clothes pin gossip

one clothes pin says to another,
"i remember when he was a woman."
a wire spills from the house like a vein.
you hang up night gowns & communion dresses.
meanwhile, in laundry room, the children crouch 
& look for credit cards. they want to buy
a shiny new life. everything is damp. rain comes 
with shards of glass. the new chemical makes the birds 
into telephones. incoming calls from a dead lover.
he used to rub your back. you saw mushroom clouds in his irises. 
"the wind will take anything" says the other clothes pin.
you undress, then try to take off your skeleton too.


bowling pin

you break down the door with a letter opener
but i hide the secret beneath the fall-down stairs
& won't be giving it to you. intruder alert.
cellar door cellar door. she says, "let's get coffee."
they talk about how all games are all either 
about wanting touch or about knocking the whole city over.
she wants to be touched. he wants to knock the whole city over.
godzilla sits in the bay weeping. we go to console him 
with a packet of fruit snacks & a bowling ball. 
he thanks us. we become pins standing side by side.
isn't that just like me? to offer myself as a video game.
i don't give up the secret at least. my bruises are ripe planets.


animal chalkboard 

i close my eyes & peel an orange. 
the orange is not an orange but a fist. 
uncurl the fingers wrapped around a pen drive 
that's full of confessions. 
one of them is i used to write "i love you" 
on the chalkboard & pretend that by erasing it, 
i was sending it to someone else. i want to celebrate myself 
the way birds do unquestioningly. 
just yesterday, i saw a blue jay swoop down, 
a flower in his beak. he said, "summertime summertime" 
like a skipping record. the orange wasn't sweet. 
was full of seeds. the "i love you" comes as an animal rain. 


when i am a fifth grader

i eat everything america & wrap
my voice in cylophane. the window
is a parable of snow. opening my desk
to find a president & a biological specimen.
outside everyone is rubber. drawing chalk lines.
pencil sharpener. i ask to go to the bathroom
& the bathroom vibrates static.
a police officer crosses his arms & points
to an empty chalk board. i nod like i understand. 
i make friends with dead birds at the playground's edge
& admit to them, "i don't know what to do 
at recess anymore." the birds say, "neither do we."


walking sticks

sometimes i am a television antenae & sometimes
i am just the branch & no visitor. when you
hold your leaves do you think of eye lashes or blades? 
i think blades. alone in a night alley way, i tell the darkness, 
"i am not a gender, i am just a pile of sticks." 
we live mimicking the wind. swaying like pendants, 
the walking sticks know how to pretend to not be creatures. 
i ask them, "then for who do you throw parties? do you feast?" 
they do not speak. they are hoping to make me think 
i am just talking to sticks, which is possible. 
what would it take for me to not live for my camouflage? 
i want to wear my body. i want to transform into branches. 


punishment lever

i wanted the sweet amphibian bones
so i pulled & pulled until the whole world was lightning.
a draw bridge opened & closed like a mouth.
who are you talking to? there is no one else here.
the cold front is going to bring dead jet planes 
into the sky. i spit my gum into a corner until
it resembles a face. if we were brothers, we would
have run away already. instead, you ask who i am to you
& i say, "i am the fear of starvation." poison in my fingers.
i grab whatever sugar finds me, no matter the aftermath.
a terrarium can become comforting. i have my glass life
& you have yours. just one more. just one more. just one more.


i'm at a loss for words

i'm at a loss for words about 
did you see what the whales
are doing? in my bullet proof vest i went
into the school yard of my dreams.
there, they say every wound is a firework. 
i celebrate. i celebrate. holding my escaped uterus.
then, the tv became a siren so we carried it
out to the front yard in order to sleep.
to you & yours & yours & yours 
& whoever's job it will be 
to hang the moon when i am gone.
these were precedented times.


caesar dressing

tell me how to eat mania. to take it in. 
i ride my boat onto the shore of a plastic island
& say, "i love you so much." piranhas swarm 
like school girls. pigtails & purses & 
sitting alone at the lunch table where demons 
gather & tell me i am visible. lately i have 
considered exiting only between the prongs of a fork.
wearing an ice berg. fill my pockets with anchovies
to free in the bay. saying, "go be homeowners."
their eyes staring back at me. shredding moons
for fringe. the fish are a universe. 
i am just the digital pasture flooded by cream. 


disposable television

i star in a grand moment & everyone claps
& says “i would like another.” splitting a bag of chips with god.
wiping our hands on our thighs. it is a marathon.
out behind the house i tend my empty screens like graves. 
see my warped reflection there; the onyx dream of a prophet. 
instead of payment for my body, i accept donations of fear. 
what will they see me as if i? an angel asks another,
“did you see the performance?” driving to your recording,
i used to pass through a town & think, “if only i was from here
then i would know what it feels like to be captured.”
put me on the screen & make me iridescent. the mountain sits.
static on my tongue. we walk between the emptied.  



i spent all night binding fish until
they lay still in the water like a photograph.
i held my breath for nineteen years always waiting
to wake up in the river. surface is a place 
where you finally inhale or else bury yourseld. 
swimming, the sun is a bear's maw. i roast a rainbow & devour
as if it were the day's catch; this is what a promise is good for. 
singing comes from all my drains so i plug them with socks. 
it's august so the grass begins to tell rumors all night. 
"the poet is really a girl inside a boy inside a girl."
in response, i cut my tongue out & release it into the creek. 
cross my legs to picture the fin but it doesn't come. 



i wished i could paper-airplane my face away. 
then, all into the night, my sleeves sang 
like song birds. no sleep. you were promising that
we would have the big big house & the icing.
licking my fingers, you told me i wasn't a lady.
i looked down to find myself in the body 
of a feral child. all my words turned to beetles
& crawled out of my skull. i believe in
ice berg poetry. how a word can surface
to show a deeper depth & a danger. i crash cruise ships
into trees. no one is on them. i am a wad of pink.
yes, please, swaddle me aluminum & call me never ever ever. 


teeth restaurant

to learn how to eat, the great dead dog
walked me down to the diner. you were there too.
it was neon as all heavens should be. 
i saved my state quarters for this kind of angel. 
offering bowls from bike helmets. we took turns 
pleading for spoons. silverware of all shapes & sizes. 
the waitor asked if we were sisters or lovers. 
i confessed "we are neither." i wished we were lovers. 
you insisted on eating with your fingers,
plucking teeth from a golden plate like turkish delite. 
then, feeding me & asking "whose dog is that?" 
"what dog?" i lied, stroking the dog's back. 


flight simulator 

i was the sky you were pretending to navigate.
eating bagged peanuts & talking about
the next destruction. i used to never
lock my face. i let ghosts come & go as they pleased.
now, i have a ring of keys. i add a new one every day 
so the true key is harder & harder to find. 
looking down out the plane window at a bruised knee, 
clouds all around i watch an eagle die 
& fall as an envelope. meanwhile, the mailmen are searching
for the house we used to live in. now, a leveled field.
A rust broken pipe still protruding from the earth.



i poured the old planets 
into shapes of sea shells.
we were soap making all night.
fingers like luna moths.
everything as lavendar as i've always wanted. 
let me be the sarcaphagus that washes your hair.
make me wild & purple. i'm filling the vessel
i've been given. disciple-waiting to emerge 
a daisy or a skull. then, curled caterpillar. 
each of my burials as fountains.


