Category: Poetry

Pressing Medicine

I do one, maybe
two things wrong &

I can’t function – my
stomach is the rag

my ribs are the glass jar
inside awash with medicine

how much does it take
to twist like that?

what do you do with
the rest?

black in the dark, black
red in the light

it is left
in the margin, discarded

white space that
oblierates, white winter

that proliferates
how can it be so many

when it is also each one?

Why Don’t You Say My Name as Much Anymore

my parents would say Terri – I mean your mother
or David – I mean your father

as if I wouldn’t know who they meant. Or like
they were each hiding some Terris or Davids

we weren’t supposed to know about. I never really
suspected, but I would listen sometimes

put a cup to the wall in my closet
that connected to their bathroom

I’d listen to my mother and father spending time
with Terri and David – coordinating spits

in their sinks – starting the shower for the other –
flushing the toilet. sometimes I’d hear the long lighter

snapping its fingers at the candle. sometimes
I’d hear the tub water. they’d say their lover’s name

– serious business in the house that holds
their children. they must have been in on it together

sometimes I’d fall asleep in the closet listening
my nicer pants and things hanging close to my face

curled up against bags with my name
adorned on them, a clear cup along the carpet

Clay Mask

I cover my skin in earth, as if
my skin is not earth
as if little mounds don’t grow from both

both are like space to bugs
or looks

why don’t you respond to me sometimes?
you’ll just sit there, staring, as if
there isn’t a buzzing
you need to cover

as if you won’t fill with ocean
if you stop moving
stop picking at yourself constantly
stop picking yourself

there is fire in your chart, without which
there can be no stone, no earth
yet I am all earth, no fire
I must have come from somewhere

another layer perhaps, deeper than skin
where I generate my own heat
my own light
like a vent that warms the sea

A Love Letter

it feels like a good time…
candles already lit, so
no presumptuous
candle lighting

some of the hourglass
sand is stuck. I wonder if
this like time, then
throw up my mouth a little

but what place other than
a letter to talk about time?
or sand? or being stuck? plus
I am concerned about my hourglass

it’s meant to be 30 minutes
but with sand stuck to the glass
is it quite? how much
time am I getting?

is it the same sand each time?
or does new time replace it?
it’s hard to tell – I flip it
just to see you buried

the Angel of Forgetfulness
blesses me. The Angel of White
Dimples
rebuilds herself

whole temples in her honor
could this be the time
when all of the sand
falls through? and

Forgetfulness retrieves
her blanket?
will I remember having
said yes to this, this life

and potentially others?
what did I see up there
that meant
enduring a human body

was it your body? It could
have been your body
was it something that needed
to be done?

have I done it?
can I keep doing it? is there any
question but the one I have already
answered yes to…

…is this a good time? 

Missy

Our girl hears Missy Elliot
on the radio, 95.9 – The Throwbacks
She knows all the words the way
you don’t really, just play the sounds
so when she enunciates GO DOWNTOWN
EAT IT LIKE A VULT-CHA we laugh
She knows that part, of course, but
then again she does know vultures
She jumps off the couch and soars
like a vulture. She dries her hair over
her face like a vulture does its wings
She puts her hands up against the light
– a shadow puppet vulture
She is black and furthest away
She sees vultures and takes binoculars
but can’t find them
The light is too bright

After Choking You in My Sleep

the dead must be hungry
the way they present themselves
to me – half a hand out
hollow legs

shrinking then wrapping
the corners as if embarrassed
I would be too

all that work to be dead
and still begging
not that I’m any safer here

stairs are one of the most
haunted places on Earth. I
could be sitting in a portal, or in the body

of something larger
someone’s work or unrequited love
a prison, the defense
of a choke-point

whatever it is, I feel its interest
it shakes my insides as if
listening for seed

it lands on me when
I’m not careful
forms to vacancies like
an owl to the tree

like your voice to my ear
when I’m sure you’re lying
or is it, when I’m sure
I would have lied

is it me? I am poltergeist
through misplaced energy
through dreams of fame turned
malevolent humility

inside lurks
the big black mass
of ever losing you, especially
to me

Activity

I am writing again, which
feels like the wrong thing
behind me
there are thousands of figures

symbols for lost time
like a chair is not its word
“chair” a person
is not his name

nor is he what he leaves
behind
he is not named
“gunk in corners”

though he resides there
with no need for sitting, writing
now he sinks
where chairs were

leaving behind residue
like ink
on the paper
at night

Return

if you ask me to tell you
the code, I can’t do it
I need it in my hands

like your hands
which I feel and
remember with confidence

remember the world
as it was? a root
protruding from the rock

that you perched on
that lead your heart
into touch out of darkness

improbably to me
the mud where
you fell as a bird

I preserved you
curled myself beneath
your weight and

proudly display
your feathers
and was adorned by you

now we meet again
there’s a bird
in the roof of your mouth

and it’s like we died
enough times
holding the right ally

the ally holding
something of ours
in return

Pesticide 2

ants grow their fungus
in my ears
confuse my eyes with pools

they touch me, expand
get used to me
not moving

I try to see their whole bodies
in a way I’ve never seen
my whole body

but can feel it

I am up top, pressed
against glass
I am standing too close

to the moon
It goes down my body
to the planet

I try to see its whole body
in a way I have never seen
my whole body

but can feel it

Battery Effect

tonight it has been red

then yellow, then luminous white
I think coral, copper, cotton, rattle

at one point it was below the water
before that it had never left

now it’s here, and I know instantly
that I know something, just not what

maybe I feel the moon’s knowing, or I
heard something, the stars

discussing the moon’s politics on the Earth
children in their adult poses

doing mounted police, doing plumbing
doing queen and king

they do bullhead, water-bearer
they don’t play the root, as you have

or me, the stone with a root in it
we are fixed to the hood of the Earth

the sun does a firm bounce off the moon
it goes down a corridor before

coming back, unlocking the next
entrance, and the next, perhaps everything

a baby gate opens, the milky way opens
we are ferried to our rooms in secret

swept in by birds, to be checked on
later, though they know we will be gone

in their wisdom they can see themselves coming
as I have seen myself coming, and you

our mouths open to the same phase
your blood a belt of red, the candles yellow

my reach a luminous white