Thursday, March 4, 2010

Poetry (unpublished)

We are Married and

Now we are the same height.  He pronounced us married and we kissed and now we are the same height.  That kiss weaved our mouths into a marriage blanket; and on rainy days, we’ll make a tent in our living room.  My toothache is your decaying molar.  The left side throbbing—we’ll hold our cheeks, moaning in unison.

We danced our first married dance and now we no longer have to speak. My mind is full of your thoughts; your thoughts echo in my mind.  The words start in my throat, but it’s your mouth that delicately forms the sounds. Your lips moving, my tongue pressing against our teeth saying, “I do, I do.”

We cut the velvet cake and our mouths devoured the same piece.  Your hunger is my stomach growling.  I need to feed you so I don’t starve.  We are married and the mirrors are always foggy.  Your foot is my foot and our shoes are all the same size.       

In our honeymoon bed, my arms hug my body and your legs wrap around your ankles.  We are contortionists—pretzeled and joined in matrimony.

We are married and we are one and we are married and I am
Some People

see visions in a burnt piece of toast,
some in the face of a woman.

 It’s like watching your parent’s from the top of the stairs—
Your mother’s forehead crease, her lips a stiff line;
You can hear your father’s voice but not his words.
You wonder if they can feel your presence like arm hairs standing.

Some people like to sit in the front of roller coasters,
some like to see what’s ahead
It’s like watching your parent’s from the top of the stairs—
You can see your mother rubbing her necklace;
You can see your father open and closing his fists.

You don’t like sitting in the front; don’t like seeing the horizon—
the track vanishing before the fall.

When I was Eight, My Sister Turned Inside Out

it wasn’t as if she unzipped her spine
stepped out of her skin
meticulously worked the folds of her joints
smoothed the creases of her breasts
to play dress up

it wasn’t as if she opened her mouth wide
stuck her arm down her throat
reached for her stomach
played tug-of-war with her intestines
until she was a pile of organs
her bones unveiled

it wasn’t anything like that
it was worse

her pink cheeks faded
until she was paper-yellow skin
her face sinking into what used
to be her eyes
every expression the same color

there was always blood
in our washcloths
her lungs exhausted
her body draining itself

nurses invaded her veins
with sterile needles
pierced her skin raw
injected poisons
week after week

her body wanted to reverse so badly
it rejected her strawberry-blonde hair
left clumps on pillows
in shower drains
until her head was bare
smooth as the day she was born

the last time I saw my sister
she was under a sheet
thicker than her skin
only ribs and hipbones outlined

her body plugged into the hospital
robot lungs
machine pumped heart
liquid food in tubes
bags changed nightly

her lips so dry
I was afraid if I kissed them
they would crumble
into dust

There Are No Second Chances
After “A Moment in Troy” by Wislawa Szymborska

Little girls—
strong, defined
by their deliberate and practiced motions.

Delicate eyes focused forward,
guided only by the preceding ponytail.

Each resembles the other
in similarities and differences
distinguished only by abstract
reflections of practice and precision.

Little girls—
walk in straight, deliberate lines
walk with straight, deliberate shoulders
stopping in formation, like soldiers.
Elegance and grace join powerful
sinuous movements.

Little girls—
locked in translucent boxes,
perform and become nothing
more than identical silhouettes
fighting for recognition.

Each apparatus becomes its own battle.
Here a stutter-step means devastation,
here a miscalculation equals defeat.
Did you know ambition never rests?

Little girls—
made of silk and stone.



my husband gets home
walks straight to the fish tank
traces the words

I love you I love you
onto the glass

the goldfish follows                                                                
his fingertips
day after day
like bait


the multicolored
flecks float on the surface
as if declaring

I am here, devour me
to the goldfish

a few pieces sink
to the rock-filled bottom

the colors evaporating
as they fall


I massage my hands
along his neck and spine
pressing my name

Macrae Macrae Macrae
into his skin

the letters vanish
beneath my fingertips
as I write them

The Sky was Falling

And we were standing beneath that turquoise umbrella, barely fitting because we didn’t like when our shoulders touched.  I was crying and you were laughing (because that’s your version of sentiment).  It was raining so hard the umbrella was collapsing.  “You take it, I can run home,” you said, but I felt like leaving, so I kissed you on the cheek, even though I knew it would burn my lips.  Your skin seared my lips and they blistered, but I ran fast, faster than I should have been able to.  “I regret you,” is what I thought you said.  But the sky was loud, crashing around me.

Drowning the Sun

After I chug all the red wine, straight from the bottle, I pull the sun towards me in an awkward embrace that is both passionate and tender, but the sun hates being touched so he pushes me away and says, “don’t ever do that again without my permission,” and so I apologize before pulling the sun into the ocean and holding him beneath the water’s surface.  The sun fights against me and then struggles against me, but I let him up after a while.  He stomps away into the night muttering to the moon to watch out for the angry drunk.  And then I shout to both the moon and the sun, “I’m not usually like this.  I’m not like this.”

