CNF

Orchard

There in the fine-grain dust of the apple orchard. There with the dust running through our small child hands like liquid. Like the things we can’t ever hold onto. Like the memory of the orchard on that day.

Maybe Nihilism Isn’t so Bad

Dread – that was really the only way I could describe it, the way I would lie awake in my freshman dorm staring at the metal webbing of the bunk bed, feeling the little needle of anxiety start somewhere in the middle of my chest then get stronger and wilder like a twister

The Gun

You lure your friend Mandy towards your father’s dresser. He is still alive, which means you are no older than eight.  You slide the bottom drawer out, climb onto his folded work socks.

Four Visits

My husband and I have just separated. I visit the modern art wing alone and pause in a room to watch a film of William Lamson wheeling an enormous mirrored magnifying glass into a desert valley to harness the sun’s heat and burn an arc across the ground.

When Did it Start?

When did it start my husband asks. The it to which Charlie refers, means the intense emotional rollercoaster I am presently on. Holding back tears and gripping the back of the kitchen chair as if I’m whooshing down the rails of a Great America ride, I answer that I don’t know.

Ball of Twine

Chaos theory describes the organizational nature of the universe. Benoit Mandelbront, a mathematician, described it as a ball of twine: “A ball of twine appears to be a point when viewed at a great distance, a ball when viewed nearby, and a curve when viewed extremely close.”

In the last 24 hours

I got to the high school national basketball championship game where we lost with one second left on the clock when the small forward for the other team, who would go on to be drafted by Duke University, did a tip-dunk that put them within one point, and was fouled,...

Boys: A Backlog

1) Tommy, the tiniest boy on the 1st-grade playground, becomes the object of your desire as you chase him, screaming Daddy, please, Daddy, momentarily forsaking your very own doting daddy at home.

Theft

These are the facts of my father’s death from the New Orleans Times Picayune a few days after June 9, 1974: The death of Godfrey Kirkpatrick, 39, 1740 Jackson Ave., who was found hanged at his residence Sunday night, was still under investigation and unclassified by the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office Monday

Boots That Help Me Find a Rhythm

On a short section of the Appalachian Trail, north of Hiawassee, Georgia, I discarded the grief of my divorce like one long apple peel flung on top of the poison ivy growing next to the narrow, clay path.  The wildflowers and the canopies stretched tall enough to touch the sky.

No Charities

I got some old silver rings I wear. I buy them tarnished and keep them on my hands until they rub themselves clean and shining. I feel too familiar with them, once they’re only my own, but I don’t take them off.

Continental Divide

“You’re only as fast as your slowest hiker,” Instructor Larry repeated, woods code for, We’re a group. We stick together. The other students who’d had water and trail mix, who were laughing and talking while they rested and waited, slung their monster backpacks on as soon as he and I reached them.

Poison Apples

Shortly before my father married my stepmother, he asked me to draw her, using the pastels he had given me for my birthday. I was fourteen, a fairly talented artist for a fourteen-year-old, but not exceptional.

Blue

When I was sixteen, the Virgin Mary spoke to me. I don’t remember what she said- just the tears, blue in the cool afternoon shade. I cried first in response to what she had said, and then the tears rapidly became about forgetting.

Endurance Glacier

It took a hundred thousand years to cultivate a soul this blue, so blue you don’t have a word for it. Your words aren’t ancient enough. Soon all that’s left of me will be the sound of katabatic winds and the clink of ice against crystal as you toast to your own...

From the Mouths

I’m home from school with a cage of eight rats my teacher won gambling. My mother’s on a call, making hmmms and ohhhs to our rotary dial phone. Her entire body hunches over her church friend’s high-pitched voice. When Dad gets home at six as always, his silhouette...

Sugar Cane

My vovô was a cowboy. The kind that herded cattle, slept under stars, travelled far, and came home to build a place to call his own. He chose his valley carefully: a hollow surrounded by hills covered in dense forest with streams that ran high with rain, overwhelming...

Sex

In the backseat, we fumble. “Like this?” “How about there?” “Will it fit?” “Maybe this angle?” Finally, success! The carseat’s installed. **** Elbow under the bathtub faucet Temperature just warmer than my skin I flip the drain switch, add organic bubbles And look at...

