--THE LIGHTS ARE ON ON EVERY STREET
My feet were so small then,
little squirrel paws or beach bird claws,
frail as star burst,
yet I would trail after you nonetheless,
shouting for you to stop, to slow down,
hoping you might wonder why.
my toes grew but
my feet stayed small,
baby feet really,
no bigger than rearview mirror fuzzy dice
yet still not enough to catch you.
On occasion a boyfriend might notice
and then grin wide and leaky black
and my skin would shrivel
remembering how you’d outrun me—
your fast escaping love.
Now my feet are levitated.
Earlier they were swollen.
I’m not sure how you’ll see this, but
in a moment that door will open and they’ll bring in a needle
and, soon after, hack my legs off above the ankles.
I have to imagine you’ll be relieved,
yet my imagination’s let me down before.
What I’ll do, though, is first thing when I’m wake I’ll yodel.
I’ll call out, “Ollie Ollie All-in-free!”
And hopefully you’ll hear me.
Some of the Things That Frighten Me
Satan and dentists and clowns.
My mother’s cat claw fingernails and the grime beneath Father’s.
Snakes and rats and old people’s blue-veined hands.
Now it is
mornings and Wallingford, our calico, staring at me as if I’m an axe murder.
The unmade bed, warm on one side,
the sheets tangled up with nothing.
The big unmade bed.
Rainy day chores,
the sky bleak as a Carver poem,
a McCarthy novel,
and I am sent to the root cellar for jarred peaches.
Pop is in Medical Lake fixing a broke down Peterbuilt
and I’m wearing his too-big overalls that smell of grease and piss and are clownish on me.
In the dark, surrounded by dirt and jar upon jar of canned peaches,
I reach into the pockets,
one side soft and lacy, the other slick and smooth.
I flick a switch and lift them to the light,
underwear and flask,
my father’s lonesome diary.
The Prophecy of Superstition
Step on a crack,
an owl at daytime—
That a boy so young could be so superstitious was something.
“Keep on like that and you’ll end up in the nut house,” Mother would tell me.
down-sized since March,
I sit on the edge of this mattress
with all the time in the world on my hands,
lonely as a cave
but validated nonetheless.