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.

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.

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.

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.  

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.

 

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?