Friend

I want to say that I’ve been hiding
on stable grounds and in warm beds.
It’s okay to want these things,
but I’ve been cooped up
in the kingdom of “you and me”
I’ve built for everyone.
And I’ve been an outcast
staking inside windows,
watching birds build nests,
passing up friends who make me
feel the massive depths of myself.
If you were still sitting across from me,
Franco who likes men and M2M,
Anny Banany, the aspiring missionary,
Jess who helps animals give birth,
and all the other healers of my life,
I’d tell you that I’m an accumulation
of our memories, that no one is anyone
without sincere friendship.

Flamenco

Guitar strings rattle like a snake uncoiling into song,
an improvisation meant to summon and conjure.
Spirits wait patiently at the back of a singer’s throat
until his mouth erupts into sounds from the underworld.
The sound rises like smoke and avalanches like rocks.
It ricochets off theater walls, splattering them
with messages told over a thousand years.

This song is a birth cry, a reckoning of searing loss,
and an unrequited love that singes the insides.
It conveys both vengeance and remorse.

The dancer is a woman who spends most days
in the shade, preparing for this moment in the sun.
Her fellow travelers urge and dare her to move.
They know the words she’s been waiting to say,
the mimicry of waves she’ll use to free us all.

Their cheers escalate, and we see the dancer rise
like a peacock, hands bent toward the dim lights.
Her back arched like a feline ready to fight,
this is her uprising. It’s a build up of targeted taps
that meet the song’s eerie tone, the whiplash of guitar.
Her teeth chatter while the chorus claps their palms raw.

They call out to her and chant their encouragement.
She calls back to them, though it’s hard to distinguish
foe from friend in the haze of faces when she spins.
She spins and explodes into a fury of pointed limbs.
Every muscle in her face carved by defiance.

Seconds before the kill, she pulls a cloth of surrender.
It’s pure anguish to see her writhe against the unresolved.
Nearing complete collapse, she staggers to her feet.
This is the face of stark survival, a refusal to look away.

Mundane Lemonade

Two girls and a lemonade stand.
One has overalls with lace flowers
on the pockets. I want to tell
her how pretty they are, but
she’s not making eye contact.
It appears her mother taught
her about stranger danger.
The whole fire department
pulls over to the curb.
We’re all heroes supporting
homemade business. I’m trying
to hold onto the liquid light
swirling around in my cup
like a sun. It’s not as sweet as
it could be. I don’t need pills.
Just a squeeze of humanity.

Soft

It’s a character I grew up listening to,
a silly face.

Funny how funnies always water
the night terrors down.

Oh, I’m not ashamed that I need them.

Don’t you dare tell me
what I need to be ashamed of.

Did you notice that?
Everyone telling each other
what shame to feel?

The world is a heavy sponge
filled with shame.

Someone wring us out.

We dream about former love
people, places, things,
love that almost was
then drown ourselves
with static versions of it.

Does anyone know anyone anymore?
Does anyone accept that the people
we love will inevitably change?

If I told you I was different
would believe me
or would you judge me by
my surroundings?

Please tell me there’s a few out there.
Are you out there
in the ethereal disconnect?

Create, just create,
that’s all I can think.
My concepts of children
are always half born.

I’m a chaotic machine,
but when you tear me open, you’ll find
fur, felt, lint, stove top stuffing.

I soak in the bath for hours
until I’m soft, soft.

Sundays at Valli

I love free slices of deli meat,
when they ask you if it’s cut
the way you like.

Today I ask for honey
roasted turkey.
It’s cold and salty.

When I was a kid my dad
always asked for a slice
of American cheese for me.
I never chewed,
let it melt on my tongue.
If we were lucky
there’d be freshly baked
chocolate chip cookies
by the bakery.
Mostly bird bits
in the latter parts of the day.

It’s one of those Sundays
where you pick up items
you don’t recognize
and ogle at their contents.

A jar of honeyed nuts.
Walnuts, pistachios
almonds, corn flakes
precisely aligned.

Smoked baby clams
in a can are $2.99.

Who uses the olive bar
and feels the need to
try seven different
types of olives?

And who among us
has braved cow tongue?

How do you cut a pomelo
and what citrus dream
does it taste like?

I put raw fruit
on the belt to avoid
using more bags
to bring home
to my cupboard of bags.

While we were away
at the grocery store,
our dog tipped over
the garbage can, sifted
through coffee grounds
and vegetable ends,
slurped up leftover
tomato sauce,
gnawed rib eye bones.

Containers licked
clean, now littered
across the house.

When our eyes lock,
her ears droop.

I want to be mad,
but she just wants
to try everything.

