouth in brown silence
she says
coughing aches her ribcage
she says
I am emptying light

First published in Incandescent Mind: Issue Two.

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.

2010s · Poetry

Five Miles Away and I Miss You

like separated socks
washed and dried apart
until, even if reunited,
they unequally fade
I see your threads fray
while my ankles pill
stop pulling and stretching
we were supposed to thin out
on parallel planes
but my heels are almost bare
and your toenails are cutting
who pulled you on in the dark?

First published in Spectrum 5: Every Poem is an Idea.

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

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).

2010s · Poetry

First Ride

Not at four or five, but nine—my first ride,
two wheels under, long seat, long handles
reaching out to hold me like how
I’d imagined my first kiss. I pushed
my feet against the pedals—move forward,
stay straight—push down. I was wavering
but I challenged the authority of gravity.
Sidewalk rough and cracked upwards
from the rebellious roots of trees hovering
over, shedding their seeds and leaves.
They dared me to ride under, past
their obstacle course—I did have something
to prove—I needed to win this race.
I held tight to my handles, gripped sharply
onto the balance I found there near
the street. I understood how simple it would be
to gain the respect of nature, though
I was never more than city-child,
born of wire and concrete.

First Published in Drunk Monkeys.

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.