“…Yesterday you told me about the way
forestry affects your mind:
hunting poison ivy, leaves of three
with greater poisons in hand,
your mind twists and grows
into moving shapes, tesselations
of trinities, hidden in the brush
like a Magic Eye painting.
The movement of growing things,
the taste of green gets under your skin…”
“…Yesterday you told me about the way
“…Come with me, when the coast is clear,
to the Gideon’s call of foghorns
and the rush of wind in your russet hair.
I want to see the cold playing your skin
and draw maps of the constellations
of your freckles. I want to discover
the highways and fire roads in you,
your back country, the icebergs that break ships
and the lounging sunlit seals…”
Before the sun rises, I let his shadow hold me.
Dawn threatens the blackout curtains.
Another day waiting, another sun and moon
giving way to more empty rooms
in the dayless patchwork of quarantine.
I remember how he is when his words are flesh
and his voice isn’t saved up in a jar:
I’ve had just about enough.
The rattling of my car’s heat shield
against the rattling of my brains
cobbled together with failing adhesive.
Driving home from another government office.
The same songs on Spotify; I’m discovering weakly
that I can’t trust victory. A motor oil bottle leaking
onto rags on the carpet; corn chips on the floor.
The smell of defeat.
One step forward, two steps back;
my heart reminds me it’s planning an attack.
A chime from the woman who sends me snakes;
all of my lovers live far away…
I’m walking down the street with my trouser hems burning.
I used to try to shake them out, and obviously,
the flames only rose.
I stopped trying to stop, drop and roll;
stopped trying to jump in puddles
and I’ve learned long since to ignore the stares
when getting on buses.
Sometimes it gets on my fingers, my lips,
and I catch things on fire that I touch. It’s tough,
but I’ve learned to live with it,
with the smell of burning that sends people running
every time I enter a room.
I don’t remember how it all started.
Maybe, like Centralia, it started with a vein of carbon
inside my brain that caught fire, that no one could quench…
We recognize each other in a crowd,
with our forcefields of dark matter pulsing
inside hastily draped crime scene tape:
yellow and black
like the skins of dead hornets
warning you we’re poisonous.
We are the ones who can’t be touched.
Even the breeze is dangerous.
A hug, a touch on the hand
is a cellar door swung open,
a dirt floor to land on…
(with random reflections on the pantoum form, flash poem writing, writing as therapy, and Bob Ross)
I’ve stuck my hand down the drain.
Reached around the spinning blades.
Pulled things out from the grime
the likes you’ve never seen.
I’ve reached around the spinning blades
and seen my face shining in them
like you’ve never seen
before. The bones. The eyes…
My body is a kind thing,
carrying so many heavy objects along its roads
It takes the clouds and makes breath,
filling the caves of my lungs with songs…
They circle and buzz around you,
these others you don’t touch.
You’re told to stay in your circuit
and cache yourself in your niche;
catch yourself on the precipice
of your words, before they speak
Because that would mean collisions—
or so you’re told.
Descent and burning,
the pain of gravity and magnetic poles…
The fluorescent lights in Rite-Aid
cheerfully pummel my senses. It’s 4pm
in the Quabbin milltown, in this January where the sky
holds tightly to its snow-stash.
I’m here buying laxatives, because it’s come to that:
everything is backed up. The government’s shut down,
my spinal cord’s frozen, peristalsis is a memory.
Even the clouds are stingy now…
The day we watched lizards
we lost track of time
and incited the ire
of an angry husband
it was then I knew
how little he knew you.
Collapsed in a heap,
they sought the warmth
of a glass bulb
on their collective mass,
quietly growing tails;…
…How do people do the things they do?
How do they build and stack their plans?
Their blueprints dazzle me.
I’ve lost the key.
The ornaments of adulthood
were expensive. I saved up for them
with my allowance. Learned everything
way past acceptable deadlines.
Now they’re all falling off my tree at
once and glitter bombing the carpet;
and the shards cut my feet
so I’ve started walking on tiptoe
as the walls of life contract