Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Little Match Girl.

Gardens identical--
same as my neighbor and theirs, too
all turned silver with downpour.
Walls hold us inside
with nails and shakes and newspaper.

Once, a dark wind
brought opaque clouds,
blew down blackened vines;
it killed windows and doors till none were left.

You held us tightly
against your chest
a body with no muscles or ribs,
your wrenching fingers sponges without bone.

Here I watched you cry for the first time.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Yuma, Arizona.

After Preston died, they sat round on the floor on the carpet with grainy Country Time lemonade. It was late at night and the warm desert breezes would gently rap on the door and let themselves in. The stories were too good for them to eavesdrop.
They would laugh about Grandpa, the one I only knew in a wheelchair; apparently he was love. He never was too bright, but he was solid love. They all loved him, and sat in a cross-legged dilapidated circle passing the piece pipe of tall tales.
“Remember all those times he fell off the roof?” Aunt Willy would say. Guffaws erupted into crying. And I, sitting on the sofa, my soft little eyes tracing the faces of my predecessors, announced the coming of my bedtime with a large yawn. What were they talking about, I wondered? White curls and footie pajamas punctuate the event in my memory. Punctuated with photographs passed over my tiny legs to my mother on the right, my father on the left.
Once late at night, Grandpa got up from his bed after hearing scuffles from underneath their house in Baker, Oregon.
Grabbing a flashlight and shovel, he made his way to the crawlspace and discovered a possum. No sense of squeamishness in his bones, and every ounce dedicated to the task in front of him. Grandpa Preston killed it with a solid hit by the shovel.
And—because it was crucial to my Aunt’s story—Grandpa didn’t leave the possum outside, but brought it in to show my Grandma, holding it inches from her peacefully sleeping face.
“Flo! Look what I found!”
But now he was gone.
Grandma would spray the air ferns held in kitsch glass bowls, telling me how life needed less water to grow in the desert. Spritzing away, she let the water melt onto the pumice stones that cupped the tiny droplets. I gazed in wonder. Life in the desert was arid like Grampa Preston’s cracked lips that smacked with a pink tongue after a dinner of dry meatloaf and crumbling potato.
When the sun danced onto the wood paneling of the trailer bedroom, I would wake up and look out at the front veranda. Mermaid the dog slept on the orange couch, all fuzzing and pilling up from the love and conversation over the years. The neighbors across the way had a lemon tree and grandma took my hand as we picked lemons from a ladder. Incredible how lemons could grow in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of a trailer park in Yuma, Arizona. Did these old people water the tree with a spray bottle like my grandma watered her air ferns?
This is why old people move to Arizona, I thought, so they dry up instead of turn into puddles when the rain falls down. We waved goodbye to the nice couple, he with oversized sunglasses and she with pink trouser pants, holding our bag of lemons.
This is when my grandma began to forget to pay the bills.

Finding the Best Poem In the World.

There once was a rumor
of the best poem in the world.
No one had ever seen it,
save the sage who sat at home
and did nothing
but read books and pet his cat,
Stroking away to the timed
metronome of the clock
in the hallway.

The poet presented the piece
lain on the gilt table,
sheets fluttering in the wind
from the nearby open window.

The sage pulled a rock
out of a drawer
to hold the words in place.
Gray and smooth,
the rock rested
at peace on the lines
without crushing them;
no coffee stains or ink smears
or broken arms.
Just a rock
lightly holding
the milky white sheets
in constancy.
The sage cradled the baby
with the utmost care.

How can you write something
so intimate
as a woman peeing?
The way her dark curls of hair
descend into the toilet bowl
like moss on a tree;
the earthy sound of miniature waterfalls
from bodies that will eventually die.
Human beings do not resurrect again
with spring snow melt.

I cannot know anyone that well.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Blood sweat and tears
make medicine
that tastes like maraschino
and dyes my lips deep red.

I haven't been fed good food
in a long time
and neither has my goldfish
who I named Tellulah.

It's the name I would give
to my daughter should I live
in the South.
If I named her that here
the many children
would crawl over her
like ants
and keep her off
the monkey bars.

They would scoff at her
because this is their job
for now.
To chip the paint
from metal poles
pull up weeds
from in between wood chips
eat glue
nose pick
and with a million tiny pricks
draw a drop of blood.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Snippets of Conversation Today:

"...part of me is really excited about the Bible study, but..."

Me: "Hi, how are you today?"
My barista: "Magical!"

"...people with mortgages, not me with my apartment. Anyway, the point is...this is a budget hope sheet by the year 2014."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Imaginative Writing. Essay 1.

