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 · Poetry

Sonic Screwdriver

for Josh

I wish I had a sonic screwdriver
I wish I had a magic wand
I wish I had a time machine
or pixie dust or a book of spells

I wish I had a genie lamp
I wish I had the holy grail
I wish I had a flying carpet
or a portal or an Atlantis key

I wish you were three
in the back seat of my car
singing an 80s Cure song

I wish you were sixteen
driving with me to open mic
singing an 80s Cure song

I wish my love was enough
I wish you weren’t there
I wish you and me were anywhere
far and away, anywhere else

Originally published in Carnival Lit Mag, 2014

2010s · Anchors (Poetry with Music) · Poetry · Recordings · The Unnamed Algorithm

If I Ever Have Children

If I ever have children
they will never know me in my thirties
the woman checking it off
all the things-to-do
like a master’s degree
and home buying
like falling in love completely
and writing a book of how it ends
finding new community
and loving her whole body flawed
flinging open all the doors
and surrendering to the unknown next

If I ever have children
they will never know me in my twenties
the woman fighting against it
to save her own soul
find her own belief in God
and lose her given self
venture out from community
live alone, love alone
sort through the old baggage
give them names and abandon them
find focus for talents and energies
and heal the damage at all costs

If I ever have children
they will never know me in my teens
young girl trying masks
on and off each year
like too many friends
and partying far too young
like black dyed-hair and boots
sinking down through the cracks
sharp turn into a Christian life
and a radical-faced community
stepping through the windows
where she’d press her face to the glass

If I ever have children
they will never know me as a child
a broken girl holding
a green Picasso heart
running with one parent from the other
always leaving school early
memories in paper bags stashed
in the trunk of a broken-down car
with walk-in closets for the skeletons
and attics for hiding and running free
words swallowed in torn pieces
forcing her destiny as a poet

 

Originally published in The Mayo Review, also included in The Unnamed Algorithm.
Listen to the poem on SoundCloud, from Anchors CD.

2010s · 2014 · Poetry · Publications · The Unnamed Algorithm

January 1991

In the bathroom of that old theater
is where it started for us.
You stood by the sink
and we met eyes through the mirror.
I had cut my hair short,
dyed my blond hair black.
You were so heavy metal
with your endless platinum hair
and black suede boots with fringe
that made me resist you.
But I kept hearing rumors
that you liked my favorite bands
like The Cure and even Scattered Few.
You were my age
and the same height as me,
we were both on the threshold
of becoming women,
of defining our future selves.
Back in nineteen ninety-one
we’d come for the same reason
to hear the bands pour their hearts out
to bare their souls on the stage.
You must have understood it
the need to feel it raw
the bloody heart pulsing.
I looked through the mirror at you
in that bathroom in January,
the decade still fresh and undefined.
We talked about the band
the way we always would.
You smiled with uncertainty,
I smiled back in my arrogance.

Originally published on Cadence Collective

2010s · Poetry

Sonic Screwdriver

I wish I had a sonic screwdriver
I wish I had a magic wand
I wish I had a time machine
or pixie dust or a book of spells

I wish I had a genie lamp
I wish I had the holy grail
I wish I had a flying carpet
or a portal or an Atlantis key

I wish you were three
in the back seat of my car
singing an 80s Cure song

I wish you were sixteen
driving with me to open mic
singing an 80s Cure song

I wish my love was enough
I wish you weren’t there
I wish you and me were anywhere
far and away anywhere else

5-2-13

2010s · Poetry · Unanchored

Once we were angry youth…

Once we were angry youth
shaved heads and colored hair
When I saw you were tragic
I adhered to you
So many secrets to keep
so much truth to grasp
We made honest promises
and everything we felt
it was sacred
Velvet capes and monkey boots
it was The Cure and L.S.U.
Music sang so many things
we knew them all by heart
We sat against the stereo
volume up high
as if to absorb it
inhale its passion
the truth of it all
was in guitar strings
and piano keys
I was anchored to you
in the hurricane of our youth
We outlasted the storm
and the years became memories
and miles grew between us
You and I got regular haircuts
and wore practical shoes
Always and always
I swore to keep us tied
I’d be that solid girl
who cleaned up after
those natural disasters
But the tides have changed
and it’s you who set sail
you pulled up the anchor
and I am untethered
The current and our priorities
the list of things we hold as true
are no longer matched
Faithful wife of twenty years
I am still living alone
Mother of teenagers
I am the mother of none
Woman of the God
I no longer believe in
I know it was only loyalty
that tied us still
You hardly listen to music
and the song in my heart
is the saddest melody
I release you-though you’ve been gone
We are no longer angry youth
Will you return on another tide
Will time rise and fall
like the ocean waves
Will the anchors never sink
in the same deep waters
I am drifting out far
I know I can swim
But you were the only one
who knew the beginning and the end
long letters in pen and phone calls
salsa and bookstores at midnight
long drives to nowhere for the sake
of the songs on the stereo
and the promises and the secrets
we have none left to keep

3-3-13
Originally appeared on Jackie & Tanya’s Friendship Blog, 3-14-13

2010s · Poetry · Unanchored

How He Is Not My Child

I didn’t stay up at the hospital until three a.m. waiting for the
doctors to assess the situation. I didn’t have to be the one to
sign papers for the insurance company, for permission to treat,
for release of legal responsibility. I didn’t have to field the
calls, protect him from his mother, sit next to him for hours
under the cold florescent lights of anger. I did not bare the
weight of pen on paper to surrender my flesh and blood to the
intervention of complete strangers. I am not the parent
deciding always how much to force him to wake up early, get
up out of bed, and live his life, or how much to let him sleep,
let him fail classes, let him learn from his own mistakes like a
boy on the verge of adulthood. I didn’t watch the labor of
sixteen years calling out from rooftops for men in uniforms to
pull him down, dress his wounds, search for more weapons.

8-10-13
Originally published on Cadence Collective, 10-15-13

2010s · Poetry · Unanchored

Pack Animals

Groups of teenage
boys laughing
like hyenas
still make me
grit my teeth and
tighten my grip
as the twelve
year old me
crosses her arms
across her chest,
pushes her eyes
down like a
criminal when
my only crime
was passing them
on the sidewalk.
Boys in packs
are hunters, not
friends and a twelve
year old girl can’t
fight back, so she
learns to walk fast
and smile like an
apology but not
like an offering.

4-17-13
Originally published in Atticus Review, 7-16-13