Thursday, December 8, 2011

Still I look up missing girls.

Between trees along the roadside, there is an umbrella.
Its great downturned blossom—bluebell or reverse tulip—
is small-world round and banded with turquoise, fuchsia,
pale pink—size is hard to gauge from here, but the brightly
budding colors dazzle schools on rainy mornings. 
down flamboyant petal and silver stem, to the handle,
which is red, and plastic, and curved to fit a smaller hand,
and there are thoughts of soft palms and paint that spills
off tiny nails and onto skin. 
                                                   Imagine the hands connect to arms,
connect to narrow mid-section and still maybe a child’s tummy,
to neck growing longer with years, to a head to eyes that blink
and well with changing feelings, hurt feelings, or something else?
Think of the hair, maybe long and brown and soft and wispy
and brushed that morning by a mother who trims it with kitchen
scissors and sprays in detangler, dresses it with dandelion, and
runs her hands across it and breathes as it dries.
                                                                                      And there is an umbrella
along the roadside, between the trees, and underneath is a broken
metal spoke that collapses a nylon rainbow against earth, and maybe
it was thrown in jubilation as the sun came out and the drops stopped
souping up the forest’s edge—and she took a shortcut home from the bus stop.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Walking Web

I am caught          like a fly            in a web
though I am moving and have broken it
From twigs         and branches          that string it
blue, cold, skyward and tether its ends to the hot center
I am carrying          it with me         over shoulders
and neck like a noose or long pendant, I’ll wear it forever
Sometimes          it glistens          on my skin
sometimes I scratch and pull at infinite fragments
Each bit falls         away, nothing          visible remains
but still I am traced by silk and bound by its feeling on my skin
Light, down         to nearly nothing          you can’t see
that it’s there in my hair or on my face, under finger nails.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Broken by a fall out of bed
the pain didn’t wake me but the noise
lack of crack, a slow rumble
flipped me sideways like thunder
hitting my eardrums from inside
and hammering dully on my brain
as with elbows that don’t relent
self-defensive and close to the danger
the pain became the noise
filled with fragments of femur
my leg was red and liquid fire
They’d told me the bones would start breaking
that red and white would disintegrate
like sands from different deserts
and yes those sands were rubbing and mixing
and creating a frenzied whir
humming electric as I lay on the planks
later my collarbone in the dressing room
and all the toes while sitting perfectly still
my biggest bone had broken
now I would wait for help
and then wait for breaking

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I don't usually write things quite like this...

...but I am today.  Because today Eleanor and Josephine got a new room.  As their bodies expand, so do their things.  Bigger beds.  More books.  Bigger, bouncier, less fragile bodies, means less room for sentimental things.  So now there is a big peach chest emblazoned with S floating around the house.  It squats in my room.  In the living room.  In the girls' room.  It is in danger, in a sense.  Constant ever present danger that it will be opened.  I will take a shower, and come out, dry off, find its contents scattered.  Rose petals, pictures frames, book pages.  I am delaying making a decision, because I know her chest will end up in some closet.  For the safe keeping I never meant to do.  In the meantime, I've been digging through it.  This is something I don't do.  The wound picking I used to love that no longer feels good.  Not that I don't miss it. 

So much has changed since I folded her Christmas sleepers and ran my palms over the yellow striped bits of cloth.  I cried, but I smiled.  I even laughed.  I laughed when I saw the rip in the back of that Christmas sleeper.  Made by our dog.  Who let me cry on his scrawny shoulder.  And later bit Eleanor.  And was put down.  When I was hugely pregnant with Josephine.  That's a story that is anything but funny.  I guess.  But what a life.  That just keeps moving and changing.  And, with time, even the shortest lives take on new significances.  And I laugh because I know new, more important things all the time. 

"Mom, are you a tiny bit sad about Sophie?"  I tell her I'm very sad about Sophie.  "But you're a lot happy about us?"  I tell them that I am--that they are the absolute lights of my life.  Those times make my heart swell.  I am teaching them something about joy and sadness.  And deep emotion.  But my heart also beats for the times I hear Sophie as part of their daily vocabulary.  "Josephine, GET OUT OF MY ROOM!  I want to be alone.  GO GET A SNACK!  GO THINK ABOUT SOPHIE!  GO MARRY A PRINCESS!" 

