Poetry

Henrietta

Henrietta wonders what haunts me It wasn’t his whoop into the deep end, or how his mother had punched out her cigarette, one eye slit in the smoke, before plunging in to save him. And it wasn’t their legs churning like chum, or how I inhaled the sky and dove under....

There’s a Fix for That

Do you prefer adding or subtracting? Yeah, me too. Fortunately, I was raised by a circus family, so I got a head start. Some people think there is a science to it, but it’s really just the elephant of surprise. Of course, it takes two to tango, but it’s always great...

Boys in jeans

on greased up hogs say Hey,shuffle in. Black stains and dustat the cuffs. Open road’s been goodto them. So good, the open road’srough throat. The songs it singsthrough the ache in their legs,the dull throb in the groin. Muscles pullon bones as they stretch betweenthis...

Dinner at the Brady’s

The Brady Bunch are carnivorous,I know because I crawl into the TVand have dinner with them.Sometimes they invite my sister, too.Their sheep dog is also carnivorousAnd so is Alice, their cook.My Mom and Dad are vegetarian.They are orange vegetarian parentsAnd even our...

Person, Woman, Man, Camera, TV

Person The first five lines are always shit.A shock to the heart. Heartbeats cut each other offlike fine gems, end over endocarditis. No joke, perhapshyperbole? Though believe me when I saythe brow may be the only honest muscle in my face. Woman Such to the simple...

I have always wanted to be opaque

I imagine your honeycomb / lip balm lingering between the spaces / of my words / my chipped / sentences my declarations of clarity / and I thought fragmentation of the self / meant digestible / meant easy to handle but / staying with a sweet talker / I had to dissect...

Roots

Tomato musk clings to our skin, numb fingertips, and our breath plumes and hovers unspoken thoughts above our heads. Smoke signals. Warnings pretend not to see. Jude and I grip sturdy stems, tug until the roots rip free. Were these vines less rooted, it would be much...

Daughter

Adrienne Barrios wonders if Leigh Chadwick’s daughter will ever read these poems and feel the way a coyote feels when returning to its den after a long hunt, or if she’ll think, Wow, these are weird and Who the fuck is Adrienne Barrios, or if she’ll feel nothing at...

Look Back

And Orpheus, leading his lovefrom the cold caves of death,might understand the way my grandmothercut credit card confettiso no one could steal her identity. How can I explain the place where she lived? The ice cream shop is cash-only,dandelions in the sidewalks,the...

Night

At night, I become my mother’s breath, swirling into the air, never to be seen again. That, or I come up short sealing the deal with every man or woman I’ve ever thought about sealing the deal with. That, or I put on my wife’s heels and practice walking down the...

Green Card Girl

I To come to you—I navigated bitter winds crossed oceans blind told the old world: I rescind. To be with you—I renounced my name faced down suited men left the birthing hips, never to return again. To sink into you—I sat in the waiting room...

Notes on Cycles

on the train, streaks of sky, green, beyond this roaring, I’m an adult with hungry gums, today I stole a peach-pink bra, there is no milk to soothe, both our bellies swelled, a night or so ago, a dusty blue-grey couch, I am only looking for somewhere soft to rest my...

Destination

I am in a parking lot & Dad appears. I gather quickly this is a dream because I don’t own an Odyssey anymore & Dad passed nine years ago. I ask him if he is driving and he tells me to take the wheel. Question this more than his not having gray hair, or a...

List of all the Things We Got Right

You were never shy with your smile—blazing white, upright vanilla snow cones.I was a ghost on the days you looked through me, but my heart would still halt mid-clang like a dinner bell had given up, a mother aware that her kids had long run off.Unlocked windows, an...

If A took everything

she left a shell for me to sleep in. i did a baby’s crawl inside. i loved the future in which nothing was taken. once, we belonged to the earth and our return will be long-awaited. my body aches. i am reminded the ways i’ve stretched thin. i anthropomorphize the...

Static

The bedroom smells like furniture polish so                     I must’ve tossed the rags in with the sheets again. Light from the bedside table burns my fingertips....

Love Is An Umbrella Term

The lightning moves in next door. Now I am in love with the lightning’s wife. The lightning’s wife is forever poolside. The lightning and his son build a muscle car in the garage. Nothing is impossible for a willing heart. You have never seen thunder bathe in the...

<3 Your Biggest Stan

I am obsessed with _ _ is obsessed with _(not me) I read everything by _ my journal is full of poems to and about _ a letter I wrote but don’t send reads:I always feel you are closer to me than you areand alsoit is almost like we are friends is it a higher form of...

The ghosts I choose

You were a lighthouse like Antigone.  Coins pressed soft on each of her brothers' eyelids.  Protecting baby-boy from the bloody shock of his own bones.  Like medusa burying a snake from her head, you wrapped him like an umbilical chord.  To bury in...