Six Degrees of Trauma Bacon

My dreams are disappointingly unoriginal. I have this recurring one where I need to leave my holiday at the last minute but I don’t have enough time to pack and it won’t all fit in my suitcase. Yes, I get it. I have a lot of baggage that I need to get rid of but my...

5 pm in Kyiv

5 pm in Kyiv is when you call me from Beijing. It is 6 pm where I am standing in my living room in beautiful Rome, sweaty from a walk, holding the phone to my ear. You are at the other end of the line. Sometimes when we are like this, I imagine a string made of our...

Indigo

Memory lane picks up on a slow Wednesday afternoon and I melt into an acrid puddle. The sobs stuck within my ribs press against my heart, almost as icy as the blade… in my fingers, in your hands, in the tangle of our limbs and in the weariness of your furrowed brow....

Privilege

Chicago, Illinois, 1981 The heroin addict has dishwater blonde hair, pinky-beige skin, and an impish grin. There’s a twinkle in his eye, a gleam in his pinpoint pupils as he peers through a crack in my kitchen door. Suddenly he’s nine again, sneaking a peek in our...

Breath

i. Airway. When you plunge into cold water there is a rising: heart rate, fear, darkness. The water, pushing down, surface tension dented by your body, until the water breaks over the top. A catch in your breath—no breath. Crushing pressure suddenly released; smile in...

A Date With Dermatillomania

Driving out of the city on I-376, my iPhone alerted me to a hazard ahead with an irony the device did not understand. Instead, the phone assured me I was still on the fastest route. But I hated the speed of I-376 and particularly the resulting car accidents, which...

Sinew

            after Fernando Velásquez’s untitled plexiglass print, #19 in the Mindscapes Series Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, you look at the skyline but not skyward. You don’t want to be drawn into the...

Guilt

I was seventeen and leaning over the handles of my bike. My friends were resting on bikes too, all of six of us, as a storm gathered in the West over the granite ledge of the ridge. I could feel the electricity and the choke of coming rain. It didn’t take long for...

Santa Fe

Lost in Holy Faith City not directionally but existentially in a hotel just off downtown so can still walk in and get a gin and tonic with quinine to prevent malaria and not have to drive though once the sun goes down I feel dumb wearing my new stetson, the black one...

Ash Tree Elegy

Calamity is a fire that obliterates everything but itself. Explodes you out of accustomed waysof being, your accustomed ways of seeing. Home will be home again some day. But how to go back when I go back? To the cocoon of a condo on Calimyrna Ave, named for the Valley...

E Kanawai Moaka’aka

The night sky is full of ghosts. Altarf, the orange giant anchoring the left claw of the constellation Cancer, was dead by the night I was born. Didn't stop it from shining, though. My Pictish ancestors followed it to Alba. It drew the first Hawaiians out of the...

Imaging Results

Reason for Imaging:  r/o Hopelessness Comparison:  The Past, What Else? Findings: There are so many things that remain unremarkable besides the heart.  The landscape of days is the same as ever.  The children grow. I walk the dogs down...

Last Names

HughesMy mother doesn’t know who her father is; her mother refuses to tell her—said she’d take it to her grave—but, her step-father legally adopted her and gave her his last name. GilmoreBefore she met my father, my mother was married. I called him “the Gilmore guy.”...

You Know I Love You, Right?

Another word for superstitious is misguided. Grandma Josephine made a promise, “when I die, I’m coming back.” Mom is obedient enough to believe her but she assumes she’ll return as a haunting apparition, something out of A Christmas Carol, rolling over in to death...

BANG!

There is a loud explosion outside on the street. My little brother moved out this morning, but the mother inside of me still expects the worst. I drop the pretzel that’s halfway to my mouth and sprint out the door in my underwear. Smoke billows and balloons between...

Constricted

On the day that a rehabilitated boa constrictor accidentally asphyxiates his owner in rural Pennsylvania, I walk to Walgreens, foggy from another night of insomnia. The woman in front of me is buying bags of candy and she tells the cashier, whose nametag identifies...

In Memoria

That August, stomping deep through the forest, my friend Jason and I found an abandoned farmhouse. Like a corpse given up by the earth, all bones and sinew and wide, hollow sockets. Two stories tall, learning hard to the left, as if the trees on that side were...

