Arboreal ceilings tinged flame
They way they plunge
Or are plucked, delicately
By increasingly colder winds
Motion of tires on a busy road
Watch them sail up
And then see-saw back toward lawns, sidewalks
Strewn with thousands
Some large as two palms flapping a shadow bird
Others slight as a beetle belly
Slick and suctioned to the ground
And then, in dry weather, shrink and crumple
I like what intersections do to them
Jostled as in a child’s game
Soaring upward in a funnel when air or foot stir
I love the crinkling sounds they make
As their hooked edges scratch
Across the street
I mistook them for small birds dispersing a formation
While stopped at the light outside of the mall
Were they spruce leaves? Raining yellow
Dancing in the air like copper-hued wings
I smiled as my car accelerated
Leaves caressing steel and windshield
Before lifting up again
This cycle we expect
Yet, I’m struck new by every year
The aching loveliness of death, not
All death, not oozing, violent, horrific death, not
The slow rot of decrepitude, but
Leaf death! This grandiloquent wobble around our star
This must be how it feels to be inside of a painting
Spectrum of reds and rusty coppers
What an artist would call technique
For a leaf is effortless
Chloroform and sugar, exposure of fibers
Like the surface of a photograph
Bleeding through darkness
Rests at our feet, in whispers
I’ll talk as myself, thanks
and if that means I’m being brave
then let the years make of me
what I’ve never been before.
In order to gain momentum, I shift my weight
from front to back,
working up a bounce so that I can launch
onto my 13 year
coin. To Thine Own Self Be True curves around the edge
of the coin, just like it did
in year one.
On our 4,000+ day
it occurs to me.
All sound dwindles to the white noise of a box fan in the hallway.
Stacks of numbers stack against us. My breath catches.
We are mostly
essential to each other. We are
inside of our story’s long version.
the rules and then break them.
Then we learn the broken rules.
I spin on the thing
until I’m upright again,
our point of origin.
I lost 10 pounds in 3 days eating cream cheese and fried vegetable bits.
I’ll be there. I’ll be there early. I’ll have done my homework. A 20 dollar bill broken down in my pocket into a ten, a five and five ones.
These self-check out machines aren’t replacing us. We’ll be here forever, serving you one unplayable DVD at a time.
I’m so glad you called.
I want to go to Disney World. I want Minnie Mouse to spoon feed me sustainable butter lettuce as the smiles become sickles in my sweaty dreams of you.
I’m from the mean streets of Detroit where a box-cutter bitch gonna cut your ass.
Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name …
I can take or leave it, saltfatsweet.
My idea of good time is you, you and more of you. Morning, noon and night of you, multiplying you times two …
I won’t feel like a sea creature has attached itself to my vital organs and is extracting from me my will to live one soft, sucking kiss at a time.
Take my picture honey, and let me see it directly after you take it. I want to see myself in all of my squishy, Irish girth.
Why do I flip open
this high fashion magazine?
I have work to do. Soon,
my boss might
tap my shoulder. Still,
my eyelids lower. I’ve been hypnotized
by a spread’s painted skin.
I feast on cheeks.
Perfume samples spill like a prank.
A pungent postcard bouquet.
Thinly sheathed bones arch. Each notch begs touch.
The idea of a gown veils her gaze:
Lolita pouts like a privileged pet punished
for driving her Merry-Go-Round
into the Taj Mahal.
But she is forgiven! (she is so thin)
and love is the secret
the dolls in the storefront conceal.
Flawless Flesh Fresh from the Factory … continued, pg. 203.
Only stomachs disobey, growling like felines whose claws itch.
Smooth cheeks moon a body-hanger.
Big-ticket silks float above the spit-shine.
I remember afternoons at the drugstore,
9 years old, my dramatic spray of bangs,
an early sketch of a female human being.
Indian-style on the cold, hard tile
I pinched fashion magazines off the rack,
thick as inches surrounding my hips.
Images invaded me and I wanted a conqueror.
