Mourning

Mourning

Was it just last night

I told you I had some mourning

to do, but wasn’t sure how it

would look? As if mourning

was patient, would make

an appointment. would behave.

As if I could choose

to put it on when I pleased

like a well-cut coat.

 

As if grief wasn’t greedy

and didn’t love

to sneak up on a person,

when she thinks she’s safe

miles above the world

in her airplane seat. As if

it wasn’t determined

to swallow her up

to hold her down

while she chokes

on dry pretzels

and sickly sweet apple juice.

As if mourning

wasn’t a weight

dropped on a person’s chest

boulder-heavy

and crushing,

breaking ribs

and spilling salt blood

over

and over

and over again.

 

Was it just last night

I told you I had some mourning

to do, but didn’t yet know

how it would look? I’ll let you know,

I said. As if you could help,

as if I might simply ask

to borrow an umbrella.

 

 

 

 

 

Little Mystic

oh little mystic
with dimpled elbows
brown curls
and face alight

you bow your head over
your prayer book, a bird
dipping its beak to a puddle
for a cool drink

your mother weeps, imagining
your holy thoughts
your future as rabbi

I’m moved, too, by the holy in you —
then you meet my gaze
with lopsided smile and
a look of faraway mischief

you’re praying to the god
of cookies and comic books
you’re thinking of the lollipop
peeking out of your pocket

and you, with your devotions,
are holier than ever
I shake with laughter, until I cry
through murmured prayers
of joy and gratitude

 

Vibrations

The tuning fork
is a rudimentary tool.
I could say the science
has something to do
with frequency of sound waves
that create a phenomenon
the human ear interprets
as pitch.

But all I really know
is when we hit a thing
so hard it trembles
and hums,
I’d better listen,
and adjust my instrument
accordingly.

Secrets, Free and Wild

Secrets, Free and Wild
It’s true that some won’t love you.
But I will.
You, crouched in the dark.
You, with mirror eyes.
Waiting. Watching. Wanting to be safe.
The coast might never be clear.
Yet here I am. Here we are.
Let’s brush the dust from your hair.
Let’s put on something sparkly.
Drop that haunted expression.
My dear, let’s do the haunting.
And the dancing, and we’ll make
our own safety. Not in dim
corners, but in each other’s
arms, shielded from the sting
of shame and other bullets.
It’s true that some don’t love you.
But I do.
And I choose to live, with you.
We two, a pair of secrets,
free and wild.

Woman Seeking Storm

A Personal Ad: WSS

Woman seeking storm
to crackle
to shake
to blast
and to break
the smug sky apart

Woman seeking lightning
to flash and burn
her retinas until she
sees with her eyes closed

Seeking thunder
to crash and pour
its drumbeat rumble into
her ears so nothing else fits

Seeking rain
to soak and saturate
the skin from the outside in
to soften the heart
and make it fertile ground
as once it was

 

We Monsters

 

We Monsters

 

No one kisses the witch.

For the witch cares nothing

about the innocent, the sacred.

She’ll steal a baby like it

was a loaf of bread. She takes

a plate of warm, beating heart

with her afternoon tea.

 

No one loves a villain. No.

A villain tosses poisoned apples

and hairpins like playthings. Curses spill

from her lips like songs,

and, anyway, she’ll be gone

by the end.

 

No one holds us monsters,

we who kill with a glance, or a swipe

of the claw. We travel by night,

cloaked in solitude. We hide

our unnatural faces,

even from ourselves.

 

We witches, we villains, we dragons,

we thieves. We monsters.

We wait for you to arrive,

armed with righteousness and pickaxes.

We know, we deserve this,

to meet our end as you

dispense correct justice.

We burn. We drown.

Our heads roll, like overripe fruit, at your

feet.

 

Yet some of us will live.

We’ll slink back into our cold caves,

sharpen our knives by the dying light of embers.

We’ll get what we need.

If it means someone has to bleed,

so be it.

 

I’ll Take You

 

I’ll Take You

I know your particularities. Coffee, light
and sweet. Flowers, ranunculus please. (Never roses.)
Cold beer and hot shower will cheer you up
most days. And you could live forever
on spicy chips, Twizzlers, and avocado
with salt and spooned
right from its black leathery skin.

To say you have quirks is too generous.
The fact is, you’re often infuriating.
You drive too fast. You say you love,
then completely neglect,
your houseplants. You leave crusty dishes in
the sink. Stay up too late, don’t say
what you mean, but then talk too much.
You’re stubborn and contrary and
you’re always changing your mind and
I often want to shake you.

I used to strive (without success) to love you
exactly as you are. But now,
I think, there’s not a thing
about you that’s exact at all.
The trick is in the turning.
The seeing you again, and new.

Because when I say you,
I mean me.
And you’re the only me I’ve got,
so I’ll take you.

Old Enough

 

 

Old Enough

I’m old.

Michael Keaton as Batman old.

“We Didn’t Start the Fire” old.

Crush on Susanna Hoffs old.

 

I’m grey hair old.

Insomnia old.

I’m laugh lines old.

I’m cool with these laugh lines (most days) old.

 

I’m know what I like old.

I’m going after what I want old.

I’m trust my old heart old.

 

I’m old enough to be impatient.

Old enough to be new.

Old enough to know there’s no time

to waste.

 

I’m short skirt old.

I’m I don’t care if you like it old.

I’m old enough to have my own back.

Old enough to have yours, too.

 

I’m old enough to be reckless,

in all the right ways.

I’m old enough to worry whether this is all enough.

Old enough to know, most days,

that I am.

Fuzzy At Best

 

Fuzzy At Best

When the ball strikes the line

does that mean in?

Or out? How many cards

can I trade with the dealer?

And how many lives? I can’t

remember. We both know,

my grasp on the rules is fuzzy at best.

But if you open that

rulebook –

weighty as a bible, stuffed

with onion skin pages –

one more time, I swear

I’ll flee to the bar,

and gleefully forget everything else.

If we’re going to play a game,

I’d rather make it up

as we go.

Love Letter to Humans, Even Me

This semester I’ve made it a goal to contribute to a weekly poetry forum at my school, Vermont College of Fine Arts. It’s good for me to produce something each week that I send out into the world, even if it is a very safe and supportive version of the world. Here’s a poem I’m pleased with that I wrote earlier this semester.

Love Letter to Humans, Even Me

One never knows.

One hears of accidents on bridges.

Earthquakes toppling buildings.

Which is to say nothing

of the tremors that topple us from within.

Some of us stooped

and some of us broken

and yet we go outside.

To work to visit to breathe fresh air.

It is so beautiful

and so brave.

I love us all for this.