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BlackberriesNo one asks where I am from.
I make up to seven coffee runs a day
for up to eleven different people.
I cannot afford the Prada pumps,
nor walk in them, for that matter.
But Dad's old brown loafers,
with the stitching coming undone
along the sides,
are good enough for me.
No one can speak my name.
If they did, they wouldn't be able
to pronounce it anyway.
I know four languages,
none of them American.
When spoken to, I answer in strained English,
the sharp sounds tripping over my tongue.
What they say must be true;
I am meant only to carry a clipboard,
to fetch papers
spitting viciously out of a machine,
to correct other people's mistakes
on Documents of Importance
being sent up to the Big Guy.
The Blackberries buzz,
a hive of bees
in three-pieces and pencil skirts.
No one knows that when Connor Carpenter told me
to hold his Blackberry while he went
to the copier room with Sydney Applebaum,
"in case my wife calls,"
I e-mailed the entire department
(plus his wife),
telling them just what
For My DaughterDear daughter-I-do-not-have-yet,
You will be my perfect. You will be my proudest moments in one small person. You will be made in love, or maybe anger, or maybe even desperation. But that won't matter. What matters is what you will be made into.
You will have Daddy's hair and his nose, and my eyes and my smile, the smile that happens not because someone with a camera told you to, but because you're genuinely happy. But you will have your very own heart and will be full of all the things that give you your you-ness. Whether you sing in the bath or make Valentines for everyone in your class or give your last homemade chocolate chip cookie to the boy sitting alone at recess.
I will write you poems and stories about how you are my miracle. I will read them to you sometimes, just to remind you. As you grow, not a day will go by that I'm not thankful for everything you are. You will be dazzling and beautiful and brilliant and compassionate and playful and curious and all of the things
SacredI want your breath in mine
Your heartbeats like the most beautiful bass I've ever danced to
Your laugh like my favorite song
And my name spilling from your tongue in a gasping prayer
Y(our) arms, legs, fingers twining like overgrown ivy, clinging to my crumbling walls
I want this to be the best disaster to ever happen
in the twin bed that is too small for us,
but much too empty for me.
I want to do the most unholy things
(although isn't this as sacred as you can get?)
I want to pin you down
Take you in
With your eyes and your hands and your grin
And, damn, your skin skin skin.
BlueI am completely in blue today.
"Rhapsody in Blue," you murmur. I shake my head.
"No, just blue."
"Nothing is 'just' anything with you."
Blue because it's the color of the sky when I'm happiest, water (the same shade as the sky), the cover of my favorite book-of-the-moment (I'm always reading something different), and my cousin's eyes.
Red is your favorite color because it's the color of autumn leaves, fire, your mother's hair, and the ink I'm using (it's smudging onto my hands).
We Summer Salt dizzily through the ocean tide. You find red coral and I find my blue water.
"Mix blue and red and what do you get?" I ask.
"Purple..." you answer hesitantly. I grin.
"I never really liked purple," I tell you.
You distract me by k
TonightTonight is not the night for my skin to be eggshells,
For my bones to be ash,
For my eyes to be cracked marbles.
Tonight is not my night.
Tonight I want to be alone, to sleep under the snow, to listen to the hush, the static, the silence pressing in on the tunnels of my ears.
The tangle of wires in my head is short-circuiting
The ropes holding up the elevator in my chest are fraying,
Ready to plunge down the shaft of my ribs.
I can feel it.
Tonight I am a crumbled, empty bird’s nest,
A broken violin string,
The last echoes of a dying prayer.
Little BirdMy starling, my mockingbird,
Come to me with your hunger, your questions, your open heart.
There is a silver box in the middle of the universe,
And the little red flag is calling your name.
My cardinal, my chickadee
Your smile is one that makes the sun come out
And your heart creates wonderful things.
You are a part of this vast, wonderful, terrifying world,
No bigger, but no smaller than the rest of us.
Be your own northern star; no one else can lead you home.
My canary, my bluebird,
May you be just as beautiful in flight
As you are when you sing.
ForgettingOne day, he will forget the sound of her voice, the way her eyes crinkle at things that no one else finds funny, how she looks when she laughs, the sweetness of her mouth, the pattern of her breathing as she sleeps, and how her skin feels, warm and smooth, beneath his hands.
One day, these things will slowly fade from his mind one by one, and be replaced by thoughts of someone else. She’ll feel it happening as she slips away from his heart, feel it in the spaces between her ribs, where all the things she could never tell him are buried deep. It will make her collapse sometimes, but she will get up and keep going.
One day, he will be asleep with his face buried in someone else’s hair, his arms curled around someone else’s body, in someone else’s bed, and she may creep in. She may tiptoe in to peel back the shroud he’s thrown over the memories of her and everything she gave to him that she could never take back, just to see if they’re still there.
Go HomeI like boys on bicycles. They wear button-up shirts tucked into slightly rumpled khakis, crooked glasses, and shoes a size too big for them with untied laces. They are very well groomed; their fingernails are trimmed regularly, and they floss once a day. These boys my father proclaims are “definitely homosexual," but they quietly fall in love with girls in museums and libraries and bus stops. I like these boys because they do not know how to break hearts. They only know how to offer me their sweaters when I’m cold, to get along with my mother, and to remember when my birthday is. I scare these boys. I am too loud, too messy, always say too much, and am far too aware of how much I can’t give to them.