The Howl of a Cat

A rush of warm liquid puddles between my legsthen another gushes outsaturates the hospital bedpush the red button with the white outline of a nurse“let’s see here, honey...yep, you broke your water”it was too early, but the baby had almost come out way too early:late...

The Way I Remember It

It was Easter Sunday, or maybe it wasn’t, but it was a family dinner. A full ham seasoned with brown sugar. Round pineapple slices from a can piercing its sides with toothpicks. And you, Nana, were sitting across from me. My mom sat to your right, my stepfather at the...

Kidnapped

An egg was tossed high in the air, where it floated. The incredible, edible egg! the TV-voice sang. My mom stepped out of the kitchen for a minute. I threw an egg that sat on our counter; it splattered on the dog-chewed carpet.In my brothers’ bedroom, my stepsiblings...

Alive

Put me on the edge of annihilation, and I will love you forever. I will supplicate myself before you, dear world, for a taste of it. It does not matter what kind of death: of the body or of the ego. One is not more painful than the other: I am a connoisseur of the...

Bones

I can still hear your knee cracking on the boulder jutting out from the dry Arizona dirt after the branch broke and you freefell 10-plus feet from the tree we were climbing in my backyard. From a few limbs above, I was bone-chilled by your howls and relieved you were...

Choices

No one tells you about rolling your balls of yarn. Like, there you are, in the craft store, admiring these beautiful skeins, only to be told you can’t use them until you fully unwind them and roll them into round balls that unspool cleanly, no knots or snarls or...

On Vomiting

It’s 2005 and I’m in New York City at Circle in the Square Theatre about to see my first Broadway show. Past the spacious lounge with modern recessed lights and expensive coats slipping off shoulders like water, mom’s hand draws me to her hip to find our assigned...

Doors

I stepped out of an American Airlines plane with a brown leather duffel bag. Its contents: a dozen perfume bottles that had shattered when the satchel fell out of the overhead compartment mid-flight. The bottles held a precious collection of scents from my favorite...

You Poor Thing

Miriam means bitter. My mother is as unknowable in this as she is in everything. And it was my mother, no doubt, who did the choosing, just as she did the everything: the dinner and the plunger and the vacuum and the pets and the children, my mother who surely rolled...

My Body As

My Body as Dublin, OH You hate the deer that gather quietly in fields before they run into the street, so I try to hate them too. And I try to care about the grass growing greener, but all I can bring myself to notice is the roots of the pine trees lining our bike...

Planning for the Procedure

Ensure you have somebody to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medication make it unsafe for you to get home on your own. The Serbian brothers at Luka’s place offer me mushrooms. Invite me to watch them fuck the groupie pressed between them. I giggle when Luka says...

Is it too late?

I'm afraid I wasted all my young years alone and now I’ll have all my old years alone I refused to love, until I loved the unobtainable, the years went by and you forgot, I ache every day and ask for it to stop, old sweats at two am, wide awake at four, sometimes I...

The Residue of Womanhood

Watching the smoke rise from the cup, the rim gives my lips something to hold. An Earl Gray tea bag hangs its arm over the edge, keeping itself steady in the milky water.  I cannot help but see the specks in this tea as little floating bodies moving their way to...

After You Break the Ceiling

After You Break the Ceiling for Elizabeth For a while, you fall upward. Gravity is weird and different, unpredictable without the constant weight of competition and comparison holding you in check. Your body feels light then heavy then light again. You wonder if you...

A Perfect Day in Köln

As we greet him—Guten Tag—in the lobby’s intercom, we don’t know yet that Artur barely speaks German himself. Our couch-surfing host is a foreign PhD student—a theoretical physicist—and he gives powerful hugs. He obviously works out. He shows us around. He does not...

Choosing Wisely

Most death choice is absence of forethought, or a not knowing, passive, not a choice at all. Living is an active choice we make every day. Get up. Eat food. The gray zone is vast and fuzzy between death choice and life choice. Drinking wine is a death choice some...

What Matters

Your mother dies at 4am on a Wednesday. Does it matter that you have not talked to her in years?  That when you walked into her room yesterday, confusion confiscated her face. “Who is that?” she said, her lips pulled down into a well of deep disappointment. Your...