bee bones

i made a chandelier of stingers
in the graveyard of sweet 
& "i'm sorry." the hum 
of an ancient candle.
i insert a wick in my tongue
& beg for the fire. there was
a pair of earring made of bees
& i wore them into the sacristy 
where a priest made a pill bug of me.
crosses that buckle into xs.
here is where we will dig until
we find the underground kingdom
of gold. when i say "gold"
i mean tents. you taught me
how to peel the sun. 
thumb & thumb & teeth.
i taught myself that gods are
the thread at the end 
of the needle. what is pulled
in & out of the land. 
a necklace of bees. a graveyard
of bees. honeycombs dripping
with gold. my father's gold tooth.
the chandelier swinging.
a wing made of dead wings. papery 
to the touch. everything i love
could be blown apart by 
a strong wind. i feel my bones 
leaving my skin & tumbling
across the corn fields.
nothing has grown yet. 
we still have chances to run.
then, look for ticks 
in each other's hair. a fatted jewel
at the base of my neck.
for divinity, i learned to drink
only as much blood as i need.
this is what i let the bugs do.
fall off as gem stones.
if i could just be the river 
i could give as much 
as i want to. in our house 
we speak insect at this time of night.
join the summer chorus. 
every breath goes too fast. i hold mine. 
when i was small i used to think doing so 
would make time go still. 
sitting with the bees & holding the air
as long as i can. my lungs like two drums.
the bees say,"to drink is to release."
i exahle & say, "show me where 
you keep the candles."
i am wearing my altar boy robes. 


security system

we are not safe.
every window is an opporutnity 
for knowing or passcoding or
prayerbook. the holy water
full of eels. mailing a letter
to a dead boyfriend.
he used to climb in through
the chimney & say,
"nothing could keep me
from you." the line between
horror & love is a wooden bridge.
i put wires in the door frames.
lit fires beneath doorknobs.
a dead bolt. a bolted dead.
lock the front door with
a parable. there was once
a boy who let everyone in
until he lived in a house
crowded by ghosts.
not every thought should be
a guest. but they ate pillows 
& used up the toilet paper.
wrote their names in blood
on the mirrors. washing over
& over. the boy tried so hard
to be clean. finding a mouse
living in a keyhole. 
he left the house & slept
on a park bench with the crows 
laughing above him. ate street signs.
his throat said, "stop stop."
no stopping. left the house door open
& so more came & he watched
from the road. everything is ripe
in june. a bowl of keys.
a strawberry. knots in the old wood.
but is alright. it is okay.
cameras are watching
the bushes for rustling. there is
a thumb print machine ready to 
print a labyrinth of your  
spiraling mazes. nothing happens 
without someone seeing it.
at least not here. at least not
anymore. i go out into the yard
& watch the empty house.
light a candle & the cameras say,
"it is just you." relief rushes over me.
i go back inside & thank 
my wandering technology.


on the lake of dropped calls

we decide to build a raft out of an ear.
you say, "we can use yours."
cut it off slowly 
with a paring knife. 
all the words i wanted to say 
spill out the side of my skull. 
drifting leaf-like across the water.
you dare me to go over board.
i have already gone farther
than i want to. isn't that 
what we're told love is about?
finding a threshold in someone else
& seeing if it will give.
dipping two fingers in the surface
everything rings--not like bells
but like sirens. like a full plate
falling & the owner eating its contents
from the dining room floor.
i am starving & haven't eaten
for seven years. you tell me
there is a shake shack on the other side
of the lake & so we paddle
with our hands. pushing the ear
& ringing. thrum that travels
from wrist to elbow. windchimed children.
dream of devouring anything.
planks of wood. handfuls of seaweed.
the stones at the bottom of the lake.
i think, surely there must be something
to put in my mouth. again you suggest
the water as if there were
ever an option as to whether or not
i would drown. the water comes
like sky--endless & enduring.
the voices of pleasure & pleas.
a "hello?" chorus. where have you gone
oh where have you gone. tell me
this is not over. call me again.
press the phone to your ear 
& eat me. i make it to shore &
you are there before me smiling
& chewing. you ask what i heard down there.
i cannot bring myself to tell you
so i say, "nothing but your voice." 


radiator love poem

i used to try to see how long i could last
without turning the heat back on.
the pipes in our building are 
full of eels. you said, 
"i want to feel my bones again."
i crouch in front of the dead horse
& ask for a fire. contemplate
how & what i will try to steal
from the gods. the world is turning 
to ice age in front of my eyes.
i use a blow dryer to unthaw 
the rose bushes outside. dry petals 
fall to the earth. i watched you
smoke on your little metal balcony,
the plumes from our mouth 
like foot soliders. who & what
is coming for you? a bagel we split
before i decided to live inside
a conch shell. the life of 
mulberries bursting. i don't want
to be a candle. i want to be
oil which is to say i want to be
the ancient shoulders. give me
dinosaur tear ducts.
give me a fireplace i can lay down in.
cradle the log. but the radiator speaks
of beautiful sunsets & raisin cookies.
spiral galaxy. snakes, when close to dying
of the cold, will coil around each other
into a wonderous knot of skin
& skin & skin. this is how 
our building will one day fall.
in a tethering of bodies. the basement
is full of roots that lead 
to a ghost tree. turning the heat back on
i feel like i am becoming a moth.
i search for a thumb's worth of light
to tell my every secret to. 
the sun kneels down. the radiator gallops. 


edible sea shells

i used to live inside 
plastic gloves. hermit crabs 
crawled along the sidewalk
carrying wedding rings.
the ocean was always coming closer
brimming with messages in bottles.
i always worried if i opened one
it would tell me something
i didn't want to know.
once, a friend opened one
to find a letter from her mother
where she confessed to setting
the dog house on fire. 
there aren't enough confessionals
for this life. one on every corner
but instead of priests we could have
each other. i want to find a stranger
to tell about the taste of sea shells.
always like butter & sugar.
crouching in the waves
my brother & i swallowed 
as many as we could. heard them clap
in our stomaches like castanets.
we had been so hungry. so willing
to try anything. i don't want
to scare you but even now 
when i see an ocean all i can think of
is "feast." is it true 
you shouldn't shower in a lighting storm?
because i am not afraid.
i turn the water on to find
tiny sea shells spilling
from the shower head. she sells
sea shells by the sea are you sure?
there is a dollar bill 
i keep folded in a triangle 
in my pocket. soon the electricity
will turn on us. form its own 
civilization. darkness as tangible 
as icing. licking my fingers.
do you know what it means 
to scrape like this? the bottom
of every day for the last petals.
here, let me teach you 
how to be a decorative bowl.
not for eating or for serving
but for looking into. i have a collection
of sea shells & they are ready
for us to carry back to the water
which is also a mouth. which is also
what she is selling which is also
so sore it reddens. 
i will promise you one thing--
this not crack your teeth. this will end
in calcite. running our fingers
over the shell's ribs.
running our fingers over
each other's ribs. you will
have to believe me. 


