Monday, December 19, 2011

to pretend

i met a fellow poet
plying his trade, paid
by the flowing wealth of Big Football,
as we all were,
playing the fantasy of New orleans
for people who have their names
on buildings, faces
on alumni magazines -
the types who never
ended up with their feet
in the gutters, to see
the poets who
perform on the streets.

Monday, November 7, 2011


the coolness of air
poised over a swamp
murky and green
with gators basking
in the remainder of the
heat of the sun.
now the air bites
through my sweater
and i wish for warmer clothing
a jacket, pants.
i'd kill for coffee but settle
for lukewarm water.
i smile when necessary.
sneak away when i can
find the time - i often wonder
how i got here - this place,
town, job - and
i remember there is
no reason, only randomness.
only senselessness.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


the slick needle
slid out of its packaging
i watched her ritual
powder, cotton, water,
syringe.  she did it
i wouldn't let her pierce
my skin.  took the rubber
band, wound it tight
tapped air to the surface
a little squirt, a dribble
of clear.
my veins have always
stood at attention
for me
but especially
this night
waiting for the sting
a raw rush, i
new to this world.
i watched her eyes dilate, beautifully
felt my own respond
in kind
as she kissed the perfect dot of red
left behind.
first try bullseye
and i finally understood
these hows & whys

the second time, i
let her,
fascinated by the intake
of my blood into the
chamber, right before
the plunge.
she held her arm out for me -
and i recall knowing
that she was gentler with me
than my hands could ever be

Friday, August 12, 2011

new city

night -
our walls are strange,
and i am listening
to the trains
as they sing
in harmonies.
we are close
enough that i can hear
the clicking tracks.
day -
i stare at our
inherited patch of grass,
wondering where to plant my trees
that they might root,
i never seem
to know how to do.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


make sure to lie,
past your lips
and straight through
your teeth.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

gay as i want to be

my father paved the way:
divorced my mother
and learned
at 54
how to become
what he had always been.
i admired him, mired
as i was
in the dying embers of self-denial
the three years
of running away from pain
encapsulated in the memories
of betrayal.

in that fear
i betrayed myself.

now, my father recommends places
so wonderfully gay
i marvel at the fact that he
ever became this comfortable with himself
at all.

i stepped into this world
wanting so badly
to become a part of something
bigger than myself.
my dad
the unlikely pioneer
in this journey.
i am proud
of us.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

the last

i hold a bandage
over my wrist, obscuring
my tattoo:
same old pattern, new refrain.

the worst part is
the asking -
everyone wants to know
& those who deserve it
are the hardest
of all
to tell.

my tired resignation,
it's really nothing, no
big deal, look drop it
it is unexplainable.
i can't patch this up,
for you, with logic.

meanwhile you shake
your head, look
so dejected
i always wonder why -
it always removes from me
any emotion at all.

Friday, April 29, 2011

tip me, bitches

how ironic, that the man
who would not give me tips,
bought me the button
demanding them

Thursday, April 28, 2011

how vividly

i remember
killing the bird.
it lay on the sidewalk,
lungs fluttering, too
young, quite,
to fly.
thought it was dead
until i stooped to look closer,
lifted it
into my hands

tiny thing, yet it had
the obvious weight
of the living
that indefinable force, a presence
no one can explain.
i held it, broken thing
too fractured to live, but
not soon enough for dying

i carried the sparrow
beneath its oak,
laid it gently on the ground
but couldn’t leave it
to its suffering.

i said, i’m sorry
put the tip of my boot
on its tiny head, and
feeling the inaudible
released my foot

it lay still. i
hefted it once more in my palm
feeling the lightness
utter stillness
and placed it on its bed
of autumn leaves.

this is
death, i thought, the
moment between
and stillness.

i buried its body under the tree.
i walked on.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


i did not dream her
completely. she
was real, or
i guess is
although i haven’t seen
her face in years
almost seven, though it
barely seems so long ago.
i guess this is the beginning
of getting older
letting old loves fade,
save in dreams.
i met a girl, yesterday
who reminded me of
the girl in my dream
sweet, a bit reticent,
with shining eyes.
i wonder, sometimes
if i’m trying to
remake my past,
what withered
on the vine.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


i crawl into the familiar
accoutrements, high
high heels strapped
to my feet.
on the stage it’s the customers’
fierce stares that strip me,
not of clothing, but
respect. they
show contempt on their faces,
take in the sights but
leave my stage bare, so
i don’t get undressed.
i am already naked –
sure they can feel my
utter loathing
just as surely as i can feel
their condescension
that sense of entitlement
where they believe
my time is not
worthy, as if it is free.
i pay myself in small
revenges, “accidentally”
kick their legs,
when they sit beside me,
trying to
take me in.
at night, i go home
wash the rude eyes
off of me, and remember
the good ones – the
boy who touched me as if
something sacred
and i start to relearn
the goodness of people.
i do.
in the morning, dragging
myself to the shower,
i hold this in my mind.
i go back to the club.
i go inside.

