Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I'm retiring this blog...I'll be posting poems, stories and novel excerpts over at AllyMalinenko instead.

Come, join me. We'll have a blast.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Birthday Presents as Red as Thread

When I wrap and pack
the birthday presents that I will
then take to the post office,
I’m struck
with the fact that you are soon to be thirteen.

And I stop to remember myself then too,
back through time,
unraveling the years,
like shedding clothes
as one walks through their house

and it all comes undone this way.
And for a moment I can see myself
as I once was
holding the necklace that your mother
now dead
gave to me.

I imaging giving it to you.
The sentiment. The power.
Entrusting you with the only thing I have of hers.
It would be a sort of un-doing. Severing the lingering red thread.

I cannot think of love as a constant.
It must, for me, wax and wane,
the way a wave comes to the shore but is still always part of the deep.

I have to think of it this way – as something I can touch
once or twice but not hold. Otherwise
I can feel my fingers locking
and I know I will choke it to death.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Winter Hardy

On my walk through the park,
towards the dock,
I pass them.

Succulents all fat and stout,
through the heat
waiting through the wind
waiting through winter.

There is a stillness here,
that until now
I didn’t know I was seeking.

Later at the dock,
in the wind
while the Mexican children
over the planks of wood
as the water laps below me
I sit and wait.

There are several unknown things
down there
that maybe
we are better off not knowing.

I watch the sunset over staten island
all hot white light
and burning orange
so bright I can taste it

and when it’s gone,
I turn and watch the lights wink on
and think
at this angle

Manhattan looks so tiny.
Small enough to fit
in my hand.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Year Fourteen

There is paper and there is ink.
There is the couch, the gentle depression,
the part the cat has scratched.
There is the glass and there is the ice.
There is him
And there is me.
And for awhile there is silence, except

Then there are words that come out
and my brain saying, shut up shut up shut up
but I keep talking and he keeps talking
and then there is pacing,
the long walk down the hall.

The stiches that held it together have come apart.

This is the power of words,
the moment is both the recording and the record needle,
it is the doing and keeping, creating and solidifying
into things we cannot, do not, take back.

We are the palimpsest. We can rewrite this.

He shifts. He opens and closes his book.
He does not want to talk,
but I am tugging loose a thread I should not have touched,
my fingers picking and picking,

because tomorrow I will go to the doctor
and he will listen to my heart
and I will think about dying.
Because that is what we all think about when someone listens to our heart.
Think about the hard ground, the mushroom blossom.
Think about the grainy ash between fingers in another winter
that we won’t know. Think about a universe beginning and then beg it to stop.

I want to ask him each day: Is this what we have been waiting for?
Are we just too scared to admit it?
But I’m not speaking now. He is.

Imagine the whole ocean fitting in your mouth.
Imagine holding it there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Marble Soul

When I flip through the pages of the past,
it goes like this:
yesterday, with open windows
first neat and cut
laid out side by side
and then sloppy as I go back farther, towards childhood.
I remember the red door, the smell of the dog’s food.
I remember the bookshelf low to the ground
page after page after page
and the murmuring groan of feet on hardwood,
rocking rocking chair
women cackles and coughing.
It goes on like this,
from the things I remember
to the parts I make up,
fill in like so much putty,
weave into ropes to
tamp down the tents.

Why not?

Tomorrow is just more flowers, bodily pink and spiked green.
It is only more kneeling at gravesites,
more ashes to scatter.
We will take off and put back on
the funeral clothes.
We will set and clear the table
as we have for generations.
All the births
except your own
are behind us now,
a soul like a marble,
round and glistening in your pocket.

You squeeze it tight, the way I used to.
You check your pockets,
padding down.
Is it still there?
Is it still there?
Well, is it?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I spot them down the street before my husband.
Where? he asks
craning his neck a little until they appear,
like a magic trick between
the crowds of tourists and New Yorkers.
They’ve been in this country one week
and already, too much has happened.

We agree to drinks and set out. Salud. We clink glasses.
I ask how the day went.
It is so big, they tell me. Not like Madrid.
We build up and up and up
I tell them, pointing at the buildings
thinking of America’s need to reach something unreachable.

It is like a fucking movie, Oscar says. A fucking movie
a wide grin as he rolls his cigarette. I love it.
Me encanta, she says. We love it.

Later, we’ll put them in the car,
after hugging
and promising again maybe next year.
Maybe Rome?
Maybe Barcelona. Again next year?
We promise and we promise.

Write us, my husband says.
When you land so we know you are safe
and I watch him help her get her bags in the car.

We will miss you so fucking much, Oscar says.
We hug again and again.
They get in the car, doors shut. I have already helped
them put together the fifty dollars for the driver.
Tip, tip! Oscar says and I nod. Yes, tip.

The car pulls away and they turn and wave through the back window
Aida mimes a tear on her cheek and I brush at my own.
They wave frantically as the car heads down our street.
It is like a fucking movie.

We got back inside, clear up the beer bottles.
We sit on the green couch, in the thick silence of their absence.
My husband places a warm hand on my knee
and reaches down to fetch the wine bottle,
my hand already reaching for my glass.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Moon Prayer

in that waned
or waxed time of night
on the long walk home
with the moon hidden
so hidden
in fact
it was just a smear
of white under more white
the way the sun can be at times
both blotted and blotting us out,

I said your name out loud
without expecting you to answer.

And for a moment I was more than less.
I could be that indifferent element
that charred wood,
that spark of flame,
that bubble of water,
that small breeze,
that rustles the back of a single leaf.
Or more, an atom
a muscle strained, unstrained,
strained again.
Something simpler.

Praise to the child king
and the walking stick.
Praise to the warrior girl,
the tallest trees,
praise to the mushroom,
the hot hot sand and the wettest sea,
praise to the next life,
praise to the train tracks and leaf blades
to the molecule splitting,
to the whale, floating weightless
praise to the moon.

Praised be.