skin care routine

sometimes hives break out 
along the back of my neck
like a garden path
to disappearance. i want into 
a room of potted mirrors.
watering the self & saying,
"you are worthy of softness."
lotion made from retired clouds.
a lightning bolt who 
wears high heels & speaks only
in similes. "your body 
is like a daguerreotype."
sitting still, i wait to 
return to my limbs. a gasoline serum 
in a dropper. just a little fire
to each cheek. evening out
the skin tone. i lay down
& wait to be raked into a pile
with the other leaves. 
something is always falling.
boys are always touching
their skin. he ties my hands
behind my back & i walk around
all day like a parcel.
where i am going there is
only knuckles. 
oil from weeping willows
rubbed into my scalp.
a bowl of dove's eggs mashed.
this is a mask of mud & worry.
lifting the grottos from 
my face. i want to keep 
every cave i have. i will need them.
the eyeless fish know 
what it means to wear a body.
i float on my back in a tub
of blood. i don't know whose blood
but isn't that how we live right now?
whose blood am i in?
then rinsing. patt dry.
almost done. now just for
a walk alone in a house 
of dust. finger prints on every planet.
wrapping myself in parchment paper.
i am not sure how or if 
i can feel renewed again. 


carnival graveyard 

i go by myself 
into the blinking archways of bone. 
eat cotton candy from a skull.
the dead are not dead
just entertaining the living.
i woke up with tickets
in my mouth. taste of sugar
on my my my tongue.
music poured from every knee cap.
am i living? i put on
my funeral dress.
at the carnival off the highway 
everything tastes like metal.
i remember you asking
for a parasol & me saying,
"but it is raining" then, you saying,
"no--it's not." the earth coming
in onion orbits. the sun in your eyes.
i find rusted bolts in my pocket.
there are too many boyfriends to count
& they all want to win me
a giant stuffed bear. the bear
is stuffed with wads of hair.
the boyfriends are older than me.
they tell me i am always
wanting too much. my body is 
a place where balloon darts land.
the ferris wheel in the quarry.
a plane crashes & the scrap
is used for a rollercoaster.
holding on for dear
life. what i have done to hold on
for dear life. pulling hair out
one strand at a time.
the swing ride. kitchen implements 
i've used for digging.
beater. bowl. wooden spoon.
paper plates to sleep on.
the workers put their skeletons away
in clarinet cases. one more thing.
a machine for screaming.
i go inside. someone asks,
"who died?" i remember 
the funeral clothes & i take them off.
i answer, "i am just living prepared."
i want someone to teach me
how to celebrate. don't be brief.
don't come to town like the carnival does.
night after night, then 
frantically reburying itself.
tombstones where it was. 
come to me enduring. a set of kitchen knives.
a disco ball. hold me down 
while i try to run into traffic.
the cars running naked 
on the highway. fill my mouth 
with tickets that do not correspond 
to anything at all. 


scavenger hunt

find a ship without legs
& then ride it to the hole in your sock.
we were talking about 
driving eight hours to find the body.
your dorm room full of socks.
i refused to eat for days
in the hopes i would transform 
into a butterfly. i would like
a break from daylight. find a night
that lasts as long as you need it to.
drilling holes in both hands 
to feign stigmata. telling moths
they can fly through the openings.
find an envelop you never sent.
the post office covered in gold.
limited edition travels. the airplane 
we took to visit desire. eating ice cream
in front of dinosaurs. my uncle 
ran around with his hands on fire
& no one helped him put them out.
when i say i am searching i mean
i bought a shovel. i go outside
each darkness into the city streets
as if i'm going to find a whale graveyard.
squirrel skull. owl pellet
with a vole heart still beating inside.
what terrifies me most is
i'm not sure i'll recognize it
when i come upon what i'm looking for.
maybe a comet. find yourself
a celestial body. one to wear
when this one is done. find sleep.
find silverware. find a lover,
one who doesn't close their eyes.
who walks around like a search light.
i had that & we totaled the car 
& the ship didn't have any legs
so we had to paddle on dry land.
find an ocean. toss your skull
into the water. listen to the crabs
as they play fiddles for mermaids.
the letter arrives without a stamp.
a car pulls away. find a citrus fruit
to serve as the sun. hang it 
from the window. use crayons to 
outline his body against
the bedroom wall. find a way
to save each touch. his hair 
in an old jam jar. to keep is 
to never have to hunt for again.
i have so so so many basements full. 


get rich quick

"what can we do to be 
rich?" my mom asks
in our living room.
the ceiling is dime-covered.
in the bathroom,
mirrors crowd with ghosts.
all my father's shirts 
have mice-chewed holes.
we are a family of trap doors
or else we are being eaten. i find
thread-bare elbows. my hair fall out
in woven baskets. all the spoons
caving in. become binoculars.
i say, "let's go door to door"
only the thought is incomplete.
nothing to sell. we ring doorbells.
search our pockets for something
to offer. what we need
is a yard sale or a merchandise or
a new gadget that will
make breathing easier. a flashlight
full of fireflies. shoes that tell you
when danger is coming. when you
are about to catastrophe.
in our house, money is
a kind of angel. we say,
"do you have any money?" like
"do you have any grace?" "any holiness?" 
when i was small, i learned
to fish in purses. take only 
as much as wouldn't be noticed.
quarters. now each theft 
is a hole in the bathtub.
i plug them with my fingers.
for us, the world is always trying
to pour out. the point is
this has to happen quickly.
we don't have much longer until 
the urge to be voluminous passes
& we are just a ragged portrait again.
bugs in the carpet. dust 
on every windowsill. 
a man opens a rung doorbell 
& tells us to get a job. 
we say, "this is our job"
he turns into an empty wallet.
we pocket him in case we can
sell him later. no one
goes to bed rich. the day passes 
quicker than the one before
& the one before & the one before.
i get on dad's shoulders
to pluck a dime from the ceiling.
"just enough," he says 
even thought it's not. 
we eat pizza & consider
what we could make 
out of the box. an airplane maybe
or a cruise ship.


VR brother

in game mode, we talk about girls.
he says he is waiting for perfect legs
& a jar of tongues.
really, i stand in the living room
knocking over glass vases.
shattering. meanwhile, in VR
i am just trying to hug him.
the headset sings a song about distances.
since he converted to digital
we have almost nothing
to say. i tell him it is raining
& he changes the sky to be purple &
heavy with clouds. he says, "what rain?"
this is not dreaming. this is
emptying each room on the front lawn.
i'm thinking about how we used to
talk through the dark
of our shared bedroom 
as if night were a curtain.
him asking, "are you still awake?"
me pausing before whispering, "yes."
i ask him what he does all day 
& he transforms his hand into a blue jay. 
in VR, nothing is perminant
but especially not mistakes.
he runs away & returns. he chops down
a tree out of anger & instantly 
it grows back. he says,
"don't you wish the rest of the world
was so forgiving?" a part of me does.
a part of me wants to burn
my house down & turn around
to see it back. but, then,
there are the pieces of a wreck.
how, even if they are ash, 
they should be taken. held.
he shaves his head. he eats with his fingers.
tells me he is in love with
a patch of dandelions. they are a woman.
again, we are talking about girls.
always, we are talking about girls.
the specter of me having been one.
how she is downloadable now.
lives on a USB drive. wonder if 
she's met anyone. when i take off the headset
he doesn't say goodbye just
"what if you stayed?" i think about it
until the moon is the only eye left open.
i think of putting my life
under my tongue. walking around
with blue jays for hands. sitting beside
my girlhood & putting a piece
of caramel in her mouth. 


