This Land is Our Land

fullsizeoutput_209How many watches had it been,
when I first caught sight of Paradise?

Seven – or is that the first digit
to come to mind?

Regardless, I would have kept kissing the dry land,
until it soaked in my sins,
had you not been
standing at my bower,
with tape
and parrot flowers.

The ship was splintered,
worse that any storm
or winter could do;
my lips, too.

Yet, I was fixed

on the mountains in the distance,
skirted in Doug Fir forest,
and decked with heavy fruits
(pear, apple, persimmon,
perpetually in season),
suspended in mist.

Never had I encountered a landscape,
as hard as it was soft,
particularly at the edges,
where rocky bluffs
terminate to sand,
and primrose grows
in mats that prick,
rather than provide respite
for the sick.

Yet, I was fixed

of the pain I had long-held,
from believing myself unhomeable
outside of childhood.

Or, perhaps, restored

to original condition:
an only daughter of an only parent,
(for which the treatment is
undivided affection
and absolute understanding).

How many men had it been,
when I first washed up on Paradise?

Seven – or is that the first digit
to come to mind?

Regardless, I would have kept gripping the shore,
until I was born into safety,
and then trained out of it again,
had you not offered more:

Your hand, a surrogate for my father.
Your land, for my Paradise, my Fatherland.

 

Walking in the Rain

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On a persistent basis,
it will penetrate
your psychology,
making water come
up from the ground,
down from the sky,
and side to side,
at the same time.

As if shaken,
by an unseen hand,
your eyes will twinkle,
and then fade to coal,
your arms will swing out,
into larger and larger circles,
and then snap, as if twigs.

Hello, snowwoman.
You are hotter
than you are meant to be.

Are you sweating
out a fever
or succumbing
to Spring?

Either way,
take care
to know
you are no more
contained to land.

When a mind becomes
flooded with thoughts
outside the body,
the ground beneath
your feet, themselves,
their wet shoes and socks,
their toes united
in commiseration;
they all fall down.

Once all ice is melted,
and run off to the seas,
take pride
to know
you helped reshape
the continents.

Shorelines
as round as your face,
as square as your elbow,
as it hailed a bus
some million years ago.

Answer “Yes,”
to one or more of the following questions,
and you may be a martyr:

Do you feel overburdened, overwhelmed, and physically exhausted, most of the time?
Do you feel underappreciated for all that you do?
Is your baggage heavier than everyone else?

You may be a martyr
or, otherwise, one
who has had enough
of walking for today,
and needs to collect
her thoughts,
lest she forget
that no one has yet
drowned by sweat
or a walk in the rain.

 

 

Signs

DSC05848

When the pencil skirt fits,
but doesn’t sit
at the hips,
as does the cyclist,
who would rather
be caught dead
than with a bulge,
even if it’s just
an extra bunch
of fabric;
and so she walks,
in measured steps,
passing where
the sidewalk ends,
and then, drops off
into dirt,
until the final block,
where precision goes
to posture,
and so go the toes
– over the lip –
and then,
the heals,
and then,
one palm,
one knee,
and the
stack of crepes
planned to be
for everyone.

When the rice is simmering,
and asks for stirring,
just occasionally,
and so she drops
the wooden spoon,
takes up the sword,
and decides,
right then,
and there,
to prepare
kimchi
for winter,
which is yet
months away,
unlike the hand
on the timer,
which begets
a ten-second
countdown,
“Oh shit,”
and the other
on the blade,
“Oh shit,”
there is
salt
in a wound,
and it is time to move
back to the pot,
with rice searing
to its bottom.

When the appetite,
stirs the night,
she slips
to the cupboard,
looks in,
up, top,
middle,
bottom,
but sees nothing
with nearsighted eyes,
which is why,
her past self
put out
the one-half
cocoa-carob
energy bar,
on the counter,
where apparently
it is heir apparent
for ants play,
because something
tastes like
plus two grams
of protein,
and feels like
soda,
“Fizz,
boom,
pop!”
on her tongue.

When she arrives, at last,
not merely late
but also hungry,
and asking
for further
accommodation,
like a band aid,
a courtesy call,
a chance to sit,
it might be
a sign of immaturity,
or being irresponsible,
or at the end
of a misguided hike,
but more likely,
of the universal struggle,
of learning to live
outside the bubble,
where there
are new types
of pressure,
on the air,
to focus
on marks
in the floor,
to tune out
the sink of dirty dishes,
empty the mind,
and then,
get back to work.

Natural Interruptions

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Old-Man-Fall-Page.jpg.opt924x792o0,0s924x792

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.

