Category: Poetry


What kind of atom string, wrapped around what kind of carbon core, what kind of beating brain and nebulous heart, what kind of moral code, what kind of mantelpiece photograph, what kind of flower in the desert, what kind of desert in flower, what kind of person are you?

I’m the kind that can’t be taken anywhere, not with all the tankfuls of gas, not with all the love letters. I should have been a vegetable garden, this life, drinking in sugars from the soil; instead I am the kind that won’t call her mother back, the kind of Persephone that has to teach herself to love pomegranate. This life, I should have been a tankful, a letter, siphoned out and measured, sent somewhere; instead I am the kind that keeps her eyes open, and hides her burning hands.

You’re just a nasty person, he says, and I laugh and answer, easily, painlessly, did you just find that out now? What kind of promise, what kind of practice, what kind of purpose?

What kind of death, the kind that dries out, sweet-smelling, on the windowsill or the kind that is taken out back, and pressed into the surface of the river, what kind of morning in bed, what kind of alarm, those four bars of a love song, or your mother crying, what kind of kind, kindness, what kind of person are you?

I’m the kind that has been yelling come here. I’m the kind in warm clothes, at the side of the lake. I should have been the first, the second, the third; I should have been the third, the second, the first. This life, I should have been the kind of person that is a room: open the door, set down your bags, come here, come here. Instead I am the kind whose hands are still burning.

Sonnets (I)


These elements exist to complement, and you to choose
your life in this. That farmer of atoms with shells like onion skin
stands along the soil of your body on the gurney. Your eyes laid loose,
softened with saltwater and milk, opened, like a flower in a bowl, petals on rim,
by his row of scalpels. The blend of sweat and soul as your heart is popped
out of its socket, the small lump replaced with a silicon pump. Trust
that scientist with his diamond knife, carving a hole in your breast,
fitting you with a submarine gun in your belly, red-ringed. Such
a pretty little thing; your rosebud Kevlar mouth. You are no less
than the first and last hero, but who can you save? In this bitter maze,
learn that love, and running away, are one and the same.


You are not tall, but tall
tall like the honey-toothed spring, its baby-blue maw
seen from your doorway, that long fall
you’ve broken in three places. You are not small, but small
small like the hand holding up the weight
of the cavern of your love between the trees.
The body which is your body first and
a weapon second, would you let me in
to rest for a while, to undo you strand by strand?
Oh, oh, will you, sweet girl, be mine?
And which of us is the doctor, and which Frankenstein?


Arms, all daylight dirty and burnt day lily, fingertips
their snapped stems. God, where are you
now? Here in the pool of dirt, in the leaves of my lips,
counting out what is left, and how of much of this is true?
This, the life I have drawn and quartered, out
of only love? Let me go, please, let me leave where
I can cover my eyes in these dunes, these
bodies, bodies. How many fates are known,
how many white doors but red keys?
Me, arms cut, hair shorn,
Only I can find my form.

Laundry List

  1. This is my sense of self-worth: A dog in the wintertime, skinny, sitting squat on the side of a country road. A dog, alone, cold, still and wide-eyed as the snow comes down.
  2. This is my pride: An arrow, honed for hunting. An arrow, sharp, laying underneath the last layer of skin, straight, alert, at the juncture where shoulder meets heart. A hierarchy of needs, and desire is in a crown.
  3. This is my capacity for love: A stone, small, flat, entirely colorless but infinitely textured. Just touch alone, the weight and temperature of it in the valley of your hand, is enough. No eyes or mouth, no music; the line of your fingers against a stone in the dark of a windowless room.
  4. This is my self-awareness: A morning like a mirror, clear, over the fields of a careful farmer’s sunflowers. The view from the school bus, head heavy with the truth that is all pain.
  5. This is my weakness: A frame of wood made to look like gold, and a series of ill-fitting paintings of paradise.
  6. This is my courage: A wind, a coat, butter cake wrapped in tinfoil. A painting of paradise.
  7. This is my ability to adapt: An opening to the ocean, occasional rain stippling the surface, and underneath a dove-gray blue whale, mid-song.
  8. This is my ability to trust:
  9. This is my sense of self-hatred: Hitting the tar road at seventy miles per hour, hands on the wheel like guns pointed at dogs; hitting the water at eighty miles per hour. Crawling up the rocks, driving home. Getting up in the morning. Doing it again, again, again.

After the poison, before the antidote

I am this bad summer, slung sticky, and red-hot, across the new artificial grass framing the iceberg blue pool; I am the pink moon, hanging so heavy, as though close to splitting open, ripe; I make you pity the young sunbathers, the stars.