Open Mic

Rain staggers down the café windows like soot-stained tears over a cheek. I hiss air through milk. Lament the croissants suffocating under glass, the buck seventy-five in my tip jar. You take the stage. Belly-button ring glinting, a target for magpies and the boys in...

You Ask For Much (EndSARS)

It is October in Nigeria and you think of grief as a secret, sealed letter in the hands of a youth: "Give it to the Army, they'll know what to do with it." An invitation to death. You don't wail out here. This is ours, not yours. Like not yours but ours when ours is...

To Do: Put Brain Together

I don’t know what to write so day after day, month after month, I make to-do lists. Errands for my wife, soups I’d like to eat, credit card companies to call.      With a small X checking off accomplished tasks, my lists remain upbeat and optimistic.  ...

Family tree

My daughter decided to make a family tree the other night and asked me to fill in the names. She just turned nine, the same age my grandfather was when his mother and father and four sisters were killed as part of a plan to rid the land of us. I could have told her...

Solitary

The fireflies dance magnificently in the shadow of the Big House. Electric disco lights reflected joyfully in the razor wire; pulsating music I can feel but not hear.  It’s been eleven days. I can tell them apart. They’re unique; I’ve named them. Oddly, I can’t...

30-Day Notice to Vacate

Date: May 25, 2021 Tenant: Lucy Wilde Address: Non-permanent mobile Vessel currently located at Tsawwassen B.C., Canada Vessel identifying features: Female Height: 5’ 7” (and diminishing. Tenant claims it is due to excessive servitude and a condition known as...

Goodbye

I was stoned the night he arrived at my apartment to take me to a performance at the local theatre, forgot about our plan. He could tell and I could tell my not-remembering crushed him. It was shortly after mum left and he was holding tight to what he could—his kids,...

1957: The Scientific Method

In July, its leash twisted by an hour of pacing, the boy’s beagle leaps off the porch and hangs itself. In August, a sixth-grade neighborhood-school classmate, swimming alone, slips under the murky surface of a strip mine pool. In September, the boy begins junior high...

I Love Being Gay

I love being gay. I love spending twenty minutes moisturizing. I love carrying my phone in my hand like a little coin purse. I love poppers. I love incense. I love drama. I love starting phone calls with GIRL and biiiiiiiitch. I love songs that are just one command,...

Spun Glass

When we were little, Mom took us to Corning, NY to see glass blowers. Glass—hot, liquid—then, solid, clear. Mysterious. She would go anywhere, my mom, set off with real maps, unfolded, her sense of direction not one I inherited.  Once, when my father drove miles...

I Have a Question

Where were you when I prayed on the way to school? That day. Every day after that day. Were you making copies for our first fifth grade lesson that morning? Were you feeding the machine, your manicured nails tapping at the buttons? Double-sided. Black ink. Fifteen...

Shipping & Handling Costs

I’m shipping something overseas and today’s the postmark deadline. We also need tennis balls and a green t-shirt for a school play, so I take my youngest three boys and head to the post office at the mall instead of the one downtown. When we arrive, the line is out...

March 3rd, 2005

My dad was arrested for abusing my little brother in the bathroom of our elementary school. I’ve never told anyone this story. Everyone knows this story. - I remember this day clearly. I remember it for the wrong reasons. It was a special day at school. We got to wear...

We Carry Our Father’s Ashes

We gather our father’s ashes from the crematorium, two days after the cremation because by then the ashes and bones have cooled down. We sift through them, find the stent that allowed him to eat for ten days before he passed away. We gather our father’s ashes in our...

Orchard

There in the fine-grain dust of the apple orchard. There with the dust running through our small child hands like liquid. Like the things we can’t ever hold onto. Like the memory of the orchard on that day.

Maybe Nihilism Isn’t so Bad

Dread – that was really the only way I could describe it, the way I would lie awake in my freshman dorm staring at the metal webbing of the bunk bed, feeling the little needle of anxiety start somewhere in the middle of my chest then get stronger and wilder like a twister

The Gun

You lure your friend Mandy towards your father’s dresser. He is still alive, which means you are no older than eight.  You slide the bottom drawer out, climb onto his folded work socks.