i buy stamps w/ ur face on them

going to mail a frenzy
& all the windows are tinted blue
to try to make me calm.
i want to know how to feel anger 
without letting it destroy me.
i rode a bicycle with no wheels
to ur house & waved my arms
until my shoulders throbbed.
my body is a shelter 
where my fury sits alone 
at a dining room table
& pretends to be at bliss
for the others. there are no others.
u were probably sleeping. u were
probably not thinking about
how ur face shows up everywhere for me.
in my knotted hair, ur nose.
my knees bear ur instructions.
come here come here. the mail person
asks me if i want any stamps 
& i say "could i see what you have?"
i have lived inside so many stamps.
cut my life into transience.
today i am thinking about
the train that used to know my feet.
used to say, i promise, long & wailing.
then, he is showing me 
booklets of mushroom cloud stamps
& crowbar stamps & suitecase stamps &
a fire escape stamp. i ask
anything else? & then there you are.
a dozen of ur face
replicated. perfect for sending
a feather to the tax collector.
yes, i bought them & now
ur house is on fire. the news
arrives now only in touch. 
i press my hand to the tremble
& hear not good. i wanted to buy 
hundreds of sheets. send ur face
to every doorstep. would that be revenge?
no, it is something extra.
but don't worry i didn't buy more
than just a sheet. u smile at me
& i tell u. now at least 
u will learn how to carry me.
ur face winks on the stamp. 


audiobook family

in the romper room
we kept all our ears on the shelves.
our tongues were out to pasture.
so, when i spoke, 
only yarn came out.
we repeat stories in my house
each time the details becoming
more like glass. my father promises
he was a soldier in the first world war.
tells me about gatling guns
& the trenches' spoiled dirt.
he crawls into headphones
just like me. i am a grub
or a worm. my brother lights 
the tree on fire & calls it a prophecy.
i try to put it out but just make it worse.
the story goes like this
"we are from
the time of antiques. a rusted telephone.
grinding eggs into dust." 
for hours we call for our tongues 
but they never come back.
i ask my mother, "tell me a story
without your lips." she closes her eyes
& i close mine. we share a little
dark kingdom where every mushroom 
is a telephone line to the underworld.
in the whole house there is
only one plug & we fight hungrily for it,
especially at night.
teeth like airplanes. 
clamoring to hear what the wall
has to say. gives us stories
about drowned girls & hitchhikers. 
when i get my turn 
my ears hum. i forget to worry
about my tongue or drawers full 
of spare teeth. i am just
a pocket knife being opened 
& opened. wooden dining room tables.
my father, digging a trench 
to sleep in. i go with him,
carrying my ears 
in my backpocket. 



i go to a butcher
to buy my heart. he sits 
at a card table with his pigs
talking to them 
as if they're brothers.
come to learn they are in fact 
brothers. my elbows have been
growing barnacles
& briars. i lean to much
on anything & everything i can find.
going out to the fields
i see the butcher as he burries 
the cow bones & the pig bones
& the chicken bones 
so they don't haunt him.
it is too late for me. 
every few months i roast my heart
& have to find a new one.
i lived for years with
a plastic bag blowing around
in my chest. this morning i 
just want what is easy.
see my reflection in a jar
of pickled hooves. wonder if
i could peel my elbows off
like the skin of an orange.
i don't want to hinge
anymore. just want to lay flat
& talk to the animal shapes
in the clouds. the butcher 
is not my father but i am 
pretending he is. i want a man
to survey me & tell me
i look just like i'm supposed to.
sometimes i buy mason jars 
to put my anger in. hope they turn
to raspberry preserves.
instead, they reek like vinegar.
jitter on their shelves 
waiting to scream. i have not screamed 
in years. in the fields
all the bones are screaming.
i wonder if that is what it would take
for me to let go. all the meat
peeled back. just the raw bone
strewn about. tall grass 
wears ticks like necklaces.
says "hush, hush," to the bones.
the bones don't listen.
oh how i would love to be told what to do
& not listen. i rub new ointment
on my elbows. it's supposed to
make me smooth. i'm not even sure
i was meant to be soft.



again, i plant my eyes 
in a clay flower pot.
he asks me,
"what kind of fruit do you bear?"
from my ribs, watermelons.
on the right night, no fruit at all.
i am a crowd of asparagus.
wait for orchids.
all my daughters are ticks.
try to drink the blood 
of my knee caps.
then, a dandelion flock.
selling their dresses 
after only one wear.
baby birds fall from trees
like diamonds. i carry 
a can opener down into hell.
what will be exported 
from my mouth? 
a tooth, like a tail light.
my backyard full of glass.
the broken parasol.
girlfriends wading into lakes.
my ghost has a lighter,
walks out into a drying herd
of wheat. soon to be fire.
that is what i am. soon & sooner.
paring knives skittering
across the beach
on their toothpick legs.
did i say paring knives?
i meant plovers. i always get
those mixed up. what does it mean
to fed one another?
sometimes, i turn off the lights
just to look for another mouth
i haven't traced yet.
teaching me to swallow,
he placed a plum in between my teeth.
i dare myself to eat all 
the pits. where i die
a grove will sprout & fight 
for oxygen. a boy will sit
beneath me. eat more purple than he should.
stomach full of my fists.
fluttering with my anger 
& my exhaustion & my love.
each morning
he will open his mouth
& find a flower
on his tongue.


electronic bird sanctuary

we visit abandon
with feather handfuls.
a guest book of fingers.
haven't your hands ever
flown south for the winter?
the last bird lives
inside a labratory 
where, in virtual reality,
he thinks he's flying.
once, while rubbing my back,
you asked if you could plant a seed.
i refused but, while i slept,
you did it anyway. 
wings grew. i cursed you. airplanes 
mistook me for their children.
my talons glinted
in the light of a fake candle.
when i say "sanctuary"
i mean a museum. the difference
between being quietly watched
& watching quietly.
i flew above my life. you watched me
with binoculars. 
my eyes have cameras inside.
i take a video of you 
for a future generation
who wonders what we did 
to remember the birds.
we talk all night 
of building a structure for ghosts
to roost. instead, visit again
the mechanism. rivers of wings.
calling like children.
everyone is hungry. branches sit
like mother-shoulders.
a handbag full of bird feed.
holding hands underneath
a rusted sun. the birds 
are not real. have not been
for decades. i have a man come
dismantle my wings.
he does so with his bare hands.
i do not tell you. 
you have more seeds & more men.
the sanctuary glints.
a door knob the size of jupiter.
no one is awake but me.
i enter & i sit on the ground.
robotic wind. chain link gods.
the birds gather to greet me. 




