Sunday, September 15, 2019

Blood


Gently pattering heartbeat of rain
I set my pace to the rhythm as I tumble downhill
to the coffee shop Sunday morning.
Acorns and chestnuts knock
against the sidewalk; I skirt the trees.
Pulse hammers, flutters.
I sit beneath the awning,
cradling the lavender mug
with the words “Hello Darling”
printed on the side. The dark coffee
spreads its bitter warmth
through my chest. The rain hisses.
Shh. Pull up the blankets my love,
let sleep muffle the drumming
behind your eyelids. While you dream,
I will hold your little hand,
a wet leaf, yellow.

Roof


It’s a chickadee, not a junco.

It’s a sparrow, not a chickadee.

It’s an acorn that’s mostly cap

with just a tiny bit of chin

sticking out.

It’s the red metal roof,

sundappled,

last years’ leaves

turned to dust in the gutters.

Stool


I remember how you
always loved little stools,
they would follow you home
like stray dogs.
I bought one yesterday
at the second-hand store,
a rectangular wooden stool
spray-painted light gray,
almost white
The gray of the sky
when the sun is trying
to break through the clouds,
The gray of the flecks in your
enormous eyes
A ghost stool for you to perch on
in case you feel like stopping by
and hanging out
for a little while

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Burn the Set List

When the Red Bull kicked in,
joined forces with the Ritalin
The weight of the Fentanyl
riding a tidal wave of alcohol

The ache in your back teeth
As we played slugbug in the back seat
We laughed so hard, then forgot
what were we laughing at
and laughed harder

The line snaking out the door
and around the block, we took nips
from tin cans brimming
with fermented rainwater,
spit out the gnats and screamed
through the opening acts

And the yelp and bark
and thump and drone
as we stomped and kicked
and shivered beneath the strobes
With pockets stuffed with Sharpies
Trying to drill ourselves back
into the concrete from which we'd sprung

The scratch of phosphor, flares hissing
on the wet macadam
You sucked in the static of matches
and snorted sparks 
and everything that wasn't scorched
melted and mangled was left brushed
with this gorgeous patina

Driving back
with your head in my lap
All the streetlights blurring into one
making them easier to count

And now it's just the extension cord
snaking like a black river
through a landscape of cigarette butts
and ripped tickets
The exit light's still glowing above the door;
get your skinny ass over here, my love,
and hold the chair steady
while I tape this piece of cardboard over it

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Safety Pin

Don't get all excited, ma,
but I found my old rosary
which I had thinking about recently
and feeling a little sad because
I thought it was long gone.
I wasn't actually looking for it,
but in going through my things
I found it in a small yellow box
that had once held tortillons
from the art supply store I once worked at,
There were also some buttons
I'd stolen from the fabric store I worked at
before the art supply store, and an armadillo earring
from when my ears were pierced,though I don't think
I ever wore it, and some Pokemon cards
from when I worked at the bookstore
and got cajoled into being Team Leader
for the weekly Pokemon night they hosted,
even though I didn't know a thing about
the game, my job was pretty much just to give
give stickers to the devout little kids.
In the very bottom of the box
was a single condom, a Sheik, packed away
for nearly twenty years. Anyways,
I don't mean to disappoint you, ma,
but I'm not returning to my Catholic roots or anything,
I can't even bring myself to pray,
though I thought about saying a makeshift Kaddish
for my dear departed Jasmine, but I'm not Jewish
so it seemed disrespectful. I just wanted to say
something other than Why Did This Happen
and I Miss You and I'm Sorry I Couldn't Save You.
I'd like to think she's in a better place
but I don't believe in better or worse places,
just this one, and she's no longer here
and that's hard for me to wrap my brain around.
This was why I was going through my stuff
in the first place, digging through the few items
I have left of her.
It's a cheap rosary, plastic black beads with a steel crucifix
and a plaque of Mary and her Baby connecting the loop.
One of the chains broke ages ago, though it's easily fixed
with a bit of wire once I get around to it. For now
I'm using a safety pin.
I'm glad I found this flimsy talisman
I've had forty years, though I can't remember
the last time I said a Hail Mary
and am not sure what to do with it,
not sure what I need it as a reminder of.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Duet for Singing Saw and Tissue Paper Comb

The first time we kissed, inside our mouths
she passed me a tiny comb
and told me when the time came
I'd know what to do with it.

She has a look on her face
like she's standing in the center
of a circle of rats.
She has a look on her face
like she thinks if she opens her mouth
a bird will shit in it.

The bones of a snake   
A box elder necklace
A spider weaving a web
between her and I

She rolls around in the dust
to cool her wings
Scratches for grubs in the dirt,
then mails them to me.

She washes her hands in a fast, clear brook
so cold it turns her fingertips
into burning strawberries

She keeps one pocket filled with sticks of white chalk
and the other filled with lengths of charcoal
She dips her hand in one then the other
smears the gray powder across her lips
and scowls


She shrinks the city down to a pellet
that she can easily swallow
if she feels the forest around her
start to spin

Her favorite perch is a bale of hay
cast in bronze, hulking in the shadow
of a charred Volkswagon bus
beside a gully choked
with blackberry brambles.

She struts around with someone else's
bobby pins in her teeth.
On fancy occasions she wears
a safety-pin tiara
and fur stoles made of hair extensions.
She stuffs her bra with plastic baby doll heads.

She awakens in the night
to the ripping of Velcro teeth
out in the distant creek
and cries for her crawfish mama
to come caress her with her claws.

The first time we kissed,
inside our mouths she passed me a tiny comb
and told me I'd know what to do with it.

To this day, I don't, and probably
never will, but I keep it hidden
under my tongue, just in case.

Snake Song

It tries to warn me, rattling and hissing
But I stretch my fingers toward it anyways

There is a fist that plows through the waves,
that knuckles through the sand
throwing up huge plumes of dust
and salty spray
that settles like a mist
to glaze my skin
eventually calcifying
into an atom-thin shell
that crackles softly with every gesture

Something is rippling closer
An undulating laugh, the spiky gleam
of evanescent crests 
There is a twisting ribbon of air
That sinks its fangs into my lungs
and fills my throat with smoke

And they were everywhere
And you were not
And I found myself writhing with them
Hurling my body again and again
against the ground
as if trying to beat you out of me

I replaced its head with my fist
I slid my fist into my mouth
I wrapped my teeth around the match
and struck it against my tongue

And the brush and the broom and the brambles
And the sun-baked signs warning of flood
in the middle of the desert
And the tent-poles of bones
with no skin to stretch over them
And the pyramid of molars
And the concentric circles
of cicada husks

And the canvas sacks
and the forked sticks
The hoods with no holes
The withered branch, the coiled rope
Water balloons launched
from dowsing rod slingshots

The dusty riverbed carved into my arm
Its gentle curves carrying us
lethargically towards the rocks
with nothing reaching from the banks
to grab us, for us to grab onto.
No bridge stretching its rickety song
over the expanse

My limbs have all dropped off.
A hollow beneath a stone becomes my home.
We sink our fangs into this life
and in return, it swallows us whole