To My Younger SelfDear Little Lili,
Never try to cut your own hair. God or genetics or the fates (whatever we'll eventually prefer) blessed us with many skills, but coordination is not one of them. For this reason avoid any sport that requires contact with others. You'll save a few broken bones.
Read everything. Books will be better friends to you than most people, but that is because they are humanity distilled - all of the beauty and none of the beast. Love them accordingly.
Touch the barbs of velvet-petal roses before you inhale their perfume. Get used to the way blood wells, then rolls across the ridges in your skin. Emotions are not so different. You cannot cross through this life without a few scars, but you can prepare yourself for the pain.
Love the people you meet. This will be so easy for you now, while you are young and see the world so clearly. With time, grime will slowly creep into your vision - a cancer of the heart and soul that medicine has yet to diagnose.
Hold on to the words from the
Accidentat the corner of boone trails and owen
she learned the brevity of flight:
glinting bumper for launch pad
trajectory approximately 5 feet
across the median.
as proud, as swift
as any prima ballerina
but the landing
this I keep for her -
the listless weight of limbs
defying gravity, the beastly beauty
of a body bouyant before
Hand and foot, Hip and breastHear the ever-wonderful TwilightPoetess read this aloud here!
And now I understand the depths
to which a woman must sink, must
dig herself into, must push past with hand
and foot, hip and breast. It is not light I seek
but solidness. Not spring air soft against
my cheek, but the scalding touch of lava
forced for so long to be silent and still
now worming through a cracked
and weeping crust. It seeks explosions
because affection must be dramatic.
But the sky will not love it
as thoroughly as I do.
And now I understand the impossible
permanence of night-lit words.
They linger in the valley between my wrist
and fingers; stow themselves in my freckles.
I cannot erase their presence, ignore
their weight -- only hope for a lover
who will burn away your shape.
But I understand hope to be a fickle
and most unfortuna
There Are Always AlternativesI looked up the synonyms -
pang, throb, anguish, misery
none quite adequate
affliction is closer, better defined
providing shape to the problem
psychologists don't want to solve
because, as popular opinion holds,
grief is precious, makes us human
and we can't dull it away
can't forget to mark the movement of planets
in a universe lacking pertinence,
can't smash all the clocks to avoid
that truculent ticking
no, the psychologists say,
we must suffer through it
must bear the herculean weight
with neither pills nor promise of relief
so we seek comfort in Johnny
or Jack or José, sometimes
a Captain named Morgan
we substitute addiction for attachment
and defy any to rectify the error
and when it comes again
there's the thesaurus to offer
alternative avenues of address
for the deep and abiding ache.
My Romantic Bones Are Dancinglove is...
the ability to face torment
from a thousand needles
drilling a million holes each
into the same square of skin -
the gouge is a constellation
accompanying an epic tale
that's every brand
the knowledge we are broken
by familiar hands
and restored by
familiar arms & lips
a metaphor for the inexpressible
god in each of us;
manifested in a flame, licking
hollow spaces in our yawning caverns.
one soul seeking the fingertips
of another soul seeking the fingertips
of another soul seeking
reparations for its mundane sins.
the first breath, the last breath;
the purpose of inhalations between.
The First Time I Cried While Reading PoetryHe asked if a soul can ache
while I wondered
do little girls in Thailand
sleeping in servitude
and blameless sin
believe God loves them?
He reached across the sheets, pressed
the pad of his left thumb into my hip,
and impaled miracles on dull words:
"look at us, all agony and grace."
Then rolled away.
I kissed his palms,
closed my eyes,
knew love to be a rabid dog.
The first time I cried while reading poetry,
he sighed and asked:
"does the world make more sense
when it's blurry?"
But the bite doesn't hurt as much.
Intimacyhere, a quake, so I name
your fourth abdominal after
Venezuela - that land
of tectonic plates
that slide so subtle below
the ocean floor, and just now,
with my fingers feathering
your hip bone and your mouth
adjusting the tempo of red rivers
under the surface, I feel
like a new mountain birthed
by the shattering of old growth:
bold, eager, desperate to possess
that soft blue sky.