“You should leave," I tell them. “You can’t stay here."
What I mean is that I can’t make them breakfast in the morning because I burn bacon and undercook eggs and like my orange juice extremely pulpy. I get too hot with another person’s body n
GreenHe comes up behind me, tugging at the hem of my shirt, tweaking the skin of my elbow, muttering all his plans for the evening into my hair. I do not want him here; I push him off my stomach, telling him I don’t have time and we can talk about it later. He is insistent, prodding my side, grasping my wrist. His arms curl around me, and his fingers twine into my hair, grabbing a handful and pulling, forcing my head back to look him in the eyes. They are burning, wet jade, hard. In them I can see my friend’s SAT scores, every single one of my boyfriend’s ex girlfriends, the pizza I ate the night before, all the lives I’m not living, all the people I can’t be. His grip on my hair slackens and I crumple like a paper bag in his hands. His fingers run over my body, lingering over everything he likes best, everything I would prefer to forget. I finally manage to shove him off my bed and out the door. He waves mockingly as he leaves. I return to my room just to make
Vertebraewe dressed our
& bone crowns
spitting static through
our buzzing t.v. teeth
you're a silent migraine:
[& i want to be something
too pristine to
gyrate for them, gretagyrate for them, greta;
let men spend for liquor.
the stage won't sizzle
unless you provoke
a drunkard's primal urge
that should pay
© august 23, 2013
Cataractsopulent pearls of nectar
a treasonous bond
from your eyes
before it rains tears
torrents; a deluge
before cascades of liquid rubies
before I grow war-weary;
embedded in the aroma of petrichor.
Otherwise Good ConditionI have worn the same dress
for four days, because
I am sick, exquisitely
black and gold, your drunk
dimestore Nefertiti. A
white stain announces
itself, a muddy star:
here. Undo yourself,
those sallow words you drink,
let the silk fall loose. I've got
a face like dirty laundry
and burial grounds --
What I touch becomes
unwell. I wear my hair
like it pains me,
like a little girl
sucking her teeth
at cars, the caked little
tombs of sugar that crumble,
under the hot milk
of the sun.
AuriferousFiery sparks rise into an Autumn night
Awakened to their short lives as heralds
Of a golden fellowship we share
Just we two.
The golden tresses that wreath your brow
Illumined by the glowing coals
Are only surpassed by your laughter
That graces my ears.
I should say that gold is the color of our years
Yet to unfold
In cherished memories as we grow old.
Golden are the verbs that spell out the actions
Of children at play
Run, jump, hide and seek
Ever rejoicing in the glory of youth.
Crackling leaves lay piled in fragile towers
Waiting to soften a child's fall
Eliciting cries of happiness.
Yet even that old North wind
Dwelling in the hinterlands afar
Brings golden tidings of Christmas future
As he swirls the snow outside your door.
Standing at the seat of honor
The head of the household speaks
With heads bowed and eyes closed
Giving thanks to God for all He has made
We watch as father wields the carving knife
To serve the turkey, browned to a turn
Eating with zeal, we share again the thri
The NecklaceCliché Hallmark cards
Always start the waterworks.
Even at crowded restaurants.
To know.... it's a piece,
Of my Mommy Jean
Shaking, beaming, crying
As that slim white gold clasp
click... for the first time.
A feather's weight
Instantly at home on my collarbone.
Slit-eyes red and swollen
That pendant-spot between my breasts
Scratched and red
From shaking hands,
Grasping for anything to ground me.
Tremblingly closing that slim white gold clasp
click echoing with tears
Heaving my duffel up my steps
And down the hallway,
To my last door on the right
Dropping it and a gasp
Hands immediately undoing
the circular clasp at my neck
Frantically grabbing the chain on my dresser
Breathing slowing as the heavier chain,
But lighter pendant comes to a rest
click and my breathing becomes regular
Sighing as I flop into bed. Home.
snapshotsIt is unfair that you live
in the outskirts of every word uttered
during the heavier hours of the night,
while your gambrinous stomach cannot contain
the idea of me and all the ways I could show you
the decaying portions of promises
you made in the dark.
Don't look for me, I am only an effigy,
built from sleepless nights and the remnants of clothing
on your floor.
You made me into an inaniloquent mess;
your quiet laughter dances in the psithurism of forests,
your eyes are sink holes,
your lies are the lines on my face.
And I never realized how much easier
it's always been for you
to care less.
These Romantic Ashes We Inhalei. I figured out why your veins
are blue, it's from injecting
those skyline hues, isn't it?
ii. I danced to jealously's harp
symphonies, because red could
stain your purity.
iii. Envy made us blood brothers -
you had to know what these
October superstitions were
doing to me.
iv. They made me a carnivorous lover,
I had to have you inside of me
whether you were dead or alive.
But I forgot that you were
the one who murdered my innocence.
come inShe is a rain-soaked
neon sign at eight o’clock
on a Thursday night.
Her light is too cold,
pipes twisted, full of fluid,
I’m open, she says.
The door is always open
Isn’t that what I’m here for?
Isn’t that my job?
Hollow, dim, dull,
there’s not much else she can do.
Come in here, she says.
At 1AM on
a Sunday, she’s still open.
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