Signs

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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.

The Muse

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

When I called, there was no motion;
there was no potion, 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 letters.
I connect consonant to vowel,
then vowel to consonant,
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 my lips,
with pencil crayons,
and keep inside
the lines;

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

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

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

The Poet

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.

Unpacking My Hope Chest

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The man who tried to gut me
like a fish? He had no idea
what he had done, giving away
those things.
– Ball® 32oz Wide Mouth Quart Jars
– The empty picture frame
– Center pieces for our Holiday Table
“Think of all the real families,
with limited funds and mobility,
who furnish their labor for nothing.”
I am trying.
Those folding chairs for Big Bend
in April? At the curb, too. Tell me
How to Love Your Park, when
all you’ve left is disposables.
– Half bottle of Head & Shoulders®
– A few packs of clothes hangers
– Redeemed coffee shop punchcard
He had no idea, like a fish,
there was such thing as water.
Enough to turn me soft and prune,
purple as lilacs in June.
The woman who tried to tease me,
toward a new meaning of Hope?
She gave herself away, with guts
and a decent rope. “Hang on this.”
I am trying, but you have no idea
what he did; to the strength in my arms
and chest, leaving the unpacking to me,
like all the rest.
“Have you thought to try riding a bicycle?”

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.