Four Visits

My husband and I have just separated. I visit the modern art wing alone and pause in a room to watch a film of William Lamson wheeling an enormous mirrored magnifying glass into a desert valley to harness the sun’s heat and burn an arc across the ground.

Neo

We are pre-gender for so short a time, even shorter these days. The prenatal images of me likely looked like alien spine painted in grayscale vibrations.

When Did it Start?

When did it start my husband asks. The it to which Charlie refers, means the intense emotional rollercoaster I am presently on. Holding back tears and gripping the back of the kitchen chair as if I’m whooshing down the rails of a Great America ride, I answer that I don’t know.

Ball of Twine

Chaos theory describes the organizational nature of the universe. Benoit Mandelbront, a mathematician, described it as a ball of twine: “A ball of twine appears to be a point when viewed at a great distance, a ball when viewed nearby, and a curve when viewed extremely close.”

Our Healing Scar

You stare at the gaping wound on their hip. My God!  

“It’s bad, isn’t it?” Your teenager cries. “I’m sorry, is it bad?” They are panting.

The bathroom walls are choking you.

In the last 24 hours

I got to the high school national basketball championship game where we lost with one second left on the clock when the small forward for the other team, who would go on to be drafted by Duke University, did a tip-dunk that put them within one point, and was fouled,...

Boys: A Backlog

1) Tommy, the tiniest boy on the 1st-grade playground, becomes the object of your desire as you chase him, screaming Daddy, please, Daddy, momentarily forsaking your very own doting daddy at home.

Theft

These are the facts of my father’s death from the New Orleans Times Picayune a few days after June 9, 1974: The death of Godfrey Kirkpatrick, 39, 1740 Jackson Ave., who was found hanged at his residence Sunday night, was still under investigation and unclassified by the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office Monday

Boots That Help Me Find a Rhythm

On a short section of the Appalachian Trail, north of Hiawassee, Georgia, I discarded the grief of my divorce like one long apple peel flung on top of the poison ivy growing next to the narrow, clay path.  The wildflowers and the canopies stretched tall enough to touch the sky.

No Charities

I got some old silver rings I wear. I buy them tarnished and keep them on my hands until they rub themselves clean and shining. I feel too familiar with them, once they’re only my own, but I don’t take them off.

Continental Divide

“You’re only as fast as your slowest hiker,” Instructor Larry repeated, woods code for, We’re a group. We stick together. The other students who’d had water and trail mix, who were laughing and talking while they rested and waited, slung their monster backpacks on as soon as he and I reached them.

Poison Apples

Shortly before my father married my stepmother, he asked me to draw her, using the pastels he had given me for my birthday. I was fourteen, a fairly talented artist for a fourteen-year-old, but not exceptional.

Birdseed

Millet. Sunflower seeds. Cracked corn. The contents unchewable for human teeth. Digestion—not going to happen. But you have a mission, a stomach hardcore-ly determined.

Blue

When I was sixteen, the Virgin Mary spoke to me. I don’t remember what she said- just the tears, blue in the cool afternoon shade. I cried first in response to what she had said, and then the tears rapidly became about forgetting.

Endurance Glacier

It took a hundred thousand years to cultivate a soul this blue, so blue you don’t have a word for it. Your words aren’t ancient enough. Soon all that’s left of me will be the sound of katabatic winds and the clink of ice against crystal as you toast to your own...

From the Mouths

I’m home from school with a cage of eight rats my teacher won gambling. My mother’s on a call, making hmmms and ohhhs to our rotary dial phone. Her entire body hunches over her church friend’s high-pitched voice. When Dad gets home at six as always, his silhouette...

Sugar Cane

My vovô was a cowboy. The kind that herded cattle, slept under stars, travelled far, and came home to build a place to call his own. He chose his valley carefully: a hollow surrounded by hills covered in dense forest with streams that ran high with rain, overwhelming...

Sex

In the backseat, we fumble. “Like this?” “How about there?” “Will it fit?” “Maybe this angle?” Finally, success! The carseat’s installed. **** Elbow under the bathtub faucet Temperature just warmer than my skin I flip the drain switch, add organic bubbles And look at...

