Saturday, November 2, 2013

Passage

They don't like it
when you sleep
on the train
stretched out
across three
seats exactly
wide enough
for a man
exhausted
from a long day
of traveling

the carriage sways
back
and forth
and back
and forth
a gentle humming
beneath the compartment
cozy and warm
safe passage across
the broad starlit
lands of the mother
country as she
pleads with you
sleep
sleep
my dear one
just sleep

Monday, August 12, 2013

Snuggle

It is barely evening, the hush of new darkness spilling in the windows and lightly touching each framed picture on the living room wall, masking the faces into featureless, familiar blobs.  I am in the laundry room, lights off, switching the laundry from washer to dryer, fingers pruny from damp shirts and pants and socks.  Savoring the hidden, enclosed feeling I get from being wedged into this space between two giant, pulsing machines.  I could crouch down right here behind the washer and nobody would find me until I wanted to be found.  I could fall asleep here next to the warm, humming toss of the dryer, cross-legged on the slick, gold and green patterned floor.  I bend my knees and lower myself to the cool linoleum, just trying it out, wanting to stretch this moment into the rest of my life.  From my hiding spot I can hear her enter the living room and switch on the TV.  Used car commercial murmuring in the background.  She doesn’t know where I am and doesn’t seem bothered by it, a small relief in our lifestyle of constant companionship.  I pass nearly an hour in this manner, shoulder leaned into the laundry room’s paneled wall, breathing in the sweet smell of fabric softener as the dryer sucks the dripping wet from our bath towels and my jeans thump, thump, thump inside the tumbling drum.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Shine

That waiting space
in your chest
harboring
nothing
for so long
and yet
electrode wired
switch thrown pulsing
alchemize
mutate, trans
shift to
copper burning
sun-sparked blazing
body singing
skin cells dancing
fingers coursing
warm mouth longing
solid vibrating joy mass pounding
yes
yes it is
oh yes

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sugar Sugar

In the garage, under a pile of as-yet-unpacked boxes with vague names markered on them like "kitchen stuff", in an old orange crate covered with Beatles and Jimi Hendrix stickers slapped on by my brother in his mid-teen classic-rock-loving phase, lies my most important possession, a collection of memories in ink, pulp and paperboard, friends from my childhood who never quite grew up.  Archie and Jughead, Betty and Veronica, Reggie, Moose and Dilton Doiley, Miss Grundy, Professor Flutesnoot, the venerable Mister Weatherbee.  My home, my family, my community.

For me, the appeal of Riverdale lay in its simplicity.  You knew what to expect from everyone, and exactly what they were looking for.  Archie and Reggie wanted girls with tiny waists and wide, eager eyes.  Lucky for them, almost all of the girls in Riverdale looked just like this, like another species, so alien that it didn’t even occur to me to try to be like them.  Which is good, because it’s hard enough to be a normal girl.  The queens of them all, Betty and Veronica, just wanted Archie, but they’d settle for Reggie on a group date.  Or if Archie’s jalopy was on the fritz again.  Reggie had money which meant he always had wheels, but he was kind of a dick about it and, really, that worked for everybody.  Riverdale ain’t no place for shades of gray.  We like our villains mean and predictable.  Jughead had almost zero interest in girls and instead got his jollies with the common cheeseburger, though any food would do in a pinch.  Juggie was my favorite, and not for the reason you think.  It was because he did not give one single solitary shit about what anyone else wanted him to be.  Dude’s needs were MET and he floated from meal to meal with a bare minimum of hassle and angst.  Every so often, though, he’d run up against poor Ethel.  Ethel was my avatar.  They couldn’t have made her more like me if they had drawn her as a chubby freckled girl with funny hair and glasses.  Ethel Muggs:  our lady of perpetual unfulfilled desire.  She just wanted Jughead’s attention, just the tiniest little bit, please.  And the lengths she went to, the things she was willing to do, the years she held on waiting for his approval.  Girl, I’ve been there.  I’m there right now, though I don’t know anymore whose approval I seek.  

Moose taught me that big dumb jocks can be sweet and loyal.  Dilton, that nerds are some of the best people, and the two of them together (best friends, obviously) made it clear that sometimes the cream of the friendship crop isn’t going to be the center of attention.  Sometimes it’s better to shop the edges of the supermarket, if you know what I mean.  Chuck, the token brown character was the nicest, most average guy you could ever meet.  His only distinguishing characteristic was his complete lack of justifiable anger.  Or maybe they didn’t teach the kids about slavery in Riverdale.  They did manage to make him an athlete though, so there’s that stereotype box checked. 

There were no fat kids in Riverdale, and I have to say I’m glad about that.  I didn’t really want to see Archie and the gang making jokes about the fat kid, or worse, treating him or her with earnest compassion, the way they do whenever they come across anyone with special needs.  Not a person, an other.  Next, on a very special Archie, Jughead makes a friend in a wheelchair!  Hahaha let’s pretend she’s having fun with him at the dance even though she can’t use her legs!  Everything is so far out right now!

But that’s what I loved about Archie comics.  Everything was surface.  Nothing was hidden or confusing or secret, pot-boiling anger.  Everyone always did the right thing in the end, and never intentionally hurt anybody or made them feel worthless or hit them or stole from them or forced sex on them.  There was safety in Riverdale.  So much safety.