After the poison, before the antidote; cold-water current in a glassy lake, washed in colors of tiptoeing nighttime, licking the curve of the world, the last of the sweet orange late afternoon as it rests, stretched, soft, smooth, over treetops; tasting.

You are this telephone pole, at the end of summer; you are the zebra crossing, under the moon. Sunbathers will reach to steal stars before I can return home without feeling the shape of your memory, close and colossal, soaked into the porous material of my pink-rind life. You are the breath between glowing pomegranate seeds; you are the air in the well of which there is no deeper, clogging with that wait, that want; you make me pity the best summers.

After the poison, before the antidote; center of the desert, the deserter, running only to find you, mirage of cooling green, waist-deep and expectant, ripe, your pretty fingers and long, bad mouth, you, reaching; taking.


There’s honey in her hair, and, on the corner 0f her mouth, sea salt. She stretches like a tiger, when she wakes in the mornings. Her smile is a knife, bitter and tragic; her smile is a slab of butter, warm and fragrant, dissolving. Her hands are villains on the run; her hands are suns from the spring months. Her skin is softest at the crook of her elbow, where her blood hums, pomegranate red, and on the drum of her belly, where her stretchmarks glow, milky silver. Her heart is a cliff, iron ribbons and deposits of metals along the edges; rocks between her ribs, for each time she’s cried without comfort, flowers in her lungs, for each time she’s danced to no music. Love is the hardest work, but she does it gladly. Eyes like trees in childhood, bites of sugar; voice like song in the tundra. Sea salt along her spine and dotting her temples; a gun at her back, underneath her shirt, loaded with bullets made of honey.


ARIES, TURN FERAL: You’ll be more domestic animal than humanoid; oily blood and salt fish will be more yours than maple sugar and liquid sunsets. You don’t just break hearts, you eat them. Everyone likes a little tenderness, yes? But they think love, and you’re thinking chewable.

TAURUS, BLEED OUT: That blue-black night when you accidentally drop your briefcase on the subway floor not once but twice, don’t you dare take the short-cut through the yellow wheat fields home. Those Capricorn boys don’t care for you, they will cut your hair with butterfly knives and sell your clothes to housewives.

GEMINI, SKIP TOWN: There’s a spot behind the burger joint, you know which one. When your Pisces mother kicks you out, walk the two blocks there and feel the onion-sweet, beef-thick air in the dark until it snags underneath you; pull, pull. The fabric of this dimension will dissolve at the acid of your palm and perseverance, creating a hole two feet across, into a new universe. It’s just big enough you to jump in headfirst. No, I can’t tell you if you’ll be any happier, should you go.

CANCER, ACCEPT IT: You’ve got no beauty, but you will be lucky. You ugliest, worthiest of queens: rise.

LEO, MAKE LOVE: If you’re going to kiss him, do it at the pulse point, the throat, first like a wolf then like a married man, and keep at it until he forgets his mama’s name. Good. Get a tattoo afterwards (might I suggest a lion? No? Too obvious? A dragon, then.) If you’re out looking for a quickie, consider picking up an Aries. They’re biters, though; beware.

VIRGO, DON’T GO SLOW: On the day the city floods, hike up your skirts and run. You can’t cheat Death, but you can beat him up, if you find and catch him unguarded (his favorite victim, a sweet-tempered, curly-haired Aquarius, was taken during a storm; so now Death sleeps during rain. All villains have something they’d rather never remember.)

LIBRA, WANT IT: But don’t say it, don’t touch it, not yet. Some things must be courted before they are killed. Wait. Soon you will sink your hands in, run your tongue through. A warning: wanting is a kind of cheating, sometimes, and even if you get away with it, that won’t make it worthwhile.

SCORPIO, SPIT: Onto the sidewalk, and then into the fire, before you start up your brew. Eye of newt is a little old-fashioned, how about the heart of a Taurus?

SAGITTARIUS, WRITE: Last month’s paycheck was cut in half, and your blouse will disappear from the laundromat (Leo looks better in it. Sorry.) It’ll be alright. Sit at your kitchen table, half-naked, and finish your stories.

CAPRICORN, BE CRUEL: You are hungry. So feed.

AQUARIUS, COME HOME: Count your wounds and gather your things. You gave it your best shot, but it’s time to call it a day. Don’t fall asleep on the subway; don’t run the risk of a Libra’s love. Your body is demonic, but never rotting; can the same be said of the side of the angels? Those bastards are falling, every which way.

PISCES, IT’S OKAY TO CRY: You’re still here, aren’t you? Yes. Yes. Yes, you are. Say it with me, and then repeat it: yes, I am.