Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Pairs

The room is filled with coffee lovers, or just lovers in general, or maybe lonely souls longing for connection, just like me.  Everyone is gathered in pairs, two bodies, or one body and one device, acting surrogate for a real body’s warmth and engagement.

He can’t stop smiling, sending his text messages to a secret love, or maybe a distant partner he wishes were across the bar from him.  I want some of what he’s got.

Ray LaMontagne drifts out of strategically-placed speakers, singing “I will hold you in my arms”.  I think of Hawaii, the days I spent staring at the hexagonal skylight from the softest bed in the bungalow, earbuds pressing the same lyrics into my brain, setting off dreams of the honeymoon we’d take there, how you’d take my hand and sing to me quietly as we swayed into sleep. 

I’m in love with a fantasy, I know.  It sustains me in a way reality never could.

She’s reading a magazine or a newspaper, re-dipping her teabag into a lukewarm cup, pushing a wild thatch of hair away from her forehead and tucking it behind one ear.  Now and then I spy her glancing over the top of the page, reaching out through the bubble around her, quickly casting her eyes back down.  She's afraid to hit her target.  Afraid to miss it entirely.  Afraid, afraid. 

They’re clearly in love.  He surrounds her with his right arm and leans in for a kiss, marking her on his way up to the coffee counter.  Mine, he says.  All mine.  She seems to enjoy the safety of being owned in a way I know I never could.  All I know is holding.  I have no idea how to be held.

I turn back to my laptop screen.  Everyone is gathered in pairs.


Two shorts on relating

What happens next

You tell him you love him, because it is honest and true, because a world of hand-holding and inside jokes and being-togetherness waits impatiently behind a velvet curtain for him to say yes of course me too, only what he says instead is oh…thank you. You learn to laugh at your own jokes and hold your own hand, but slowly.


Compliance

This morning I prepared a cup of coffee the usual way, mixing in sweet rivulets of cream and sugar. I stirred in two spoonfuls, three, even four but the inky, bitter blackness remained.  When I asked about it, the coffee looked away and said “Oh, I’m sorry.  Sometimes I just don’t have it in me to be exactly what you want.”

Monday, December 10, 2012

Where the line is

The breathing helps, slowly in and out, which is good because I’m pretty sure what I want out of this evening is not to vomit into my half-finished bowl of crab bisque.  I look down at my hands and realize I’m squeezing them, one clasped around a spoon, one choking the life out of a crust of buttered baguette.  You’re telling a story about work.  I’ve got butter all over my fingers.  I lift them to my mouth without a second’s thought until I notice you watching me.  I change directions and slide them through my hair in what I hope approximates a confident, casual grooming gesture.  This is not how I wanted this to go down.  In my mind I was perfection, a vision of lithe coolness as I slid the key across the table to you, casually inviting you up to my room.  In my mind you were all too eager to go, drawn to me like a magnet’s pole, dying to touch your midsection with my midsection, complete.  In my mind your warm hand covered mine and you took the card key as your eyes burned a message into my retinas composed of a thousand ways to say yes yes, more please.  But now your eyes are the coldest stone, your mouth pulled into a thin line, extinguished.  Now I’ve got butter in my hair and the crab bisque is churning into jelly in my stomach.  The key feels like a hammer in my pocket, so much heavy potential if only someone would wield it.  I can already tell it won’t be me. 
     

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Visibility

Sellwood.  Hipster man is two cars in front of me, crossing the road with a girlfriend on his arm.  A truck charges him, breaks their invisible safety bubble and the man gesticulates wildly and angrily with his fist.  Don’t you see me here?  I saw him but the truck didn’t until it was already too late.  I saw him but it didn’t matter because I wasn’t driving the truck. 

I am waiting in line to buy books.  The blonde woman in front of me has a kitten calendar.  The clerk at the counter finishes his sale and turns away, stacking books on the hold shelf.  The woman steps forward and slams her kitten calendar down on the counter.   Don’t you see me here?  I saw her but the clerk didn’t until she was already irate.  I saw her but it didn’t matter because I don’t work there.