Birth of PoetryI tangled my fingers in the curls of the universe,
pulled. The earth fell out: round, warm, spinning.
Awkward and shy, she wondered how she got here; how
a rock that got wet and grew moss could be significant.
So I scooped her up in my fingers, breathed her scent:
(lilies and oceans and ozone and forests and fish and birds
and whales and rain and the empty elegance in wolf howls)
death and life. I found chaos
and knew beauty.
ObjectI prod the sticky skin
between your ribs,
find air lacking.
there are words for this.
I do not want
to know them.
ten years ago
you said that a human
was more than an accumulation
of bone and liquid
but here, with a cloth squeezed
between the few fingers
not touching the object
that you've become,
O FevraleWitching hour, welcomed with a sigh,
bare-breasted and ink-stained in the night.
Half in love in this half-life half-light;
pisat O Fevrale navsnryd, dreaming
of the gods. Wanderer, today I died and
died again, and whispered prayers
to clasped hands… until the nestled
droplets fell away like sunrays at dusk;
and when moonrise came, I sang again.
Lightning Bug CosmosI lace my skin up like a corset, peel back the blinds on my eyelids, and take a step forward, waking from the poppies to the
lightning bug glow of truth tapping on my eardrums.
In front of the mirror I stand, but what I notice is not the awkward crook of my nose or butterfly lashes. I look into the lighted mirror as if searching for answers hidden under
Ribbon-like sets of
veins, arteries and nerves.
Sometimes it all flows correctly; sometimes everything becomes
knotted up in all the wrong places. Skin toughened by beatings brought about by the
scraps and sacramentsyou,
beautiful siren girl with melodies
entangled in her hair: you are
shell-shocked and sea-struck
even though you cannot stand
the sensation of sand beneath
you have fingers for prying, picking,
pulling at your skin and nesting
in that hollow space between
your bones. and if anyone asks,
you will swear there are monsters
sleeping in the concaves of your ribs;
there are ghosts beneath your tongue,
embittered, and you are not the words
they say there is an answer, little girl
(sometimes you begin to believe you are
a scarecrow on the border of reality
begging people to turn the other way;
and the mirror will agree)
how far have you gone? a feather in
the breeze who won’t promise to return
again; there is a wandering warmth in
the hesitation of your harbored fear.
where will you be in six months when
the future has become itself and you
are still astray? little one, no one is like you
in the way you sway to the cadence of a
dissonant night. no one knows your
virginity is like an envelopemy mother said her mother knew.
i wonder if she stumbled home like i did,
fifteen and beer-loose
tied to the door like a thunderstorm with black lips
and i wrote a story about disaster,
a quiet two sleds long.
a box full of beads, i swallowed
fifteen needles, mommy. don’t
tell me i’m not sorry.
don’t call me a whore you bag of bones
you lock-loose suitcase do you even
recognize me look at my face my toothache skin
i am not the one with the knife.
my mother never slept with a boy
who didn’t love her never let a boy
sleep on her while she lay awake beneath
the shroud of his skin breathing only
when her voice-box gathered too much dust.
you have to know i didn’t do
it on purpose. he slid beers down my throat
till i felt like a landfill.
i was not yet a crescendo. maybe i was a polka-
you couldn’t tell. i got home
with my legs full of nightmare.
the doctor said xanax.
i said i am a ruin like the ones
we saw in peru.
a balloon in a funeral poem.
onco genes couldn't kill youyour framework
and well-rested bones
of their own comforts
have caught my fancy
you need to know
you're deliciously vulnerable
it is you
who has the power
my dear, i will
sci-fi stories about the end of the world1.
the species invents prophecies
all of which contain terrors
a beleaguered sun collapses into itself
It's not yet night when the committee interrupts the regularly scheduled programming
and describes the inertia as unforgivable.
Outside the grief, the cardboard:
Every time you teach a computer about distance
the terrorists win.
In every scenario: No colorado left,
and survivors leave messages
for the future.
Before the last people on Earth forgot how to speak,
he thought of that day.
