Wednesday, September 21, 2016



Dear Chicago, 2016

In the streets
500 dead by September 1st
Blood-stained cement cracks
Crimson asphalt
Shattered windows
Crack vials crushed underfoot
Child on a swing never makes it high
Girl on a date has her kiss stolen by a slug between the eyes
Bullets like silver rain, a thrush of metal hornets
Everyone ducking
With nothing to hold onto
If there is no anger
There is no hope
And next year will see new records
Only coffin companies the beneficiaries
Of such senseless slaughter


We are learning how to say Please
The master has a whip a belt a chair a chainsaw
It doesn’t matter. What’s important is obedience
Children in Africa have it worse we’re told
Who cares what they say at school
A shirt or blouse will hide those scars
We live in a root cellar of fear
The air hot and hairy going down
Coming up like a fist through a neck
Please can I have some water?
Please just a husk of bread?
Sis wants to put an end to this
Says there are no more rainbows
There never were any
Please can you tell us what we did wrong?
Please can I skip a beating today?
Sis rips her sleeves one evening
Makes two scarves, one for each of us
Ties them from the ceiling
Stands on the chair and tells me
Watch closely. This is how you do it.



You said it was the wagon’s fault
That it buckled beneath your weight
Wheels going wobbly hitting a stray stone
Sending you headlong into
Oceans of vodka
Clear as spring water
With more than a million
Shards of glass reflecting
What was left of you and how you
Chose the bottle instead of your children


Magic Carpet

You are busy eating strands of your own hair
Which hasn’t been plucked or pulled yet
But there’s still time for that
Mother’s got her bee eyes swirling again
It’s anger, not alcohol, that’s made her drunk
We can’t pick our parents, our DNA
The same way you can’t help but look like your mother,
The woman my mother hates so much
Step-sis, if I could I’d build you a raft fitted with oars
Send you soaring over rapids, through pitted water
Anything other than have you stay here
With a family who eats its young and
Still is never sated
But for now take this carpet
Go on grab a seat
Make it float and hover
Take it for a ride across the world


Naked As A Sculpture

Yesterday you were covered in butterflies
And tonight you are shimmering stardust
I don’t want to miss you but my memory is a pushy beast
Even eating this mushy pile of pasta I see film reels
The way you bit your lower lip and licked the top one
Whenever you were contemplating motives
How wide your eyes went while applying mascara naked as a sculpture
We made things once—soap, candles, oblong clay pots, love—
But there was ruin along the way, dead plants and dead babies
The hammock we bought in Mexico sways between two shaggy cedars
It’s yarn the color of dirty lemons, smelling like cat urine
When I lie down in it the sides reach around like a clam shell trying to envelope me
The first time in years something held me that tight, not wanting to let go



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