Basalt Forest

Assault, for us? Just a phase.
All kinds, occasionally, exhibit
attitudes and behavior
that drive their partner
to erupt.

Park ranger says:
“There once was a volcano here.
Lava flowed, in rivers,
across the wet substrate,
stamping a new path for life,
in the face of trauma.

It began from a single point
on a rock that jut out —
beyond the rain shadow,
and toward the humid
eastern United States.”

I hear:
It began from an impasse,
from our argument on the topic
of moss, how it either grows
on only the Northside,
or does not.

It began mostly dry,
but with enough steam,
to create the necessary reaction,
tension, and period of calm;
for the clay-rich soil
to build up, in layers.

First, came box spring,
then, mattress…
mattress pad…
fitted sheet…
me…
you…
the ground.

“As you can see, the trees
grew perpendicular to the ground,
but, eventually, took a sharp,
9o-degree turn.

Scientists can’t agree on why,
many believe it was natural
manipulation, by close-
fisted people,

others, by severe snowfall,
when they were still young;
the type that only hits
every once in a while.”

As you can see, she
grew up without a mother,
and with a cold stepmother,
but could play in the snow
for hours.

Therapists can’t agree on why,
many believe she’ll bounce back,
mistaking her persistence,
or resolute doggedness,
for grit.

Eventually, she came in,
where she thought was her part.
It is never your part to fix others.
Keep yourself warm first.

“Unfortunately, this is defined as
‘an endangered ecological community.’
By our estimates, it’s unreasonable
to think this is ‘just a phase.’

Between 30-50%
of the original occurrence
remains.
We should have started
to see change
in a matter
of days.”

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.

Natural Interruptions

When the Old Man fell,
it interrupted all scheduled programs,
including Britney’s 10th birthday party,
where I was one minute feeling,
to pin the tail on a donkey,
and then waiting,

to hear the sound
of a pin
falling.

Falling,
like ashes,
ashes
from the sky
in Oregon.

Fifteen years later,
children circle around me,
as if I were campfire,
to tell stories of their favorite hikes,
as if they happened yesterday.

I circle around what happened yesterday.

“Climate-Change-Fueled Wildfires
Pollute the Air, Make People Sick.
74 Acres, and Counting, Burning.”

The air thickens.

Upwards, the sky is gone.
We, too, are clouded
by emotion – Pride
in place, Resolve.

Quietly, I close my eyes.
I try to access
My Place,
My Trail,
My Childhood

interrupted, as they may be
by nature,
(the freeze and thaw)
and by choices
(to leave,

to have adventure,
to participate in activities
that exacerbate
the change).

These may have occurred
several times per year,
until the breaking point,
or in one dramatic season;
but, what difference does it make?

I have stopped trying,
to look through smoke,
to find the answer to:
“What is really happening?”
or even forecast
through the weekend.

Instead, I navigate
with the nose,
toward a little bit of sense,

smelling
for what the present
has to offer,
by way of remembrance.

When the Old Man fell,
it fell on our plates,
of pizza and cake.
It stopped Britney’s mom
from slicing.
Leaving just enough
for one slice per child

– no seconds for anyone –

except I,
who grabbed two slices of pizza,
and two slices of cake,
because I was afraid.

The Muse

Reading her poetry, it stirred me up,
with eye of newt, wing of bat,
and things like that;
and so I stopped.

When I called, there was no motion;
there was no potion, and yet I fell.

Instead, she slipped a note,
and I read what she wrote:

“Reading your poetry, it stirs me up.
Afterward, I can never remember
what to do with my letters.
I connect vowel to consonant,
and then consonant to vowel,
but what comes out —
is no language I recognize.”

That’s just how it was;
it happened just like that.

She came out —
in a collared dress,
with thimbles on her thumbs,
and flushed cheeks
that seemed
to say:

“I know more of
hugging and kissing
than I will ever care
to admit,”

and taught me —
how to color in my lips,
with pencil crayons,
and keep inside
the lines;

how to be
a sometimes red,
and other times deep magenta
kind of girl;

how to come out,
and say:
“I FELL IN LOVE WITH A WOMAN.”

Enacting our poetry, it stirred us up,
with each forgetting that she
was not the other,
and so we stopped.