Monday, April 25, 2011

that comes when you think you might

perversely pondering the implications of death,
i scuffed through fallen blossoms
staring through you like a broken window,
too ashamed to admit
that we were disjointed

i wanted to hit you, but made do
with thrashing to glittering dust the pieces
of your heart that would be the hardest
to reclaim
with breaking our flesh, creating scars
which bite and sting us,

i watched flower petals swirl down
noting the incredible ill-timing
of this unexpected fracture

but all my rage
does not alter the fact that
i drank until i forgot reticence
finally unlocked the door
let you in

you were shocked, i could tell
but you wanted to fuck so badly
ravenous with desire
heavy under my fingers
and i shrank within myself
scarlet in my anger, screaming
i am impervious

we ground our fragments into something solid,
barely restrained
i understood, then, the complications
of what would supersede us

Sunday, April 24, 2011


a hundred times consider what you've said,
sleepily indifferent –
the chill of closed eyelids

the trick is to make it personal.
i'm drunk – i stand on the porch in my bathrobe
let silence drill its hole
disappear, emerge, twitch, reverse course.
what he needed from me i have no idea.
oh plunge me deep in love—
in the glaring gap

*this piece created for a contest. my entry is here.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

colors of the mind

i would walk through
our shotgun house for soda
the most ridiculous shade
of purple,
but there’s a redhead in
our bed, fucking himself
not to be crass, but it’s true
and i don’t feel like interrupting

this is a weird domesticity, the type
where you know these things,
and it’s not remotely awkward
although i’ve been with lovers
who’d go to any lengths to hide it,
even if i knew anyway

this day is tending towards blue, although
the clouds are persistently grey
as is the cat twining between
my legs, pestering for attention

it’s funny how red hair looks
brown, when wet
the slow change from dull
to iridescent, as it dries
on my shoulders
me in my brightpink
plaid pajamas which
i never changed from
when i migrated to the couch,
to join its slow meditations

amazing how the green light
from the porch full of plants
inside our living room,
turns the slowly fading light

Friday, April 22, 2011


i always wondered why
you left the burned hole in the floor
once you found it,
didn’t try to hide the evidence
under layers of putty, as
would i

your name always evoked for me
theology class, Mark, Luke, John,
the books i read unwillingly,
having had enough information already
for a religion i knew
i would never belong to

comment on the length of my hair
as you are enveloped in the
smoke, the haze of your hookah
how much it’s grown -
how much i’ve changed,
you mean,
although you wouldn’t say it

we own cats, now
slinking from room to
room, as if they
own the place

and you have not changed,
despite my bend
and warp
constant, and sure of yourself
in ways i will never be,
despite all my confidence, and
appearance to the contrary

Thursday, April 21, 2011


last night, adorned
with flowers on
a garland,
the monk handed me
literature, asked
if i wanted
the Bhagavad-Gita,
offered me clothing
for the times when
we gather to dance
and learn
what it means to accept
another’s culture

i try to imagine me -
wrapped in sari,
my pale face as obvious
as a beacon

we chant, Hare Krishna, Hare
Hare, Krishna, Krishna
my second time
uttering these words,
that all beliefs are really
one, if you boil them

my friend persuaded me here
free vegetarian dinner, and
i came for the Indian spices
i missed, from when my roommate
used to fill our house with the scent
of curry

left, wondering how
these people are so willing
to enfold me entirely, say:
“you don’t have to change
your religion to grow
as a person”
so i come, on sundays, to temple.
i grow.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

empty box, pizza crusts

yesterday: chapbook from my teacher
in undergrad
arrives. i tell her
i’ve got it, can’t wait
to read it. still
haven’t cracked the cover,
not that
i’m not interested, just
by the junk in my living room, the
empty box, pizza crusts
abandoned on a plate

no matter who i live with, it
always seems as if i live alone

despite our daily dialogue,
the decisions we make together.
stacks of unopened mail,
bills that will not get
paid, junk mail from
my bank.
i won’t wonder, later
when they cut off my
cards, when my credit
i keep examining things –
my erroneous belief that
adulthood was supposed to
be different from my days
of university, the frustration
of “failing”
the refrain is always the same
“get a real job”
as if i wasn’t trying
and failing, as usual

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


he said i couldn’t do it, but
i did
tore every fingernail on
the heavy keys
leaning over the typewriter,
sparks flying
bleeding my helpless
into the paper.
with every mistake,
every missed strike of
each key,
i began to understand
exactly what it takes
to love words enough
to stick out
the mistakes,
and create an entire book
with your fingertips.