Our favorite dinner spot is almost deserted, perfect for drinks and conversation.  I study the warmth in your eyes, recording the exact expression on your face for use in a future daydream.  You fill my water glass and tell me your latest dating story, another cold woman who doesn’t share your interests.  I think of the things we have in common, smiling until I realize you’re still talking about her.  You like this horrible woman.  I look away.  I want to disappear into my water glass.  Don’t you see me here?  I see you but it’ll never matter.  I fade into the seat in front of you, a nodding smiling ghost.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A blogger's lament

Forty-nine pageviews
And one unique visitor
Call me, already!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Twitter Poetry

I've stopped favoriting your every tweet because I feel like a fangirl pressing her nose against the glass, invisible 1/3

but you should know that with every one I read, my breath catches and heart screams of YES YES YES echo through my insides 2/3

Sometimes I wonder how long it will take you to notice I'm here, reaching my frail arms into the gelatinous void between us 3/3

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Spooning

Once upon a time there was a lonely spoon who lived in a drawer full of knives.  She didn't fit in with them, didn't understand their divisive sharpness, their talent for separation. Their thin bodies gliding like race cars through tomatoes and hams.  She was meant for something else, she thought.  All she ever wanted to do was gather and cradle and hold.  The knives thought this was stupid.  They would line up together and point at her awkwardly rounded head, would edge her out of knife-only spaces. She endured the knives' derision - she had never known anything else - but deep down her secret wish was still to fit in.  She thought if she could just ignore her inner desires and be more knifelike, she'd have it made.  But in the end it was no use.  No matter how hard she tried her dull roundness simply couldn't cut a thing.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The moon scoffs at electronic devices

 










You want to see me? 
Use your eyes
Your fingertips
The breath in your throat
That sea of tranquility
in the pit of your stomach.
Turn off your damn phone.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Things I should say

This has all been said before
In poems, written
For other people
And whispered to the dark
In bedrooms
Alone
Repeated three times
To the silence in my car
Driving away
From your house at midnight.

A distant beacon
Activated
Not epiphany
Or choice
Just suddenly it was present
Like a cat that has curled up in my lap
Without my noticing
Though there’s no mistaking
The fur-lined warmth
Or motory purr.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Things that hurt

Nose-high smudges on the backseat window
Knowing I don't have to go straight home
Quiet pressing in as I open the door
Cat sleeps peacefully on the arm of the sofa
Bedclothes smothered in thick black hair
As I bend to pick up a barbecue potato chip
That is inexplicably still on the floor

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The feeling of after

My heart pounds,
surges with cold blood
and longing
and panic.

My throat tightens up,
allergic to this feeling
of being alone in a room
when you still exist
somewhere
out in the world.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Boundaries

Evelyn felt something give.  Cool air caressed her left knee and she looked down to see a giant run creeping its way up the leg of her stockings.  Well isn’t that just perfect, she thought.  After yesterday’s lecture on presentability from her giant prick of a boss, Ev knew it would be no good to show up to work looking all whorey.   He’d likely take great pleasure in firing her on the spot.  She could see the moment in her head.  He’d stand there in his gross, pit-stained white button down and wrinkly trousers and point emphatically at the door, face growing redder by the second.  She could see the saliva collecting in the corners of his mouth, dotting the pornstache he’d clearly been sporting since the seventies.  Vile, horrible man.

He hadn’t started out so hateful.  Ev remembered him actually treating her with reverence and care for the first weeks of her employment at the agency.  He’d stop by and bring her coffee, invite her out to lunch, stick around to make an off-color joke or two.  It only took a few days for her to realize he was actually attempting to court her, something she was sure wouldn’t be cool with HR.  It wasn’t really cool with her either, in fact it wouldn’t be the first time.  Five foot four and slim with a short, bleached out pixie haircut, Ev had a fragile quality that drew the creepers of the world in like catnip.  It didn’t matter how nasty the B.O., how shaggy the haircut or fucked up the teeth, almost every waste of space fucked up dude would think he had a chance with her, that he had the thing she needed.  In his pants.

Ev hadn’t once needed a penis to make her life complete and she certainly wasn’t going to start now, with her boss of all people.  So she let him down, gently at first, but as he became more persistent she found herself having to be more firm.  Finally, after an awkward incident at the company Christmas party where Mr. Johnson had slid his hand down her back and squeezed her ass like it was bought and paid for, Ev had had enough.  She grabbed his wrist and swung it behind his back, pressing his stupid face into the slick black lid of the grand piano until he begged her to let go.  Admittedly, not the smartest or most career conscious way to handle it, but what else could she do?  She shuddered as she imagined the alternative, pornstache looming over her, yellow eyes rolling back in his head as he got his jollies with, she assumed, no thought to her enjoyment whatsoever.  Ugh, gross.  But now she knew he’d like nothing better than to fire her ass, to send her away with her head hung low, to shame her like she had rightfully shamed him. 

