First Snow

Give me a morning of solitude & snow
Michigan — my childhood home
Give me the quiet beyond my noise
Give me ridiculously skilled guitars
Give me muted sunlight & early dark
Give me tickets to the 12 & 6 o’clock
Front row when she’ll dance her mouse
Give them Santa stories, cookies & gifts
Give me an inward sense of sober bliss
But most of all this solitary quiet
The first white blanket of beaded snow on the path’s bridge
My breath visible in the dirty morning light
The richness of orange leaves fallen, but not quite
Life exactly as it is, but only for a moment
I open to you & say,
Yes we are   we are
We were, we most certainly were
& now, we still are
Life-rich & life-weary, forward into the coldest season

If This Poem was My Body

I’d stretch it out long, 

rub my I’s

and then shake my sheets

so they flap all loose and silly. 

I’d stretch my arms way up

over my head, shooting schemes 

from my fingertips 

like an illustration of a lightbulb’s trajectory.

If this poem was my body, I’d seek

out my edges 

so that I’d know 

where to jump and then point

my feet into parenthesis 

And declare myself multiple.

(What is not my body or my poem

requires that I shrink it down 

to boxes 

on a one-sided form:

check off here or here. No-

body claims one  

without opening an infinity 

Other, if so explain …

What constellations our bodies contain.)

And if this poem was my body, 

I’d want to stand too close to you 

yet I’d overcompensate by standing too far away; 

I suppose that’s why 

my poem goes  

without my body —

a grown child leaving home.

This poem is 

and is not 

my body, flies away,

belongs to,

is liberated from 

my skies 

from which I’ve plucked

every word.

Busy Lady on Repeat (after Sylvia Plath)

I open my eyes and the day’s on fast forward. 

I blink, and the sun sets again. 

(I am more than you think I am)

Nouns whiz around the borders 

With random hilarity peppered in. 

I open my eyes and the day’s on fast forward. 

I dreamed I flew on the back of a vulture, 

Vertiginous — my exposed elevation. 

(I am more than you think I am)

We brace for un-yet-fathomed tortures,  

Shake our heads at his insanity;

I open my eyes and the day’s on fast forward. 

I want to write it down so there’s a sense of order,

But I never have enough time. 

(I’m more than you think I am)

I should clear space for a new self,

One who’s in the moment, loosey-goosey, calm.

I open my eyes and the day’s on fast forward.

(I know that I am more than you think I am)

Am I Who I Am?

I’m the hole in the donut

special bc he said 

women are special 

then silence (I don’t listen 

to what he says)

I am of 

no consequence

I’m the heart that was the heart 

when all of this began; 

the shoulder 

shrugging at the firework,

mid-explosion 

I’m not exactly an elephant hunted by men 

I am not personally hunted, and yet 

what I have has been captured; and the booty isn’t zero 

factor in the accumulation of our isolated nervosa  

I’m a sitting duck, ripe for the picking 

I’m scantily clad in the horror movie at which everyone is yelling

I’m going about my business

I am love when her eye sweeps over me 

I’m here, I say 

I am absence, off duty

in the gray mist on a dead leaf 

submerged in cold water, both never seen

and unseeable 

As for the donut hole,

no sugar dust can reach me

no crust of dough  

no rainbow 

no ooze of egg or fruit —

through the hole

I  

take 

form amidst 

the sugar of this world

wipe it from my fingers

with a towel, never with my tongue

emptiness 

knows its own 

When Who I Used to be Has a Point

I miss her sometimes.

Her game of the hole

In my face.

Trying to cram

As much

You-name-it

Down, like

Whoever

Gets more in

Wins. There’s a reason

People get hooked, I think

As if I’m not one

Of them in my rolling chair,

Not rolling, above my very own

Boogie Street, pretty

Sure I could open

The window and devour

All of the fried dough, the grill sizzle,

The voluminous clouds

Exhaled by feral teenagers

Begging for someone to shout,

Shut the fuck up!

A stratosphere of paradise:

The heart of Saturday night.

It’s lonely

Up here, by myself.

I’m tired

Of doing the right thing.

The fantasy of a consequence-free midnight …

But then, our horror film in-progress

Thrashes

The walls of my skull. I want

That consequence-free midnight,

The old days (there never were)

I don’t give a fuck my own

Uncivilized laugh

if I wake you

Or your stupid friend up

Hey Fool

Hey Fool

It’s you again

It’s me & you again 

Stepping off

Blind to consequence 

turning our cheek to the inevitable concrete;

Old friends we are Fool

twinkle in the eye across our reminiscing table 

A moment of calm before yet another

Step into the unknown 

Hey fool

only you & I know 

The bravery in forward motion

How acting like you know what you’re doing  

really does fool them

The difference between the wind carrying caution

& guiding forces at your back…

Shit Fool

So much of what we did was dumb

& I’m not saying that I’m not up for 

the bliss you shoot in the face 

of not Getting it, 

The fact is that

I can no longer get away with 

Both life & death

at the same time

The Mother Artist

Having given flesh of her flesh,

The Mother Artist repossesses

Her symptom-free (re)productivity.