First Apartment

there were only biscuits
the kind you peel
and bang against the counter

there was only coffee
the strong french roast
that kept us conscious

there were always dirty
ants in the carpet

there was only us
and it wasn’t even the us
we remembered

Tonight We are Noir Heroes

Clichéd and twenty-something
We are scared existentialists
High off unemployment and the extra
hundred Aunt Betty slipped in my graduation card
It’s two-for-ones at the local dive so we swallow 
Dig for forgotten pills in our purses
Searching the bathroom mirror for faces
Lively. Content. Not

We are kindred spirits by dawn
Swearing friendship for always
Drunk off dollar menu tacos
We exist in the moment rather than the splash back
“Hooligans” a lady mutters as she smells us
The night, our world, we simply refuse to let go—

The sun is brilliant, aching above.

Sailing Sideways

 I sat beside my neighbor in the mouth of a yellow tunnel slide when we decided to smoke the joint his brother gave us.
We’d been coming to the park behind our cul-de-sac for years, but this summer we
were allowed to come alone and stay until after the streetlights buzzed and flickered
            to life—it was this little bit of freedom
that got us into trouble.  He pulled the joint out of his front pocket and held it between
 his thumb and pointer finger.
He rolled it between his fingers and pressed it to his nose like his brother had shown
            him in their bedroom.
He lit the end with a nervous hand and I laughed a nervous laugh, then we whispered
even though it was daylight and no one was around,  then he said “here goes nothing” and  he inhaled and he coughed and
 wheezed “here you go” as he handed me the joint; I looked at it and shrugged and put it to my mouth.
I didn’t feel anything but I coughed and handed it back to him and he said “you didn’t get any” and I said “I did too”
 but I was lying and I laughed and he laughed and inhaled again this time blowing the white smoke in my direction,
then I coughed for real and grabbed it from him, careful not to touch the lit end, and breathed in,
then felt the burning, my lungs screaming and I coughed and wheezed and laughed and he laughed and we slid
down the yellow tunnel to the playground sand and headed towards the teeter-totter, but I was wearing shorts and didn’t want to sit on splinters so I said “how about the
He smiled and started running and I followed, stretching my arms wide enough to hug the wind; my fingers sailing sideways,
then we each grabbed a red handle and pushed and sprinted in circles until my feet only grazed the ground.
“Jump on” he said and I did and the world was spinning and swirling and we were moving so fast, 
but my hands slipped and I slid and I was flying but then I was falling and then I hit the ground—spinning dizzy but slowly steadying
and his laugh kept circling around and around; his world never slowing, never stopping.

My  Mother the Fish
            My mom’s a fish

she was teaching me to tie my shoes
held her laces in perfect bunny ears
my own uneven loops
slipping from my fingers

make the bunny ears tight
so they don’t fall off
she said just before turning
into a fish

her eyes rolled into her head
as she collapsed to the kitchen floor

watching her shake and flop in a fight
against her body
I remember my father telling me
to unbutton her blouse as he rolled
her gently to one side

I cried while my mother gagged
spitting up her insides
the blood trickled from her nose
leaving mud-colored stains
on the linoleum


the nurse wanted to play
go fish
but my mother was a fish

we played jacks instead


I learned to tie my shoes
using my father’s work boots
in the waiting room

loop swoop pull
the laces

I untied and tied and retied
keeping the laces stable
so when my mother woke up
I could show her

loop swoop pull
the laces

Gravity Boots

George is tired of being fat.  He watches infomercials
nightly while eating his Hungry Man TV dinner. 
Don’t miss this chance to change your life forever.
There is a shirtless actor hanging from a bar— Gravity Boots the latest
in workout technology—his muscles glistening in the studio lighting.

George is envious looking at his own Ab-flab. Call
right now and we’ll not only cut your body fat in half,
but also the price. He imagines wearing Levis that hug his perfectly toned
glutes in such a way that the blonde in the cereal aisle will drop
her fruity pebbles. Don’t miss this chance to change your life forever.

George pays extra for overnight delivery.  He does 400 gravity
sit ups a day in his garage, losing so much weight that even his ankles
thin out. Without realizing the double X boots are now two
sizes too big, George straps in as usual. He lifts his legs to hang,
reaches for his toes, but slips—Gravity pulling him to the concrete floor.

3 AM after a funeral

It sounded like combustion.
Siblings, four voices screaming at each other, over one another.   
We sat on the curb beneath the window; smoked hand rolled cigarettes; listened—tried to          decipher the words behind the noise.
But what did any of us know about losing a mother?
The shouts got angry like motorcycles, then silent like smoke dissipating.


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