Blueberries

The blueberries were on sale.
Hundreds of containers sat on a table
in the front of the store,
over-ripening,
simply wasting away.

I placed the abandoned fruit in my cart.

They’re best when left in the freezer,
less mush, more tart,
but I’m eager to try them.

My bird helps me, picking up her deflated
piece and setting it down into her dish.
She clicks her throat in approval.
Her beak looks like it’s been stained with ink.

The whole world is not in my hands;
it’s a pale blue dot I roll between my fingers.

 

Through the Roof

The tree outside my window
with its decaying crabapples,
jaundice yellow leaves, and
the garbage bag the roofers
left behind, claimed by the wind,
now streams from a branch.

A black cape without an owner,
it waves goodbye to summer
when there was a man in every
window. They wore shoes
made of thunder, and they
stormed us from all sides.

Drilling, hammering holes,
peeling pieces off our home.
The deconstruction, a slow,
agonizing exposure, took days.

I awoke to knocking, sideways
picture frames, couches covered
in debris rained from the skylights,
and man crashing through ceiling.

Tonight I walk with lightning

Lightning

My partner and I walk
in hazardous conditions;
a silent picture
before the thunder rolls in.

What I know about lightning:

The colors can be
green, blue,
abrasion red,
neon sign yellow,
pink as grapefruit,
bruises on flesh,
violet, cyan,
and flames.

Also,
no two bolts are ever
exactly the same color.

That negative charges
live in clouds
while we step
on positive landmines.

Oh, and lightning never
strikes the same place twice,
which everyone knows.

I want to know
if “lightning” is a verb.
Because “lightninging”
is slightly unsettling.

Most journalists say:
“there was thunder and lightning”
to avoid using the verb at all.

I hold my boyfriend’s hand,
as we speed up on uneven
sidewalks under slices
of sky carved by knife.

Rocks in pavement cracks —
They’re on standby,
raised like hairs.

Suddenly, I’m aware
of thunder in my chest.
Is it a first love flashback?
It’s been such a long time.

I laugh at such young girl
thoughts from a grown girl.

In my head I write this poem:

The first time I was in love,
 
I stood on a boy’s porch step
and waited for a kiss.
He had freckles
drip dropping
across his face.
I waited the whole night.
I didn’t lean or make my body
obvious as a sunflower
following sunshine,
 
or bowing to rain.
 
I just took a seat near him,
so close to his mouth
in my own mind.
 
And then it happened.
 
He smelled like metal
and trees all at once.
He kissed me slowly.
 
It felt like a naked swim.
 
The current was charged,
but failed to kill me.
 
I ran home in the rain.
My feet never slowed.
I could barely breathe
as I reached my door.
I slammed it behind me.
 
My heart was drenched.
 
I have forgotten how to pray,
but I wonder how many people
in the world right now
are asking for rain.

Or how many moms tell
their kids that thunder
and lightning are angels
bowling and striking pins,

or God is angry.

We round the next block.
A man and his shepherd
hustle across the street.

The sky lights up in sections
like different parts of a chorus.

The wind whines a warning
so we lengthen our strides.
My legs are short so I run
to keep up with my partner,
who has long swimmer legs.

By the time we reach home,
clouds have swallowed
the light rays,
shooting stars
bent like boomrangs.
Our love is a safe,
seasoned one.
I have to feel around
for a pulse,
but it’s there.
It comes in little waves.

I tell him I’d push him
out of the way
if a tree was struck.

I hope I would.

There’s a story behind
the cloud curtains.
It’s covered in veins,
flickering signals telling us

we’re alive until the clock strikes
in places where time ceases to exist.

We wait to feel the first drops
before the sudden downpour.

I want to smell the earth
beneath the concrete.

Linden

The sign says Greenspire Linden
It tells you the tree is hearty,
built to last in urban areas.

I’m as wild as a horse
in suburban ones.

We don’t belong here
in the middle
of impeccable lawns.

I crush the thought,
a mosquito that bit
through the protection
covering my arm.

I tell the thirsty
to please be quiet,
so I can surrender
to strength in silence.

 

 

 

 

 

Monarch

36794354_10217377976506330_22360463031402496_n.jpgA tug on the leash,
my dog veers left
back in line,
back in tune
with pop rocks
underneath her paws.

Insects swarm, gossip
about warm blood.
Eggs on leaves
ready to hatch
and talk the talk.

Have you heard
the blackbird
song? It’s a
distraction
from the way
things are
and were.

The other day,
I saw a message
of fear nailed
to a tall tree.

It said remember,
remember all the
terror, and the fall
of man is near.

Monarchs are
everywhere
this time of year.
Made of poison,
with colors
meant to scare.

How can such
fragile wings bear
heavy warnings?