It only took two seconds for her to decide.  The stockings had to go. 

Prompt:  Avoiding a meeting
from ThinkingTen.com

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Safe

I always want to love in poetry
because it's measured
and careful
and controlled
and safe.
Which I guess
may be why
I've never
actually
been
in love.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Here we are

I never saw one prairie dog.  That’s what I took away from my time in the desert.  Sure, I saw scorpions and road runners and tons of lizards and all, but no prairie…waitaminute.  Do they only live in the prairie?  Is that why they’re called that?  What exactly is a prairie anyway?  Oh dear, now I feel stupid.  So just ignore what I said.  My time in the desert was just fine. 

The campsite was tiny and mostly unoccupied when I arrived.  Only one site was full, crammed to the gills with an RV clearly made for a lot twice the size.  This was no weekend camper, these people were prepared to be here for a loooong time.  A sign on the RV door said “Camp Host” so I pulled up outside and cut the engine.  After eight hours of driving I was tired.  Not nap tired or “I just need to lay down” tired, but the kind of weary where it feels like your very life force has been drained out of your toes.  And I still had to set up camp. 

I pried myself out of the car and approached the RV door, knees complaining the whole way.  The door opened before I reached it and an odd little man stuck his head out, peering at me through the desert haze.  He wore a plaid oxford button down and khaki pants, the kind of thing I’d expect to see my dad in if he and my mom were going out to dinner.  Definitely out of place in this crusty, dry wilderness. 

The camp host looked me up and down, taking in my fleshy rolls and blue hair.  I looked as out of place as he did, I bet.  I offered my hand and he took it, his dry palm scratching against my relatively soft one.  I was still pretty green at that point, my only camping experience a two-day overnight in a state park back in Oregon.  I’d spent most of the trip in my car, reading a magazine, eating a package of fudge grahams from Safeway, licking my fingers and then turning the page.  I can’t say I really enjoyed the trip, but it was good to get my first camping experience out of the way.  I hoped I still remembered how to assemble the tent. 


Prompt:  Prairie, Parlor, Purple
from ThinkingTen.com

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Awake

It was hours before the sun would come up.  Judy’s eyes traced the plaster on her bedroom ceiling, counting the starbursts and sorting them into small, medium, and large.  Her heart was racing way too much for sleep.  Every time she considered how tomorrow should go, each step in the sequence of events was like a rope in a winch, tightening her neck and shoulders one click at a time.  The navy blue garment bag loomed like a specter from the closet door, taunting and reminding Judy that tomorrow would be big, possibly the biggest day of her entire life.  She rolled onto her right side and flipped her pillow, trading its sticky heat for the other side’s fresh, crisp coolness.  The pillow smelled like Zack and her chest tightened as she was reminded yet again of the next day’s task.  Everything had to go right this time, even him.  Judy shook her head as she remembered their last interview, the one he didn’t even show up for.  She didn’t blame him for it, or at least she really didn’t want to, but he didn’t do himself any favors when she asked him what happened and he stared at her with that blank look that always said you knew what you were signing up for when you married me.  She had known, in fact she had been a little smug on their wedding day surrounded by her friends and his colleagues from the hospital.  Zack didn’t actually have friends of his own, he was at work too much.  Judy stretched out her arm toward his empty side of the bed and rubbed her hand in little circles, as if her husband were laying there and could feel  the reassuring gesture.  The adoption agent in the fussy tweed jacket had asked her pointedly how she was planning to care for a baby if Zack was always out of the picture.  Judy had shaken her head and chuckled at him, something  he and his tweed jacket didn’t seem to appreciate.  She explained.  He just didn’t know her.  He didn’t know the lengths she would go to make sure this baby was exquisitely cared for, the spreadsheets she’d draft, the phalanx of support personnel she’d surround herself with to carve out the best possible childhood for him.  Or her.  Judy was an expert at being master of her domain, at running her household, at being in control.  The one variable that was consistently out of her reach was Zack.  Well, Zack and a good night’s sleep.   