the field was full.
in the night i became
only my hands. a scattering
of stars. the moon's sideways grin.
how my father would
sip from green bottles 
until fish lived in his eyes.
the corn field's song in summer
was one of insect legs & violins.
i only wanted to know the animals.
their hooves in the dirt. 
barn's neon glow. walking towards them
thinking, "i wish i was a farmer."
romanticizing roots & dirt. 
the farms around where i grew up
are centuries old. graveyards sit 
in the center of most. crooked-tooth headstones.
i ambled through a little cementery 
to reach the cows. their eyes 
had birds perched inside.
little cages. a downpour of feathers.
putting my hands on their backs
& considering pushing. the plummet 
that could follow. bundles of bones.
my heart coming apart
like a ripe orange. how could i 
have wanted so badly 
to over turn their knees? 
was it my own disasters 
boiling over into finger bones?
i wept with the cows.
all the meat on their bodies.
the jars & jars of milk.
my own body, a crooked-tooth cementery.
a bottle-opener. i asked the cows,
"tell me how you sleep?"
the cows replied, "we do not."
together we ate hay. watched as the moon
folded up like a dinner mat.
somehow, i woke up in my bed.
feet still kissed with soil.
the smell of wet grass
beneath my nails. nothing
was overturned. all hooves earth bound. 
stepping through hushed breeze. 
grass moving with spirits.


eating lava

tell me who you are
when you reach air.
split-skeleton red.
we sit in a circle 
& wait for the earth beneath us
to fissure. erupt.
sometimes, my chest becomes
an ocean. all the cruise ships 
circling. the sea monsters
that will soon devour them.
my hunger is for something 
deep inside the earth.
for heat & fury. are you not
angry today? i wake up 
every morning with 
a snake that lives 
inside my skull. venomous.
i try to coax him out my ear.
this is what we walk around with.
a photo album of parking lots.
when we were magma 
we talked about nothing
but angles. spit into 
each other's mouths.
then there was the blue
of babies. rattling engine.
islands are born 
out of this kind of grief.
i am overflowing. 
imagining the ground i will
stand on. today they tell me
it is going to rain bullets.
tomorrow, i am supposed to
return a call on my answering machine
from a boy whose face was eaten
by locusts. he says,
"anything you can do to help
is appreciated." i take then
a spoon from the silver set
& walk barefoot to the scab.
pick it open to see
the lava. smoke billows
as spoon meets heat. 
a bite of my scalding worry.
i am ready to be fire.



it was the first
four-sided august.
fruit grew that year 
with perfect right angles 
instead of round as it always had.
people remarked, "this is 
so much easier to stack."
i wondered, "what did we do differently?"
walls of apples & walls of lemons
& walls of peaches & plums.
citadels of fruit. praise effeciency. 
made everything cubed.
cars & weddings & wives.
people used to sit like crowbars 
but then they ate the fruit 
& could only use right angles.
tightness & delight. 
a shape is a way of being.
my shoulders used to
hold a bundle of the earth.
frenzy. every round object 
became too round. rolled 
down our giant hill towards 
the square ocean. all beaches 
that used to be jagged &
jutting, now sharp. 
seam between sand & surf.
i held onto a marble.
a single glass marble i had found
when the sun was still a sphere.
light glinted across its surface.
in the dark of my bedroom
i contemplated whether or not
i should swallow it. imagined it as
a little ripe berry or 
minitature planet. i have always
wanted to devour my life. 
the ghosts that eat planets.
four-walled rooms & four-walled hallways
& the growing towers of fruit.
we are fed aren't we? are we?
i place the marble on my tongue.
i am waiting to be a rowboat 
or a thumb. dear god,
what i wouldn't do to become
one of the hula hoops that used to
rush past on its way to oblivian. 



meat garden

i prune sirloin
& shave petals of bologna 
from a great corpse flower.
watering can of my own blood.
i am learning what it means
to worship flesh.
where a cut begins 
if you want to be precise.
muscle & beef & bone.
the pigs that speak in latin
& tell stories about their oldest.
hooves in a pot of water.
the broth that rains in minnows.
we used to speak with greens
in between our teeth. 
but now but now but now.
wilting orchids. those are eyelids. 
to become carnivorous
is a process of nesting dolls.
call me a chicken coop
or a crowded coat room.
elbows planted in the ivy.
the garden gathers thresholds. 
hangs roots from the ceiling. i trade
an ankle for a bulb.
salami roses & pursed lips.
not knowing what to eat & how
to eat it. this is the story of my body.
a mouth in a room of hearts.
cast iron pots collecting grease
& a hand beckoning, "sleep right here."
my stove has a necktie. calls my name.
tells me, "i know you are hungry."
grass grows thick as the hair
on my knuckles. the garden
asks me to eat. 



i am burying all the keys
in the yard. lock boxes 
full of dove children.
poking air holes so they can breathe.
i too was an egg tooth child. 
learning for myself who the sun was 
& why there were so many layers
between me & fresh air.
i borrow a hammer & smash
every digital clock in the house. 
the difference between a locked door
& a shut door is a matter 
of dirt. determination. desire.  
everything i want to tell my parents 
swims in yolks. drinking gold yellow
until it is too sick to speak.
to be a puppet is to ask
someone else to be your hands.
when my father was my hands.
when my hands were my father.  
i never wanted to have to hold on like this.
alone, my hands are pilots
& swans. i unfetter them until
they are no longer mine.
a place i used to pull over 
& give myself palm readings.
when i lived out of my car a yesterday
was a yesterday & a tomorrow 
just glittered in a grocery bag.
if i was telling the truth always
there would be no need 
for the keys or the doors
& especially not the dirt. 
instead, you will take what i give you
& be left to imagine the rest.
my father will be digging a well again
& he will find the skeleton 
of a great bird. will he know
what it means?


diagram of a star

here is the foot print heart & here is
the field of eye lashes. here is
where i entered & shut the door
like a jam lid. breathing in handfuls.
inside, the star told me all her secrets
but i didn't tell her mine. 
all love is lopsided, isn't it?
she took me to the pile of hair 
shaved off in a fit of mourning.
another neighbor who died too soon.
sirens roost like chickens in our life.
lay eggs full of suns we don't need yet
she showed me her collection of belly buttons.
i told her "sometimes i don't know
how i am supposed to keep going."
she stroked my head. took me down her spine
to a hallway of mirrors. she told me
she does not go down the hallway alone 
for fear of wasting the light needed. told me 
everyone has a hallway like this.
i could not find my own & wondered
what this means for me. i don't even have
a vase to put the lily when it grows.
before i left her body we lay awake 
on her day bed of elbow bones. 
she admitted, "i am not wise, not at all."
"neither am i," i said even though
i think she is still wise 
despite maybe not knowing it. i want
to show people my body like this.
almost as a museum. here is my dead pillows.
here is the room of doors. behind each lives
a nest of bees for every wound.
psychologically speaking, i am always close
to opening every door just to see
what happens. i have a purse of doorknobs 
that i like to carry with me if i'm going
to visit a new friend. "forgive me
for forgetting again to be alive."
the star sighs & says, "don't worry. 
you are still so good."