A phantom within

Speaks only to her

And waits for long stretches 

For the kind of focus that permits 

The Touching of space

She can’t

Otherwise fit in

Or else, the comments section exclaims, Neglect! 

Now that she’s this mommy person

Caring for more than 

She used to 

Like her mother or every mother she sees 

Expressions of slash 

Squeezed between schedules,

Sucks soothing silences like one dying of thirst

As the unattached sing themselves

And Languish in the contemplation of their songs. 

She hushes, having forfeited her focus

The moment her swell sunk its plus

And now, the rub;

So when you see her, off to the side,

Of two different minds,

Maybe nursing during the writing workshop

Or stepping out of story time to answer a call

Know that she’s holding back 

What might otherwise divulge

Onto the ones about her who cry 

Because she has to 

And you’ll either deal with it or not.

What Use Is This?

Can it type, does it speak Spanish, deliver exceptional customer service, keep the place from burning down?

Can it change a lightbulb, hang a picture, make me breakfast, scratch an old itch, one I’ve almost lost hope will ever stop itching?

Can it make me look good, add to my network, gain me an audience, puzzle my square peg into the proverbial round hole?

Can it love me the way I ache to be loved? Can it want what it wants, and then grab my kiss? Tag me, can I be it?

Can it just fucking work the way I need it to, be worth the money I shelled out for it, follow my commands, for Christ’s sake. Is that too much to ask?

Can I shout to it when I’m lonely and be reminded that I’m not alone? Can it speak to the sparks of the original flame? Can it be true? Can it convince me that we’re infinite?

Can it do just one thing better than anything else? Forget renaissance men and their laundry lists. Can it perform one vital function to perfection?

Can it operate long after I’ve made my final payment? Is it quality-made or just another cheap import? God forbid, I’m the one whose face it blows up in.

Can it push me through when I’m stuck? Can it teach an old dog? If I show up, will it be a rehash of the same? Can there be something I haven’t heard?

Is it money?

Is it power?

Is it love?

Can it be the thing I’m in search of?

Can it snatch up my wig and give everyone a great, big hug?

or not.

Better yet,

stand me

just so. Set me

right here

and then pull

out the rug.

The Point

I used to be good

At being old

When I was young

& everyone I wanted to be

Was old. My youth spent lavishly

On the tragedy of another’s old age.

Now my scales level

Fearsomely like a game

Where everything could come crashing down

With one wrong move. I pass

For a younger version

Of an older person, but remember

Being an actual

Young person

With all the time in the world

To contemplate

Death like the dead poets in my favorite books

Of poems; those English Dept icons

Who succinctly seized upon

the point of it all

With voices travel weary, yet clear

As they flew through

Their years

For the benefit of an admiring apprentice?

Hardly. Piercing

& pierced by

the improbability

That they lived

to tell about

any of it

at all.

Watching The Exorcist A Month Before Trump’s Inauguration

It’s one of those movies I watch 

No matter what part it’s at  

And this time I catch it from the beginning:

The lull of a driving sequence  

Through a leafy suburban lane, only ominous because we know 

The horror that will soon juxtapose;

We are devastated, and so to be 

lured by leaf patterns into shadow

Into a darkness illuminated

by the light of a bedside lamp

gives my brain a rest 

From all I can’t 

wrap it around. In a few weeks

a former reality show host will be sworn in as President.

Watching a preadolescent girl get

possessed by a demon

Seems apt, watch what happens

when a malevolent force is let in

through the front door,

Knows where the children sleep,

is told every secret

regardless of whether or not

we have given consent.

He needs a female body to exist. 

Poor Linda Blair  

In the early stages of her possession,

baffling Ellen Burstyn by 

Urinating on the carpet. It’s not yet

to the pea soup or the bone crack. 

Soon, she’ll pant all trucker mouth

and flesh wounds 

Sizzling as holy water whips her limbs;

Mother’s still trying to figure out

What the fuck’s going on. 

And the demon’s just getting started

on his joyride through a young girl.

It’s still early enough in the movie

to hear Regan, 

she can still be heard 

inside of her body, not yet completely

taken over.

“Mother!” she screams, bloodcurdling.