Friday, May 13, 2016




What I’m Remembering Right Now

Your fingers made me different,
the gentle probing, the pruning of my hard edges,
the way you wrote code across my skin
when we were young and Lennon lived.
There are nights when I still feel the rim
of your fingernail carving letters down my spine,
a sonnet or something lovely,
something that might have even rhymed.
But the days have out-danced me now.
I’ve become bone instead of flesh,
sour-smelling and slack.
A nurse comes every other hour.
Her hands are rubber-gloved and fastidious.
She’s always seems to be in such a hurry.

Clinging to Loose Edges

When you called me
the worst thing that ever happened in your life
I should have stepped away,
stepped into the path of an oncoming semi
or leapt off a tall building.
But I lingered instead,
clinging to your loose edges
like an infant in need of suckling.
Your mother called me foolish.
Your Dad just laughed till he pissed himself.
Your brother spat out a wad of something brown and sticky,
said, “This one’s not recyclable,”
while cocking his head with a wink.



What I keep forgetting
are the false holes we would fall through,
how sometimes I would float as if in quicksand,
a trapped target or piñata,
your face as ripe as eggplant,
telling me I should have been aborted,
should have been tossed in a dumpster
where milquetoasts like me belong.
But it’s May again,
so I take out my phone and call.
Before you even say hello,
I rush in to wish you
Happy Mother’s Day.


The Archer and the Pheasant

Dad is drunk again while
we are looking for ways to molt.
After dessert,
one of us is to hold an apple out at arm’s length
because Dad’s become an archer.
The thing is, he’s not kidding.
Gravity is an issue, so there’s some stumbling
against the kitchen counter, a jar knocked over,
a beer bottle broken.
“Go on,” he says, nudging with the bow.
I pick a watermelon instead,
since he won’t know the difference.
There’s a first miss, and a second miss
that shatters a window over the sink,
spraying shards that nick my ear.
Still, I hold the melon in my palm
like an offering or docile monkey
while thinking about the pheasant I saw in the backyard earlier,
its rust-colored feathers,
the blood-red webbing around its wide eye,
how it cocked its head and seemed to say,
Good for you. You’ve survived so far.
When the arrow finally lands,
guts and seeds and juice splash my chest,
smell of sugar and summer filling the air.


Storm Lake at Night

The beaver,
dogpaddling across the lake,
is a decent friend of mine,
barely disturbing the water,
going his own way like a stubby raft
coasting toward the setting sun.
He hasn’t said a word for days,
leaves the fish alone most times.
He has other things on his mind--
a tree that needs slaying,
a damn that needs mending.
If I asked him why you left me
he’d probably say
it wasn’t even my fault.



This is the perfect place
For drowning
Have you noticed?
It’s deepest in the cove
Where someone demolished
The beaver dam of evergreen limbs
Laced like arthritic fingers
Beneath the green-gray murk
Take the chain and tie it around my waist
Synch it tight because
I’m so thin now that people think I’m dying
Toss me overboard with an anchor
Count to one hundred backwards
Then float to the other end
Where all the really big fish
Are bored and biting

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