Gravity

A penny glued to the ground is no different than love. Each a kindergarten lesson in futility and persistence. Chinese finger traps between us, our pulling brings us only closer, the gravity of us two planets drawing more near unwavering from our collision course...

Cold call

God, I’m expecting to hear from youAny day now, something winged alighting upon me,A Rush of Cochineal —The terms of the visitation I leave to your discretion. Superposition helps, as well as love —Though you must already understand, as you do the whorlsOf shells and...

Forensic

Every time I turned around, someone told me my footing was off.  That my feet, firmly planted or otherwise, were in question.  It began as a joke that I began playing with myself, to identify people by the crinkle of skin around their hyper focused eyes.  I was...

Butterfly Cage, The Light

Butterfly Cage when I was pregnant, all of my dreamswere about snakes. as much as I triedto dream only about baby kittens, baby puppieshuman babies, my nights would be filledwith twisting pythons gathered in knotsinside me, their slick skin undulatingin the dark,...

SEAWALL

It’s called edge collapse:Roots have nothing to hold onto.Ghost trees enclose the livingon a ridge, outside, moving in,on islands all over the Gulf,one thousand abandoned oil rigs. The city tip-toeshere and there. Our childrenlearn from books, cartoonsand...

Translations of Nostalgia

I had a weekend, pictures. I went aroundsightseeing all the old haunts. (Those still standing.)A photo of an old blue house cracked and faded,paint still on the surface.(A wish for wood glue and happiness.) The front door hingesstill held with crooked nails, a...

Svalbard

I nearly went to Svalbard. That was before the news feature on the shot polar bear, the result of an ice safari. I was off to a conference on darkness. I didn’t see the foxes on the tundra, the aurora, or hear the paper on Verdi’s operas. I didn’t buy a passport, told...

Hom, or Someplace Like It

I know I’m being followed so I scoot into Hom furniture and pantomime a little showtune past a couple who are mid-argument near the sofas and theatre seating to dispel any cringe the 5-inch scar swathed across my head is itchier than a mug and reminds me to check in...

Sweet Insects

Best not to use this video, it contains the word cancer which can be triggering for some. Cancer triggers another triggers another. That is how half my mother’s family died. The other half only half-dead. Half-dead in that their bodies are limp, though they power...

Grown Home

Fire in the bookshelf,down low, askingHow long will you keep on asking?My hands never grew completelyeven into the waiting. Waterfalls without a tongue.It's sick to be alone in this roomand not recognize anyone.Imagine the beast shot, turning.Empty heart.I lasheduntil...

The Price of Freedom

In a world without water, gold dust is only dust. In a house without light, a boy stands on tiptoes to sweep high ledges, sneezing in disturbed plumes. His knees are bruised from stone steps and his wrists are chafed by imaginary cords that keep him indoors. Some days...

Crop and Delete

You crop and delete the pieces of him from your life slowly but with perseverance, until two years later there’s nothing left. There’s no new recipes stuck to the fridge, no Heinekens left on its shelves. No more expensive coffee taking up room in cupboards, no soya...

Bar Mitzvah

The day my father lost his voice speaking Hebrew, no one laughed, silence like a foundation, airy as the firmament. This day he was born, he was made to choose his mother, accept the father letting go: Blessed is He who has now freed me from the responsibility of this...

Mother as Conjunction

Spring 2020 I’ve had daughters move home on their way from one frayed relationship to the unknown. The tear-swollen eyes. The packed hatchback, mauve bedspread smashed against the passenger window. This is different. Two of my grown children are here for the duration....

Love Poem for Mr. Miyagi

From the first moment I saw you through that screen door,chopsticks in hand, I knew I had finally founda teacher to call my own.You started teaching us from the very beginning.When you turned around and gave Daniel that starewe all knew your first lesson: knock, don’t...

On Fire (Or, Last Wishes)

There is fire on the mountainAnd nobody seems to be on the runThere is fire on the mountaintopAnd no one is a-running —ASA, Fire on the Mountain I wish everyone I love              the joy of dancing naked. Tonight, I am holding a piece of chicken              from...

Fair and Lovely

we believed the neighborhood voicesthat said fair was most beautiful before they brought the ointmentturmeric, yogurt, and honey your face was buttermilkunder the nightlightthat one sideways molar, a diamond once you fit in your father’s palmswhen you arriveda pink...

The Unbearable Inertia of Clothes

My clothes are ready to go—wings tacked on,leather belt snug, holey jeans unfolded, ready for the road or the Australiancane toads layered over it in blanketed miles. Hanging on the edge of flight, my clothesknow better than I which direction to go— run clothes from...