The committee was right
to describe space as an absence.
The more artistic
of the species' prophecies include fields
such as here and there
relative to the everywhere of the other thing.
The other thing is often the cause
of whatever terror has been imagined.
The terror, of course, being another word for nothingness.
someone is remembering the pacific-
a maniac fires his rifle into a crowd
later, the news interviews a woman,
"All i remember are balloons"
they say this is w
the rest of my life should be early
mornings; when God is still sleeping.
I should wake up curled in a corner of the sofa,
pearlescent, like the primordial ammonites.
I follow you every night-
the hunter shooting at the celestial bull,
shimmering crusts of bread through the dimmest lands of passage.
Suggesting a way home.
Home, or across the ocean,
or everywhere under the moon if,
early mornings, when God still sleeps,
I wake up warm in the corner of the sofa,
and you are not an idea anymore.
the rest of my life should be early
mornings; when God is still sleeping.
I should wake up curled in a corner of the sofa,
pearlescent, like the primordial ammonites,
shedding my scales in the wash basin;
to, gleaming, climb back into bed,
turn off the stars.
I shouldn't dream anymore.
you need to have a plan...so here's to
to some forgotten shore.
2. fall desperately in love with
i. the ocean
ii. the sky
iii. the honey sunrise and
iv. the steelgray winter dawn.
soul-deep into the water and
4a. search out the requisite words
i. from behind white and blue curtains
ii. and underneath clam shells
iii. and in the wakes of fishing boats, and
4b. pluck them from the ceaseless
scrawls of sunlight
against the slopes of waves.
5. make time for
ii. and other
summergirlNow read aloud over here. Do give it a listen, won't you?
you are crowthroated and tumbling
through the aspen grove
hair on fire with sunrise, lungs
full of sky.
eyelashes like wildflowers
and every morning brings
a new spray of freckles
and a sharper curve to your collarbones.
the cornfields hold no shadows
for your lighthouse eyes
and there are no endings in that
ii. you have grown
autumn finds you with broken ankles
leaning on an oak branch
and watching the skies.
crow to sparrow--you are quiet.
summergirl, there is peace in silence,
fallen antlers in your hands.
you will come to mourn your deer.
keep them close.
iii. by winter you have paled,
and like the streams
your eyes have frosted over.
you feel the chill--
there is no need for sight.
lovesong for sailorboyRead aloud and explained (somewhat) here.
i have always loved words as you love the sea
but i have grown to hate
because i have always had words
but never for you.
words for everything
but i have words for this, so
i'll take them
one by one.
the ocean was your first love and
i could always see it in your eyes.
most would call them blue--just
like a swell over a sandbar
blue like the spring sky over a poppy field.
but i don't think anyone
got as close as i did and they're not blue
not shorebound and
they're gray like the steelbellied sea itself
like the horizon at dawn as it
hems you into an impossibly vast canvas
like a demarcation line
or a promise.
one you always chased.
maybe i had a streak of ocea
Alla RabiosaScorpio's tail slips low—
a mari usque ad mare:
from sea to sea
over me, a devil in the sky above;
and the Huntress
peels dawn like an orange.
amongst the stars:
the Mad Queen's cosmic mirage.)
windstorms and labworkafflatus, inflatus, my morning globe,
as lithe as your impermanence.
and home! dread homes! are rabbit dugs,
spoonholed piles of mexican brick
where nothing ever touches down,
nothing here alive receives
the plains’ poor offering of gypsy light,
the ugly wind that meets the mudline.
1. a mottled fence
2. and how these storms hold faceless teeth
that slat their eyes through butter-wood
then purge their guts on wintered florets
4. some freshly headless nativities,
their polyethylene skirts upturned
from violent sacks
5. and knowing i’m a souless
i lick at what is manifest
beneath your hair
each poison tab
and religious studies
i know, i know you never mean
but do not say “live for yourself”.
i’ve come online to see the god
that came before me.
we are so poorly married
like bookend spines of Plath and Hughes
up on the shelf
PositiveLeft to me, your worst historian,
to pick up, in a daze, some depth of diction
I never found while you had lived
and I can only now pretend that words are capsules
of sanguinity, that they’ll unmask the symbologies
of sound that bore your binaries to their realms
like sacred dreams of Hypnos.
