What’s Your Type?

 

Type I knows where he is going.
His compass always reads true North.
He never fails
to adjust his readings
for the magnetic declination.
Still, he follows the stars, just in case;
to freedom from Nor’Easters, and heat
hotter than hatch chiles,
to where the mode temperature
is 75 degrees. Here, he is like
my father.
He never fails, and thanks God
for blessing him with natural talent.
He harbors conservative values,
which both serves and disserves
me.
He imagines me pregnant
with his second child,
from our second date,
and yet, second guesses
my experience of my body
as property.
He wants to own property
to build equity — for himself
and lead a rich, rewarding life.
He reaps reward from going it
alone; He wants to be alone
together.
He senses my insecure attachment
and takes advantage.
“Together forever,” whispered
between the sheets — my quick release.
Baby, Imma roll
until my wheels fall off.
His fatal flaw —
shameless love

for Eminem.


Type 2 is a perpetual manchild.
He makes dirty jokes,
and I blush.
He puts me the center
of his speculative fiction,
and I blush.
Of his universe, I am
the penultimate center,
after his capital “A”
Art.
He demands to be taken
seriously.
He demands to be Dom’d
by his Good Little Girl.
He makes a bad feminist of me.
He makes a good listener of me,
Reciting “The Raven,” hands
aloft — my perch.
He senses my desire to nest,
And takes advantage.
Nevermore, my Lenore,
will you stand at the shore,
watching the sunset.
You will float
on boughs of willow
that I twist up
with Photoshop.
There is Art in artificiality,
and also bad aftertaste.
I can taste his cigarettes
from the next room. Here, he is like
my father,
and I? — like a fish, I drag
my belly across the shore
on the off-chance
I will find a puddle
reflecting His bright light.


Type 3 speaks Spanish.
He is a global citizen and voluntour.
He says “Colombia changed my life,”
and I do not call bullshit.
He is the type to ride a bull,
to ride into thrashing wind
on his single-speed bicycle.
I saw him buck a tree once,
and never wanted to fuck
someone so badly.
His arms, lean and thin
pinned me to the trunk
of his car, which is the type,
I imagine us hopping into.
His Delorean transports us
back to a future where
simple living is anything
but alien.
He speaks in future tense
and first-person singular.
I can not tell if he is interested
in monogomany.
This scares the shit out of me,
as does leaving my sacred objects
on the edge of Route 66.
He senses that I am possessive,
and takes advantage.
He tucks found wildflowers
behind my ears, and holds
his chin to them, like buttercups.
Everything yellow is yours.
He only wears earth tones.
Still, I wear bright makeup
for myself.
He hates it, yet shows nothing
but respect. Here, he is unlike
my father — unlike anyone
who has loved me
yet.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

My precocious start at poetry writing was inspired by Little House on the Prairie, The Secret Garden, and other stories of girls living in isolated childhoods, and surviving, by the strength of their inner voices. Through writing, I could transcend the mundane exterior of my experience, and be a very, very deep person. It was and remains the foundation of my confidence.

At the same time, it was and remains what makes me odd. As a writer, and especially as poet, I have always found myself rejecting those labels. No one wants to be accused of comparing themselves to Shakespeare or Sylvia Plath*, which can feel inevitable given the scant number of poets with a foot in popular culture. And so, my response to “Are you a poet?” still sounds something like:

“Oh. Me? Um…yea, I guess.”

To an extent, I am still trying to hide from my father that I did not earn a certificate in plumbing, per his advice, but, rather, a four-year degree in English, and $20k in debt. Yet, that degree has been my ticket from the town to the city, from walking in the rain to, well, more walking in the rain; to becoming the extraordinary YA heroine that I envisioned myself to be. Now that my bildungsroman is complete, my story is looking for supporting characters in the form of friends, mentors, and chosen family.

What most drew me to Portland is its creative community, which appears to have a unique ability to generate grassroots support, and the tenacity to get things done. In two years of living here, I have taken my first steps into professional writing, as opposed to writing for school or for this blog. I have written an article for my neighborhood newsletter, managed communications around school scandals, landed a side-hustle in freelance copywriting, signed a contract with Microcosm Publishing, and was accepted into the Poetry Certificate Program at the Independent Publishing Resource Center.

What’s next is the history of a real poet in progress.

*Unless she is, like me, SP reincarnate.

Afterglow

 

The sun had come down, but not out.
It was the bulb of a projector, casting
cool, blue light from its core; except for
lacking an electrical cord.

Where did the heat come from
that changed the surface of the moon
from swiss cheese to a flat screen,
capable of displaying our vitals?

A reddish tinge across your cheeks
told me the answer — 100 degrees,
and counting down. From the minute
you walked up, imagining the peak.

We were sitting close to each other,
under the pretenses of just wanting
to share a large popcorn and soda.
You hadn’t had sugar in six weeks.

An hour after it happened, I joked:
“The vision of you undoing my laces
may be my undoing. Oh, so delicately,
your fingers untwined the knots.”

Now, several days after it happened,
I have exhausted the limit of images
on the “beauty of tight binding,”
pretending an interest in macramé.

I have laid the first and only move
in single player Cat’s Cradle,
betting on you to pinch my Xs
into the Jacob’s Ladder.

So, what do you say? Let us play —
until the sun comes down,
and afterglow fades; or, at least
until we have run out of shapes.

With luck, perhaps, thereafter.

I Know Why the Grass is Green

 

When we first met, you were fifty-three,
And not yet retired from ploughing;
Still, your itch to get out was stronger
Than the bite of briers or holly,
And the 2-for-1 gloves strong enough.

