Strawberry champaign Nancy
with your hairspray, bleach, flame.
I’m with you in the backyard, broken
swing set, smokin’ cuban
cigars and tar and countin’, countin’
mystery marks on your arms, Nancy
set your arms down, I’m not grown
up yet! Don’t laugh when I choke
on the smoke, I haven’t grown up yet!
Read your stories and the way you wrote
about your ribcage and punk rock, you
made me scream too (alone in my cloud
covered wallpaper room) Nancy
why haven’t you stopped the
eggplant half moon from growing larger,
spreading under your eyes? You know
your sister needs you, you can’t just
say hi to forever, Nancy please
you are the dream with your
patent leather aquanet glamour
I need you to stay alive for me
I don’t know exactly what that means,
but I can’t see you dragged from the
laundry room again, nails bloody
chipped, mouth running like
egg whites, I believe in everything
about you Nancy, Nancy I’m with you
A response to Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’.
The class will hate me for this one
and scribble down hard, raising the letters on the paper
Blue ink pinkies and tucked tongues waiting
writing harder, harder, harder, saying
Loud mouths ask for harshness, I guess I am no exception
I’ll read coldly about the frosted night I smoked oxy under the train
I’ll read calmly about the way her body undulated from the black tar
The class looks at the carpet, contemplating crinkled paper and whether or not they should look me in the eye on the way out
I’ll read with nostalgia when I describe the way her body was an electric glow
as she danced, stoned and back-lit by an episode of Jem & the Holograms
I’ll keep my eyes on my paper as I recall the way I held her as we
watched the pills flush down, down (she kissed me)
A lesbian junkie, imagine that!
I’ll reassure everyone that everything’s ok now!
You don’t deflate onto a couch like they said you would
Shocking, how humans are not balloon animals
The class will laugh and I’ll smile
The relief washes over me in an awesome wave
to put it in Bateman terms
Yet it doesn’t erase the tattooed truth
only dulling the peony pain surrounding the letters
I’ll shutter a bit when I pause to say how later
she ripped the S off of her undershirt when I told her about
that drive home with the four horsemen
(Oh how justice hides deep in a weave of anemones!)
She wasn’t sure if she could touch me again she said
Each fresh wound ached for her but I let them heal with vitamin K and salmon colored concealer
Yet, in just two more calendar kisses she was holding my hand under the lifeguard’s chair
listening to my early morning ramblings, tracing over burned skin
I’m sorry she said
I am so sorry
The class fills in the blanks with what they thought that all meant
I am shining on the surface
What about that dirt deep underneath the ring finger nail?
I couldn’t reach it, I can’t reach it, swelling with every raised ink word
I am shining on the surface and I am alone
Alone. Alone. Alone. A lone what?
The class loans me their opinion and I am unsure if I should buy it.
I tuck it into the pocket of the shorts I’ve worn three time this week
(They notice, they laugh)
Cleanliness is next to Godliness but Dykeliness is next to Hellishness
So I’m stuck counting the days I’ve made it balancing on our trusty soil shell
Alone. A lone what? A lone shell
trapped in the baleen of time, unable to filter into the rumbling gut of the future
I accept their opinions now with a grain of salt
and flavor a plate of clams with it
The water fills the hollows and with a gram of pressure, I am a gem
(a pearl to be exact)
Dancing in periwinkle static, screaming: I’m with you in Chicago
with your charcoal stomach and bedroom eyes
We are in the throat now, clinging to the tonsils
Terrified of the descent but smiling pridefully at our soft veins and pink lungs
We have done it!
The class applauds and straps on their tanks and masks
Ms. Brandt shakes her head with a smile, revealing a pair of inconspicuous gills
(Oh, Miss Mudskipper! Another surprise today!)
Diving down down down down down down down down
no cars no horses down down down down no oxygen no cotton down down down down down down
Victory! Ah, a cerulean serenity, opulent with the pearlescent sheen of romantic sobriety
“Take the underpass, it’s safer”.
I watched you
watch me (movin’ to hellish human rhythm)
then walk away
Some haikus in found in the margins of my class notebook.
Your bullet train stops
This vast and still horizon
is now your prison
There is no water
There is no running water
There is no running
I watch you squirm when
naked bodies are wide angle
but only the men
I know that I should
never be afraid again
I’m on satellites
A Bench Before the Door
“The old woman sits on a bench before the door and quarrels
With her meagre pale demoralized daughter.”