in a galaxy of teeth 
we live like gods.
the stars gather to ask us
for our guidance.
writing in the dust,
we tell them to keep going.
eat the reddest fruit
& lick our fingers clean.
when i plan where a system will grow
i consider only the sounds
those animals will make.
sometimes an animal is 
a dead river. other times
an animal is someone who wants
more than the sky can give them.
i am an animal.
sometimes, i wish i could
give myself rain.
other days i am grateful
to be someone who does the giving.
a particularly needy star
comes to plead for
a sister. i give it to her.
oh to have two suns to believe in.
the brief lives of exoskeletal creatures.
i have a jar of millipedes that
i consult when i need to talk
about legs. going somewhere is the illusion.
i tell the star how & when to turn.
pillows are all full of wings.
taking a single piece of thread
& sewing each galaxy to the next.
imagining trapeze artists
making their way into a different breathing.
sometimes i am tired & i think
"what if i stopped?" the stars would
come to shake me. would plead
& plead. no, there is no going back
to before i had hands. when i was
just a fist imagining rooves 
for bison to live beneath.
a trap door telling jokes.
an attic full of photographs.
i take a handful of dust & 
set to work. the universe wears
only dresses. i put lace on the hem.
the universe tells me with her mouth
open, the gifter of teeth,
"make me a world where everyone 
is not afraid." 



pegasus, you too know what it means
to be fathered. we would
put leashes on trees
& ask them to be horses. 
it never worked.
built a fence of pencils.
the gods emptied their golden chalices
on our heads & laughed. as children
we didn't have enough air.
resorted to breathing through straws.
smoke came & then fire.
sometimes our shoes would fill
with blood & so we'd rinse them
using the garden hose.
underneath the evergreen 
we found medusa's head. a basket
for pine cones. shrugged & wondered
how she might have died. 
her snakes shed, 
becoming thicket-dwellers. 
this is when we first saw you.
trying desperately to fly away,
running & jumping then crashing
into the dirt. sprinting alongside you,
we said, "you are so close,
you are so close." you were not close.
not at all. you asked to see
the chimera & we looked at each other.
no wanting to admit which one of us
it was. this is the kind of secret
brothers keep to their graves.
i will not tell you not even
in this poem. you, pegasus, wept.
said, "i just want to be unchallenged."
heros cut through our yard
to get to the street, walking towards town
where they would buy hard candies 
& diet soda. we brushed you & promised
to be kind. in the kitchen
our father cut new holes in his belt
to draw it tighter. his hair
grew in snakes. pegasus, you asked,
"do you love your father?"
without hesitation we said,
"yes, of course we do." the rim of fear
in each word. knowing he could hear us.
his steak knife. the horses 
he kept in the basement. 
we told you, "you should run away."
dashing again the whole length
of the yard, we got you to fly.
you tried to thank us. your wings
beating, dropping white feathers.
we disposed of them 
after you were gone.
would not want our father to know
you had been here. 
still i kept one. put it under my tongue
& waited eight more years
for it to dissolve.
today, it is gone & i am looking at
my snake tail in the mirror. 


cruise ship

we wrote "paradise" 
on each others backs. it was 
a game we liked to play 
before we walked out
into the millipede street.
in the eigth year of eating bugs
we craved citrus & leather.
you were planning all kinds of escapes.
i tried to keep you long as i could.
carry you to the crying square where
a great grandfather said,
"there used to be cruise ships 
that could come & take you away."
we filled coffins with wheels
& told the neighbor children to get inside.
we called them "cruise ships."
spent a whole night searching
for a flowering weed 
to stick inside as well.
found nothing but reeds & prickle grass.
better than nothing. better than
nothing. i used a stem
to brush your shoulder.
you said, "i think a cruise ship would be
more like a plastic bag than a coffin."
down by the river cows were 
laying on their sides. an adaptation
to survive the sun. i fed them 
handfuls of the sweet dirt.
the kind you could only find
beneath the tree covered in
tin cans. ghosts did that years ago
or so the legend says. the cows loved
the dirt. i said, "i will bring you more."
they were sick of the stinging grass.
everything tasted sharp since 
the clouds started rattling.
a kind of permiating static.
sometimes i would think, "why us?"
visited the grandfather all alone
& asked him, "is this anything
like a cruise ship?"
he said, "oh i never saw one.
it was a story my grandfather told me."
i pictured a field of nothing but
plastic bags full of sugar
& then i asked him,
"what do you think a cruise ship 
used to look like?"


wedding rings 

we were married in a bullet shell.
ate handfuls of dirt
pretending it was cake.
that year lasted longer & longer.
first a month of thirty days
& then a month of eighty. 
nights kept multiplying.
two moons arrived as brothers.
i orbited you like a wedding ring.
then, you stole all my shoes 
& threw them in a pit of fire telling me,
now you have no feet to run with.
all i could think of was
how my fathers wedding ring became so tight 
he had to take the ring off. his red fingers.
a noose is a place you are pulled from.
galleries of nooses.
now, my father's ring lives 
like a slug in the bathroom.
neon light gods gathering.
once, he lost the ring in a coral reef
in cancun. paid divers 
to retrieve it. that glint of gold
like a winking eye. you were always
a version of him as all our lovers 
are chalk outlines of our fathers. 
ice skating around my eyelids.
i plucked dandelions
from my throat. you took me diving
to go look for my face.
found a grotto of mirrors.
pointing to each on you said,
you know you are nothing but
a photograph? i know he was sort of right.
i find the frame every day.
here is where replica spit me out.
i did love him i think. laid awake
each night pulling the ring as hard as i could.
widening & widening, eventually i made it
the size of a bear trap & then
i slipped out. still though, i see
a gold ring around all my vision.
turning & turning, i expect to find
the rim. instead, i am the empty 
where a finger could go. 
he screamed in to envelops 
& mailed them to me. i do not open them.
they pile by the front door. 
i live in a metal mint tin.
my father doesn't wear his wedding ring.
it shrinks to the size of a tooth. 


invisible zoo

you took me to the invisible zoo
& told me to hold out my hand
to feed the lions.
in their enclosure
everything was a stalking.
gifts used to arrive on my porch
from you. i told you i was
a reptile house, not a girl.
at least not for you anymore.
we held hands in front of the otters.
the wide empty tank
full of splashing.
we played hide and go seek
in the hippo cage. all stampede.
oh how you liked to
make the earth shake.
your fingers making pelts of me.
how i wanted to be wanted
to be wanted to be wanted.
a gift shop stood 
in my mouth. visitors pawing through
shelves of stuffed giraffes.
have you ever fed a giraffe?
their tongues are the size
of baby legs. troughs of feed.
laying down amoung the hay.
i learned how to chew 
from goats. they used to stand
on our bed posts.
you shouldn't have left me
in a place like this.
i covered my eyes
& tried to will them chameleon
or at least zebra. a needed
to look behind myself 
& infront of myself
all at once. the tiger is endangered 
& so is the albino snake
that coiled around my ankle. 
each promise you made now animal-less.
you pointed to the glass
& said, "don't you see them."
i leaned on your shoulder & lied 
to keep you happy. "i do. i do."