Prompt:  It was hours before the sun would come up...
from ThinkingTen.com

Monday, July 9, 2012

Lost

I awoke surrounded by trees, cheek pressed up against the soggy moss on the forest floor.  The leafy branches overhead so efficiently blocked out the daylight that the sun was made irrelevant.  Inside the forest it was dark as night and getting my bearings was going to be a hell of a challenge.  I didn't suppose I'd get a cell signal way out here but I fumbled for my phone anyway, wanting the comfort of its familiar screen.  My pockets were empty.  No phone, no keys.  No cigarettes.  Cool perspiration broke out on my forehead as I began to question for the first time since waking what the hell I was actually doing here.  I moved my legs, attempting to roll onto my stomach and push myself into a standing position.  My right knee protested loudly, the sensation reminding me of meat twisting through the blades of an old timey grinder.  I fell indelicately onto my ass, grateful that no one was around to witness it.  Then I remembered why I was alone and the panic set in.  I couldn't walk upright so I began a modified crawl through the darkness, feeling around on the spongy ground for anything that might reveal more about my surroundings.  My muddy fingers closed on something man-made and my heart leaped into my throat.  The thing was metal and fit comfortably in my hand.  As I turned it over I felt the weight inside shift. I found the top and carefully unscrewed it, sniffing the contents.  It was water, or something else that didn't smell like anything.  My heart leaped again at the find and then came crashing to the ground in front of me.  If someone had left me with water I must be a long, long way from home.

Dude

My brain has been wrapped in cotton as of late.  It floats, softly bumping up against real life now and then but not attaching to anything.  Everything is aaaaalllll cooooollll. 

I wasn’t always like this.  My mom always used to say I had one of those type A personalities, you know, the ones where people are wound up so tight about little shit they just can’t relax?  She was probably right, she was a pretty smart lady.  I haven’t seen her in at least 20 minutes or so, since she last stuck her head in the doorway and said dinner was ready.  That seems so long ago.  I wonder what she’s up to now?  Dad’s been gone for way longer, like since yesterday.  He never comes around anymore but I don’t give a shit because instead of those dry ass pork chops Mom used to make now we get mac n cheese.  I think.  That’s what it smells like, golden cheese and curly pastas with a crinkly potato chip crust.  That is some good shit.  Man, I’m saying shit a lot.  I think I’ve said it like…a lot of times.  But it’s not like it’s the only word I know or anything.  I know lots of other words.  Or I used to, like before.  When Mom was here last, I was really smart then.  Or she said something about me being smart.  Or like not to be smart?  I really don’t know.  I think I said something she didn’t like when she stuck her head in about the mac n cheese.  Like maybe I was all “bring it here then, woman!” trying to be funny.  It was dumb, but funny too, right?   I’m pretty sure that shit is funny.  I’m laughing…that’s all that matters, man.  That’s all that matters.


Prompt:  In the clouds
from ThinkingTen.com

Scratch

Marcus burrowed his head into the cool pillowcase to shut out the darkness.  The spindly branches of an old oak tree scratched against his window, sounding like fingers clawing at the sash.  He shuddered and imagined a clammy hand belonging to those fingers, scrabbling for purchase on the narrow vinyl windowsill.    He knew it was just a branch, just wood and bark and leaves and a night breeze pushing it against the window.  Just a lot of nothing.  Nobody was trying to break in, nobody was coming to get him.  They couldn’t have even if they wanted to.  The inside of the window was covered in a locked metal grid with no give whatsoever.  His first night in the room, Marcus had fallen asleep in front of it, grid speckled with blood from his persistent fingertips.  There was no out.  So there could be no in.  The scratching came again and Marcus pulled the thin cotton blanket up over his head and shoulders, relying on a boyhood trick to give himself the illusion of safety.  Not that all safety wasn’t an illusion, he thought.  The blanket smelled thickly of must and old B.O. and Marcus breathed shallowly through his mouth to avoid the brunt of it.  A cool breeze passed over his exposed toes and his body went rigid.  Someone was in the room.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Forked

Elena smoothed her knuckles along the inked skin in broad strokes.  Her birdlike hands played across the smaller areas, tracing the details as if she was painting them on with her fingertips.  She leaned in to study the piece more closely, her delicate nose mere inches from the tender flesh of the muscular young man’s back.  Ian, his name was.  He smelled rugged and incredible, like a forest or maybe a meadow.  Like the sexiest motherfucking meadow she had ever smelled in her life.  She felt an overwhelming urge to bite him, to slide her tongue along his perfect trapezius, to claim him with her mouth and drag him home like prey.

