Friday, February 27, 2009

In the Silence

In the space where the music is
and now isn’t
is where I’m keeping you,
in that buzzing hush,
that anticipation that proceeds what happens next
lifting itself from the velvet
of what has already come,

This is the transformation of a love.
This is a young woman pulling her glasses
up when she reads,
just on top of her head
and in that simple movement
revealing herself as something changed,
something that the man next to her hadn’t seen till just then,
something that crystallizes and sits within him,
tucked just under his tongue.

You will fill that space,
that in between space,
so that I can move you, like a chess piece
from the past of my life
to the future.
I can carry you with me,
because at this point,
I can’t leave you behind
with the last song.
No, instead you will be that moment
when the violinist rest his arm,
the bow sliding one last time over the string
the note held shimmering
for a millisecond, like a bird wobbling
her wings, two flecks of white holding her up
against all that startling blue.

In the impossible miracle of temperament,
that’s where I’ll carry you.
And you will not be lonely there.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Ninth Apartment

This was recently accepted by Enjoy.

Listening to the zip
of the key sliding into the lock
and the smell of the rain outside
with the windows that have been locked all day
the cats greeting me
in the evening light of this room,

I realized this is my ninth apartment.
Nine sets of white walls, spotted with fingerprints
and newsprint stains. Nine floors I don’t sweep often enough.
Nine different cabinets filled with
the unused baking sheets,
bed sheets,
and towels.
Nine clogging showers
growing mildew in the tiles.
Nine ways to line up the couch and end tables,
the gathering and keeping of objects.

And that’s in about twelve years, which doesn’t seem
as bad when I think of the cities I have lived in,
the cars that died on the side of the road,
and the pets that have come and gone
the fucking, bending,
cooking, bleeding,
the surgery, driving,
the study, testing,
the work and quitting.
The turns this planet has made,
hanging as if weightless,
lonely in all that quiet darkness,
dotted with the business of our ant lives,
the times I have hauled this mattress out of another truck,
through another door,
onto another floor,
and collapsed there with you.

Still you.
Always you.

Monday, February 23, 2009

London Bridge

These days I’m spiking skulls
up on the bridge of my mind
as a warning to myself.
It’s another lesson I’m not learning

when I’m standing in front of you
trying to explain without words
that I don’t love you.
Not like you love me.
And I can’t keep apologizing for it.

I’m hoping maybe you’ll just understand
and it will keep you quiet.
For once, you’ll realize it
and with a degree of decorum, close
your mouth and let this moment, if nothing else, pass.

Darling, I’m just saying it’s been too much of this lately
and I can’t remember what I was like when we talked of other things.
Do you understand I have been screaming
through my rag doll smile all this time?

But these skulls I’m putting up are for me,
rotting faces, eyes leaking pus, slack unwanted jaws.
They are treachery and deceit. They are theft, lies. They are mutiny.
They are a hung through the fog of my mind so I’ll remember
that I alone am allowing this.
It’s a tax paid in full.
I’ve got a scar on my thumb,
to remind me of the time I slipped the hangman’s noose
so many lifetimes ago.

My heart is clockwork,
it requires mending, gears, and the minding to
I haven’t time to worry about yours.
And maybe, it’s not as dramatic as all that.
But I am tired of being in the back of your head,
floating like the potential you should have thought better of.

My bones are soggy, my muscles stretched thin,
I am tried of walking the edge of this island
just to avoid this stupid poem.
To avoid marking on paper what I hear in the ticking of my heart,
what you hear late at night
when you can’t sleep
what the ghosts have been telling you for decades
if you ever bothered to listen.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Molecules and Little Bricks

Over the pot of Darjeeling tea
she told me that had they kept their first daughter
they might not have had me
and I realized that I had never considered that possibility

and the molecules and little bricks
that come together
and apart each day
to keep me going,
shifted again ever so slightly
in this conversational undoing of everything I am.

That knowledge sat in the corner of the tea shop
waiting for me to notice it.
Knowledge nodded at me, when I finally met its gaze.