Rituals

My love This morning mamá came into the kitchen and handed me her morral My love You dug out an ancestral pain inherited from my grandmother to my mother to me My love Mi mama, she has always told me que las penas con pan son menos So I make myself a taco with all...

Knives, Widower

Knives I can offer you only: this world like a knife —John Berryman A set of them in a house is nothing, where nothing becomes a meal for us. We are either kitchen or crime scene as our daily recipes prepare fresh wounds or silence in rooms. Words are food for...

Party On

They were yorking, yorking all over the city. Hot like the fourth of July. The crowd, wild grassing, and the night sky bannered and bottered. The hot hot. The zipping but not the zippers. They twobacked and sometimes three. Together, then apart. We dooglogged out of...

MY WOMAN

i wail that my ama still cries over her beat husband I weep over my ammama counting her days even though I know brown women never die, I don’t know how she dosent know this I cry over days spilt over the course of hot dahl and weak chai my ama coming home to only wish...

Whitewashing Frank Butler

He is a salesman, can talk you intoa bigger barrel, can weave a tale with youas Annie Oakley, sharp eyed and lightand little as she. Build him into the manyou want him to be, shadow behindthat girl—how ordinary it all seems,blue eyed boy cutting steak acrossthe table...

If Only

It's amazing what a year in solitude will make me yearn for-- events I never liked in the first place-- overly crowded outdoor festivals with $12 bud lights and lousy cover bands, waiting in line for the breakfast buffet, the Chinese buffet, the casino buffet that...

The Strongest Man I Know

I cannot imagine the struggle Trapped inside my own body Which does not represent my true gender Reminded Every time I pass by a mirror Every month when red spills from between my legs Rejected By the outside world For something beyond my control But Darling, You are...

Spaghettification

Yesterday scientists watched a blast of light from a star as it was eaten by a black hole. A star with the same mass as the sun ripped           into thin strips.  Such a view is not usually possible because the dust & debris cover up the disruption. But this...

A Good Earth

I talk facing away from the dead They replace me with the change in my pocket A penny that has yet to be invented They say, “You have to know how to cut a throat on the way to cutting a throat” After sleeping on a mattress made from two garbage bags of clothes I...

Not on the Railroad Tracks

The tracks flanked the river between twin rails. The red light blinked westward a permanent, arrested fixture, begging stop forever. Crews cruise westward then eastward like any way was a good direction. The sun shone fall in its amber palette.  Music stuttered...

All I Know About Sin is Robin Egg Blue

two gentle orbs nestled in a fallen thatched bowl found beneath the canopy of a Douglas Fir’s lowest limbs the neighbor girl wanted me dared me to crush it in my palm so easily I chose, and she looked satisfied before leaving me cross-legged in the pines my father’s...

You ask the soil if you belong

What has always been whisperedthrough other leaves grows bold,thunderclaps laterite-red:never. Transplant, hue and clay,your roots never the right length.Untrue/halfbrednot hybrid, weednot plant. Be silentand show some gratitudefor this flowerbed,for being at...

Wheatfield, with Crows

What if there were two moons or maybe even three, what if this crow was an envoy from the realm of the moon, and what if that country were golden, except for the sky and the ruts across the field? If we urge our mule forward, we will enter into the frame of the...

Two Dogs

i. as of tomorrow as of today as of right now we are lost in the woods’ brown leaves parchment paper grateful for the perpetual churning beneath our feet well aware of tonight’s frost warning more signs pointing to us maybe getting past all this ii. the larger issues...

Razing, Scrubbing

Razing Unease like black smoke imploding at dusk. All things like a calendar or a game of hopscotch. Everything meaning something else how I remember watching a boy burn insects in the parking lot after church. His eyes like love always shattering—as if caught in that...

The Promise

Tongue my dress like goddess whisper. Lick the milk lazy or lie in rust still panting delirious petals—tell me the incubator we live in has blown a fuse or that tomorrow, my daughter will wake up inside the canyon walls I secreted her inside until the world’s oxygen...

Interstellar

exhausted by the enormity of everythingmy eyes refuse to focusand what is there to see?//so i surrender let them closeeven though there's so much ofnothing important to do//somewhere on another plane a bell rings and a small birdstartleddrops a pebble into the pond of...

Genius Zebra

            Bandits came to an abandoned coal mine with roses in their teeth.  I don’t know what they were running from, but they sure came a long way by moonlight.  They set up camp outside the old shaft and laughed and hooted with their whiskey stories, clapping and...

A Real Catch

I’m wearing my lucky pants. Everybody at the post office knows me. Yesterday, when I walking to the liquor store, I noticed somebody peeping through the blinds. I’ve been trying to trick myself into being invisible, but so far, no luck.  For a while, I was thinking...

Tree on Top of a Parking Garage

The elevators are all broken, so it’s climbed all five flights of stairs. Catching its breath, it stands by the railing and looks out across the highway to where the sun is turning orange between the clouds and the horizon. The passing drivers see it there and chuckle...