star death

we all wore gold 
for the funeral. 
stood on the roof
& watched as 
black confetti fell 
like cherry blossoms
from a static sky. 
on the television
no one was talking
about the death of
several hundred stars.
instead the anchor man said,
"tomorrow we will be happy."
we tried to take pictures
but they all came out blurry.
minnows in a pot of boiling water.
i felt my skin like a screen door
blowing open. all the stars 
underneath, weeping.
a star goes with no warning.
one day is riding a bicycle
in their constellation
& the next is coming down
in pieces. is not replaced
with another star. a big hole
in the sky that night. we stuck
our fingers in it to check
if it was real. taking handfuls
of the confetti before they turned
to dust. i want to know
what is taken when a star goes.
the foot prints & the alien trees 
& the shoulders. sometimes
stars are just marbles
in my pocket but that night
they were spiders or sisters 
or at least thumbs
all sticking through the loam.
we wore gold & did not undress
for several days. until the wind
had blown away the remnants.
until we just referred to
that quadrant of sky as
"we will be happy." still,
i reach up to touch the frayed edges.
wonder if the stars chose to depart
or if it was sudden
& irresistible. 


red-wing blackbird 

i want to be wildlife
which is not the same
as wanting to live a wild life.
i kind of already have that.
no, i want to grow like kudzu
& reeds & ivy. kissing every neck
that wants me. we go on
a nature walk. i see us
as two birds. talking grass all around.
your long legs in the marsh water.
my feet gripping tall reeds.
nearby, across an overpass
cars rush towards the water
as if they intend to plunge in.
i picture a road that leads
right to the water. we try to
identify the birds. argue over
whether the one above us
is plover or a tern. agree that
you are the egret & i am the red knot.
on the way back i want to know then
who is the red-wing blackbird.
he followed up, calling & asking
“why so soon?” which i thought meant
“why are you leaving so soon”
but really it could be anything.
i guess i am a pretty soon person.
birds know more about us than
our brothers. you preen yourself
in the car mirror. i want to ask you if
you want to follow the cars
& drive past the neon hotels &
into the ocean. i know i can be drastic.
this is not a poem with answers.
i wish i was the red-wing blackbird
i really do but he is gone now
& so are we. i think
i’m going to tell you how i want
to grow unbroken & untamed
which is funny because we were just
on a nature walk which is
both broken & tamed. but not
the red-wing blackbird.
he laughed at us.



on the board walk we say, "retro"
like it means tomorrow we will be shiny.
the day has webbed feet 
& all i want is to be 
the shell you search for 
in the wet surf. instead, 
everyone we find is broken.
jagged teeth of men
underneath the waves. 
someone stands on the sand bar 
with his arms outstreched
like he is going to be taken. do i
want to be taken?
i try to remember what hot dogs tasted like
as i walk. like snapping your fingers
& a blossom of grease. 
t-shirts grin with plastic teeth.
a dart game with giant dolphins as prizes.
no one is lucky anymore i think
except maybe the houses a block from water.
as we pass them i ask, "how much do you think
those are worth?" their owners 
don't live here & they don't believe
in sea gulls. i hold & ice cream cone.
the cream comes shaped like my baby face.
watching it melt all over your hands.
the sun says, "hell or high water."
we are sea gulls in our sifting. 
maybe there is a gem 
inside this dumpster. maybe a 
dead crab belly up on the asphalt.
finding another gull to follow
above the water. our reflections
like scars moving across a stomach.
we eat. burn in the UV rays.
a folded treasure map. a seafood shack where
we enter & the person at the counter says,
"we don't serve birds." the trail 
of feathers we left followed us
all the way here. shrimp standing 
in the display case like quotation marks
arounds the word sea gull. flying 
without any sense of when 
the next carnival will give us 
names we can use for a summer.
if i believed in gods i would have
bought less plastic. a beach towel falls
from my mouth & you fold it gentle 
as you always do. we sit 
at a diner made of fish bones.
eyes as dimes. "this was beautiful,"
i say to my own reflection
in a estuary pool. rustle of branches.
a devil in the trees licks his hands clean. 
you pluck me again. wash my face
in an outdoor shower as you ask,
"i wonder how many people
have had sex here?" the beetles
wish they were wedding rings.
my face feels like a motel on the water.
someone on every balcony.
watching the snow cone sun set.



shag rug

i took my purple & made a forest
for the house to grow from.
buying seeds at the grocery download.
a fork in the garbage disposal
which is better than in the outlet.
did you know there is a device
they will install in your closet now
that can take a vacation for you?
i buy the newest model of spaceship 
& try to essemble it myself.
a missing button. i stay grounded 
on the planet of the pull-tabs.
my screw driver is a father. my father 
is sleeping on the rug. is petting
the rug & saying when he was a boy
he dreamed of being american enough
to paint the grass whatever color 
his mother wanted. his mother is
a spatula or else maybe hiding
in the salt shaker. our salt shakers
are shaped like watermelon slices.
i bit into your shoulder like
it was a melon. i wish i had
a rind to lean on when everything
is aspirational like this. coffee pours
from the sink. we forgot we had this installed
& i am thirtsy. my wife asks me, "i thought you
were going to finish the spaceship today?"
i don't hear her finish her sentence.
i am already staring at the grill
& wondering how hot the sun can get & if
the sun has plans to die.
my wife is a blow dryer. 
i find a lucky outlet. pet the carpet too.
the back of a god or a brother.
we break bread like knuckles.
get to work in the shadow 
of a future purchase. i would like
one of everything, please. 


ornithophobia or fear of being carried away by birds 

i am walking on a length of floss.
yesterday, i took my shoes off
& stored them in my head.
believed my crazy was becoming
a new person. the outlines of strangers
always have wings & in my conversations 
with the hat man he says i have nothing
to worry about except for birds.
birds do not run in my family 
but once i saw my youngest brother
standing on a ledge & trying to fly.
when some people leap they become doves
& others become asterisks on the ground.
i am alarmed by my body 
& what it asks for. necklace of teeth.
grubs with their windowed organs.
i am less afraid of where they'll take me
as i am of the leaving. i imagine 
the world beneath my like a beach ball.
swallowing helium, i could just
become my own balloon. one of my friends says
birds were designed by the government 
to watch us. my fear is not contingent 
on whether or not a bird is natural.
if i'm honest though there is
a sliver of desire. i want to see
my life in minitature. i want to sell
all my clothes & wear a lovely uniform
given to me by the bird president.
who can i go to for permission
not to think at all today?
i am least worried about ducks
because i have seen their wood hearts.
watched as my mother carved them 
by the side of a mucky river.
song birds on the other hand.
they have a library of voices.
once a blue jay opened his mouth
to tell me i didn't love him
in the voice of my abuser. i covered my ears
& hurried briskly into a bathroom.
bathrooms are of course
the only place i am safe.
that's where the hat man 
keeps his wisdom. where the mirror
is also a watering hole.
elephants come. i dip my face.
drink as deep as i can. make promises
to myself that i will not & cannot keep.
"you will nail your feet to the dirt"
"you will not cover your head
as you run into the ivy" " you will
stop collecting feathers as evidence." 



