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19 June 2010 @ 08:13 pm
Stout and thick, green slick
leaves sewn like loops of terrycloth
the hands of the tree
leaves peeled
back like fingers
cradling floppy white flowers,
pristine petals opening towards the sun

the smell of sugary blossoms
as wide as farmland, an estate of white
sprawling in a field of green
like short soy bean crops, a farm of maybes,

pits of spiky brown spores,
open breathing
the loose curls of a teenage bride
petals like her shrugging shoulders

airy like loopy handwriting

oh the sweet honey

oh the aroma of magnolia,

to be on the front porch pondering an orchard
flowers like boats in a mess of green waves,
in a period dress, fanning myself
the smell transports me,
pulls my mind from my body.

I hold my love over my head
like a magnolia tree dangling the honey flower
out of the reach of all the sugar ants
that want to swarm the nectar,
bring it home to their queen.
19 June 2010 @ 08:12 pm
Scientists are saying there’s an impossible fraction
of a second where the bang was banged
and nothing became sorted into two categories:
matter and anti-matter.
A less brutal way to say this:
there is existence and its opposite
like a galaxy of stars and gas
and the black hole at its center.

I learned this paradox of anti-existence on the stairs.
I could hear the living room television louder than
my heartbeat. “Local teacher arrested
for child pornography
and inappropriate contact with minors.”
My father sobbed on the back porch
and my mother scheduled testimonies over the phone
like she was speaking to the plumber.

When antimatter encounters matter, it engulfs it
and the matter is gone. There is an antiproton
whose purpose is to make protons
disappear. But surveys from telescopes can’t find
a well of anti-matter; it didn’t coalesce
like the matter did. So when I learned this asymmetry
I tried to pull the bed sheets around me
like interstellar gases strangling a star.

At school the next morning I wandered
like a comet swinging its orbit towards the sun.
No one knew it was my hand he touched
in the hallways, it was my name he cried
when he came. In class I drew asterisks
in the margins of my notes like I could create
a solar system of pulsing constellations,
like I could replace censored words with stars.

I wanted to be swallowed by the folds in my brain,
for a cloud of anti-life to kill
everything inside me that felt like poison.
Every galaxy harbors a black hole in the center,
and sometimes matter just falls in there,
becomes a wave of energy radiating away.
In a black hole you will not find these things:
protons, a clock ticking, forgiveness.
19 June 2010 @ 08:12 pm
A little white worm
lurks at the bottom of a mescal bottle.
Living in Mexico one learns these things,
I made the mistake of relocating for love,
easing my heart loose like a cork.

I gave him my virginity at fifteen and now I’m
sitting on his hips at night hoping he’ll remember
Fish Lake Joe, our imaginary priest who married us
evangelical in his invisible robes
deemed us man&wife one afternoon at age nine

Undressed he reminds me of a Zapotec,
pounding me like nails into a cross.

When I told him my parents had died
I thought he would hold my hand on the plane
take me for his wife, realize the implications
hiding in my tears, but he sent me home.

pouring my tears into a glass bottle,
opening my heart like an ancient port.
Each morning I rise like the sun
telling myself Oaxaca is my new home,
remembering how he used to touch me,
yearning for his hand on my heart again.
19 June 2010 @ 08:11 pm
Space. You are telling me
you need some and I am staring into it
I am twisting a necklace
into a noose, pulling just to feel the danger,
the supernova string snapping.

Men with telescopes search the pinhole sky
We hope to find mathematics.
We affix gold plated 45 records
with a pictorial history of humanity
to each lonely satellite.
We hope someone will decode us, finally.

For you this summer was a dark one,
an eclipse that lasted for months.
In July you let me touch you
like the faceless man
in your deep space dreams.

In North Carolina, I finger a necklace
of beads that reminds me of you.
of the goose bumps that volcano
with each collision of my comet fingertips
to your virgin skin.

The Pope told Copernicus to stare at his shoes
instead of the sky. He ignored this.
Some evenings he cried into the convex,
the reflections sent a blur of empty light
back to his eyes, the weight of uncertainty,
the ache of a discovery unnamed.

I name the dark matter of the heart
after you, dim in my telescope,
your power harnessed at my hands
19 June 2010 @ 08:11 pm
Giving him head on the driving range under a sky
of washed out stars, the bugs bit my pale skin.
He pinched my nipple without asking or warning.
I swatted his hand like a summer mosquito
and he buzzed lower, slid two fingers inside me.

That night, I counted all the red bumps as I undressed,
thumbed the bites on my belly. I wrote the date
on the waistband of the jeans I wore.
Deep inside me the hole was growing,
trying to turn me inside out like a laundered shirt.