Things My Mother Gave Me (That I Did Not Ask For)

shoulder pads
a cigarette burn on my left shoulder
her middle name

a battle with me at the middle
second helpings of mashed potatoes
too little pride to succeed, too much to ask for help
how to win Monopoly
how to cheat
how to cheat the system
Nintendo 64
an excuse for asking

“Do you love me?
Do you love me?
Do you love me?
Really, are you so sure?”

love
a crush on David Bowie
crushed ice from the refrigerator
Days With Frog and Toad
days spent on the road

One, two, three, four, five / Everybody in the car, so come on let’s ride

one, two, three, four, five…years of silence
someone to mythologize

Mother Medea in a cropped top
grooves humbly as any green girl through
her ruined lot, taking stock
off shelves at the Stop n’ Shop
just for shits and giggles.

lessons in astrology
enough clairvoyance to see beyond the tip of my nose
lessons in cosmetology

“A girl can always use more _______ .”

scrunchies
and bowls of Cap’n Crunch cereal
[Argh!! she’s a pirate, Halloween 1996]
how to change the mask without changing the costume
how to dance the Macarena
Kraft macaroni and cheese
Fifty bucks in government-subsidized dairy
and bottles of Similac
little-to-no tits, but nice nipples
sensitivity to mosquito bites
the last bite of her dessert
Strawberry Shortcake and Cabbage Patch Kids

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man / Bake me a cake, as fast as you can
a good man to call Uncle

Pat it, prick it, and mark it with B / Put it in the oven for baby and me

a better man to call Daddy
a promise

“I promise to be better.”
or two
“I promise the zoo.”
or three
“I promise birthday cards.”

a birthday.

I’ll Be Home for Xmas

 

I swept the stuff and the shit and the sayings [that were given but not asked for] under the mat.

I got stuck at the mirror all morning, from the first second after my second helping of breakfast was consumed, through noon, when it stopped being cute [to have an imaginary friend] and became something not unlike schizophrenia.

She wants you to put on a nice outfit, do your hair up right, take out the trash.

There’s a good side of me that recognizes the significance in having a room and a body to live in, fortunately. And so, I keep my corners clear. Before settling here, at the only cafe counter in town where there are coasters not carousels of condiments and paper nappies, I swept the stuff and the shit and the sayings [that were given but not asked for] under the mat. And I dressed up. If, any minute now, a stranger should sidle up beside me, the barista might rightly testify that I was asking for it. Imagine a girl [young adult woman] alone but for her leather notebook and inky pen, on Xmas Eve, and try not to assume that she’d be receptive to spitting on anything [from semantics to semiotics].

She wants you to make a public display of affection, a show of your agency, and strip off all the layers that you did not lay yourself.

Once, a dog ate my history, and so I had to rewrite it…

My self and I are neither “hanging out” nor halfway to the altar. This is a [the first official] date, the one that we will use to measure the depth and scale of our love. She has been asking me [to come] out for two decades, but there have been good excuses and better reasons to skirt her invitations. Once, a dog ate my history, and so I had to rewrite it, on the opening night of some subversive flick that could have [coincidentally] changed our course [mine and his] sooner. As for the other times, I was busy. She would call [again and again] just to say “It’s me!” and it was all I could do to tu-tu-tu-tu, seeming less harsh a tone than the truth.

She wants you to stop playing, cut the chords, and listen for the old bray of your heart.

I am home.

What is home if not where one goes looking for love?

Six months ago, the greatest love of my life moved to Reno, Nevada, but I [being reluctant to follow a woman] did not go. Instead, I put her down as my plus-one to holiday parties in Salt Lake City, Utah; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Edmonton, Kentucky; and Charlestown, New Hampshire, knowing that she could not afford to travel. She said, “I do not have a plane, or a train, or an automobile, but there’s a bicycle on Craigslist for $40.” And so, I have met her here — for a cup of coffee, and a two-wheeled tour of the Biggest Little City in the world. What is home if not where one goes looking for love?

Would you like to throw a stone at me?

There’s a rat-a-tat-tat on the window
that my imagination takes for bird’s
play — swallow — and then I see her
dancing, with her twin in the glass,
damn narcissist, she’s asking for it,
go splat
at my feet. No feathers?
There’s a feet, or two, or
a pair of Converse shoes
faded that familiar blue-
like lavender but not so sweet-
smelling as bodies do when hot
so hot so fucking hot are you
here on some errand? Here, winner
take all that’s left of my peach.
Pat of butter? Cup of sugar?
I have none nor the patience
for solicitation
for polite salutations
or whatever it is that you’re trying
to sell me today.
I want to give more
than what fits through a window,
so, if you will,
please come to the door.