Six Degrees of Trauma Bacon

My dreams are disappointingly unoriginal. I have this recurring one where I need to leave my holiday at the last minute but I don’t have enough time to pack and it won’t all fit in my suitcase. Yes, I get it. I have a lot of baggage that I need to get rid of but my...

5 pm in Kyiv

5 pm in Kyiv is when you call me from Beijing. It is 6 pm where I am standing in my living room in beautiful Rome, sweaty from a walk, holding the phone to my ear. You are at the other end of the line. Sometimes when we are like this, I imagine a string made of our...

Indigo

Memory lane picks up on a slow Wednesday afternoon and I melt into an acrid puddle. The sobs stuck within my ribs press against my heart, almost as icy as the blade… in my fingers, in your hands, in the tangle of our limbs and in the weariness of your furrowed brow....

Privilege

Chicago, Illinois, 1981 The heroin addict has dishwater blonde hair, pinky-beige skin, and an impish grin. There’s a twinkle in his eye, a gleam in his pinpoint pupils as he peers through a crack in my kitchen door. Suddenly he’s nine again, sneaking a peek in our...

Breath

i. Airway. When you plunge into cold water there is a rising: heart rate, fear, darkness. The water, pushing down, surface tension dented by your body, until the water breaks over the top. A catch in your breath—no breath. Crushing pressure suddenly released; smile in...

A Date With Dermatillomania

Driving out of the city on I-376, my iPhone alerted me to a hazard ahead with an irony the device did not understand. Instead, the phone assured me I was still on the fastest route. But I hated the speed of I-376 and particularly the resulting car accidents, which...

Sinew

            after Fernando Velásquez’s untitled plexiglass print, #19 in the Mindscapes Series Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, you look at the skyline but not skyward. You don’t want to be drawn into the...

Guilt

I was seventeen and leaning over the handles of my bike. My friends were resting on bikes too, all of six of us, as a storm gathered in the West over the granite ledge of the ridge. I could feel the electricity and the choke of coming rain. It didn’t take long for...

Santa Fe

Lost in Holy Faith City not directionally but existentially in a hotel just off downtown so can still walk in and get a gin and tonic with quinine to prevent malaria and not have to drive though once the sun goes down I feel dumb wearing my new stetson, the black one...

Ash Tree Elegy

Calamity is a fire that obliterates everything but itself. Explodes you out of accustomed waysof being, your accustomed ways of seeing. Home will be home again some day. But how to go back when I go back? To the cocoon of a condo on Calimyrna Ave, named for the Valley...

E Kanawai Moaka’aka

The night sky is full of ghosts. Altarf, the orange giant anchoring the left claw of the constellation Cancer, was dead by the night I was born. Didn't stop it from shining, though. My Pictish ancestors followed it to Alba. It drew the first Hawaiians out of the...

Imaging Results

Reason for Imaging:  r/o Hopelessness Comparison:  The Past, What Else? Findings: There are so many things that remain unremarkable besides the heart.  The landscape of days is the same as ever.  The children grow. I walk the dogs down...

Last Names

HughesMy mother doesn’t know who her father is; her mother refuses to tell her—said she’d take it to her grave—but, her step-father legally adopted her and gave her his last name. GilmoreBefore she met my father, my mother was married. I called him “the Gilmore guy.”...

You Know I Love You, Right?

Another word for superstitious is misguided. Grandma Josephine made a promise, “when I die, I’m coming back.” Mom is obedient enough to believe her but she assumes she’ll return as a haunting apparition, something out of A Christmas Carol, rolling over in to death...

BANG!

There is a loud explosion outside on the street. My little brother moved out this morning, but the mother inside of me still expects the worst. I drop the pretzel that’s halfway to my mouth and sprint out the door in my underwear. Smoke billows and balloons between...

Constricted

On the day that a rehabilitated boa constrictor accidentally asphyxiates his owner in rural Pennsylvania, I walk to Walgreens, foggy from another night of insomnia. The woman in front of me is buying bags of candy and she tells the cashier, whose nametag identifies...

In Memoria

That August, stomping deep through the forest, my friend Jason and I found an abandoned farmhouse. Like a corpse given up by the earth, all bones and sinew and wide, hollow sockets. Two stories tall, learning hard to the left, as if the trees on that side were...

