--THE LIGHTS ARE GOING DOWN IN EVERY CITY, EVERY DOWN
…I had these poems, and some others, published in the anthology "Men In The Company of Women":
The View From A Skyscraper
I have never learned how to draw perfect circles.
The centers shake me off
like shrugged shoulders, sharp shudders,
a tongue-twister with all of my
past mistakes rearing hard, offering this:
a barbed fist
I have never written the right words about you.
Even the letters get lost,
the kerning and tooling of certain fonts
bleeding and blurring,
the syntax of breath making meaning
out of ink the only way it knows how,
pungent and orderless.
I have never learned how to sleep a full night.
Some people find their power in naps,
others pull strength from Freudian jigsaws
while my dreams are less laundered
sprung screen doors
hinged in nothing but wind,
unhinged by the lingering scent of
your maladjusted ghost.
Predictions From The Woman Who Raised Me
The wrong side of history showed up
this morning on my walk through the woods
where saplings, warped by the persistent sheen of summer sun,
had their spirits split open
broken like tinder or kindling
which took me back to youth
that scare place
staring at crooked linoleum tile
instead of eyes,
her hot breath like
jalapenos in my face
saying, “Boys don’t cry.”
saying, “Fairy tales are jelly lies.”
saying, “You and your future don’t stand a chance.”
I’ve been instructed otherwise,
yet I often think of the girl you were before—
buried in bubble baths,
favoring foot lotions and
bursting out in song or
giddy laughter that could shake a room.
Now fluff from the afghan collects like diaphanous peach fuzz
around your chin, one feather
latched in the deepest crease of a cheek,
laugh line put there from your steady smiling,
before the stroke,
before all of the dead-end silence.
But when I move to wipe away a dribble of spittle,
your eyes hitch with a diamond glimmer
before flattening out again
and I know what you’ve done,
that you’ve just smiled at me,
saying, I’m here,
saying, My Sweet. Don’t forget us, My Sweet.
The Bad Queen
She has skin like ash,
the shade of aspirin
and just as bitter when taken without water.
As I kneel to kiss her hand,
“That’s right. That’s how you treat your mother.”