When a House Becomes a Tome

your old house is occupied by another family & has been for years I run I pedal I rollerblade by & imagine you laughing with that high-volume draw & wheeze of yours the time your mom popped her head in the window & nearly scared you half to death I...

Little Girl

1. Missouri In each place called home, the lovers, the farm with blue eggs, and the calf being born. Learning that the best branches for whipping are from weeping willows. From the backyard you could see for miles, trace the lines of the fences and county, patches of...

First Date

He said we’d rename every dog we saw because it’s a better game than love. I name every dog after favorite poem titles: I call the golden, “If all of my relationships fail and I don’t have any kids, do I even know what love is?” He nicknames the dog knowledge. I name...

Lunch in Kennedy Park

My wife and I find a table Under a tree whose branches And leaves are fulsome enough To provide us with protection From the rays of the summer’s sun. Delicately we unwrap our burgers As if they might crumble before Our eyes if we weren’t so careful. Reaching for the...

Sunrise Over the Long Island Sound

Last summer I visited my father. He hides his worry better than anyone I know. A stubborn skin that refuses to peel its layers, convey the daunting of it all. The length between home and shoreline. The precious soil sloughed of its greenery, like the skin off of a...

Dream of the Rising Sea

I am walking between two loose narratives, connected by a seaside promenade. Rising from dark water, my childhood’s plastic toys and adulthood’s kitchen utensils float near the stony edge. I can’t resist gathering things within reach with promises to use them in my...

O Night Divine; Take it Like a Man

O Night Divine Straight-shot past sunset—no tolls, no gas, no pissing, camels for two hours with the kids asleep to talk about our life until the 10-year-old wakes, insists on Christmas music. It’s Nov. 26th, but we find it more easily than we avoid  weaving...

Albatross Soufle; Bird Home

Albatross Soufflé There’s no secret to how the world is made: it isn’t. It grows from the leavings of holy box turtles, flightless origamis, snufflings lost behind elder doors. Tears and Tvarscki, Chopin and Coffins. My daughter’s goodbyes that settle into my heart...

Want

The wind descended from the west            To rattle the orchard trees. Dogtags nailed to apples and plums            Rang out like wine flutes struck At the marriage table. The star-white blossoms            Let go their limbs and laid themselvesAs if for a funeral...

You as Tornadogenesis

Have the birds outside been talking to you too. Does each beak parting in the thaw make you think of fifth grade choir practice, all whistles & tiny songs with plastic-flamed candles, sun enveloping you & the crows & twilight calling you by last name, then...

Skull

The skull of a man is the skin of a mountain, cities weightless on the apron of dirt. Buildings. Hollow twanging. Plastic knuckles of light. I carve her words out with a knife so her softness floats drifts between the bolted streets and gasoline...

Infinite Waiting

I know dreaming of touching you now is like choosing to watch the story of the earth ending or the one where the sun’s core fuses too much helium and soon after collapses. Still, I remember what it was to wait for you. You had a job washing the bodies of the deranged,...

A Long-Waiting Wednesday; Optimism

A Long-Waiting Wednesday I sat in the car, in the back edge of the strip-mall parking lot, with the radio turned off, so the battery wouldn’t run down, leaving me stuck in the car-roof cave-sounding rain even longer than the hour-and-a-half I’d already been waiting...

Found Fist and Foot

Take the hand in Basquiat’s Profit I, each finger has two joints— so shall we chill at yours or mine? That’s a Mafia trick, lopping a digit. This is memory, an accident waiting to happen again and again. Dude blows off finger with fireworks and you watch it on You...

Untitled

This coffee is still learning, spills sweetens night after night the way fireflies flavor their legs then wait for the rippling hum that’s not a bat –you teach this cup smoke, emptiness and what it’s like to lean across as come right in let you sip from the black...

Travel Notes

GOOD NEWS All those hours spent in a tree are now lost to me. THE ARGUMENT AGAINST SWIMMING Any fish in the world can do it better than you. The difficulty of eating a pizza in a polite way while swimming the butterfly. THE ARGUMENT AGAINST THE CHARLESTON Dated;...

A Body Parts Comedy

Do you remember ten springs ago? Back in that season of renewal, I remember gulping down IPAs at a now-closed dive bar with my roommates. At Market & Fremont, we wobbled onto the crosswalk in a pack of testosterone as a klatch of estrogen strode toward us. Under...

Henrietta

Henrietta wonders what haunts me It wasn’t his whoop into the deep end, or how his mother had punched out her cigarette, one eye slit in the smoke, before plunging in to save him. And it wasn’t their legs churning like chum, or how I inhaled the sky and dove under....