The Editor

Turn the knob, he said.
Don’t be a stranger.
Come in.
Have a seat.
Allow me
to pull out your chair
to pin up your hair
to —
introduce yourself, I said.
Don’t be pedantic.

Not I, he said.
Haven’t you met a true Romantic?
    I fear thy mien, thy tone, thy motion,
thou needest not fear mine;
innocent is the heart’s devotion,
   with which I worship thine.

May I have a drink?
Just water, he said.
No wine.
On second thought,
you’re fine.
    Here lies one whose name was writ in water. 

In order to catch up,
with the spirit of the times,
I indulged this verbal eroticism,
tracing the vowels
of Shelley and Keats
back onto him.

I veiled my conceit,
in a deep-twin sheet,
and introduced myself
to The Editor.

Heartlines

Published by Atticus Review at http://atticusreview.org/the-trees-issue/

If                                  I should die before I wake, lay me ‘neath

a tree                          where  lichen grows in whiskers, for I

fell in                          love with a stubbled chin that trailed

the forest                   across my collar, up-over my mounds,

and no one was        allowed to cut pink slippers, he said,

around                        here, the Lady is scarce as hen’s teeth

to hear it                     mark your drums with turpentine, but

did it make                 sense to recluse into romance, to build

a sound                      heart for two?

Kelsey

For Kelsey Hoffman
DSC01558
meaning
“from the ship’s island,”
which is the one, let’s say,
that draws people in,
like the eyes of a lady,
with their fine lines
and fine-tuned vision,
which some people call
experience; that tames
wanderlust, in women,
especially, by just asking:
“Would you like to moor?”
straightforward and sure,
so unlike their main men
from the mainlaind,
who take perpetual availability
for permission to go
…radio silent…
She is tiller of victory gardens,
where grow autonomy
for her people,
who are all people,
and also vegetables
like: red peppers,
white corn,
blue hubbard squash,
or whatever color,
they ask
to be
drawn in.

Father’s Day

Oh, what a day
to get out
with the sun
no, not up
that too easy
waking is
very normal and very common
an action that requires no will
unlike working
which 66% do at-will
in exchange for small change
and less development of skill
that too hard
treating people like people is
very abnormal and very uncommon

On Sundays,
father gets out
just for fun
no, not church
that too easy
praying is
very close to talking on the phone
with someone who takes efficiency
…very seriously…
like his boss’s boss
or the call out with a sick kid
in exchange for 2 days of rest
counting Sunday
except this one
being a holiday

I get out
despite rain clouds
in spite of depression
because I get it
how my burned daylight
could be conflated
with disrespect
for parents who work
for every father in my lineage
especially Dad
who still puts in overtime
for no pay
but the security
that his job is safe
thereby his house is safe
should there ever come
a sick kid
knocking
to come in.

April Fools

DSC03019
Come in, little lamb.
Let me teach:
“How to Bake a Shepherd’s Pie”
In as many days as it takes
For us to die.
That’s not to say
You’re slow at learning
or Death is coming quick.
Don’t be stupid.

Don’t be the Jack who cries
at tripping the candlestick.
Boy, that’s no wolf or foul,
Just a shadow [of doubt].
Be nimble. Hear me out.
Bend your ear to an idea
of Education by which
Practice makes better
is non sequitur.

How to define better,
When tastes change
With the season;
When butter is subject
To become too rich
For no certain reason?
Don’t.
Define your practice.

Trust that interest
And appreciation
For the Arts
Are a kind of devotion
In themselves,
Of greater value than
Any technical skill
You master,
Enough.

You went out like a lion,
With great fortitude,
In April showers
That still may blow
Our house down.
You went out
For Worcestershire sauce.  

Because the recipe
Called for 1 teaspoon
And we had none;
Because this was to be the meal
That set everything right
That made us better
If not perfect
Forever.

Now, at the front steps
Empty-handed,
You kowtow to me,
As if I don’t understand
That there will be days
When handles fly off,
Because we choose
To carry our baggage
Differently.

Come in, little lamb.
Let me teach:
“How to Make it Work”
In as many days
As you are willing
To show up,
Wet and soiled,
But God-willed
To learn.