They still make Archie comics, of course, but I’ve long since stopped reading them.  I have my own safety now, a tiny house East of town for which I have the only key.  Every so often I’ll hear how my old friends are doing, getting married, choosing careers, finally moving on from those idyllic high school days.  I’m waiting for them to catch up with me, for the Archie gang in their thirties.  I’m waiting for Reggie to figure out there’s more to life than chicks and cash.  I’m waiting for my girl Ethel to email me so we can go out to brunch and hash over her latest boy drama.  I’m waiting for Betty to finally realize she doesn’t need a stupid man to make her happy.  I’m waiting for Jughead to put down that cheeseburger, man, and call me already.  Let’s hang, Riverdale style.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Anchor

I’ve painted you all, darlings
In your favorite, finest things
Caroline my sweet in your dear blue dress
That brings out your eyes
My eyes, my tiny hands
How you begged for that pianoforte, so gravely certain
That your tender life could not endure without it
Of course your father gave in
He never could say no to that charming face
My face, my loving smile
The twins in their waistcoats strong
And proud as a mother could wish
The heart of this family
I think of what you will give
Up to care for your father
My strength, my pride
The men of the house
And Henry, angel
Always begging for a story
At your father’s knee
My writing, my books
You’ve got an exciting life ahead
Of you, a world to explore and take
Your own choices to make
My world, my life

This is how I see you
My darlings, my loves
As fine and perfect as the day I left
Guarding your sweet innocence
From the blistering sun that burns
Within me.
My life, my world, my family, my choice

Inspired by Portrait d'un homme et de ses enfants

Held

Edge of the ocean
Icy waves lick my toes
Seafoam climbing my ankles
Pokes at the fraying cuffs of my trousers
With every step the sticky sludge sucks me closer to earth
My tiny mother
Pristine tea-white sneakers
Delicately laced and double-knotted
Stands her ground in the packed wet sand
A seaward wind lifts and rumples her soft graying shag
The sun glows on her appling cheek, determined
To brighten her graven grimace
as she tells me Sometimes
You just have to give
Up on your dreams

I imagine her untethered
Arms stretched head tipped
Lips parting smile
She delights in the warmth
The breeze
The love of the day
I nod and take her offered hand
She is what I've got

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Glossy

Make your body pleasing to the eye
Camouflage those flabby arms you hate
Never let the others see you cry

How to land that very special guy
Ladies, don’t be slutty on a date!
Make your body pleasing to the eye

Learn a bedroom trick to make him sigh
Have a kid before you’re twenty-eight
Never let the others see you cry

Bake your man the perfect apple pie
Drop those extra pounds of baby weight
Make your body pleasing to the eye

Carve a space through pubic bone and thigh
Leave three bites of food on every plate
Never let the others see you cry

Try and try and try and try and try
Learn to love the modern woman’s fate
Make your body pleasing to the eye
Never let the others see you cry

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Uprise

Awash in the afternoon’s holy fire
Mother slices cilantro into ever smaller shreds
The stuff of life leaking out onto gold-paneled countertops
Imprints on the cheap laminate, spelling out a sermon
Vegetable manifesto:
We drank in the sun, and the earth
We sourced the water and created our own food
We are a miracle of life and a force to be reckoned with
We are here, we matter, and we will be heard.
The revolution is ushered into a plastic bag
Invited to wait, importantly, on the refrigerator’s top shelf
Where all of the big decisions are made.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Together

We are the countryside
Soft rolling hills slice/twist and dip
From necks to hips
Fed by the moist earth
The flavor of it is in us or of us
We twine our roots underground

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Boo

Sometimes
I feel like a

frail
wispy
thin
tiny
  secret
ghost

and my
unfinished
business
is finding out
if you ever
  really
loved me

like
you
  said
you did

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Soulmates

I love all the cute ways
you show me you love me
like waiting five days
to return my calls
avoiding eye contact, and
that funny time you forgot my name

we'll be laughing about that one for a while

Nostalgia

Thirty years from now
we are holding hands
and laughing about
that poem I wrote
to tell you I love you
and how you had no idea
how I felt, even though
I ended it with the words
"How on earth could you possibly not know?"

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pretty

I should have known
When you walked in with that movie star face
That you’d never understand me
Nor I you
But what use is understanding
When dark eyes carve a longing trench
Deep and wide through the heart of me
I want to fill it with your stories
Hide myself away
Observe your careful hands in flight
As they reach through my closed lips
And pull out everything I never wanted to say

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Twirl

The smell of the seats on the school bus
Cold and green leatherette
Pressing into soft thighs
Encased in flesh-toned nylon
That bunches around my ankles
Like elephant legs

Spandex sequin elastic ribbon
Gloves with white texture dots
For gripping
PVC poles and swaths of gold lamé
Swoop around the field
Like the wings of a giant bird
With a hunger for flight
And a long-tethered foot.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Why I do it

I click the thing to download the show where the chubby girl snags the obnoxious guy – Mr. Darcy in argyle and skinny jeans – because it activates that part of me, the heart part that doesn’t get much use unless it’s breaking.  She looks at him with the puppy eyes and my heart turns over, whining like the tired, cranky motor of a ’79 Pinto in the side-yard shed.  It’s waiting for me, for a day when the world feels safe enough, a day when I will push back the dusty blue tarp and settle my hips into one of its deep bucket seats, a day when the Pinto and I will take to the highway and love like we’ve got a thousand miles of open road and a lifetime full of nowhere to be.