Monday, April 18, 2011

the opposite of progress

placing a sign, saying
“if you lean on it,
it will tip over,”
i wondered:
it’s usually the
children of the group
that have no brains, not
the adults.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

forty ways to say i’m sorry

you are hurting,
you will cry constantly over the person
who hurts you most, who
still owns that piece
of your heart that is the hardest
to reclaim
and i would fly
to your side,
hold your hand away
from the phone
that poisons you
with his words
which bite and sting,
but keep you running, still –
to the place where
he holds
his hands to your hurting
holey heart,
burn into
your flesh, creating scars
that will never fully heal, and
i understand
what saying goodbye means – the
willingness to end
what hurts you most
is infinitely hard to scrape up
but grows
when you finally say
no more, no more
crying at night,
wasting you in your bed, which
seems the loneliest place in your world
but i would hold you, given
half the chance,
i would feed you
the kind of love that
doesn’t hurt, kill
your chance to leave –
woman, i would hold your heart, and never let go.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

back when i loved you

were so shy, although
you pretended not to need
anyone, least of all

and i wrapped you in my arms,
and held your insecurities
and told your
it was okay, your neuroses
and failings and
the scars on your arms
did not define you,
just like
the scars on my arms
did not define me, did not explain
anything at all, other
than the fact that we were in pain

and you moved on,
those words, "i
love you,"
terrifying you to the point where
you would not speak to me
at all
coming between our
sanctuary of hope

i hope you are loved, now
in the arms of your husband
hope you learned
about trust,
the desire to hold someone
because they need it

i missed you
for years, although i
poured no hope into

i speak to your sister often
she finally understood
what i mean when i said
i loved you

Friday, April 15, 2011

why i hit you

your carelessness
it’s infuriating
the hours of work i spent
building my presence, trying
to make you understand
that impact is the only reason i
try at all

you piece of shit
ill-understanding bastard
is it that every time i try to build
something i care about
you carelessly shatter
each and every piece

Thursday, April 14, 2011

the singing oak

wonderful wind chimes
blowing breeze makes them sing out
my first peace in days

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


people list it
an activity, say
they love it
to achieve it

no response

when i send a message:

quick, what
are you doing?

bikes, you and me, in the park –
what do
you think?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

what to do on a

s day
y o
Si L
ent iving

(modeled after E. E. Cummings' Achieving the TogetherColoured Instant 5)

Monday, April 11, 2011


if there are hells, i know who will be there (all by themselves)
in whirlwinds of regrets or
still reveling in their harsh
behavior, hells of darkdeep

blooming desire
standing bent and writhing

prostrate, lying motionless

watching scenes unfold
closed eyes, which don’t protect from the fires
which don’t touch their faces, but
should, and bloom and
everything as a shout
they are my nemeses,

(the types of people to darken
the entire room, performing

while no one makes a sound.

(modeled after E. E. Cummings’ Portraits 1)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

whereupon i am too drunk to write a poem

this is opening the bottle of wine
i filched from the wedding
on my coffee table, no need
for glass, no taste
for food,
better than the rum or
gin hiding on my fridge
i’ll probably hit them all
before the night
is over

Saturday, April 9, 2011

feeling substantial

typewriter keys so
heavy under my fingers
creating magic

Friday, April 8, 2011


i sat waiting for things to cool,
staring at the clock – not yet,
not yet
felt as though things would never solidify
into a situation i could accept,
my sweating in this heat,
you locking yourself away
refusing to come to me
until i can’t even tell anymore if
you existed
at all

Thursday, April 7, 2011


whatever i was to you, you rejected.
while you ran from everything about me,
i carved marks into my skin
tried to get you to see me, really see
an exercise in futility
while you convinced yourself i was defective
you picked pieces of me, and burned the rest
and i waited for you to feed my hunger
although i sent you letters, emails i’ll never send
you won’t call, or write.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


your niece called your current girlfriend
cardboard, stiff
and flat
asked me why you didn’t
bring me around anymore

as we stood in your yard after
your graduation ceremony,
the Masters i supported each
step along the way, before
you replaced me
like worn technology, no
regrets, no looking back

i told her, lovely young woman
becoming so perceptive
that i would give anything
to be with you,
but it wasn’t my choice

hugged her tightly, she said
“we miss you,” and i
think she meant her entire
branch of the family
who made efforts to keep
in touch

despite my being replaced,
despite your unspoken desire
for me to disappear
from your life

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

horseshit half the time

delicious tragedy
the way we eat words,
crumble them in our fingertips and
spread them thin
impoverished generosity
blending so many things
into one thick, dark