Called in from the garden, you sank
Into the sofa, a green velour piece
That needed no breaking in, steeped
As it was in smoke and grit;
You immediately felt at home.

Beside your son, stoicism failed.
You experienced his joy and purpose
As one, loving me like it was 1969,
Back when pastels were for babies,
And also for everyone else.

Once held, I met your gaze, hoping
To uncover something borrowed,
Myself reflected in your blue,
And found proof that eye color
Can skip a generation, or two.

My other inheritances include:
Your quietude in conversation,
How you walked the periphery
Of the pool, before jumping in
Good humor to ripple the room.

Your special consideration of lilies
And Queen Anne’s lace,
How you saw her in everything
That she would have loved,
And each time fell to pieces.

Your indelible softness.
How you mellowed with age,
They say, like Jell-O, or a plum
In the sun – a prune? Wrinkled,
Yes, but stronger for it.

When we last met, you were seventy-three,
And not yet retired from ploughing.

Matilda

 

Standing
on the surface
of a pancake
then, swimming
in a pool
of syrup
deep as pores
on sugar
ask:
“How much do I care about blemishes?”

More than the soul,
the body recalls
the rich sensuality
of cracking eggs,
and stirring batter;
as well as
the “not-so-feel-good-feeling”
of singed fingers
on a hot stove.
Why listen to your parents?

That’s why, or why not.
Child, experience life
with all of your senses.
Taste the lessons
that you teach yourself
first.
In all its bittersweetness,
learn
to swallow Love
like breakfast:

After the morning rush,
to locate what’s been lost.
Slowly, overprepared,
waiting for a soft boil,
into which you drop
your hard-shelled heart.

Sweet Love,
I would have you nest
in my slotted spoon,
and listen to your stories
of feeling alone,
and pancakes.

Imperfect Produce

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, it is the moldy strawberry
At the bottom of the basket. Full of beans,
I pick a peck more, and jump. Inside,
There is a moth developing, a roly poly
Now, and brown, but aspiring to gray,
If only for a few days, at summer’s
End, when the first cool, but frostless
Night ushers in the red and purple
And blackened fruit, which one (?)
Should not eat. I am not one.

They tell me to be she, who sheds
Her coat, and waits for the foliage
to turn yellow; I wait outside —
A balding hill of potatoes, turned
Green, through osmosis (?)
Of the clippings on this murder
Of crows. Interrogate them
Regarding the spots and rot, beg:
“What is going on with my garden?”
Roots and shoots and leaves, but
No children, excepting/accepting
Those born still or imperfect.
“Am I too old?”

At twenty-five, one should be quiet
About her fears of impotence and death.
I feel that I am not one, but two times,
And change. I change the way my hands
Look: she has become unstuck in time is
Of the essence: a term used in Business,
Real Estate, and Agriculture, namely
In the period between IUD removal
And the encroachment of invasives.
Is seven years enough to determine
how many rows : how many roses
will produce the best returns?

Return me to childhood, in early September
When the next season was growing season,
And, so too, the next and next;
When my one-track mind could focus
On the present, and the presents
That I might open on my birthday;
🎶 Happy Last Day of Summer 🎶
When I could tune out their cracking
Corn, and care for nothing, but
Shortcake, with strawberries and
Cream. It would seem so strange,
Life, but a dream.

Independence Day

There is no better occasion to begin Facing Codependence:
What It Is, Where It Comes From, How It Sabotages Our Lives

Than the celebration of our country’s Independence Day,

For which we are supposed to be endlessly grateful;
Because the outside world is an innately hostile place,
In which there are always forces at work
Seeking to exploit and control.

If I were not so codependent, I might be able to see
That I am so afraid, because of what my culture did to me;
But, instead, I search inside, for the trigger happy child,
Who would rather poke her own eyes out,

Than have him follow while she leads.
There, I find a will to change, and eyes enough to read;
The path will show up by itself.

I highlight the passages that occur in between
What I have been needing to hear |
What I have been wanting to say,
In pink,
Because, unlike red, it poses no risk of flame,
Of igniting passion, rage, madness, or whatever
They are calling women’s feelings these days.

Resentment is holding on to anger at someone,
Clinging to a need to have the person hurt
To make up for the suffering [I think]
He has caused me. The person I resent
Becomes my Higher Power
As I think obsessively
About what he did to me.”

How do I disentangle myself from this mess
[Without waking him up] ?

“Caring does not mean assuming ownership
Of the other’s behavior or following the path
That they have chosen for themselves.
You need to belong to yourself,
and let others belong to themselves, too.”

Step 1: Let him sleep, while I get things done.
Step 2: Find the polish that will match my shoes.
Step 3: Scuff until my heart’s content. Follow the beat
Of my own two feet. Be frantic. Be fun. Be free.  

Mother Goose

There was an old woman,
Lived beyond the field,
And if she’s not gone,
The pears still yield.

Aplenty for cobbler,
For custard and pie,
Plus some for the earth;
Live and let die.

She, too, will return,
From whence we all came,
Lay down as dropped fruit,
One and the same.

Jack & Jill

“Ring-a-ring o’ Love,
Why do you push and shove?
Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!
Hands are for holding.”

Little Girl Gray,
Come, slow your breath;
The end’s far off from near,
And better than death.
But where is the boy,
Who looks after the end?

Jack’s gone to bed,
Pretending a bruise.
His tale is his to tell,
However he choose,
But history shows
His taste for vinegar.