There’s a Fix for That

Do you prefer adding or subtracting? Yeah, me too. Fortunately, I was raised by a circus family, so I got a head start. Some people think there is a science to it, but it’s really just the elephant of surprise. Of course, it takes two to tango, but it’s always great...

Boys in jeans

on greased up hogs say Hey,shuffle in. Black stains and dustat the cuffs. Open road’s been goodto them. So good, the open road’srough throat. The songs it singsthrough the ache in their legs,the dull throb in the groin. Muscles pullon bones as they stretch betweenthis...

Dinner at the Brady’s

The Brady Bunch are carnivorous,I know because I crawl into the TVand have dinner with them.Sometimes they invite my sister, too.Their sheep dog is also carnivorousAnd so is Alice, their cook.My Mom and Dad are vegetarian.They are orange vegetarian parentsAnd even our...

Person, Woman, Man, Camera, TV

Person The first five lines are always shit.A shock to the heart. Heartbeats cut each other offlike fine gems, end over endocarditis. No joke, perhapshyperbole? Though believe me when I saythe brow may be the only honest muscle in my face. Woman Such to the simple...

I have always wanted to be opaque

I imagine your honeycomb / lip balm lingering between the spaces / of my words / my chipped / sentences my declarations of clarity / and I thought fragmentation of the self / meant digestible / meant easy to handle but / staying with a sweet talker / I had to dissect...

Roots

Tomato musk clings to our skin, numb fingertips, and our breath plumes and hovers unspoken thoughts above our heads. Smoke signals. Warnings pretend not to see. Jude and I grip sturdy stems, tug until the roots rip free. Were these vines less rooted, it would be much...

Daughter

Adrienne Barrios wonders if Leigh Chadwick’s daughter will ever read these poems and feel the way a coyote feels when returning to its den after a long hunt, or if she’ll think, Wow, these are weird and Who the fuck is Adrienne Barrios, or if she’ll feel nothing at...

Look Back

And Orpheus, leading his lovefrom the cold caves of death,might understand the way my grandmothercut credit card confettiso no one could steal her identity. How can I explain the place where she lived? The ice cream shop is cash-only,dandelions in the sidewalks,the...

Night

At night, I become my mother’s breath, swirling into the air, never to be seen again. That, or I come up short sealing the deal with every man or woman I’ve ever thought about sealing the deal with. That, or I put on my wife’s heels and practice walking down the...

Green Card Girl

I To come to you—I navigated bitter winds crossed oceans blind told the old world: I rescind. To be with you—I renounced my name faced down suited men left the birthing hips, never to return again. To sink into you—I sat in the waiting room...

Notes on Cycles

on the train, streaks of sky, green, beyond this roaring, I’m an adult with hungry gums, today I stole a peach-pink bra, there is no milk to soothe, both our bellies swelled, a night or so ago, a dusty blue-grey couch, I am only looking for somewhere soft to rest my...

Destination

I am in a parking lot & Dad appears. I gather quickly this is a dream because I don’t own an Odyssey anymore & Dad passed nine years ago. I ask him if he is driving and he tells me to take the wheel. Question this more than his not having gray hair, or a...

List of all the Things We Got Right

You were never shy with your smile—blazing white, upright vanilla snow cones.I was a ghost on the days you looked through me, but my heart would still halt mid-clang like a dinner bell had given up, a mother aware that her kids had long run off.Unlocked windows, an...

If A took everything

she left a shell for me to sleep in. i did a baby’s crawl inside. i loved the future in which nothing was taken. once, we belonged to the earth and our return will be long-awaited. my body aches. i am reminded the ways i’ve stretched thin. i anthropomorphize the...

Static

The bedroom smells like furniture polish so                     I must’ve tossed the rags in with the sheets again. Light from the bedside table burns my fingertips....

Love Is An Umbrella Term

The lightning moves in next door. Now I am in love with the lightning’s wife. The lightning’s wife is forever poolside. The lightning and his son build a muscle car in the garage. Nothing is impossible for a willing heart. You have never seen thunder bathe in the...

<3 Your Biggest Stan

I am obsessed with _ _ is obsessed with _(not me) I read everything by _ my journal is full of poems to and about _ a letter I wrote but don’t send reads:I always feel you are closer to me than you areand alsoit is almost like we are friends is it a higher form of...

The ghosts I choose

You were a lighthouse like Antigone.  Coins pressed soft on each of her brothers' eyelids.  Protecting baby-boy from the bloody shock of his own bones.  Like medusa burying a snake from her head, you wrapped him like an umbilical chord.  To bury in...

Gravity

A penny glued to the ground is no different than love. Each a kindergarten lesson in futility and persistence. Chinese finger traps between us, our pulling brings us only closer, the gravity of us two planets drawing more near unwavering from our collision course...

