This womb

The woman curled
up in a bath
remembers a woman
in bed
in a white room
of her own undoing;
a body tight as a fist;
a mind unraveling
like a scroll.

Maybe smallness
is our way
of making our way
back to our space.

The ultimate cradle.

My hands droop
in the water
like flowers
with bent necks.

“Choose the life
laid out in front
of you. Feel its
aliveness. Its
calm vibrations,”
calls the woman
in my bathroom.

I want to believe
that my body
is a field of
green energy
but my eyes,
catch a glimpse
of white room,
porcelain tub,
walls made of
chalky plaster.

My chest falls
as she asks me
to concentrate
on sincerity,
on what is
important to me.

I reach for
my yours truly,
my serious
what is love face.

Should I reach
for what’s to come?

My body floats,
and the room hums.
The heater turns
on and off
like raspy
breathing,
but breathing
in and out
nonetheless.

This womb
is filled with
warm water
returning me home.

Bath water

I take more baths than I ever did
even with a lack of rubber ducks,
practice breast strokes, homemade rain.

Now, when I breathe into porcelain skin
of a full tub, quiet currents take me.

This is the closest I come to clean slate.

To notice my two fleshy peaks rise
and fall, is to know my own body,

I listen to what’s submerged, to water
slipping down drains that belch
low croaks between lily pads of soap.

It’s a subtle sound of swallowing
a lost song, of dead poets whispering.

I’ve ignored poets for most of my life
because I couldn’t bear to face their sense,
but I sensed them, especially in old libraries.

Did you know if you press your ears to walls,
you can hear pipes clearing their throats?

The gurgle in my ears is intergalactic.

No one will ever find this place on a map,
and it’s a crying, hell, it’s a sobbing shame
because the fizzle of salt is good for your skins.

My toes look ancient under these dim lights,
and the curtain has a pattern of tight curls
that look like a doodle of a loose brain.
I could have drawn that, I start to think,
see, and there’s that pesky “I” again.

When does the self become so persistent?

What if when I go low, beneath the bath’s bowels,
I reach the highest heights I’ll ever know?

That’s enough indulgence for one day.

When I pull the stopper, a miniature tornado
surges between my legs, and time begins to drain.

The loudest way to survive

So you didn’t get the knobby
shoulders you needed.
That’s a lot of us,
and I sympathize with relativity.
But let me let you
lean in on my secret:

my big-mouthery is
my own, but it’s also
cavewoman survival.

I did what I could
with sticks and stones.
But tried my best not
to break any bones
because I recognized
their malnourishment.

Children who have been
pushed down rivers
in baskets please
cry, cry, cry
as loud as you can.

Your cries will give way
to words, which you will use
as an armor of testament,
of existence, of proclamation
that you belong here,
that we’ve not yet
occupied Mars.

Don’t press so much on
the bruises, which
are designed or not
designed, depending
on how you look at it,
to fascinate and distract
you from what tickles
your insides and makes
you sneeze at the flower
raised in front of your face.

And if you can see it
don’t pluck the petals
just yet. Love me nots
are not yet in your equation.

This is your cliche to own.
These are your metaphors
to mix and match.

So lasso love.

Sling what you
did not receive.

When you pull it
from the earth,
rock it back and forth.

Then put it back
in the river you
remember floating
down so clearly.

Feed what will cleanse you.

Go home, you’re getting crazy

“Go home, you’re getting crazy.”

Oh, my sweet motorcycle riding, cat loving co-worker,
what if I’ve been there for as long as I’ve lived?

I don’t know what the other side looks like.
Probably just as crazy, huh?

Everything feels like the apocalypse.

I know. I know. The word is as loaded as a baked potato.

Just imagine flames and feelings that aren’t yet in the registry.

I see people begging or asking for donations on Higgins Road
on my way home from work.

There’s no rotation. It’s always a new person. I scrounge my car.

Here, take it.
This is everything on me.

No, keep the lollipop.
I don’t need any more sweets.

I always look the person deep in the eyes until mine burn.

Someone

“Someone” needs to unplug my brain
or allow me to be in a space
where I can play with it
like a cat with yarn.

But I’ve never been much of a cat person.
I like dogs for their bliss
and birds for their flight and paranoia.

It’s true what they say, a job,
at least any old job is a trap,
and 9 to 5 is man made
and wrapped in barbed,
electrified strings
that zap you awake
but not wide enough.

And sometimes you forget the way
your throat tends to move
when it’s fed words.

And that “someone” is me, right?

Except that someone seems so strange
to me right now.
So hidden, creepy-crawly,
rag-dolly.

I never thought words
could make an enemy of me.

They were supposed to be
flutters of light.

Dandelion-like.

This was supposed to come with sprinkles,
and the icing is dry.

And sure, I have secrets that paralyze me,
play me dead,
but it’s the open-ended questions
that consume me.

The lose-yourself-in-the-music
kind of symptoms that come
with hearty pep talks.