The space was cleaned up every night, each night. Clean floors, clean sink, clean dishes. But your brain wasn’t clean. There was no space here on the savanna for you. You were only a meerkat or a zebra. You weren't a lion. You were too nice for that.
The clutter of living there grew a green slimy fungus that hung off of the ceiling, making stalactites and stalagmites that hung above your head. They shook when you flushed the toilet, growling under their breath. They threatened to pierce you and your cat Oscar sitting on the sofa, toes and paws curled underneath piles of blanket. Tinkle tinkle, they cried. Tinkle.
The smooth white fur of the cat on the sofa felt like baby sealskin. As you brought your nose closer, the scent of fresh soap smell curled its way out. He had a lazy eye that occasionally winked on its own. You always wondered if he had control of the wink. Sometimes it looked as though he knew what you were thinking: What if I push my roommates, push them off a cliff? Wink. Did you know I was thinking evil thoughts? Wink. Damn, you’re good. “Mew?”
The other eye was outlined in charcoal gray, like an Egyptian princess. Perhaps he was related to a sphinx in a past life. Royalty. This is why he never liked dry food and whined for milk and tuna juice. You would occasionally indulge.
“Kitty! Vagina warrior!” Your roommates, sitting on the opposite couch, would hold Oscar up, scratch his belly and discuss how forward thinking your cat was. He also looked best in purple collars. What a gender-bender of a mammal.
As you watched my roommates hold their gender discussion group getting ready for V-day (Vagina Day), you wondered if vagina-shaped scones filled with strawberry and raspberry jam were normal. Probably not.
“We want to deter the idea that feminism is bra burning and rabid angry white women,” she said. It was difficult for you to put a finger on the unease. Perhaps it was the fact that your compost bin made you queasy, or the guilty feeling you got when you threw away plastic. Perhaps it was the pseudo-lesbian relationship she shared with your other roommate. They cuddled on the couch. You cuddle on couches. They kiss on the cheek, sometimes quick lip pecks. You’ve done the same with your girlfriends.
Yet something was in the air, a smell of blood and carnage and burning brush; the town Fourth of July fireworks display was ignited ten minutes too early and you were standing right in front of the cannons, aimed directly at you. Perhaps it was Ren’s 8 hour devotion to making Jachel’s favorite dishes on her birthday, calling her up before she preheated the oven. You didn’t know.
If you were a wounded zebra and she a lioness, perhaps the fear would be quantifiable. Her hair was loud and curly enough to be a mane. Her piercing tiny blue eyes and scoured face showed stoicism, her long nose and brown hair tamed by a solitary tribal dyed hair band. Perhaps she was born of African tribes people of a fundamentalist bent, who after getting kicked off their savannah by less anarchic tribes, moved to Colorado.
She had tamed her life partner, and together they would live, growling on the lone savanna in peace, away from the pride, eating Ben and Jerry’s for the rest of their days.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

For Mary, For Billy

Billy Collins was a little boy.

His breath heaving
up and down
on his mother's chest.
He must have colored outside the thick dark lines
of the coloring book
making lines and contours
of his own.
His alphabet blocks
strewn about the floor
never laid dormant.

The snow lying round the lettered blocks
in all their phonetic glory
small flakes falling
from the kaleidoscope sky,
smelled sweet and clean
and new.

Like the same time he planted tulip bulbs
in the April dirt
trowel and father in hand
overalls and mud
drips drop dripping from heaven.
The postman pulling up to the mailbox
offering cards and brown paper packages
from people across the seas.

Billy Collins was a child.
Now he is not.

In fact, it is more probable
that he is quite old.
Is he married,
or was there a divorce
where his wife threw a teapot
on the wall, cutting his arm,
making her cry?

She meant to do it,
but didn't want pain.
She wanted small fetus safety.
She wanted warm baby breaths
on her chest
like the cat she found under the porch
and nursed back to health.

This is who she was.
Billy wanted it too.
If only if only he could
put down the pen and paper and
read a poem to her.
One with love in his throat
coated with chamomile and honey.

Honey, he would say,
you know I don't mean nothin' by it.
But because he was Billy Collins
he would use proper grammar.

They would kiss and make up--
should this world be an ideal one--
stay together
and procure a blanket made of new snow
that no dogs had chance to soil yet.
The snow would muffle the cries from outside
their solid oak door.
The pounding could not be heard
by the two birds in the bower
hovering above
the chaotic world below.

Lest we bow down, readers of sonnets
and ballads,
worshipers of enjambment
and prosody.
It is a known fact
that while greatness is great
even Billy Collins was a boy
once in his life.