My First Place

lamplightIn the northwest corner
a tent for the sun
diffuses light muted divine
across this uncarpeted territory
that I deign call mine
but rather than bask
in the afterglow
of an energy bill paid
and my utility proven
I shut the lamp again
until it cools
“it” being the bulb
but also the fear
of being outgrown
as toy is by child
of being the child
who outgrows
the clinging
the tantrums
and toilet accidents
the infrastructure
for success
in health and happiness
that I built last season
when legs were shorter
and it made sense
to sit on his shoulders
for a clear view of the stage
beyond the next hill
beyond the walls of our bedroom
beyond “us”
and I stand
corrected of all errors made
under the influence
of the status quo
the normative hetero-
and other biases
on the subject of
how women and men are supposed to live
together
to live creatively
and I shout
I was an artist before we met
before he gave the go-ahead
by commenting on all my pictures
cute!
and I will stay an artist regardless
of how I use (or do not use)
my sex
and I sound
self-righteous and overexposed
to darkness and solitude
but I am not low
because my ego is so high
and I step
off my soap box taller
the tallest in the room
knowing one thing to be true:
for as long as I am here
I will not be where he went.

Love Letter Manifesta


Starting now, I choose to adapt to a higher standard of living.

Up to this point, my experience as a creature on this fine planet has been a whirligig of emotions, peace-becoming-turmoil-becoming peace-becoming-turmoil. Erratic is a good word, one which I tangentially define as “of or relating to New England weather.” I have never seen a year without four distinct seasons, so the choice of whether or not to adapt–to new colors and patterns on the ground, and in the sky, and the new dispositions that accompany them–is not one that I have practiced making. The person who I am today has been built upon an accumulation of abrupt transitions, she has witnessed (both in herself and others) so many changes in heart that the only outcome that feels safe to assume is impermanence. Last night, you saw me swinging, somewhere behind the eyes. In the weeks following my arrival, the arc of the pendulum within me has shortened, enabling me to feel happiness unchecked; the present moment is objectively good.

I do not need love to stand in for hunger, health or shelter…

Starting now, I choose to adapt to a higher standard of living. I give myself permission to seek out friendships and companionships with other walls, standing strong and tall, who love and respect themselves as much (or more than) me. I give myself permission to ask for what I want. I want someone to share beautiful things with, who challenges my definition of what it means to be extraordinary–or better–someone who refuses to differentiate between the mundane and the extraordinary, who finds purpose in his or her life not through acknowledged status and accomplishments but through anonymous acts of kindness and art making, guerrilla gardening, an authentic drive to die having enriched the planet and the lives of those plants and animals who inhabit it. What I want is a rare breed of person and a nuanced connection that requires more time to marinate than my previous self would have been comfortable with. Fortunately, the present moment is objectively good.

I resolve to show respect to those people and items that nourish my body.

I do not need love to stand in for hunger, health or shelter, for friends, family or therapy, these “basic needs” are, at long last, met, and I find myself in the position to want again. The easy, expectationless process that we have chosen to unravel each other is something that I have wanted for a long time, yet I’m not sure if it was a conscious decision for me. By some intuition, I continue to treat our interactions as little bites of a pie, the size and flavor of which remain to be determined, chewing each at least fifty times. Though both food and company are easily accessible to me, I resolve to show respect to those people and items that nourish my body, my soul, my heart.  Our day together was an anomaly in the scheme of my year and week and life, inviting me to experience the full range of good emotions–attraction seasoned with camaraderie and shameless festering–without imminent pain on the horizon. My intention: one good day at a time.


These past months of bashful salutations and stolen eye contact have transported me to a place of cognitive dissonance. After overreaching, and not being met halfway, the natural response should be to feel alienated from you–but, instead, I have noticed our connection deepen in density and thickness; new pathways have emerged to bridge the silence, while the old have been tread into permanence. All beings emit noise, above and beyond the sound of the breath, it’s that buzz-and-whir of the reel (some call it the brain, I’m sure) turning over, and over again, in the same way; forever. I did not tune my dial in search of your frequency; on the contrary, I tried to give up guessing at your thoughts, but every space you enter swells–made grander by your modest music, a trio of flute, panpipes and the whisper-whistle of the wind through a willow tree. When you are far, the air is too quiet; close, too loud
                                     

but the third bowl of porridge was just right
.
.
.
I love you


The landscape of my desire is all wilderness; there are at least 5,000 acres imagined for solitude.