- ‘Fawn’s Foster-Mother’ by Robinson Jeffers
On the paint-chipped, rotted stoop, the shared dream
between my mother and the forest,
I am on the quiet bench, much taller and paler now.
Sick from the sun and the songs I sang on swings
crucified in the oak trees with no qualms.
I never showed them to my friends, like a moth eaten sweater,
threadbare tunes, tucked away under linen.
She read them in me, my shipwrecked eyes,
her possum daughter in headlights.
The gentle flesh of her body weakened,
dropped me into Pangean tar.
Her eyes scolded me as I emerged, confused but comfortable.
Blood orange dawns spent screaming, shaking,
scrubbing my skin, chiding away the dried film that
dressed me as a little beetle.
Toy piano footsteps, contaminated breath.
She rubbed her hands on the spots taut and raw,
desperate for fur to grow in it’s place.
Desperate to collapse my body in, a dying spider’s limbs
folding and folding, inward, quiet at the core.
When the roof was still strong, she carried me under it,
Mother’s Mecca, placed me in the golden straw and sun, sang
until the future became stagnant and obsidian.
I am smaller than she sees. My bones, my tone, sharper now.
I give her terricloth kisses that are never clean enough.
Refrain For an Old Lovesong
A response to T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock”
I was once a part of the architecture,
bare white walls, mysterious stains,
squeaky floorboards, a clock off a few minutes,
a somnambulist sweetheart.
Cloudy eyes with teeth peeled
picking the least offensive octave to talk in.
Then I appeared,
reflected on the window pane.
I look to her (only her outfit, of course)
I’m weaving around,
I hope they won’t notice how
I look to her
and keep weaving, nodding, laughing.
Embedded in terracotta pleather couch cushions.
Yeah, she’s all over the place
I’m a crayonbox in the summertime.
“Don’t ask me again, don’t ever talk to me like that again”
Hands fly like silverfish
away away away
Everyone can see me, but they never do.
Glowing, cackling bonfires.
I’ve met these lamps and staircases many times before,
and still (so still), it’s story time.
I have to flip through files, past flies,
dig through the horde pile.
“So this one time…”
I hope they won’t notice how
I look to her
and keep weaving, nodding, laughing.
I could hop through the window
Deal with small changes (the kind spotted in puzzles.)
I could say what I needed, what it meant!
A life without shame, withholding.
Ballpoint thoughts aloud:
“Outside me, I am blooming
Inside I am dry”.
The rumble of music on my feet,
the trance of breathmints and bonfires,
the comfort of my stained paint and broken time.
The blinds roll down
How are you! How are you!
Everyone can see me, but now they do.
I look to her,
her hair is all wrong.
I hop back.
Nodding, laughing, smiling,
I look to her
and say nothing.
I have thrived,
only by hiding
in the ugliness.
Though the white waters are beautiful,
under those green boats,
the dark caverns
are what make
I cannot be
what they want
and it is alright.
and red snakes
so I may drift at ease.
A Woman In Trouble
A hunched spine,
waiting for the bleach.
Give me anything for
My mouth is
now, the way it should be.
Coupon clippers take note:
squeaky clean leather sheen.
Kiss me now, I won’t fight this time.
Keep your heart,
I want the dream that calms it
to a dying moth.
I want the dream that
chides away the shame.
I’m the marquee girl,
A Woman in Trouble.
“When I’m thirsty, it feels how I feel when I’m alone”.
Under the quilt
red carnations on cotton candy patches
barely breathing baby
convinced she’s a Belle
She’s craving the milk
those orange tints never rest on breathmints
Baby Belle wants the dairy
from labcoat cows
The kind that makes her lips fall open
bedroom eyes and heavy skin
you can even kiss her and for once
she won’t bite
She can feel the collar go on
respond with a deep breath and a
In just one moment
under the quilt
the rosy warmth becomes
The Spaces Between God
I am caught in the spaces between God,
the valleys barren from years of drought and death.
My skin is the tar that has trapped those,
ridiculous enough to fall for my milky obsidian sinner skin.
There are those who were and those who are,
and they grow from the same clay cracked skull of earth.
Emerging like monsters, demons from the floor boards,
dragging their nails on the wood, the dirt, the thighs.
The eyes telling you the truth about good girls like you,
about mistakes bred on warm, stained couches.
The rain falls often but never reaches the ground.
Little feet and defeat and no sketches or violins.
God left this land for those that have done bad.
(She’s born bad, that baby-eyed bitch bad!)
Ivory tar, creamy and subdued,
the darkness isn’t evil, the blasphemous witch below it is.