Cold call

God, I’m expecting to hear from youAny day now, something winged alighting upon me,A Rush of Cochineal —The terms of the visitation I leave to your discretion. Superposition helps, as well as love —Though you must already understand, as you do the whorlsOf shells and...

Forensic

Every time I turned around, someone told me my footing was off.  That my feet, firmly planted or otherwise, were in question.  It began as a joke that I began playing with myself, to identify people by the crinkle of skin around their hyper focused eyes.  I was...

Butterfly Cage, The Light

Butterfly Cage when I was pregnant, all of my dreamswere about snakes. as much as I triedto dream only about baby kittens, baby puppieshuman babies, my nights would be filledwith twisting pythons gathered in knotsinside me, their slick skin undulatingin the dark,...

SEAWALL

It’s called edge collapse:Roots have nothing to hold onto.Ghost trees enclose the livingon a ridge, outside, moving in,on islands all over the Gulf,one thousand abandoned oil rigs. The city tip-toeshere and there. Our childrenlearn from books, cartoonsand...

Translations of Nostalgia

I had a weekend, pictures. I went aroundsightseeing all the old haunts. (Those still standing.)A photo of an old blue house cracked and faded,paint still on the surface.(A wish for wood glue and happiness.) The front door hingesstill held with crooked nails, a...

Svalbard

I nearly went to Svalbard. That was before the news feature on the shot polar bear, the result of an ice safari. I was off to a conference on darkness. I didn’t see the foxes on the tundra, the aurora, or hear the paper on Verdi’s operas. I didn’t buy a passport, told...

Hom, or Someplace Like It

I know I’m being followed so I scoot into Hom furniture and pantomime a little showtune past a couple who are mid-argument near the sofas and theatre seating to dispel any cringe the 5-inch scar swathed across my head is itchier than a mug and reminds me to check in...

Sweet Insects

Best not to use this video, it contains the word cancer which can be triggering for some. Cancer triggers another triggers another. That is how half my mother’s family died. The other half only half-dead. Half-dead in that their bodies are limp, though they power...

Grown Home

Fire in the bookshelf,down low, askingHow long will you keep on asking?My hands never grew completelyeven into the waiting. Waterfalls without a tongue.It's sick to be alone in this roomand not recognize anyone.Imagine the beast shot, turning.Empty heart.I lasheduntil...

The Price of Freedom

In a world without water, gold dust is only dust. In a house without light, a boy stands on tiptoes to sweep high ledges, sneezing in disturbed plumes. His knees are bruised from stone steps and his wrists are chafed by imaginary cords that keep him indoors. Some days...

Crop and Delete

You crop and delete the pieces of him from your life slowly but with perseverance, until two years later there’s nothing left. There’s no new recipes stuck to the fridge, no Heinekens left on its shelves. No more expensive coffee taking up room in cupboards, no soya...

Bar Mitzvah

The day my father lost his voice speaking Hebrew, no one laughed, silence like a foundation, airy as the firmament. This day he was born, he was made to choose his mother, accept the father letting go: Blessed is He who has now freed me from the responsibility of this...

Mother as Conjunction

Spring 2020 I’ve had daughters move home on their way from one frayed relationship to the unknown. The tear-swollen eyes. The packed hatchback, mauve bedspread smashed against the passenger window. This is different. Two of my grown children are here for the duration....

Love Poem for Mr. Miyagi

From the first moment I saw you through that screen door,chopsticks in hand, I knew I had finally founda teacher to call my own.You started teaching us from the very beginning.When you turned around and gave Daniel that starewe all knew your first lesson: knock, don’t...

On Fire (Or, Last Wishes)

There is fire on the mountainAnd nobody seems to be on the runThere is fire on the mountaintopAnd no one is a-running —ASA, Fire on the Mountain I wish everyone I love              the joy of dancing naked. Tonight, I am holding a piece of chicken              from...

Fair and Lovely

we believed the neighborhood voicesthat said fair was most beautiful before they brought the ointmentturmeric, yogurt, and honey your face was buttermilkunder the nightlightthat one sideways molar, a diamond once you fit in your father’s palmswhen you arriveda pink...

The Unbearable Inertia of Clothes

My clothes are ready to go—wings tacked on,leather belt snug, holey jeans unfolded, ready for the road or the Australiancane toads layered over it in blanketed miles. Hanging on the edge of flight, my clothesknow better than I which direction to go— run clothes from...

Rituals

My love This morning mamá came into the kitchen and handed me her morral My love You dug out an ancestral pain inherited from my grandmother to my mother to me My love Mi mama, she has always told me que las penas con pan son menos So I make myself a taco with all...

Knives, Widower

Knives I can offer you only: this world like a knife —John Berryman A set of them in a house is nothing, where nothing becomes a meal for us. We are either kitchen or crime scene as our daily recipes prepare fresh wounds or silence in rooms. Words are food for...