The Howl of a Cat

A rush of warm liquid puddles between my legsthen another gushes outsaturates the hospital bedpush the red button with the white outline of a nurse“let’s see here, honey...yep, you broke your water”it was too early, but the baby had almost come out way too early:late...

The Way I Remember It

It was Easter Sunday, or maybe it wasn’t, but it was a family dinner. A full ham seasoned with brown sugar. Round pineapple slices from a can piercing its sides with toothpicks. And you, Nana, were sitting across from me. My mom sat to your right, my stepfather at the...

Kidnapped

An egg was tossed high in the air, where it floated. The incredible, edible egg! the TV-voice sang. My mom stepped out of the kitchen for a minute. I threw an egg that sat on our counter; it splattered on the dog-chewed carpet.In my brothers’ bedroom, my stepsiblings...

Alive

Put me on the edge of annihilation, and I will love you forever. I will supplicate myself before you, dear world, for a taste of it. It does not matter what kind of death: of the body or of the ego. One is not more painful than the other: I am a connoisseur of the...

Bones

I can still hear your knee cracking on the boulder jutting out from the dry Arizona dirt after the branch broke and you freefell 10-plus feet from the tree we were climbing in my backyard. From a few limbs above, I was bone-chilled by your howls and relieved you were...

Choices

No one tells you about rolling your balls of yarn. Like, there you are, in the craft store, admiring these beautiful skeins, only to be told you can’t use them until you fully unwind them and roll them into round balls that unspool cleanly, no knots or snarls or...

On Vomiting

It’s 2005 and I’m in New York City at Circle in the Square Theatre about to see my first Broadway show. Past the spacious lounge with modern recessed lights and expensive coats slipping off shoulders like water, mom’s hand draws me to her hip to find our assigned...

Things I Have Lost, 1975- Present (Selected)

● 1982 - Plastic Star Wars action figure. It was Greedo. He was all green, lost in a green shag carpet. “I was just holding him,” I said. “He disappeared.” “Green on green,” my mother said. “Yeah, that’s tricky.” ● 1983 - The Derose family next door. One afternoon I...

Doors

I stepped out of an American Airlines plane with a brown leather duffel bag. Its contents: a dozen perfume bottles that had shattered when the satchel fell out of the overhead compartment mid-flight. The bottles held a precious collection of scents from my favorite...

You Poor Thing

Miriam means bitter. My mother is as unknowable in this as she is in everything. And it was my mother, no doubt, who did the choosing, just as she did the everything: the dinner and the plunger and the vacuum and the pets and the children, my mother who surely rolled...

My Body As

My Body as Dublin, OH You hate the deer that gather quietly in fields before they run into the street, so I try to hate them too. And I try to care about the grass growing greener, but all I can bring myself to notice is the roots of the pine trees lining our bike...

Planning for the Procedure

Ensure you have somebody to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medication make it unsafe for you to get home on your own. The Serbian brothers at Luka’s place offer me mushrooms. Invite me to watch them fuck the groupie pressed between them. I giggle when Luka says...

Is it too late?

I'm afraid I wasted all my young years alone and now I’ll have all my old years alone I refused to love, until I loved the unobtainable, the years went by and you forgot, I ache every day and ask for it to stop, old sweats at two am, wide awake at four, sometimes I...

The Residue of Womanhood

Watching the smoke rise from the cup, the rim gives my lips something to hold. An Earl Gray tea bag hangs its arm over the edge, keeping itself steady in the milky water.  I cannot help but see the specks in this tea as little floating bodies moving their way to...

After You Break the Ceiling

After You Break the Ceiling for Elizabeth For a while, you fall upward. Gravity is weird and different, unpredictable without the constant weight of competition and comparison holding you in check. Your body feels light then heavy then light again. You wonder if you...

The Ethics of Keeping Your Ex’s Vibrator

I’ve been thinking about the things I lose and the things I’ve lost and the difference between the two. Things I lose can be regained. I lose my chapstick several times a day. Within a few hours, I come upon it folded into the fabric of my jacket pocket or behind the...

A Perfect Day in Köln

As we greet him—Guten Tag—in the lobby’s intercom, we don’t know yet that Artur barely speaks German himself. Our couch-surfing host is a foreign PhD student—a theoretical physicist—and he gives powerful hugs. He obviously works out. He shows us around. He does not...