Regret’s a simple word.
I always thought of "A Separate Peace", and in those scenes
you were this Mozart in the rough, a perfect chord, one
which I would meekly channel through cracks of light
shown through the fist of my own interference,
Why this wisdom, now?
The cosmic clown who wrote this song
does not annotate our endings with an epilogue.
I do not see the irony in celebrating
your new found space.
There is no iconicity,
no special shape
that serves the world
as you did serve,
to bend and writhe the streets
into a wellspring, a circuitr
The Watchmaker's Lover - RevisionYour clockwork appendages
were cold to the touch.
The industrial complex of your mind
was grating gear against gear
where the unoiled works
kept clacking away; your atrium
was a tick-tocking machine
that counted the hours while the rust settled in.
The mainspring spiraled round
your mechanical heart tensed
so tightly it showed in your face,
in your quivering hands,
your troubled eyes.
The unlubricated escapement never
released, oxidized into place
from ages of neglect.
Your lonely footsteps echoed
under orange gaslamps submitting
to the glare of red lanterns.
Used parts are yours for the taking;
here, a hairspring; there, slender
legs under shredded petticoats.
The joints of your fingers corroded
with arthritis and green rust,
curled around curls
of Caryatids uncalibrated
to your pendulum swing.
Your flinted eyes filed flaws away,
groomed for the fluxing process.
Oscillating gears locked into place
before your backlash recoil
forced the dual mechanism apart
with shallow breaths emergin
novemberthe sun is a dim pearl
beneath a blanket of gray
hung low from the heavens;
i'm your yellow tremor
paled by the cold, aching
for a proper sunrise.
we are not a fairytalewe are not a fairytale.
I am not the strong lead with a heart of fire,
bones of steel, and eyes of vapid curiosity;
motivation seeping through
my every last intended action because
I was written this way
(the heroine falls only to rise again:
proverbial phoenix, burning out
because it is the cycle of my
life) and you, you are not
the beautiful travesty, perfectly composed
to strike me where I’m weak and
[almost]human, delicately woven
like the tapestry of my dismantling—
a subtle irony where somewhere, a writer
chuckles softly, understanding
we are blinder than church mice, born
in a makeshift world of darkness where
I’m not sure whether or not the sun will
rise again tomorrow, because it won’t exist
until someone breathes life into it,
but no. we were never so lucky
to be carefully orchestrated,
a composition rendered for
another’s satisfaction. I am not the
climax, nor the resolution, but a lamb
with Stockholm Syndrome and
a tendency towards people
lost kingswe were all lost kings of the electric
highwire act, tripping like ghosts through boarded
windows and vacant lots that never held
any secret we wouldn’t tear apart
cables stretched over the place we used to live
drooping tightropes for worn-weary dancers
that pirouetted from house to house while
we just paced the streets of glass and concrete
our mothers worried on their rosaries
and poured their fears into party-line chats
father just poured another scotch and said
boys will be boys so let them have their fun
and us out in the night between the tracks
and the towers willing our years into
smoke and bottles and dolled up girls that just
laughed like juice joint sirens calling us home
And to Write of LoveHow small a view
How close our vision
As though it could only exist
By what we grasp in our tight circle of senses
Is there a place where it is not seen?
A ragged and primitive people not educated in its fashion?
Do not earth’s creatures, in motherhood and more
Reflect its features?
Even the tailings of its nature shine
What surpassing motive stands?
What flesh or spirit left unstained?
In timeless tales – the noblest theme
Have authors spawned in ages past
Plumbed its depths
Marked the wellspring or traced its source?
Though tracks were left, the
Music and musings of hearts inspired
In substance; patient,
Enduring, a quenchless faith
Full of hope (and where not - despair)
In purity undefiled
Its glory; kindness, forbearance and truth
How small our view
How close our vision