Party On

They were yorking, yorking all over the city. Hot like the fourth of July. The crowd, wild grassing, and the night sky bannered and bottered. The hot hot. The zipping but not the zippers. They twobacked and sometimes three. Together, then apart. We dooglogged out of...

MY WOMAN

i wail that my ama still cries over her beat husband I weep over my ammama counting her days even though I know brown women never die, I don’t know how she dosent know this I cry over days spilt over the course of hot dahl and weak chai my ama coming home to only wish...

Whitewashing Frank Butler

He is a salesman, can talk you intoa bigger barrel, can weave a tale with youas Annie Oakley, sharp eyed and lightand little as she. Build him into the manyou want him to be, shadow behindthat girl—how ordinary it all seems,blue eyed boy cutting steak acrossthe table...

If Only

It's amazing what a year in solitude will make me yearn for-- events I never liked in the first place-- overly crowded outdoor festivals with $12 bud lights and lousy cover bands, waiting in line for the breakfast buffet, the Chinese buffet, the casino buffet that...

The Strongest Man I Know

I cannot imagine the struggle Trapped inside my own body Which does not represent my true gender Reminded Every time I pass by a mirror Every month when red spills from between my legs Rejected By the outside world For something beyond my control But Darling, You are...

Spaghettification

Yesterday scientists watched a blast of light from a star as it was eaten by a black hole. A star with the same mass as the sun ripped           into thin strips.  Such a view is not usually possible because the dust & debris cover up the disruption. But this...

The Green Mustang in Front of the House

(is a) Dead frog hard and rotting at the curb; unmatchedhubcaps. One might call "to love" April's first sunwhere the skin burns, the heart envelopedin the hardiest permafrost, an epic tundra'sdeath; the infinitive. Tiny bees flyin irrational patterns near my feet. He...

A Good Earth

I talk facing away from the dead They replace me with the change in my pocket A penny that has yet to be invented They say, “You have to know how to cut a throat on the way to cutting a throat” After sleeping on a mattress made from two garbage bags of clothes I...

Not on the Railroad Tracks

The tracks flanked the river between twin rails. The red light blinked westward a permanent, arrested fixture, begging stop forever. Crews cruise westward then eastward like any way was a good direction. The sun shone fall in its amber palette.  Music stuttered...

All I Know About Sin is Robin Egg Blue

two gentle orbs nestled in a fallen thatched bowl found beneath the canopy of a Douglas Fir’s lowest limbs the neighbor girl wanted me dared me to crush it in my palm so easily I chose, and she looked satisfied before leaving me cross-legged in the pines my father’s...

You ask the soil if you belong

What has always been whisperedthrough other leaves grows bold,thunderclaps laterite-red:never. Transplant, hue and clay,your roots never the right length.Untrue/halfbrednot hybrid, weednot plant. Be silentand show some gratitudefor this flowerbed,for being at...

Wheatfield, with Crows

What if there were two moons or maybe even three, what if this crow was an envoy from the realm of the moon, and what if that country were golden, except for the sky and the ruts across the field? If we urge our mule forward, we will enter into the frame of the...

Two Dogs

i. as of tomorrow as of today as of right now we are lost in the woods’ brown leaves parchment paper grateful for the perpetual churning beneath our feet well aware of tonight’s frost warning more signs pointing to us maybe getting past all this ii. the larger issues...

Razing, Scrubbing

Razing Unease like black smoke imploding at dusk. All things like a calendar or a game of hopscotch. Everything meaning something else how I remember watching a boy burn insects in the parking lot after church. His eyes like love always shattering—as if caught in that...

The Promise

Tongue my dress like goddess whisper. Lick the milk lazy or lie in rust still panting delirious petals—tell me the incubator we live in has blown a fuse or that tomorrow, my daughter will wake up inside the canyon walls I secreted her inside until the world’s oxygen...

Interstellar

exhausted by the enormity of everythingmy eyes refuse to focusand what is there to see?//so i surrender let them closeeven though there's so much ofnothing important to do//somewhere on another plane a bell rings and a small birdstartleddrops a pebble into the pond of...

Genius Zebra

            Bandits came to an abandoned coal mine with roses in their teeth.  I don’t know what they were running from, but they sure came a long way by moonlight.  They set up camp outside the old shaft and laughed and hooted with their whiskey stories, clapping and...

A Real Catch

I’m wearing my lucky pants. Everybody at the post office knows me. Yesterday, when I walking to the liquor store, I noticed somebody peeping through the blinds. I’ve been trying to trick myself into being invisible, but so far, no luck.  For a while, I was thinking...