if i forget to tuck my feet
underneath the covers
in the morning the toads come
to mark me with their marginalia.
they right "we should go back
to the water." i lurk about each day
as if i'm not a conduit
for prophecies. i shave my head 
& watch the follicles fall
like stickmen. today i am also 
a stickman & i put my shoes on
to conceal the words of 
passing angels. i attract graffiti
&, along with it, all the angst 
of the world. sometimes i wake up
with a jar of eels sitting 
on a shelf in my chest. 
i lay still so i don't make fight.
there is also a beta fish beautiful
in my brain. i feed her gold flakes.
did you know there are fish 
in fish flakes? then again
we are all a little cannibal, right?
once i put my youngest brother 
in the oven & told him it was 
a play pen. don't worry. i took him out.
i take a shovel & go to 
where the words live like worms.
dig & dig. this place is my feet.
i am digging in my own walking
looking for a word that might mean 
"apology" but tastes like
a golden delicious apple. instead,
i find more amphibian writing.
"i am through with
my lungs" & "i just want to eat
a blue berry." our mouths are 
maybe our greatest limits.
i can't unhinge my jaw so instead 
i just have to hope when i tell you
what i need it isn't 
the size of a sofa. i wash my feet
twelve times because there is
no god & no apostoles
to do it for me. a flock 
of pigeons come to watch. i tell them
to save their stories for stone.
it lasts longer. they laugh
& happily eat as much crumbles 
as they can carry. every crumb
was once a stone. the lifetimes 
of atoms are like carousels.
i'm headed back to the deep.
a frog in need of water 
tells me, "i am through."
i wet my fingers 
& carry him to the lake.
he breathes & does not thank me.
i wasn't expecting him to. 
looking down i see the note he left
on my feet. it reads,
"it is time to stop." 
i close my eyes & pretend
i myself am just an alphabet
until the sun inverts 
into the moon. a quiet sliver.
my feather-cluttered night.
the world is cool. 
the beta fish thinks he's royalty.


pokemon card bible

i did not know how
to play the pokemon card game 
& i wouldn't have had anyone to battle with 
if i did. instead, we kept them in binders 
in the attic. dust on the shelves.
my pilgrimages up 
soft green carpet stairs.
i would sit & lay the cards out in rows
pretending we were standing
in a desert together.
then, later, inside a flea market 
& i would go talk to the bin 
of card board monsters. i didn't have
many friends. the ones i did 
had hair ties & knew how
to wear perfume already. i always felt like
i was in a play where everyone else had the script 
but me. i wanted to be told to run away 
like the characters in pokemon.
cracks formed in the asphalt 
& from them grew all my favorite weeds:
dandelions & ragged hands.
i asked myself if i
could be trained. 
as a ten year old
i was prone to fire-types.
whatever could set our dead dry lawn a blaze.
but i didn't want my pokemon to evolve.
preferred charmander to charizard.
i wanted to monsters small 
& managable. 
counting my cards at night.
savoring holographic edges 
& shimmering frames. i was convinced
i could stare long enough
to coax the creatures 
from their world into ours.
could wake up the next morning
& pack a bag & walk into 
a sherbert horizon. butterflies
drank greedily from our windows.
i was not a pokemon trainer
but i did have the cards
to return to. opening the binders
& deciding which i wanted 
to pull free from their 
plastic sheaths.


fishing line basinet

i remember being a trout.
how my mother wrapped me 
in newspaper. headlines screaming
"today is the last day."
once, inside my planetary egg,
i was just a diarama. miniature 
chairs & tables. bones the size
of ice skating rinks. children laughed
inside my walls. a tiny house 
is built on the outskirts of town
underneath the waters of the susquehanna.
fish gather. my family gathers.
fresh eggs blink. there is a moment
where an eye ball can hatch into 
a child. i cradled on all fours
to the surface. feathers in my throat.
writhing. the fisherman knitting cradles
for fish. the box of hooks.
he tests them on his own lip
& then does not know how to take them out.
i always wanted to be babied.
fed water as if i were truly
a gilled little girl. i had 
so much trouble training my lungs.
now they still fill with moths
if i'm not careful. wearing a door
as a necklace. the fisherman is not
my father or my mother. he is a neighbor man
with hands the size of hamburgers.
i tell myself i love him 
in order to make it to water again.
standing over me he becomes
tall & thin as a matchstick. 
the word "guardian" wavering until
it is just a tin roof. what i am trying to say
is i was hoisted from the water 
& asked to thank the hands that caught me. 
knuckles & gardens of fish tails.
a nursery with a resident box of lures.
i could never just lay in the field
because a red mouth was always
dangling just out of reach. 
come join me in my translucent cradle.
i am here to catch someone else.
wrap them in newsprint & tell them
exactly who i am. 


teeth-making angels 

once my skull was a venetian vase.
i held lilies in the before-life 
where everything was pooling with cream.
the sun was sugar & gummy-red.
great insects drank & the angels 
sat at sewing machine desks 
to make my teeth. sometimes i will
open my mouth to remember their craftsmenship.
i tell myself often i was constructed.
the thinnest nails. handfuls of clay.
a flock of ancient beings gathered 
to shape my spirit into another body.
they picked me up like a bed sheet.
all the while, fishers of men 
sat with their buckets on the edges
of clouds. i sometimes want to see
all the roots of my teeth. 
hold them in my palm & walk 
all around town. a ritual to summon
the before world again. everyone 
is always talking about afterlife
but i want to take a shovel 
& dig a way back. show me 
the origins of my crooked
dreaming the field of root vegetables.
wishing the carrots were golden. leading back
into a cavefish grotto. sight falling
like lemons. i do not want to be
this tethered to my skull. 
i want to open my mouth
& gather lilies like i once did
in the palace of a feathered god.
they work long into the darkness. 
etching each tooth crevasse & fold.
it is not a toil to them 
but a passion. some work on boar skulls
others snakes & other humans.
when a set is complete they whistle & stand.
a team circles them to inspect.
sometimes i still feel them
staring into my almost head.
that is when i spill. all the stem.
filling me with mouth. their instructions.
"bite down." hard enough to press teeth
into gums. hide them like headstones.
me, a soft little peach. 
the vase full of roots.


taranula chapel

i wanted a place to worship.
became a cricket to sit inside
the spider's hunger.
rubbing my legs together 
& singing about the oldest shade of green.
once, i had a pearl necklace
i wore to every single rendezvous
not knowing it was really a string
of eggs. spiders hatched at once
& consumed me. i was divided betweeen them.
perched in the corner of the room
& waited from memories to come
like flies. sitting alone with a television
& asking it to give me penance.
i buy a gold chalice to fill 
with sugar. instead of sleep,
i prayed until the ceiling opens
like an eyelid. i want to have
a family as myriad as these legs.
i go beneath her. eight pillars of salt.
her thick abdomen as cathedral.
angels that buzz & look for rott. 
holding a candle in my mouth.
the flame, a pair of wings. i learned
how to fly from jumping off rooves.
hearing my bones snap like
stained glass pitchers. sitting still,
the landscape becomes a pop-up book.
not real on top of not real.
god eats plain bread at a table
in the darkest pantry. the pillars move
& are now her legs. her eyes, a bowl
of washed plums. i bite into one
& still cannot sleep. behind my own eyes 
are visions of her lineage. 
church after church, 
filling my bedroom with legs.
i plead with her to show me how to beg 
because what is devotion
but a catelog of bending?