A few of the things I saw in the chest: 

A Gators uniform.

A Spalding shirt.

A pink hooded towel signed with curly letters written in sharpee.

A quilt from the Atlanta gift show.

A book called "When Sophie Gets Angry" from Barnes and Noble in Bowie.  (Which now makes me laugh because it makes me think about Sophie as a scary angry haunting ghost.  And that's nothing like anything I believe about her.  And it's absurdly funny.)

A book called "My Friend Gorilla" which really does break my heart a little.  Too much to read.

A picture of her that I scanned and printed and tried to pretty up and make presentable.  So I could frame it in my house.  And, fuck, it hurts that she died.  That her skin was that red in places.  But breathe.  Remember that documentary about the moment of death, in which they say bleeding to death is like slowly slipping away.  There.  That hurts a little less.

A slip from the florist, regarding a tree, that later died.

Cards.  Pinks and greens.  Brights and pastels.  Congratulations!  Dated from my shower. 

Cards.  Subtle colors.  Sensitive fonts.  Kind words.  From people I talk to daily still.  From family and from friends.  From people who still remember, and people who've moved on.  From people who've lost their own babies.  From people with whom I'm no longer friendly.  From people I love.  From the Dance Party.  From the giver of the red rocking chair and the eclipse gazer, who've since both died.  The world just keeps changing.  Its makeup constantly shifting, as my sadness really does drift away to make room for my joy, and the joy and the sadness of others.

A box of crayons.  And I gave it to the girls.  I just gave it to them.  For coloring, paper stripping, breaking, melting, and throwing away.  Just for living.

I look at and finger these soft things.  They smell old now.  And they strum new chords.  Or maybe the guitar is tuned to a new key.  Or harmonies layer the sadness with joy.  They don't hurt like they used to.  What hurts is the way they make me laugh, and how the smiles come easier than the tears.  But even that hurt feels so fucking good. 

I'm not some great person.  Changed.  Or calm.  Or taking things in stride.  I'm not more brilliant.  Or more patient (god, no).  But I can look at these things that felt like a thousand knives twisting, and see a story that unfolds.  That keeps unfolding.  Doubling over, reaching into and out of me, in ways I never dreamed.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Common Cold

The sun still comes up
and that’s a surprise each morning,
but it comes up gray now.
Or not quite gray, but that liquid color
that mist makes when it’s part of the sky
and when it stays.
It’s streaked with something like yellow
that teases like daffodils
on something I’ve heard was called
But it’s just the gray that stays,
and nothing smells as lemon
as the taste s-u-n left on my lips.
The gray lives here now,
hovering just below my mother’s ears
and chin and right above her neck.
The fog like a slice
like a quarter moon
slits her throat,
clean and round and full and smooth.
                                At least we would see red again.

But she is all body now,
head bobbing intermittently
out of the shadows to drop
her skull into her bony hands
or to kiss and breathe where my bicep
still feels like child flesh.
So this is the apocalypse.
Next year—if we make it that long—
if I am luckier than the neighbor
                                     I will grow taller.

And the next year I will stretch to learn
that gray world my mother knows.
Even now, if I wake up at that name-damned
wet time between night and morning
I can stand on my toes,
and press the dirt
and lengthen my neck,
grown thinner each day,
and stick my nose in the fog.
Nevermind I can’t breathe for shit
as people used to say
about things like sinus infections
and “the common cold.”
The cans ran out last summer.
They said we were a dry street,
this fall.
But that wasn’t so bad.
We found things here and there
that mimicked popcorn and artichokes.
That required scraping and taking chances,
but summer was hot
and no one felt hungry.
At least we never mentioned
it with our mouths.
And autumn just ran on adrenaline
and hopes of fading
and not fading.
But winter was hard. 
So fucking hard.
No one cares that we say that now.
Maybe it’s always been that way,
when kids, all long legs
and lank hair
slink behind old
sinking wooden houses
and say things like “fucking.”
                               But we say it now.
I say it when I go to bed,
say it under my breath when waking.
This morning, I took that
talk of fucking and went to
where the garden used to be.
I feel like a child
and I stop saying it.