-My friend Mary was once a little girl. My dream is, should we have known each other way back then, we would have climbed trees and made mud pies together.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Many I've Seen

Homeless man
is homeless just
because he is
just because he is.
The pavement
hits him hard
The city's
laureate bard
Cat that's hep
and knows the spots
that's cheap to eat
names of streets
and couches interspersed
with shelters and churches.
Pocket jingle change
may change
from day
to day

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Last Year's Resolutions.

My blog is over a year old. Accordingly, I have last year's list of things I wanted to accomplish. An asterisk will be my demarcation for things I have done over the course of this year...isn't this fun?

*-See a meteor shower (another one)
-Jump off a bridge or cliff(and live)
*-Be in a band
*-Wait tables
-Watch a sunrise and sunset in one sitting
*-Own a cat (the wonderful feral Oscar Wilde!)
-See a volcano
-Take a train that's crowded and smelly
-Sail a sailboat
-Go to Africa
-Live on a sailboat
-Backpack for two weeks straight
-Learn mandolin or fiddle
*-Be a bartender
-Go to a Japanese tea ceremony
*-Own a record player
-Go to a protest
-Shoot a gun
*-Hitchhike somewheres
*-Crash a party
*-Rope swing into freezing water
*-Be a writer
*-Read a bunch
*-Build a treehouse/fort
*-Plant a vegetable garden (I helped tend one?)
-Do an eskimo roll
-Climb a legit mountain

Granted, my ideas of what I want to do and experience have changed. I may make a new list later, after the new year digests in my intestines.

Every Dog Has His Day.

This is a cliff
leading to a ditch
where every bitch has puppies
and no dog has his night.
Where the voice of my mother
whirs like a sewing needle
pressing through the fabric,
the thread licking up the pieces
and making something
from nothing.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

5 Minute Free Write: Fire.

Sometimes I see flames flicker under my feet and onto the ground, campfires that have happened on top of one another and are burned into my brain. Till the candle of them dies and all I'm left with are the memories of flaming marshmallows and low deep voices of fathers telling stories intended to terrify.
The tent was sheer and illuminated shadows around me, of hands and feet and faces that still sat and talked around the fire. They talked about what they waited to say to each other in the dark. When I was warm. When I was safe. The deep red glow hovered in the left hand corner of the tent, showing me where the embers glowered outside, and around it, people.
People I knew and loved. People who loved me. The warmth would eek up from my toes and to my face, wisping around my cold red nose. Eyes shut, I could make out the words. I could hear conversations that longed to be heard by comrades of the night. Heated rocks, plastic glasses of wine and coffee and tea...the cold hard ground was alright that night. The rocks were happy beneath my bony hips. The pillow cold and soothing. The night noises were singing us to sleep, saying welcome and join us in the great outdoors, for you are meant to be here. Why do you not visit us more often?

End time.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


This is a 5 minute free write in my Imaginative Writing class. Here's what came of it.

---I dust my hands of it. I have nothing in mind but the sheer happiness of what is right now. No one else can understand the beauty that exists in a place made solely for the person who made it.
I scrub baseboards and vacuum and do dishes for the sole purpose of a restful mind. This is when I can sleep at night. When the lights are out and the house is still, I can think about you kissing me, your hands going up my spine more tenderly than I could think.
Fuck sappy. I want something that is real. I want the satisfaction of being known but God knows I'm scared of telling you my secret.
I'm worried it's too late. That I've frustrated you to a point of no return. I'd understand. But I want a chance.
Mary said that if we can't do this, we can't do anything. I want something, but I may need someone else to tell me what it is. Two eyes bodies and feet long to lay down. The soft reverberation of voices late at night talking about things behind doors, open ajar.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Once a Year.

Kiss me on my birthday
[when there's no one else around]
It'll really make my evening.
It would turn me upside down.

Explode my birthday cake indoors
with a million fireworks
It would be exciting! and
don't worry, I'm insured.

Light the bloody house ablaze!
With magic dancing champagne
confetti and music!
This is no game
but serious celebration.
I wasn't born yesterday
but twenty-one years ago.

'But' you say, 'the neighbors and others will fuss.
They don't understand the likes of us.'
Solution: Close the blinds,
they've no need to look.
We've left them in the dust long ago
perhaps they're born to rust.

I'll kiss you on my birthday
though I'm still not quite sure why.
It's no national holiday
New Year's or the fourth day of July.
Perhaps I think I like you--

You above all people
should know that I'm no fun
when I'm not surrounded
by all of you I care for,
by everyone
who's ever been
there for me in some way.

For you I'll call them all up, too
when it's the special day
that we love on your existence
as much as we're able to tell you
and as much as our words can say.