“At sixteen,” a psychiatrist says,
while she tip-taps her pen on a legal pad,
“you will believe anything.” I learned this at seventeen,
untangling my life from this man,
separating myself from this mistake.
19 June 2010 @ 08:11 pm
the hats:
Rasta beanie,
monstrosity (of leopard print and black lace),
neon baseball cap.

the side table:
National Geographic, 1986 – “Soviets in Space”
3 Ways to Prevent the Swine Flu
unidentified potted plant
Elect David Baker for City Commissioner

an androgynous figure:
flimsy blue hospital slippers
trashcan in lap
teenage children who don’t care

the television:
Popeye’s commercial
Cochran & Castle Law Firm commercial
Chanel 4 news update
2008 Midwest Men’s Bowling semi-final

the row of chairs:
homeless woman’s matted hair
homeless woman’s tweed coat
homeless woman’s cutoff denim shorts
homeless woman’s bare feet
19 June 2010 @ 08:10 pm
He is twenty five, pouring cough syrup into a cup of A&W.
His teeth are dressed in platinum, diamonds
corroded by the codeine. In the morning he wakes
thinking of his purple wife, his liquid love.
He is married to her thick drip, how she makes him feel
like he’s swimming on dry land.
His head crinkles like a cotton ball, his vision
blurs like raindrops on a blackened limousine window.
Suddenly the words fit and he can finally speak.
She doesn’t interject and he likes that.

He won’t write anything down, his fingers put to better use;
a blunt tucked into the coat of an empty cigarette.
He grips a spiked root beer. He speaks into a microphone
“I am Frankenstein,” his eyes unblinking, lomping like a monster.
He is the creation of no father, drug addict mother,
selling rock on sidewalks from a Spiderman backpack.
He says there are boys like him everywhere,
sitting on their living room couches,
watching mothers shoot up, getting blown
by a hooker at age 8. But no one could begin
to dream up his life. No Frankenstein to connect the wires.
26 October 2009 @ 03:25 am
I hadn’t felt the sunshine since the funeral. The sound of my feet crunching in the river of pebbles and hardened dirt mud is distinctly me, one set of feet. Doctor Byrd walks with haste, always rushing to help, consult. I heard his footsteps often, crunching up the path to our front door, steady like a dripping faucet, a metronome on a piano ledge, weighed down by his briefcase in which he kept clear bottles and stainless needles. Henry would wait on the porch, watch Doctor Byrd’s swift ascent up the path and lead him inside.Collapse )
Current Music: sweet dreams
21 December 2008 @ 02:20 am
Armed with dirty gloves and rakes, they told us
not to be gentle, to pull like hell on the vines that
strangle the trees. Dioscorea bulbifera,
air potatoes, not to be confused with the kind
in the skillet on Thanksgiving, the ones the Irish
planted and lamented. The difference here is that
we cannot get them to stop growing.

They overgrow the starry sandhill milkweeds,
take soil from the marbleberries. Air potatoes
can’t catch on fire. Instead they entice birds to spread their seeds,
infiltrate the rainwater and ride the current to a healthy space,
latch onto a native plant and start over—
braid their thin green vines around branches,
suck up nutrients and drop ugly yams.

Since the bulbs are pebble brown and unwanted,
we are allowed to mercilessly kill them.
We hook the rake’s claws in a tangle of wiry twine.
Heart-shaped leaves and squat tubers rain
around us. We pull, pry the weed loose
from its death grip around the tree trunk.

We hack at the mass, jerk
handfuls of herbaceous growth and toss
it into waiting garbage bags.

The school board call this community service and to
our eighth grade ears this sounds like slave labor.
The girls want flowers for their hair
but the partridgeberries are too small to tuck
behind the ear, the pennyroyals remind us of thistles.

Someone picks up a stray air potato,
lobs it into the water of the bay. It makes the most satisfying gulp,
a tiny atom bomb to burrow under the muddy floor.
They scold us, understand our sentiments but
that kind of behavior will not keep away the air potatoes.
21 December 2008 @ 02:19 am
Aunt Marsha didn’t like the beach.
Lathered in sunscreen and long sleeves,
she pinched the corners of a towel,
put her back to the wind and let it float to the ground.
Weighing down the corners with an extra book,
my sister’s purple shell bucket, a Gatorade cooler and
her shoes, she set Carly in the middle, brought
her toys to keep her hands busy and dry. Aunt Marsha
hated the granules of sand that wove their way in between toes
and coated skin like bug spray. Carly was a baby,
would pull at the ruffles and jewels stuck on her bathing suit,
occasionally give our aunt a look behind her star-shaped sunglasses.

I was allowed to wander the beach at my pleasure, stick my feet
in shallow pools of seaweed, dig ditches
around crab holes and collect the shards of metallic shells.
A seagull grazed my ear with his feathered wing and I
bolted back to the blanket, shuffling the sand around me.
In my excitement I kicked a fistful of sand at Carly’s face.
Aunt Marsha yelled at me and set me on the blanket while
I watched her take Carly into the water to wash her off,
holding her underarms delicately and cooing as she soothed.
She kissed her forehead. On shore I packed a dinosaur mold
with loose sand, turned it over on the blanket.