We are both thankful for a thrift store being open on Sunday, as our hunger for Capezio T-straps with Teletone taps (me) and a poorly rendered portrait of Cesar Chavez (you), had it been otherwise, would still lay dormant. We are both in agreement that the capacity to want a thing immediately–without history, or context, or even a middle name, should be preserved, but disagree on the question of how to use it. The landscape of my desire is all wilderness; there are at least 5,000 acres imagined for solitude, and all other primitive and unconfined forms of recreation. I do not care to scale every inch, to build trails that loop back or lunge forward. I do not care to know why it feels sexy to ride bicycles wearing jazz shoes, or if it makes good sense to love you, I just do.


pheromones

  • burnt sage
  • brown bananas
  • dance sweat
  • used bookstore
  • masa harina
  • castille soap
  • brackish water
  • bruised lavender
  • the month of June
  • wet socks
  • sidewalk chalk
  • secondhand shirts
  •  supermarket pastries
  • sun-dried blacktop
  • hot coffee
  • cold crepes

Song of My Selfie

In 2013, “selfie” was named the Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year. It is an informal noun (plural: selfies) defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

I.   I monitor myself, and sing myself,
and compose the truth you shall assume,
for an arched brow only means as much as it signifies to you.

I choose to discard my soul.
I cut ‘cross puckerbrush, and plant dandies
among the summer grass.

My teeth, every incisor in my mouth, chatter in the open air.
Born with a  jack-o’-lantern grin, of parents who loved me all the same,
I, now thirty-seven paces tread into solitude, begin,
hoping to survive shutter-death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
retiring reliance on cultural scripts, undocumented, but never
forgotten–I capture myself, for good or bad.
I permit the image to speak every hazard nature has imbued
and, in its irregularities, reap energy.

II.  The house is deserted as a chestnut, rotted from inside out.
With perfumes, I concoct the fragrance of myself, and like it.
The vanity would noose me by the nose, but I shall not let it.

The phthalates are not necessary; they are dangerous and disruptive,
odorless, and potentially toxic, but I am in love with the bouquet.
I will haunt the powder room, doused in chemicals and naked,
smelling of red dye, unpicked.

The stress in my bated breath echoes and swarms,
in buzz’d whispers, a scandal creeps the vine.

My active mind puts me at the party, sniffing on green leaves,
punching air into my lungs, sucking off cherries, and swallowing their pits
for kicks. The sound, O, the siren sound, of my chalky heels striking
the cellar floor, eager for a few light kisses, a few embraces,
an offering of arms.

In dreams, I play synesthetic: mouth open, tongue wagging in delight,
imbibing each balsamic beat, spit-shadows trailing my hill-sides.
The feeling of  weak acid cleansing the body, from inside out,
imitates health, and encourages me to rise.
At the trill of full-noon, I will rise to meet someone.

III.  I have seen how the gawkers are gawking,
with mock compassion, at my reaches and bends.
But I refuse the hands they offer to lend.

There was never any more protection than there is now.
Nor any more depravity than there is now.
And will never be more fornication on cable than there is now.
Nor any more hoots and hollers than there are now.

Urge and urge and urge.
Always the procreant urge of the world.
By God’s word, go forth and multiply.

I have heard how the doctors are doctoring,
the doc-talk of the baster and the twine.
But I refuse to be dressed for their holiday tables,
my cavity a mere incubator of precious stuff.

Sure as the most certain sure, the experts are plumb
in the uprights, well-entretied, braced in the beams.
A thousand acres sown with x chromosomes,
logic assumes I improve my sex–they promise.

My offspring will possess a ubiquity of things,
white towels swelling the house, crystal vah-zes
breeding dust mites in the den.

My offspring will be stout as a horse, affectionate,
haughty, electrical, with a soul so clear and sweet,
neither an inch nor a particle reminiscent of me.
By the word of Science, she will be progress.

IV. Menarche, the first horror, the beginning
of conjugal war, of feverish loins, of pit stains.

Pornographers surround me, people I meet,
around town, on the train, in public restrooms,
at the office, behind the house, or ward, I live in.

Their scopophilic gaze compounds me,
I am oddball, wastewater, womankind, nothing
fit for the respect of some boy, or sage, I love.

The thickness of one lip more than the other,
engorged like a grub, renders me complicit,
an actor in the defamation of myself.

A part in the hair, or breasts, I am splitting.
Apart from my cherry, I am broke.
She is my idol, my amour propre, my unitary self.

The serpents look down, are erect, or bent, at rest,
arrested, looking with side-curved heads, curious,
what will come next, tongues darting in and out,
enraptured by the game of watching and wondering.

Backward I trace in my steps where I erred,
but I find no such incrimination.
I have made no mockings or arguments,
I have witnessed and waited.