I drop to my knees,
and the earth is cool.
And I stick my fingers in it.
No one notices dirty nails.
They won’t know I’ve been here
if I level it later.
They are all up there
above fog anyway.

And it feels like night.
Cool and fresh
after hot days
I hardly remember.
And I think of those orbs
of white—fertilizer.
And the days when green
came out of brown.
And the feeling of soil
that was really moist.
Almost like soup—mud.
And how that made living things.
And how plants need
rain and sun like tit for tat.
And how it feels to bake
and then grow damp again.
                                 Then bake.

It’s cool in the dirt,
and the ground is smooth.
We’ve made sure of that.
We want to know what grows.
If anything changes at all.
If anything comes up this year.

This dry, dry fucking year.
                   We watch and wait
                                     for the ground to change.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Pile of Blankets

A pile of blankets,
quilts all heaped together in my daughters' favorite colors.
I see them on their beds when they are playing in the yard.
I miss their small bodies suddenly, and their smells.
I long to see their belly buttons, and put my face in their warm necks.
But I don't want the chaos,
the blankets will have to be enough, a vessel for heat and odors,
I run my hands along the edges and over the folds, and inside them.
I expect their hotness and respiration to translate,
But the spaces of the blanket, all the spaces, are cold on my fingertips.
The girls are just outside.

Precious things.

Precious is small.
Like something that can be held in one hand.
Or two hands cupped together,
one hanging back, behind,
holding the baby bird.
When the bird is precious
it is plump and blue
all swollen breast and
fluorescent orange beak. 
It does not have bugging eyes
or strangled wings
and when it cries for food
crushed up worms are
always waiting
in a neighboring hand
(its pair waiting to stroke beneath the blue chin)
and the bird can be sated.
Precious things
but they are too easily satiable.
They cry out in pain, but submit to
bandages and healing.
The are held and never take off in angry flight,
until they do.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Not a poem, just a thought.

Today I was going pee. 
On my own toilet. 
At home. 
Bill had just gotten new toilet paper. 
It was "angel soft."
Five years ago that would have hurt.
I would have been mad.
But I put it on the roll.
I went to grab some.
The pattern on the white tissue was butterflies.
Five years ago I would have sworn.
It would have hurt like being stabbed.
Anyone who would buy that, fuck them.
You knew I might come over.
Fuck you.
My baby died.
You know that symbol is butterflies.
You know I reluctantly put them on her walls.
You know I got into that.
That's just how it felt.
Worse than being stabbed now that I write it down.
But not today.
Today I saw the butterflies.
And I remembered.
And I had a secret.
And for a split second it was nice.
It was our second.
And I've felt that way in other bathrooms.
That special moment.
It's still a recollection of my baby.
I rustle the tissue with my thumb and fore finger.
It is soft and perfumed and powdered.
(Nevermind the wiping with it.)
Whether you know it or not.
Thanks for buying that tissue.
Thanks for never changing.
Thanks for believing I'd come back.
But better.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Magenta is all long legs.
It is knees and lipstick.
Magenta is teenage confidence,
and that feeling of giddy soaring.
Magenta is invulnerable and
smooths over the fissures
where crimson will crack every time.
Magenta thinks itself sophisticated,
and wants to be taken seriously.
But magenta has a lot to learn.
Nothing that ever lived
stayed magenta for long.
Nothing that remembers
or bleeds true red or
forgets to breathe sometimes or
stares off at blue calls itself
Magenta. Not for long anyway.
Because magenta is the color
of the thin veneer of youth
that wears off no matter
how often we dress ourselves
in contrast to crimson.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Debate on Breathing.

