Thursday, April 29, 2010

Two Like Pavlova.

The fingers. The tooth. The nail.
Foot patterns that sound of running hail.
Maybe more, or not. Go ahead,
dissect me.

The arching back. The skyline a graceful neck.
I'm no wreckage so
sound out the plosives with caution.
Pronunciation pure,
kiss my freckles.


"The voice. The handwriting. The gait.
Maybe the smell of my hair.
That's all. Go ahead,
resurrect me."

-Vera Pavlova
"Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia."

-E.L. Doctorow

Living Elements/Filaments.

No one I know likes wearing socks to bed

except my grandma who doesn't mind,
even wears a cranberry house coat
since I was little and
doesn't remember
what time it is
what time it was
how thick my skin is
or what year it is.

She doesn't know what kind
of jello she likes or when she
last took a shower, but
she knows that something isn't right.
The fruit flies whisper it to her and
so do the lumps in her gravy.
A light that has seen Edison
in the shop making filaments,
World Wars One and Two and Three rumble in

a stomach that has been hungry
since the depression,
is loosing itself
from the attic in the Cherry Street house,
losing the effervescent glow
that my mother knows of
that my mother and aunt hold on to
until it is time to turn off
the attic light
and walk down to their living below.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Early Rain.

If I am awake it is only because
the rain is so loud
the drains are so full
and these four walls
make a hull of a house.
If I am awake, it is because

my comforter is not made of geese
softness, but hides wafts of my
sighs in the creases, lets my toes
wiggle in the deep darkness
at the foot of the bed.
This sleepy head needs to rock

herself down on the choirs
of muted falling rainclouds,
mist and fog, to retire regardless
of the wooing of harbor boats,
the migrating southward flock,
home with paper-thin walls or not.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pie Day.

My mother made pies,
clean cherry pies that lay
copacetic by
the blackened coffee
in the burnt clear orb
of the diner pot.

Every evening
she wrote on napkins,
humming them at dusk,
gray-blue eyes twinkling
in the rose gloam-time.

She self-confident
in my small child eyes
opened the windows
for fresh air, for breath,
only to close them
when our voices rose
above propriety.

The pitted cherries
formed to my fingertips,
squeaky thimble fruits
licked off by my baby tongue.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Beachie Migrates.

North swims down the coast but when it passes away and dies,
North migrates again. Look, leaving the porch are its two girls
one old
one not, following the flow of the dry path leading
to the hollowed hull of the barren tire swing tree. See,

the blushing light leaves make a low percussive soundtrack
to the shuffling of gravel and grass beneath old sneakers,
beneath a frame so old, so frail, it needs the crook of my
much younger arm, silver with a light layer of sweat. Yet

she is not mine to own but mine to love;
We share her fingernails and narrowed bone and marrow,
her sun glow skin and her rolling voice of ocean waves
that stirs up pebbles at the bottom of the family shore.

Where have you gone and why do you hide behind the phone
behind returned envelopes
stamped, behind yourself?
I will sit on a worn sofa holding you until you leave me,
until we fly migratory-style like geese into the morning,
knowing the door is never closed but open

and look, see.
My doorbell works, and we peck lips through the screen.
It has been too long; shadows out on the porch wait to
come inside where it is cool.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Tree Line.

Walk beyond the tree line,
even if the sun scorches
your fragile tender skin—
the roots and branches thin,
burning the smell of pine into the air with
spring and summer whipping through my hair.

Burn, dodge, and bury me
in the darkened patches of shade,
under trees, lumberjack trees,
the umbrellas for my ashes
in needled acid ground,
wildflowers round my dusty head.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Brother It.

This is how it is,
it being something
that isn't vague,
that isn't nothing,

it that I can touch
with its rounded stony edges
and smooth gray gradient,
fading into the black background of night.

IT outside myself like a tumor
sitting on the front stoop,
a hardened jelly bean, a whitewashed child with a
too-pleasant face for a boy
not smiling with eager teeth,
but with lips and hair that has never
have never been rumpled

you use the wisps of it in essays
for fear the concrete
will be colored with neon chalk
by abnormal children, like me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


"If survival is an art, then mangroves are artists of the beautiful: not only that they exist at allsmooth-barked, glossy-leaved, thickets of lapped mysterybut that they can and do exist as floating islands, as trees upright and loose, alive and homeless on the water."

Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


The plane
oh no
flew into the tree
from the porch where we sit
but came out the other side without injury
to either
and I sigh relief.

This didn't
happen with
towers when
I was a little
girl, only ten.
Well, probably
fourteen. The
news came on
and they said
Nothing Like This Will Ever Happen Again.

Just like that,
in capitals, tall,
with holes in the
letters, the vowels,
for people to
jump through as
they flame on.
To flame on with
papers flying,
because I wanted
to skydive before
I died but not like
Not cut in half, not
with eyes so wide
the blues are bluer
and the ground is
harder, looks harder
than when my knee
ate gravel falling from
the ladder trying to
get onto the roof.
I was nine but now,
now I'm no longer
that excited age.
I fly because I have to.

Testing Performed on Limerick.

There once was a girl from Milwaukee
who wanted to play some throat hockey.
So she took a pass
from the puck, but poor lass,
sock in mouth, woke up from a dream
most rocky.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sandpaper Tongues and Chewing Gum.

Sitting in her chair
she stopped
and thought about how
a black person had never
touched her hand or

never touched her ever.
She chewed her gum, gnashed
up and down,
spicy cinnamon, looking,
watching the girl's
dark brown and leathery hands

spread out to her
half moon nail beds that
hid the pink underbelly
of her palms.
Sitting, she hoped for
the turn of a shoulder
or the shuffle of a page,

or for their arms
to accidentally brush
against the other
like a dry brush
to a dry canvas or desert.

The plaited hair girl became water
for parched tongues
that scratched all
surfaces they licked,
sandpapers spongy and needy
clinging on to her, leeches.
They wanted something
other than blood.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Nobody Gonna Beat Me at Nothin.

What has she told him
I wonder?
Apple cores and
empty tasses and
justification letters of
blank whiteouts with
specks of pepper?
Letters of It's Over and I'm Done.

You can tell me what it means but
God knows that I'd be a Virginia
and write on not knowing
an eekaleek of Greek.
Apple skins
like fine pores of faces
like that Talking Heads song,
seeing faces in movies.

Looking up behind you,
blue people smiling
or crying—
dying inside for the protagonist.
Faces in movies
that sometimes get out of focus
if the film knob gets bumped
or if the baby-faced kid filming it
just got out of film school.

Movie babies,
all of us, really.
I don't know what I'm doing
and neither does my father
who's been at his job
for twenty-five years
and counting.

When they knit me
in her womb
they didn't know
what they were doing
with the sperm and such
and neither will I.
I'll fumble my tackle.

Our fibrous cords make no sense
and yet we are strings of human.
But how? People float up from
Bach and Rachmaninov notes
sounding beautifully horrible and frightening
and the like,

stork seeds that are watered by piano notes
of my mother taking lessons
and my kicks punctuating her belly
with each wrong note.

I have read all your
uncommon readerly faces
that I have yet to know
and that are not mine
for who can own a face?

If she ate apple blossoms
her cheeks would turn red
fit to explode.
They were pretty
so she ate them
stamen and pistil and all
and felt bees wanting her,
thrumming around her head.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Movement, Maybe Hydrology.

Movement is
what it does
which often is not much.
The slow-and-languid sand
slides through the hourglass hands
sans any speck of care, as gravity
drags it down
down till it
actually is a river
a ribbon of rapids
or a flash flood
in an Incan cave system,
hollowing out the limestone
and carving, deleting away
etched out battle scenes
and pictures of pregnancies,
labor given to my
great great
who wore braids
and left her family
to be adventurous and
marry a settler.
Movement is
what it does.
Often it does too much.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jazz Auntie.

I tell you, she should sing
indigo blue notes
under neon at night
in a green dress too tight
that cut off circulation
damn worse than those
jailhouse whale bones.

so stunning that Columbia
could only press records—
we could only press typewriter keys
and flash buttons to hold her down.
The press never officially got a statement.

She can’t be our grandma
or even twice-removed auntie
but like hell did she glide
out from the curtain,
like foggy condensation
down the highball,
the melting ice cubes
playing hillbilly spoons
round and round the bottom
of the cheap clean glass.

But we weren’t there, so we don’t know.