before writing, the heart must
bear the slowness of a wave’s crest
as it laps the grainy shore, a confident
arrival to the uncertainty of myriad
minute minerals who’ve built homes
on top around beneath behind each other,
prepared to burst at any minute
with an infallible sense of trust
only to fall away at the first,
When dawn breaks
over the horizon
of your body’s surface,
let your soul succumb
played by pleasured souls.
Give cold away to age
and for once
take in and trust
settles on you once again,
to cover remaining
the heart will burst
into molten lava to flow
from your mouth,
and cool as your
you can use my body
as an Etch-a-Sketch
black and white
your marvelous frown of
in the crease of your brow
and although this work
isn’t it good of me to make it
projection of the self
you imprint on me,
if you don’t like it,
you can just shake me,
and it vanishes?
i did not write today
my arms, at rest, turned desire
into a charlatan because i am a mother
who believes in moderation, and the
artist in me is a child. gazes as glints
of buildings and the lustre of lilies
and thinks it wants to create limitlessly,
no matter the hour, no matter the conflict
of schedule, or my need to shit. like a child,
it grabs hungrily at books and points shamelessly
at pictures and people and always has questions
about love and kisses and where’s daddy? like a
child, it believes to much in dreams, and every
frikkin thing that makes it’s breath catch and turns
it dizzy. stupid, inexperienced, still in
love with the world child, desperate to dig
in the most moist of soil to dig to the most
squishy and uncomfortable of things, so it
can show me. well i don’t have time.
so i did not write today, and look at you.
with this gross thing in your hand, look
at you! I did not write today, and
you’re alive, aren’t you?
You’re still alive!
I wonder why red. Why the borders of her lips
were traced with such a fiery and rough-cut color. why she picked
aftermath of war to wipe on her face. I wonder if she looked in the mirror
before she left.
She is beautiful in all of her glory, and she makes me think
of women who cook for husbands who kill, of women who kill
for husbands who boil rage in their gut, simmer
poison in their intestines to have erupt across
I wonder why me, why her smile, why my name
squeezes a crinkle into both eyes, why crow’s feet, who can take
flight, clawed onto the face of such a woman, stuck
I think your swallowed story is mine.
I have dug both hands into old stanzas in search of an accent
that’s left me bereft. I stubbed my toe on an arrhythmic couplet and lost
all sense of cadence. I spoke aloud and snapped my fingers, and no birds flew fearfully
from any nearby tree. I have sunk into a soft “t” one
too many times, without the assertive thunder of speech
to lift me out.
So I wonder why she, why her smile…
“See? We did something for someone else’s good!”
Her kindness tasted like the smoke of a charred house,
something left behind to rise in the wake of tragedy. I count
the grey hairs that slithered on her head as she bent down
and told me why she left China.
“My husband wanted something different.”
I wondered if English cut her tongue the first time she spoke it,
or if she held it to her chest and inhaled the novelty as if it were
a newborn. Language can be a leech that feeds on the memory-blood
of your ancestors. Language can overfill your life with yesterdays.
Language can make you forget your real name, how to perform your
people’s magick, which foot leads, and which foot follows.
I say, “My mother did, too.” I don’t say that when my father
left us, she stayed and bore us here to do something for someone
else’s good. I don’t say she’s homeless. I don’t say it wasn’t