The breath takes sticky hold in my throat,
like something small and hot living there.
Must breathe out to keep stepping,
need that flow of oxygen and other gases
for moments to tick by and to make it
to night, to make it to sunrise, to make it
to night again.  And then another sunrise.
But could I hold that fiery, tiny thing--
keep it lodged in place radiating
my innards with its reminder of
the short and sweet and what burns.
In the cradling I might ignite from inside,
but would it be blazing and would it hurt just right
and would I finally remember dying in there.
Or would the last scraps of playing it back wake me,
and I'd fall and scrape my face on the pavement,
embarrassed and caught holding on too long again,
and forced back to the old breathing.
The questions and the diaphragm ache and
are too much invisibility, pulsing, themselves.
The debate on breathing is natural
as once was the breathing itself.
But I exhale and let the holding of it die hard
and the hot curl scrapes as it leaves.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Be grateful.

Up late again.
            Tapping and switching.

Thoughts racing.

        Be grateful.

Meerkat Shanty

shanty town living room
tents of blankets and wood chairs
meerkat blonde heads peep

Thursday, January 13, 2011


we wait for those days
we think moments hurt like hell
but auras linger


cold trail through windows
slithers between us in bed
lies in cracked nuance


Eyes like round caskets
Gaze like stillness all around
Though these will wake up

Monday, January 10, 2011


smoke brings thoughts of her
incense and cigarettes both
reparable trails

Catching up.

Hello all.  I am here, catching up.  My laptop is (yet again) on the fritz and my kids are (yet again) sniffly.  Rather than going on a tirade about the brand, I'll just say I've been writing on (gasp) paper, albeit snot covered.  So, over the next few days, I hope to type out my backlog of poems from the last four days.  As always, thank you.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Still Water

people talk about angels
and it makes me wonder
because it seems impossible
that the slow immoving life
after passing could be better
without the joy or sadness
or the growing that marks
the passing of time
those things are absent
but imagine time lazily
licks by as the sun drifts
through the sky
over very still water
imagine being stretched
and under that sun
as warm as you've ever been
like moments and temperature
just don't exist
 and your breathing
even slows to match them
and you're tiny
and your fist balls up
and releases rhythmically
in the only gestures you know
you've been swaddled
your whole life
and rocking slightly
that movement becomes you
you've never been alone
on still water.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bats on Wind

A bat catches a bit of air with its lightness,
like nothing else around.
It is small and fast, despite its stubbish nozzle.
Its size is like those stress
spots that darken the periphery of my vision.
When it flies into my eyeline,
and between two rows of top-heavy trees,
it is gone before I can turn
or focus my eyes, or maybe it's slipped between
my right and left eye and
the space where their trajectories weave together.
Something so small that
my lazy eyes like short fingernails at an itch can't trace it.
And the less I see the bats,
the less I know to look for their black against blacker.

Monday, January 3, 2011

For the first time in my life...

...I want to write a love poem.

Recipe Books

I need something as I stand before the shelf in the mass market book store.
These tomes are too shiny; they are too new.  Don't even smell like books yet.
On the covers are depictions of new age recipes, each one seems to be sprinkled
with goats' cheese or drizzled with some mottled, red puree. 

These are "cuisine," nothing like we used to make.  I don't see ricotta anywhere,
unless it's been "clarified," a process I've always found mystifying.
I need something, I'm looking for something.  A book that smells
like the basil pressed inadvertently between its pages. And when I turn them,
I need to wipe the flour from my fingertips, or let it mingle inevitably
with the contents of the new bag as I rip the paper.

I need to remember something as I pay for the book and try out the recipes.
I buy all these catalogs of memories, and I flip through them on repeat,
hoping I see one that will stir something in me, one I will buy for good.
And I will rip the pages from there, and stroke them as I eat the product
of their instructions.  It's been too long since I tasted you or touched you,
so my tongue and the pads of my thumbs will be confused and electrified.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rim Standing

I'm standing on the rim of a drinking glass.
Or possibly it's a canyon, dusty and buckskin.
If I jump down its edge, curling my back
to ease my slide, I may hit icy smooth,
but I may hit boulders, and deep breathing
and bravery won't do.

If it's a glass, will I make that symphonic whine
as I whip around the inside perimeter,
buying me time and slipping easy like sharp needles,
or will I whoosh and gasp and struggle, flushed and flooded.

And if it's an earth shelf rim where I teeter--
ball, heel, ball, heel, ball, heel,
will I be crunched from the bottom up
by rock that will slit my gizzard.