Barbara spreads a rumor that my parents are getting divorced.
She is fifty, and sad, and has a lot of skin tags.
She clucks to the women in church that
she hasn’t seen them sitting together, pressed in the pew,
with smiles on their faces like advertisements.
I get the feeling sometimes that everything that is true is false
And vice versa. And vice versa.
Where real? How truth?
My mother finally knocked on Barbara’s door one day.
And nobody came.
But there was a fire going
and a steaming cup of coffee on the table.
Where God! Does truth live in cups of coffee,
in the breath-evidence of fogged glass? Or in the folds of our hands?
Why do we look, and against whom do we trespass?
In My Yellow Bikini, I Ran into Beowulf on the Beach Who Happened to Be Quite Desperate for Company
O Good Geatish king, they goad,
How has he fallen cold and dead?
They mourn my aged body,
The spouting bursts of red.
I’m alive, alive, I try to say,
But cannot move my mouth,
My eyes stuck to the ceiling,
The stars all sinking south.
A dragon I have slain today,
But I really hurt my back,
And I’m tired of wondering what they’ll
Hrothgar and Hygelac.
I’m really tired of all of this,
All this jewelry and this gold,
The treasure dragging down my wrists
Though I am seventy years old,
I look at the stars and the night falls
Upon my shattered life,
My people, they are cowardly,
Surely set for strife.
But I don’t care much anymore, by God,
About the human race.
I don’t care about the young maidens
Or their dress or Geatish grace.
At the end of my life, I’m finding now,
I care for no one but myself.
I love my love and hate my hate
And care greatly for my health.
Each morn I rose and stroked my locks
Tenderly, my golden strength,
And gazed in eyes of green serene
For many hours at length.
I love the sparkle in my eyes,
My pouted berry lips;
I love my strong, fretted brow,
Its wisdom and carefulness.
Most of all I love my chest,
Broad and strong and brave,
Like stone impressed by God’s thumbprint
Carrying me from the grave.
But today they say I die, here,
In the dirty, littered sand.
How can it be that I have broken
Bread with these cold hands?
How can it be that yesterday
I fell in golden, passionate love,
Lying by the firelight
With my quickly fleeting dove?
How can it be that all is gone,
Fallen cold and dead?
And how can it be that my love’s hand
Is absent from my head?
Sonorous is the midnight sea
beneath the barber’s candy-stripe,
a boy with his mouth open to bellow.
Sonorous are the briny insides of a shellfish,
Sonorous smells the middle of a man’s bare back,
the pregnant belly of a dog.
Sonorous is a scratched brass gramophone
howling in the dark,
two heavy, aching breasts.
A Sudden Sinking Feeling in the Bathroom at a Goth-Prom House Party
Never a hand towel.
Cut my finger gripping the chipped sink.
Blood runs down old toothpaste-chunks.
Muffled music seeps under the door,
punctuated by impatient knocking.
Someone’s deodorant and the stale urine
of eight consecutive girls.
Vague ringing in the ears amplified by
myriad liquors and saccharine.
Bloated. The taste of the absence of water.
Strum of the guitar I don’t have.
Flaccid, droopy face sags in the mirror,
looking somewhere just south.
Anxious feet outside, calling, calling.
After a Very Involved Series of Poisonous Chocolate Boxes and Plastic Flowers Doused in Chloroform, Here Lies Ella Corder Who?
Cried on Valentine’s Day.
Watched the sun glint over cars
in a silver sea,
until the library kicked her out around 1700h.
She went home to cradle herself
in a book or a stripe or a song.
But her lungs began to howl and shrink,
water balloons filled with molasses.
Tighter and tighter they sclerosed
until she finally collapsed,
there on the grimy linoleum.
She stared at the ceiling, wide-eyed,
Thinking of how, at track, when she was ten,
she was the slowest of them all.
Parroting after her mother to the others,
Never enough air. Never enough sun.
Only the wind and the circling hawks.
Only the crying on Valentine’s Day.
Only the silence after the sudden strum of a guitar.