“Pretty great, isn’t it?”  A booming voice cut through the chatter in the gallery and jarred Elena from her cannibalistic reverie.  She stepped back in surprise and stared at the voice’s owner.  Cary Grant in suede work boots and an ill-fitting cardigan, striking a delicate balance between hipster and lumberjack.  An artist, she thought.

“Is this yours?” she asked, gesturing to the elaborate tattoo.  The tree covered the man’s entire left torso, leaves and branches reaching up into the sky around his neck while the massive trunk and forked roots extended down into the ground below his waistline.  “It’s beautiful,” she breathed, and reached out to touch it again.

Cary Grant chuckled.  “No, that’s not mine,” he said, “but this is.”  He slid his hand around Ian’s waist and murmured into his exquisitely formed ear.  “This belongs to me.”


Prompt:  Include something forked in your post or just use the word Fork or Furcate
from ThinkingTen.com

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sharing something

I love sharing food.  It’s been a thing with me since at least Vanessa, though maybe before.  One of our only real joys of the relationship was going out to a nice restaurant, enjoying some fancy cocktails, ordering something interesting or mind-blowing and sharing it with each other.  It became a little competition between us to see who was the superior orderer, who would blow the other one away.

Scratch that.  I’m romanticizing.  Sure, we frequently went out to dinner but only because we couldn’t stand to spend time alone together.  We sucked down the fancy cocktails to ignite the warm buzz waiting in our bellies and blur the edges of the dull ache we felt once the love had drained away.  We focused our attention on the menu like it was a great work of literature, like its amuses and foie gras and crispy salmon skins contained the meaning of life itself.  Mostly we did it so we could avoid talking to each other.  The competition part was correct though.  We fed on the triumph of superior ordering even more than the food itself, the glee of winning charging the evening with a richer feeling than any flourless torte could provide. 

If you’d asked us then we would have said we were still in love.  In love with what though, has always been my question.  In love with being together, maybe.  In love with not being alone.  In love with not having to face the terrifying unknown future with nothing but an empty space.   


Prompt: Sharing something

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Run

You met me on the trail
With a nod and knowing smile
Twin goddesses
Ample bodies swathed
In black spandex
That caught the light
Of the morning sun
For a time you matched
My languid pace
Then broke into a mighty run
Hips dancing atop
Uncontainable thighs
I could only stare
And admire
And grin
And whisper "go fat girl, go!"

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Here to help

Dear sir, who I will call a friend
So nice to see you this weekend.
Your writing always makes me smile
But I’m bewildered by your hugging style
Hugs are more than arms and shoulders
Good hugs are a great deal bolder
There’s leaning in, a loving grip
A meeting point for tums and hips
A subtle way to show affection
Reinforcing our connection
Want to give a hug that clicks?
Fear not, friend, I have a fix
Come back here tomorrow night
We’ll practice til we get it right ;)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hum

My lawn is a work of art.  It’s one of Picasso’s girls, breasts askew, head tilted sideways with eyes sliding together in the wrong direction.  It’s only when you look at the tag next to the canvas that you recognize what it’s supposed to be.  It is wrong in every way, rough shapes cut into the thick grass rather than the expected back and forth, the dignified march of one who knows what he’s doing.  I know what I’m doing and it’s wrong and I don’t care because I don’t have to.  If I want I can take this tiny electric mower and etch my front lawn with the word FUCK in all caps because this shaggy grass, these overblown dandelions, these twigs and leaves and unruly bushes all belong to me.  My lawn is a masterpiece scribbled in crayon by an eager kindergartner and if I could affix it with a magnet to the front of my refrigerator I would do so like the proudest parent on the block.  My lawn is a map, hastily scrawled in dark ink that leads to treasure buried under a big red X.  My lawn is a story that starts with me and ends with the word independence, the most precious thing I have ever known.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Oh

This raw ache
In my chest has
Your fingerprints
All over it

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Close enough

These fluffy
golden pancakes
with melting butter
and warm syrup oozing
into the center taste just like
                                                Love
(I’m guessing)

About last night

Warm fingers slide across my forehead
Loving a strand of hair out of my face
Gentle palm cups my tender cheek
Possessing my jawbone
For almost free
Soft lips press against my neck and slide
Urgently along my throat
As if the meaning of life can be found there
As if I’m made of water
Wandering hand travels down my back
Intrepidly journeying to parts unknown
Oh, snooze bar.

Sweet & Low

I think
It is supremely unfair
To bake a cake
And bring it to
Somebody’s birthday
Unless you also mean
To love them
Forever