Choosing Wisely

Most death choice is absence of forethought, or a not knowing, passive, not a choice at all. Living is an active choice we make every day. Get up. Eat food. The gray zone is vast and fuzzy between death choice and life choice. Drinking wine is a death choice some...

Four Pregnancies

Why is this happening again?             Words escape us. They rise in my chest, fluttering, flailing, and they falter. Leaving only the thick silence of what we cannot name....

What Matters

Your mother dies at 4am on a Wednesday. Does it matter that you have not talked to her in years?  That when you walked into her room yesterday, confusion confiscated her face. “Who is that?” she said, her lips pulled down into a well of deep disappointment. Your...

Open Mic

Rain staggers down the café windows like soot-stained tears over a cheek. I hiss air through milk. Lament the croissants suffocating under glass, the buck seventy-five in my tip jar. You take the stage. Belly-button ring glinting, a target for magpies and the boys in...

You Ask For Much (EndSARS)

It is October in Nigeria and you think of grief as a secret, sealed letter in the hands of a youth: "Give it to the Army, they'll know what to do with it." An invitation to death. You don't wail out here. This is ours, not yours. Like not yours but ours when ours is...

To Do: Put Brain Together

I don’t know what to write so day after day, month after month, I make to-do lists. Errands for my wife, soups I’d like to eat, credit card companies to call.      With a small X checking off accomplished tasks, my lists remain upbeat and optimistic.  ...

Family tree

My daughter decided to make a family tree the other night and asked me to fill in the names. She just turned nine, the same age my grandfather was when his mother and father and four sisters were killed as part of a plan to rid the land of us. I could have told her...

Solitary

The fireflies dance magnificently in the shadow of the Big House. Electric disco lights reflected joyfully in the razor wire; pulsating music I can feel but not hear.  It’s been eleven days. I can tell them apart. They’re unique; I’ve named them. Oddly, I can’t...

30-Day Notice to Vacate

Date: May 25, 2021 Tenant: Lucy Wilde Address: Non-permanent mobile Vessel currently located at Tsawwassen B.C., Canada Vessel identifying features: Female Height: 5’ 7” (and diminishing. Tenant claims it is due to excessive servitude and a condition known as...

Goodbye

I was stoned the night he arrived at my apartment to take me to a performance at the local theatre, forgot about our plan. He could tell and I could tell my not-remembering crushed him. It was shortly after mum left and he was holding tight to what he could—his kids,...

1957: The Scientific Method

In July, its leash twisted by an hour of pacing, the boy’s beagle leaps off the porch and hangs itself. In August, a sixth-grade neighborhood-school classmate, swimming alone, slips under the murky surface of a strip mine pool. In September, the boy begins junior high...

I Love Being Gay

I love being gay. I love spending twenty minutes moisturizing. I love carrying my phone in my hand like a little coin purse. I love poppers. I love incense. I love drama. I love starting phone calls with GIRL and biiiiiiiitch. I love songs that are just one command,...

Spun Glass

When we were little, Mom took us to Corning, NY to see glass blowers. Glass—hot, liquid—then, solid, clear. Mysterious. She would go anywhere, my mom, set off with real maps, unfolded, her sense of direction not one I inherited.  Once, when my father drove miles...

I Have a Question

Where were you when I prayed on the way to school? That day. Every day after that day. Were you making copies for our first fifth grade lesson that morning? Were you feeding the machine, your manicured nails tapping at the buttons? Double-sided. Black ink. Fifteen...

Shipping & Handling Costs

I’m shipping something overseas and today’s the postmark deadline. We also need tennis balls and a green t-shirt for a school play, so I take my youngest three boys and head to the post office at the mall instead of the one downtown. When we arrive, the line is out...

March 3rd, 2005

My dad was arrested for abusing my little brother in the bathroom of our elementary school. I’ve never told anyone this story. Everyone knows this story. - I remember this day clearly. I remember it for the wrong reasons. It was a special day at school. We got to wear...

We Carry Our Father’s Ashes

We gather our father’s ashes from the crematorium, two days after the cremation because by then the ashes and bones have cooled down. We sift through them, find the stent that allowed him to eat for ten days before he passed away. We gather our father’s ashes in our...

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