We spent the rest of the day
discussing the generations
and the people who have passed
or have yet to come
and fondled the books
sampled the peaches and apple slivers
and laughed in the train station.

The land that I was raised on, bounding over the gravestones
and bones of the Iroquois, have seeped into me.
Their longhouse, this family that I am threaded to
is something that cannot come undone.

But I still thought about the grains
of black tea
the slivers floating at the bottom of my cup
like little strands of DNA
unraveling, shifting,
Coming apart and together like the cells in my fingertips,
my thighs,
the length of my hair
to make someone new.

and I tried not to think of her dead
but you know I did.
If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have thought so hard
about the air in my damaged lungs
and the heavy crown that is this truth.
I am cleaved, split in two
two writers
two people
two daughters
two lives
the sloughing off of yesterday
and the recreation of tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Do Not Do

I’m reading about Taoism
and the Way
and the do not do

sitting here, trying to keep
so very still, till the blood slows down
and I can feel my bones start to re-grow.
So that the other parts of me
will have a chance at the steering wheel for awhile.
Will know what it feels like to navigate
the complications
that I have laid like tiny mines
up the staircase.

This is my Do Not Do.

Except for the tiny details I can’t seem to
erase from the attic hatch
of my memory where you lay
like a ragdoll
propped up against a toy chest
filled with vials of clear dripping liquid,
runes, cloth sacks of henna,
a skeleton key, a jar full of river water,
a lock,
snakeskin and that leather journal with the dog-eared pages
that I’m keeping for later.
But I’ve saved enough space in there, in that wooden chest
for me, thank god.

I’m falling
and while I’m falling
all I promise is that I will hit the ground.
Everything after that is yours.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Full Moon

for Anne

Live or Die.
Line up these pills
these medicines
little chemotherapy conversation.
I’m a girl in nothing but a nightgown,
wandering down a busy street,
across a busy bridge
and into a forest full of wolves.

What else is there to do
when the moon refuses to break
through the inky clouds
when she won’t let me touch her
when I need so badly just to touch her.

When I was a little girl I started sleepwalking,
bumping through the tiny house,
getting tripped by banshees that have been locked in the cabinets

now locked within my ribcage,
making my brain scream.
Sucking up the food I eat
so that I’m still hungry
and my stomach rumbling
keeps you up at night.

I scratch like a Napoleon
at my legs, till the blood runs in little rivets.
My teeth and hair are falling out.
So what if I have gone mad?
Little Allyson Wonderland,
stealing from my betters
and worrying about my pulse, my overworked tired heart.
My wine and pill filled belly,
my hazy lungs
my yellow fingernails
that will continue to grow even after I am dead,
twisting through my empty ribcage,
filling up the coffin like an angry vine, breaking through the wood,
and tunneling through the dirt, just sharp enough
to poke through the frozen ground, and get back to the moonlight.

I already drowned.
My torso is pregnant with water,
my skin if pricked, will leak
not blood, but tepid water,
dead fish,
soggy bones.
Inside we both smell like dead animals.

You know that even with all your distractions,
that you are the same as me.
Meet me at the harbor
I will be the Little Queen
and together we’ll begin the year without words.
The silence will save us
now that the pills have failed.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Playing for Keeps

-for Jay, always

I haven’t really made it clear
what I have been trying
and failing to say
for days,
usually over a couple beers at the Grassroot
or wine in bed,

but I’m trying to say that I think that tenderness
that I feel now,
was always there between us,
just different. Maybe a little lost under the twisting
and bending of a decade of change.
As if we were so busy becoming ourselves
that, for a time, we stopped being careful about each other.
That to be just me
I had to untangle myself from the web
that is you.
And that doesn’t happen easily.
And when it does, there is usually some pain.

But this unraveling of a sort,
I think it ended without me even noticing.
Because here we are, sitting in a Burmese
restaurant and I am amazed by you.
And here I am doubled over in laughter on West 4th street
all because of you.
And here we are laying in bed
when you compare Dvorak
to a shortstop
and I fall all over again,

like I did nearly 12 years ago
when you came back to the desk at the library
with the James Joyce children’s book
and I knew then,
that I would never find anything as good as this.