Clearly, these are the women men love:
cleavage piled into embroidery, duck lips pursed for the F-stop,
waists like banana peels,
the fruit flew out of the limousine window
into the fanned fingers of Grecian marble statues
who caught and threw it into the trash,
you won’t be needing that …
What a laugh
my mirror’s reflection
after leafing through the high fashion magazines.
I deemed myself a damaged example
in comparison to these prized specimens.
I likened myself to a weed,
became fluent in mathematics of comparison,
knew all the words to, if I only was …
20 years later, I’m still drawn to this theater
starring girl-fragments who waddle
one spiked heel in front of the other.
Millionaire innocents idle as purebreds.
The hunger of the hunted and the hunter.
Areolas perk, presented on silver,
only spoons confess their desire
for a little kindness. For permission to speak.
A person longs to reconstruct herself,
return her brain back inside of her glittered skull.
I slip my hand around the bitten fingernails
of my inner 9 year old,
lost in this fantasy.
Set her voice at an audible frequency,
ask her to close the pages of the high fashion magazine,
give her a good book to stimulate her wild mind,
bring her to the breathing fields
when the only mirror around for miles
ripples on the lake and embraces us
when we dive in.
Each month, I track the moon
As it fattens and then thins.
I remain, without symptoms,
Wanting to be waxing.
We try we don’t try I scroll
Calendar squares, vaginal fluid
Phantom sensations Are my breasts rising balloons?
Tarot cards and babyhopes.com.
We wait I wait
And an old dream
Of ten little fingers and ten little toes rock-a-bye
Byes. Each month, my heart
Climbs its high ladder …
Each moon results
In so much blood rushing
When I walk away.
What luck! my bill slips
into the possibility of cleanliness.
The fingers of my attendant embed a traveled grime.
Blond mountain man (I imagine Him) between addresses or women.
His cigarette perpetual between his lipless lips
as he pressurizes a hose with his thumb
for dirty Sebring’s initial rinse.
Michigan February afternoon piles on us
misery, salt, freeze,
yet the promise of a car wash:
soon our wheels will roll smooth.
Bursts of spray loosen chunky slush-rot from the crevices.
Gray winter disappears beneath forceful showers as
blue sponges twist like a 1960s retrospective.
I know how Jackson Pollock’s canvas felt
this soap squirting against the windshield.
O spin puppet flappers in your gowns of brilliant purple.
Rain on me your liquid forgiveness
(he tells me how it used to be …
hit the pipe in the car wash,
crack pipe, burn brain burn
Forgiveness is this kind of washing away.
The whirring fire-vacuum peels us
from immersion into day.
We slowly move forward, sleek as a cougar made of chrome.
How gorgeous we are against this Michigan
February, though we’ll return
in a few days for another thrill of sponges.
Save another dollar for my blond Mountain man,
another turn up the drive and down again, another chance to get filthy and then clean.
When last he wrote me
I was hanging off a cliff,
And now I’m still hanging.
Have been for God knows how long.
The tips of my fingers
To the crest of this craggy edge
As an ocean angrily tosses below.
My laced black boots swinging
While whitecaps dance as if boiled on a stove;
Oh, and that menace, my pursuer gnarling at me every now and then
Like a feral creature in single-minded pursuit.
His feet firmly planted on the ledge.
No language though, not without him who channels through.
How is it that I speak free?
I’ve always paid attention, every letter, each formulation
Of syllables left me not envious
Of his hot air blown through my rough draft,
I know who I am even though he doesn’t hear me out;
And then he up and quits me, in my crisis,
But like a spirit
Brought back by
The recitation of a charm,
His utterances unfold me, a puzzle piecing itself back together,
A rhythmic rendering, my anima auguries.
And even though he thought my plot shit,
Thus my current predicament,
Dangling above the riptide that will surely annihilate me should I slip
My clench on the rim as my antagonist towers, huffing gutturals,
But, wait! I can almost, URGH! almost
… catch the toe of my boot
On that … protruding root,