But not only music.
Everything.

Lose yourself in everything?
What kind of advice is that
for people who choose to be planted
in perfectly pleasant pleasantries?

Oh, but there’s so much more,
they say with their dewy eyes
that are so easy to get lost in.

You know the flower children I speak of,
they grab your hand and drag you
through a row of sunflowers
drinking sun in the wind.

You tell them it’s getting late,
and you have to get back.

I love and hate them
for clasping the galaxies
swimming around their heads
and daring them to jump.

Wears multiple hats

Bowler, beanie, sombrero, cap,
ten gallon, and a fine ass fedora,

the hats I wear stacked high like
a Dr. Seussian pile of pancakes.
My neck sags, and inside my head’s
a three-ring short-circuit circus.

I’m a professional cockroach
capable of survival underneath
the soulless, energy-efficient
lights with a sensor that says
if I sit still long enough, life
will grow a shell and crab legs
that will scurry away from me.

Each time the room goes dark,
I come to my senses and rise
dramatically, like a staged mime.
What a forgettable performance,
they’ll say, as I tap my beret.

Earwax

I’m thankful my boyfriend lets me pick his earwax.
Lets me pick his golden goo.
Going treasure hunting
in his cavernous ears is a great hobby of mine,
or maybe an ill tendency
as the doctors may say,
but maybe not.
Not all of them
follow the DSM
like it’s a Bible
to slap people in the face with.

Before sleep

Where’s the depth, baby
oh, there it is
we fucked a hole in
the bedspread.

I’m not even mad.

face to face
on pillows.
on separate islands.
I asked what you dreamed
as a kid

you don’t remember.

can we play hooky
can we go camping
can we screw some holes
in the time it takes to grow old?

can we wear each other’s faces?

It’s been a long time
since you shaved
your beard
but today you did
because you accidentally
trimmed too far.

I can’t stop touching
your childhood.
you made plumbing
out of sticks
to assist the ants.
oh, and one time
in Boy Scouts
you saw innards
of a deer draped
like red scarves over a tree.

I asked if the bits scared you
and shook your bank for more.

I feel like a memory grubber.

Before sleep, you let me
play with unexplored
parts of you.
your earlobes
are trampolines,
your nose
is a sturdy bridge.

Maybe I’m asking
wrong questions

like if I teach you
how to dream,
will you teach me how
to sleep soundly?

Still spinning

A little girl spins
in broken figure eights.

A clean diaper,
bare feet kind of free.

Around and around.
She dances on little toes
pink as a newborn’s.

Fantasia on television.
A fish with eyelashes
dances; its tailfin a veil
sheer as curtains.
Around and around.

The fish whirls and blurs.

The TV’s is on mute.
Crescendos blaring
from her father’s stereo.

He hits black and white.
His keyboard setting:
organs laugh and cry.

She twirls in the living room.

Her father scoops her up
into his arms, headphones
dangling around his neck.

She’s still spinning in his arms.

Cymbols, cymbols, cymbols.

Basset hound

My grandfather’s soul is a shape shifter.
It knows where to go –
the chasm between two sleeping bodies
huddled in their own respective corners
on a queen size mattress,
leaving body imprints on memory foam.

In this life, my grandfather is a basset hound.
I know it’s him.
The man always had a thing for long ears
that can hear their way through the saddest cracks.

When he walks, he trips.
And we call it entertainment.
He doesn’t mind the laughter.

It helps when entertainers are aware
of how much they’re loved.

There are no holes in his droopy, slobbery love.

Oh how my grandfather yodels and cries
when we leave the house.
He can’t stand it and leaves oily trails
of snot on the sliding glass window.

He doesn’t care about the neighbors
who pound their broomsticks on the walls.
His howls don’t embarrass him.
He knows what he’s missing,
can describe vividly the pain and where it hurts.

I named my hound, Elvis,
which was my grandfather’s nickname.
He was a dirty martini kind of guy,
the version they couldn’t show on T.V.
He was graceless with olive breath
and spaghetti sauce stains on his sweaters.
But he knew how to dance, and all of the ladies
at the local library where I worked were smitten
whenever he tap danced their names in his words.

My grandfather hated going to the doctor.
He was stubborn and silent in sickness
until it boiled over and the toxic fluid
flooded his lungs and around his heart.
When they drained him, he was flat as cardboard.

Elvis and I cut through the park on our walks.
I think he likes the woodchips underneath his paws.
His large jowls flap in the crisp spring breeze,
and he jumps and takes chomps at wayward bugs,
and I’m grateful because I think they aim for me.

Sometimes at night, I take Elvis to the pond to feed ducks.
His fur is the same color as the reeds along the shore.
His watery, brown eyes look up at me, lathering my thoughts.
He breathes in deep a grass-scented silence.
I can tell he understands,
that he doesn’t know what comes next,
but it’s getting late, and he’s hungry,
and our favorite spots on the couch are cold.