And darling, I haven’t.

So please know that while I am a selfish stupid girl
and while I know I talk about myself too much,
every single time I walk into a room that you occupy
I feel your easy gentle laugh
as solid as your hand on my back
when we were dancing in the kitchen
to ‘In Too Deep’ by Genesis
and you tell me
that you always wanted to dance with a girl to this song.
I love that I get to be that girl
and I think how stupid all those other girls were
and how lucky this girl is,
this girl right here,
swaying across the linoleum with dinner in the oven.

Friday, February 13, 2009


- for Patty

Last night I dreamt of moths
one in particular
bigger than both of my hands together

and she kept trying to land on me
like a secret I should have kept
but didn’t. And I kept running away from her
because that is what I do.

And when I woke up I thought of you
up north,
wondering how you faired through the wind storm.

There are planes falling out of the sky where you live
there are burning fires, hot flames, all ash and smoke and death
but down here,
by the water,
it’s quiet.
For tonight all our planes have landed with
with the usual thump of gravity winning.
Another little unnoticed miracle, after all.

It was night in Brooklyn,
with the lights out
and the bridge keeping watch over everyone.
It was quiet for a change
and I dozed off reading a book.
That kind of peace is rare for me these days.

It was night in the valley
where my father slept
working his way through the hours
of sickness, of the constant pulse of the cells
sloughing off, the body betrayal
the falling apart of a man.

I know that peace can be generated in ginger kitchens
with the artistry of baking
the molding, the dough and sweetness, the bitter tang,
the sanctity of home, the holy space
but for me, with my twitching eye
my cold fingers and my screaming brain, peace can be rare.

So the moth
and I were wondering how you faired
through the night
because you are after all,
the only friend I’ve made in years.

Even if I couldn’t stay.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Calling for My Ruin

All of my entries in my journal
are senseless these days
like I’m trying to speak in another language,
a language that no one knows.
Not even me.

It is a bit like what the dying tell you
moments before they go
or what old lovers tell you
moments before they leave you
for your selfishness, your mediocrity, you powerlessness

I am working in two versions, my Gemini
this duality, vain and fickle.
Two women
two lovers
these stories, these voices,
my brain, like my chest,

But there is a kind of floating, in this language
long winding syllables,
a place where the words connect and then come apart again
as if they were submerged for a thousand years
under a angry sea
and this is where I am living.

I am undecided,
late at night,
as we walk the quiet Brooklyn side streets
the breeze from the ocean whipping the leaves in a fury.
My hair, nearly pink, under the streetlamp,
as I stand, unsure of which way to turn.
My mouth full of teeth and words
hard and unyielding.
Things I am choking on.

So I am putting them down here
in a desperate attempt to sort them out.
I am not asking for your help,
because you know that is something I cannot do anymore.

They are sounds like the magician’s scarves and if I pull one
they will never stop coming out
until I am unraveled,
nothing but my scars, my bloody fingernails,
my ugliness, my cave.

A harpy
naked on the shore
dashing me against the rocks
calling for my ruin.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Self Immolation

The kings are dying,
all the big stone gods are crumbling down
dissolving in water with failed kidneys and livers
from drinking and smoking
and laughing and fighting and fucking.
and words
far, far too many words.
The kind of words that won’t ever stop coming.
Until it all stops for good.

So for a change, I’m going to start a fire
something that will burn though this dark night
and take off my fingerprints
so that when I go back to you old house
and creep into your bedroom at night
cupping my hand just to feel once more
your quickly beating heart
you’ll never know I was there.

This is what fire
unlike water
can do.

And like the Old Believers
I’ll go out with a fire burst
a hot red cloud, like a hurricane
swirling from my belly.
A great cape of disappearance
a shrill howl.

Just me and the great Hercules
building our own funeral pyres.
All my hair snuffed out,
my skin blackened and curling like ribbon,
my bones just gravel.
This body is all that I have, all that any of us
are ever going to get.