Tree on Top of a Parking Garage

The elevators are all broken, so it’s climbed all five flights of stairs. Catching its breath, it stands by the railing and looks out across the highway to where the sun is turning orange between the clouds and the horizon. The passing drivers see it there and chuckle...

When a House Becomes a Tome

your old house is occupied by another family & has been for years I run I pedal I rollerblade by & imagine you laughing with that high-volume draw & wheeze of yours the time your mom popped her head in the window & nearly scared you half to death I...

Little Girl

1. Missouri In each place called home, the lovers, the farm with blue eggs, and the calf being born. Learning that the best branches for whipping are from weeping willows. From the backyard you could see for miles, trace the lines of the fences and county, patches of...

First Date

He said we’d rename every dog we saw because it’s a better game than love. I name every dog after favorite poem titles: I call the golden, “If all of my relationships fail and I don’t have any kids, do I even know what love is?” He nicknames the dog knowledge. I name...

Lunch in Kennedy Park

My wife and I find a table Under a tree whose branches And leaves are fulsome enough To provide us with protection From the rays of the summer’s sun. Delicately we unwrap our burgers As if they might crumble before Our eyes if we weren’t so careful. Reaching for the...

Sunrise Over the Long Island Sound

Last summer I visited my father. He hides his worry better than anyone I know. A stubborn skin that refuses to peel its layers, convey the daunting of it all. The length between home and shoreline. The precious soil sloughed of its greenery, like the skin off of a...

Dream of the Rising Sea

I am walking between two loose narratives, connected by a seaside promenade. Rising from dark water, my childhood’s plastic toys and adulthood’s kitchen utensils float near the stony edge. I can’t resist gathering things within reach with promises to use them in my...

O Night Divine; Take it Like a Man

O Night Divine Straight-shot past sunset—no tolls, no gas, no pissing, camels for two hours with the kids asleep to talk about our life until the 10-year-old wakes, insists on Christmas music. It’s Nov. 26th, but we find it more easily than we avoid  weaving...

Albatross Soufle; Bird Home

Albatross Soufflé There’s no secret to how the world is made: it isn’t. It grows from the leavings of holy box turtles, flightless origamis, snufflings lost behind elder doors. Tears and Tvarscki, Chopin and Coffins. My daughter’s goodbyes that settle into my heart...

Want

The wind descended from the west            To rattle the orchard trees. Dogtags nailed to apples and plums            Rang out like wine flutes struck At the marriage table. The star-white blossoms            Let go their limbs and laid themselvesAs if for a funeral...

You as Tornadogenesis

Have the birds outside been talking to you too. Does each beak parting in the thaw make you think of fifth grade choir practice, all whistles & tiny songs with plastic-flamed candles, sun enveloping you & the crows & twilight calling you by last name, then...

Sometimes Unhappiness Can Make You Mean

In the final dying days of my grad school career on a break one afternoon I wandered lonely to the vending machines where a classmate struggled to buy an ice cream from a dispenser with raised buttons requiring a firm push, like the keys on a manual typewriter, but...

Skull

The skull of a man is the skin of a mountain, cities weightless on the apron of dirt. Buildings. Hollow twanging. Plastic knuckles of light. I carve her words out with a knife so her softness floats drifts between the bolted streets and gasoline...

Infinite Waiting

I know dreaming of touching you now is like choosing to watch the story of the earth ending or the one where the sun’s core fuses too much helium and soon after collapses. Still, I remember what it was to wait for you. You had a job washing the bodies of the deranged,...

A Long-Waiting Wednesday; Optimism

A Long-Waiting Wednesday I sat in the car, in the back edge of the strip-mall parking lot, with the radio turned off, so the battery wouldn’t run down, leaving me stuck in the car-roof cave-sounding rain even longer than the hour-and-a-half I’d already been waiting...

Found Fist and Foot

Take the hand in Basquiat’s Profit I, each finger has two joints— so shall we chill at yours or mine? That’s a Mafia trick, lopping a digit. This is memory, an accident waiting to happen again and again. Dude blows off finger with fireworks and you watch it on You...

Untitled

This coffee is still learning, spills sweetens night after night the way fireflies flavor their legs then wait for the rippling hum that’s not a bat –you teach this cup smoke, emptiness and what it’s like to lean across as come right in let you sip from the black...

Travel Notes

GOOD NEWS All those hours spent in a tree are now lost to me. THE ARGUMENT AGAINST SWIMMING Any fish in the world can do it better than you. The difficulty of eating a pizza in a polite way while swimming the butterfly. THE ARGUMENT AGAINST THE CHARLESTON Dated;...

A Body Parts Comedy

Do you remember ten springs ago? Back in that season of renewal, I remember gulping down IPAs at a now-closed dive bar with my roommates. At Market & Fremont, we wobbled onto the crosswalk in a pack of testosterone as a klatch of estrogen strode toward us. Under...

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