Monday, April 4, 2011


we drove, tonight
over torn metal, over
signs blown from
their moorings
pieces of billboards
strewn upon the road

we drank until i forgot reticence,
that i have much of it
in the first place

after we left, and
the winds died down, we returned
home and freed the cats from
the kitchen

watched them roam the wet streets,
give up and come back licking
wet paws and complaining

i am grateful
for pets or the peace
after the rain or
the puddles’ eventual
of the grass

but for people to whom
i can tell my stories, and
when i am finished, they

don’t gape at me, they
get it

Sunday, April 3, 2011


hours i spent on the phone with you, tonight
driving towards a city that is no home
and you, number two,
i am so many numbers removed
from you now.
so many people i’ve tried to forget, or
done so successfully

i never knew why
i was done with you

Saturday, April 2, 2011

europe or bust

i cried my eyes out, sitting
on my mother’s couch, listening to you
speak about foreign places
we three girls with hungry eyes eager
to trade spaces with you,
the world
weary traveler girl, at one with
the same girl we knew:
in middle school,
slumber parties,
high school sneaking from
the house,
when i first got you hammered, underage,
in a bar.
we all certainly drink legally now. we share fifteen
years of history,
chronicling the events
of our combined pasts – two
weddings, one funeral, one incipient divorce,
and the solitary
two of us
who have never made it quite that far.
i cry on the phone to my lover,
“i need a change, i want to go to Europe, i am the worst girlfriend
in the world”
he says i’m not, which makes him
than i will ever be

Friday, April 1, 2011


we sit
shouldertoshoulder in the cool
air, watching out
for your parents like children do
afraid of being caught
as the wrong person.
we inhale calm smoke to filter
our world, smooth out the harsh

there is no transcendence in this moment.
we are not dreaming children, we
are adults who wish
we were dreaming, lighters
tucked into our pockets, buds
in the palms of our hands. we pass
moments back

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

when was the last time

what i'll miss when i leave here:
people speak
on the street, they nod,
smile say hello - how you doin'
what's up?
here, my neighbors ask what
i'm up to and actually
give a shit
about the answer.

eye contact.
it's what i lacked
in the city i love, so many
thousands of miles from here.
there, i knew none
of my neighbors, saw them
only incidentally -
family with three
young kids, the
"punks next door who
burned a sofa in the back yard
once," and never lived
it down
two ladies who grew roses,
the most beautiful
and never minded
when a picked a ton of them.
that's all i knew -
even with walking the entire
neighborhood, finding
my place.

there, people stare
straight ahead,
avert their eyes
to the sidewalk,
which is wet
with the incessant rain.

i will be back there,
in the years to come -
and i wil bring
a smile, a hello
for everyone -
see if i can't startle
them into sudden life,
the corners of their eyes

Saturday, March 26, 2011

walking away

& if at this point, i don't
even remember what it is
i'm running from, but
i'm running anyway
& if dragging my shit through
the miles of this country
has changed nothing -
then maybe there is a
deeper issue here
than the inability to
find a place where i can
even believe in the
concept of "home"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

there are no psychics this time

it was cheaply made, purplish-green
ring with adjustable wire
kindergarten love
a present from his bashful smile.
i kept it
but i couldn't see any sort of future

simple stuffed animal
green with brown spots, a gator
i graced it with his name
it was seventh grade;
i knew nothing of love.
i still have it
but i couldn't mold our future.

it was platinum, a full carat
meant to last forever -
three years, and a bitter memory.
i wanted it to last so desperately,
but i gave it back.
i couldn't hide the fact that
we had no future

practical, black with straps
perfect to nestle my camera in -
he gave this, and a smile
brown eyes and gentle hands
it was just a beginning.
i knew too much of love, but
couldn't begin to know the acrid future.

i drove a green camaro,
he a mustang, black,
filled with dark music and
anger and manipulation.
i still stayed for over a year
and when i broke us, i broke
my sense of self, for years -
but somehow i had a brighter future

they came as a pair
and a dirty mattress
a relief in air-conditioning
in the stifling air after katrina
a hot mess of trio
she, angry
and he and i terribly,
horribly in love -
and i, knowing the end
before it began,
i moved 3,000 miles away.
i killed our future.

we had a home
25 foot ceilings, a loft
where we shared a bed
his limbs all over mine,
closer than anyone else
would ever get.
he tore me out
from the roots
slowly, piece by piece
for over a year.
he obliterated our future

he gave me a rocking bench
a rose bush -
dragged me out of the hole
the previous man
had dug.
he is solid, kind
and i have no idea what
to do with that,
so i have no idea
what the fuck
the future will be this time.