February 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

I know I roused you from sleep,
convinced you to walk with me barefoot
to the center of a frozen lake.

I know I said the flowers
would be coming. I know
I said I knew the way.

But we won’t be able to afford
any color this winter.
And it’s not just a case
of being able to live through it.

Everything I say is an attempt
at convincing myself. And I’m sorry
you had to overhear.

Now I’m sorry we’re sinking
I’m sorry the water we’re drowning in
isn’t at least warm.



July 29, 2013 § 1 Comment

This is what I mean when I say “rough”–
a bad dream, loud noise, a steely
Norwegian rock formation with a name
I can’t pronounce. The kind of water
that capsizes.

This is what I mean when I say “old”–
elephants, buildings, Chinatown.
Dried blood on surgical scissors, every garden
smaller than I remember.

When I say “soft and new,” I don’t mean
the absence of edges; I mean a world
without physics. I mean the rocks
and the rough and the elephant tusks,
but even the falling — upward.
I mean your nose, and the rain,
and all the poems that never came.


*Prompted by Truth Thursday.

Real Estate Breaking

April 25, 2013 § 1 Comment

Some old houses
remind us of certain pains, real ones —
stomach aches, sore throats, a jaw
at the brink of locking.
Personally, too much marble
makes me think of death,
and old swimming pools remind me
of having once been rich.
They all look like our old presidents —
men in americanas
and cigars, probably bastards
and philanderers, but with all
the right connections. Now
can you see why I talk all the time?
Show me where it hurts.
Take a red Sharpie and encircle the parts
you have trouble speaking of, the words
you have difficulty pronouncing.
We will turn them into
Because every other district
is built on a sink
hole, a fault
line, on the voice of
the glass-skinned fifteen-year-old from whom
you inherited your body.
But she does not live here anymore.
So draw a line from your pain
to the closest community hospital;
check if the national highways that run
through your palms are prone
to heavy traffic. I’d rather
be lonely than wait.
Here is a map; fold it
into the shape of the animal
that most reminds you of your mother.
Nothing in these houses
reminds me of mine —
I lived in a pouch
on the sturdiest part of her heart.
But everything that brought me
nostalgia is now in the hands
of someone else.
It’s your turn.
Tell me where it hurts
by telling me where
it used to feel better.


February 9, 2013 § 1 Comment

I wish I could extract proof
from memory,
press our walks like dried flowers
between the two gates
of that little village,
always remembered differently,
always a new shade of green.

Now, I worry about thieves
and my parents’ age, the cost
of raising a child.
I worry I’m starting to forget.

At Chernobyl, more people died
of radiation poisoning
than from the explosion itself.
And when the atomic bomb was dropped
on Hiroshima,
people say shadows
were burned onto the ground,
both Japanese and American.

I can no longer draw you from memory
but I am writing you this poem
to fashion you a soul
and burn it hard
onto the world.


November 6, 2012 § 1 Comment

This story begins at the end
of a moonbeam,
yellow circle of light
warming a midnight patch of grass;

with a loud laugh and a wrong order
at a greasy diner
known for their milkshakes and cheese fries;

the day before Christmas,
standing in line at the grocery cashier
torn between materialism and hope.

Where I’m from, people are too hungry
to think about poetry
but stories always find other ways

so this one begins with
my head on her lap
and a sky
in a color I can’t quite explain.

Blue Collar

July 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

I am writing you sonnets
in between jobs. 
I am thinking of your face 
as the sky cracks 
to let the sunlight in.

The Florist’s Truck

July 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

There is no space
for you in here;
I am filled to the brim
with flowers.