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.

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.

This Land is Our Land

How 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 Fatherland.

 

When Men See a Face

When men see a face tear up,
their hands curl in,
the way one might ball
a tissue, glut with gum,
or something else soft.
They have nothing
to cry on
or hide.

When men see a face get small,
their hands get big,
as if to swat a fly,
if not block the sun
that attracts it.
They are repellant
and attractive.

When men see a face flood,
their hands open,
like floodgates, so calm,
in the palms, yet furious,
in the fingers,
where it counts,
five times
as much.

When men see a face speaking,
they go silent,
as if to say:
“Talk to the hand,
or just shut up,
if you know better.”

When men see a face sighing,
their hands do nothing,
so she sings to herself:
When the moon hits your eye,
like a big pizza pie,
that’s amore.

When men see a face
turn blue,
on the other hand,
their hands turn yellow,
imbued with the energy
of the sun; at last,
enlightened.

 

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.

Emily

This is not another one about
how I would like to kiss you,
how I forever and always,

Sincerely miss you; because
I is tired of acting, because
You is tired of passing, because

We are tired of writing poetry
that pleases the masses,
but leaves us feeling like asses,

For dishing out what is expected,
for speaking in a different voice
that sounds too akin to a whine

to belong to a prophet or pastor,
or someone in the business,
of delivering advice,
and receiving forgiveness.

This is not another confession.
This is a poem. About something.
A poem about politics or pedagogy

Or people, but not a person not
some arbitrary object of love
named You.

There may be pretty rhymes,
enjambs, and bits of tulle,
but do not be distracted.

There’s more to be desired
inside. Go ahead,
and unwrap this.

This poem does not care
if you muss up her hair,
and feels no shame

For setting it, or for wearing
a belt to accentuate her form.
That’s what [women] poets do.

We have the tools
for spinning letters
into fine language,

And are not afraid
to use them.
That’s what makes us crafty,

And crooked.
Beauty is essential to our strategy,
of getting you to pick up this thing

That, despite its gender, does not bend
to the feminine style, or other limits,
which do not exist.

There were no concessions made
for your taste, aside from that
brief mention of love,

Just because. Because

Emily is an ode, with brown hair
and brown eyes, and a mouth that
shouts sometimes;

To her lover, who also has hair
and eyes, and a mouth that gives
kisses to Emily.

Emily is neither sweet as pie,
nor humble as mashed potatoes,
but she is what I like,

And this is not about you.

Shilo

Shilo belongs to a protected category of person,
the kind that must be managed so as to preserve
its natural condition, to appear unaffected by the
forces of nature, and the imprint of man’s work,
afforded at least five thousand acres for solitude.

At first brush, it seemed probable we’d be lovers.
She had me feeling all-American and free, shout-
singing: “Girl, this land was made for you n’ me”
and all other beasts of the Northern Nevada wild,
where the desert is high and dry and exposed, not
so low and wet and closed as where I come from.

“What brings you here, to these parts?” should be
easy — a basic exchange of creative nonfiction —
and I’ve heard that it gets better, but when you’re
queer and a woman probes for your preference of
parts, it’s imperative to leave the door open some,

So you say something like “Where I come from is
called the River Valley, green and fertile and deep,
with mountains on both sides, thrusting up toward
the sky. Your land has dimples and mounds in all
the right-familiar places; it reminds me of home.”

Shilo showed me the Playa in June, before Burners
came to boogie and burn, and we scribbled crayon-
portraits of each other, our busts against a backdrop
that could have passed for the surface of the moon.
She drew me in — in an extraterrestrial style — soft

-shelled egg of a head, floating on a band of gold
dust that was literally black (as her tip of charcoal)
but, for better symbolism, I remember in gold.

One-Track Mind

Thinking about how
sex is different, much more
different, now than it was then;
not materially — the strings still
bray, their ancient tongues still
flick the same — but structurally.

Thinking about how
to imagine being fucked from
behind, without gagging on a
principle: all sex is violence
except the kind that is saved
by a word; Mississippi means
“This doesn’t feel good to me.”

Thinking about how
this doesn’t feel good to me;
the mattress has a zipper that
rubs wrongly, reminding me
of a mouth too familiar that
is dry and uncertainly mine.

Thinking about how
often is not often enough
for someone* to masturbate
when someone is *a female.

Thinking about how
being female is a diagnosis
for dysfunction; how I come
and come and come to accept
that prescription for Prozac
in place of understanding.

Thinking about how
the whole is greater than the sum
of its parts, i.e., ❤ = you + me
or 1 + 1 = 3; how there’s no proof
that when two losers fall in love
they’ve the will to beat anything.

Thinking about how
you beat me once, and again,
not materially — but an injury
does not have to be physical
to get us thinking about how
the body works or does not.