So maybe we should all go together, like Frankenstein
before we realize that nothing is going to be the same.
Before we fall back into acceptance and can no longer marvel over the first snowfall,
over the velvet softness that comes before the seizure,
over the hiccup and scratch of slave chants on record.

We’ll smell that great wood burn
and we’ll leap for it.
I will call you Sati
and you will fall with unstoppable grace into the fire.
And the whole world will fall in love with you
over and over

Friday, February 6, 2009

Good News and More Good News

That is what I am waiting for.
Because honestly there have been truckloads of bad
dumped like dead fish on the dock.
Like the sickness and the death
and the fog of sadness
that creeps over me
snipping that little string that keeps me tied to this earth
so that there is nothing but this humming sound when you talk
and nothing but this numbness
like my limbs have gone dead
and my hands are just lumps of meat
and it’s going to take
a lifetime to pick up the fork again.
Don’t even ask me about eating

because these days,
I have trouble getting anything down my throat
when people are sitting across from me,
Men and Women
who converse over the meal, cause that is what we do.
We talk, we eat,
but so many times I can’t stand to watch it.
I can’t stand to eat in front of you.

But these are my old demons that I got locked up for already.
Thin lipped doctors and nurses with big asses,
and the other girls, preening over their lovely bones
which poke right through
their stretched, scraped skin.
They told me I could go. I was “cured”
so I shouldn’t worry so much.
Except that when the words fail,
as they can do so often
that gnawing feeling comes back again
and when hunger is the only thing that cuts through the numbness
there are worse things, after all.

Worse things,
but I’m still waiting on the good.
That was the whole point of this, wasn’t it?
It’s cold out and the air is thin.
The sidewalk is nothing but a sheet of ice
running down to the waterway.
And I’m waiting.
I got all night.
I’m waiting.
For the good parts.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dreaming of My Suicide

Jung believed that everyone,
everything in your dreams
was just another representation of you.

That woman, that looked so much like your grandmother,
telling you everything was okay,
honey, that was just you.
and that building you can’t get out of,
the one with all the doors, and the rooms and the closet
that holds that albino man that has scared you since you were
a child,
just you.

It is just the ID and the superego
battling it out on the narcissistic stage of night.

Which is fine,
except the other night,
I killed myself,
with a pencil thin razor
taken up my the tender fish belly white of my arm.

And other than seeing all that blood,
knowing it was mine,
knowing this was the undoing of a life,
with the pulse tapping down
to an unsteady wobbly thump
like a drunk taking his first steps to the bathroom,
like a drummer falling out of step,
a staircase unraveling,
I remember only one other feeling,
which is that I didn’t really want to do it.

But I didn’t have a choice. Or so someone told me.
I’m not sure what Jung would think of that.

I just know that in that nightmare space,
my loneliness was a crow on my shoulder
and she was unshakeable.
And I haven’t felt that sick
in awhile.

For Clarification

This was recently published by the fine folks at the New Yinzer at

For Clarification

“…except my life, except my life, except my life”
Hamlet, Act II, Scene II

I think what I was trying to say last night
is this
the way the liquor and the water
never really mix, the way you can see it floating
like little amoebas or thin little strings
of DNA
between the ice cubes,
that is sort of how I am feeling.

Like the things I am tethered to,
or was once tethered to,
are floating away,
and I without them.
I’ve been spending so much time trying
not to get bogged down
mired to
the mundane, that I have lost my place in time.

And when I cannot feel the keys below my fingers,
or the chair on which I sit
at this desk
in this little room
carved especially for me,
what am I but the black slashes before me?
The tattoos on my arms?
the red red stain of my uncontrollable hair?
the fear, the ghosts, the representation of what was once real?
These symbols of a woman,

There are only men in my life,
men who make art
men who write
men who drink
men who watch television.
Men who write songs about my death.
Men who photograph themselves in strange tiled bathrooms
and draw tears on that photo
and I find it shoved in my mailbox.
Men who send men pornography
just have to someone else understand their needs.
Men too weak to get off chairs.
Men too strong to sit down.

And I feel them around me all the time.
They exist, untouchable.