Juliet Balcony

The best human solution to the problem of grief

over a lost sense of being outdoors,
combined with fear of being found out
is the Juliet balcony, a slight protrusion towards
Step 1: Admit powerlessness.

Forecasters say heavy rains, pushing east-southeast,
could knock it out on Monday morning,
and what’s worse, lift my seedlings from their pots,
and plant them into the alley.

I want to get back into circulation, free-flowing
words that pop out of nowhere,
like the bright pink head of that purple finch there,
with forward-facing toes gripped around
a wild knot of power.

I admit I lack the same command of iambic feet,
but my deeply sincere tone, and good humor alone
could help others get through the day;
namely, the zinnias, otherwise to be washed
beyond the reach of roots by May.

So, I switch the latch lock off, and rise to join them
at the balustrade, where I recite a mantra:
…to accept the things I cannot change…
and there’s something slightly
Shakespearean about it now.

Aubade for What Stayed in Reno

Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are

Oh, darling one
I wish I may,
I wish I might
have that wish
we made last night,
on that bright star
neither first nor right
but fixed as it was
to the grid of light
seemed a safer bet
to count on to stay
twinkle-twinkling
than a dumb rock
in the sky, though,
not so dumb as we
who got hitched
to a deadline
not certain, as we
who bet love
on some number
of days before
the Chapel of Bells
goes under.

Oh, bright star,
would I were
steadfast as thou are,
could take your
leave-taking
with no hand
in the jar
not reaching
for crumbs
when there’s cake
right in front of me
full of butterlove
the better love,
the solid, yellow,
stick-to-the-ribs
kind of love;
with no head
under the bell
not stewing
on what you are
hanging aloft, alone
in Reno’s sour air
when there’s someone
who cares, standing
right in front of me.

Oh, sweet heart,
so soon we part
— yet, you are
still steadfast
still unchangeable
still as night
at the break of day
with eggs breaking
with sugar shaking
how can you be hungry
for lovemaking
it’s too early, too new
too much, too fast,
and too soon — yet,
I am still happy,
still over the moon
still laughing along
with the little dog,
at seeing such sport
as the dish carried
off by her spoon.

When the blazing sun is gone
When he nothing shines upon
Then you show your little light
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

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 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 and carousels of condiments.  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 young adult woman alone, but for her leather notebook and inky pen, on Christmas Eve, and try not to assume that she’d be receptive to spitting— on semantics or 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 our first official date, the one that we will use to set expectations, to measure the depth and scale of commitment. You have been asking me to come out for two decades, but there have been OK excuses to skirt the invitation. Like, once a dog ate my history, and so I had to rewrite it; on the opening night of some subversive flick that would have changed my course forever. As for the others, I was busy. When she called just to say “It’s me!” I let the line go tu-tu-tu-tu, seeming less harsh 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 being reluctant to follow a woman, I 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?

Crossed Trees, Dotted Skies

Out of fear of jeopardizing a nascent acquaintance, with someone who understood “small talk” as being the conversations we have on the subject of our size relative to Earth, and its size relative to the universe, I agreed — to hop through puddles, and over the tracks; to lower my defenses against soiling my new Oxford flats.

Running, we hit a wall of brambles that fell open, and swallowed us whole, when my leader uttered the magic words: this way. On the other side, a cemetery, a grove of blighted poles–uncut. “This wood is still good,” they said, “but timberers know that the humankind are superstitious of catching diseases (that do not spread) and living in haunted houses (where none but trees have bled).”

I associate this adventure, from which I am now six months removed, with the feeling of fullness — a mind full of metaphysical questions, stockings full of stinging nettles, and the potential for a future full of invitations to eat ice cream with a friend. Stepping out of my comfort zone, and into the footprints of that nomad/nymph, was the first move of many that led to the making of this hole that I am now using to scratch my toe without removing my shoes. In retrospect, it was worth it.


The Oxbow Nature Study Area, chartered for the animals, by the people, is a watering hole for creatures who enjoy watching and being watched, while pretending to be thoroughly invested in some thing or another — often taking field notes in their Moleskine notebooks or surveying the range of edibles within walking distance.

It is public land, one of the few remaining places where we can play for free. I know a guy — I’ve lived here long enough to know a guy — who practices flute under those minimizing cottonwood spires, making music for an audience of his peers: the growlers, the quackers, the imagined masters, of cloud castles in the sky.

Despite being too frugal to buy toilet tissue, when it’s easy enough to swipe a roll from the diner over the hill, I ritually sacrifice $2.29 for one 10 oz. mug of coffee. I treat the cafe counter as rented studio space. Consumer etiquette tells me that I can loiter for two hours before purchasing a refill becomes obligatory.

But…there is a place for people like me, a preserve for poets who’d rather perch on the periphery of society than participate in basic exchanges of cash for caffeine. A place closer to home. A place that my memory recalls as the most romantic / Romantic setting in all of Reno, Nevada. Oxbow is convenient and cost-effective and cast in natural light, but I do not go there.


Now, sitting on the dock that leans out against muddy waters, into the marsh, a tributary of the Truckee River, I listen for the question that belongs to this place, on that day, when they asked it. Then, my answer was a snake in the reeds, meandering, a thing that made us wonder which end to be afraid of.
“What is home, Kayla?” A “w” question, but not the one I expected.
I said, “Home is a social convention — more dated than dating — four
walls make a box, two adults and two children in a box make four people.”

There’s some pleasure in being (or performing as) the type of person to intellectualize a concept that others know intuitively for fact, i.e., red means stops, green means living, but more in having a queue of single words answers to fill all the blank, uninterested faces at any given gathering of acquaintances.
Now, I am wanting to say “here” or “you” or some other small but mighty thing. I am wanting to express my truth, which is love, which is gratitude, which is healing, but they are not asking. Out of respect, let no mean no; let silence mean no; let me listen. Let an other have their turn in the sun, their pirouette on the big, flattop of a rotted-out stump.

This time, let me ask the questions.

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.