Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I want it to be autumn,
all ablaze with the fire
of a dying season.
I want my red red hair to match
the aching trees lining the streets
that bend and reach toward the water
grasping for their own reflection,
lost in their own beauty and fishing for love.

I want something other than
this fuzzy heat,
that makes my skin itch
that melts the cells that hold me together
turning my skin into flaking tree bark.

I want the silence
that comes with a blanket of snow,
when the busy city streets get hushed
and the whole place feels abandoned
like it is a time when humans are long gone
and only nimble rats will poke their nervous heads
up the subway steps.

I want change,
to be out of this moment of uncertainty
away from this rain shower of doubt, droplets beading on everything,
and refusing to pop.
To skip to the future
just to see how it works out
and if we get everything we want
and need
and damn well deserve
in this backbreaking world.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


There are too many places out there,
cities like beehives
and rolling hills and towns and deserts
and empty roads
and ocean waves choked with algae
each of them, just floating past fingertips
like bubbles waiting to be popped.

I am tumbling here
in this rushing river of a city
cast against the stones
like a minnow,
despair lines this riverbed.

These needs are little earthworms
chewing through my dirt,
my saltlick.

I sleep at night
because I tell myself that
I am topography, too.
My sleek underarm, a shell
my soft belly,
the warm sand before the ocean
the dip of my backbone, a wheat field.

I am places I haven’t seen yet,
And behind my lids, a sunset.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Body, Unfinished

“I shaved every place where you been, boy”
- Tori Amos

The scars, are small
barely perceptible,
little white razor slits
circing my belly button
petals on a flower
lashes on an unseeing eye.

There are scars elsewhere
on elbows and knees, deep in the skin of my skull
damage done when crashing through this life,
damage done by the carelessness of others,
damage done by lovers who squeezed till I broke,

but none of them lay so neatly
across the bare skin of a belly,
a belly fed with the hair I cut,
like a reluctant Rapunzel
off my head each week,

and I think of that red hair
like the bristles of unfinished paintbrushes,
floating there inside me.
And I think of all that red meat,
that makes up this lapping heart
and stained lungs, hot mucky soup
crushed down to the tight hip
that bends like a bone heart
all the way down to the folds
wet with tears
and tangled little hair
that opens and comes out
and breathes like a dragon
exhaling little pieces of my soul at night,
filled with the heat of a woman,
a woman,
that I am,
that takes and keeps what she finds, inside.

Monday, April 13, 2009

For Jay on his 35th Birthday

Because we were at the Rodeo Bar in 3rd Avenue
and the Miller Lights cost 5 bucks a pint
which makes you feel like you are in a tourist bar
and cause the doe-eyed waitress
wouldn’t stop talking about Mexican pot
and how it shouldn’t count as much as regular pot
and cause that is when your back started to hurt
and wasn’t going to stop for another 4 days,

we left.

But I just want you to know
that is was nice for a moment
to pretend while the Shooter
and the Jamie Johnson played
bouncing off the Elvis plaques

that we were somewhere else today
like Nashville
or a cheaper plastic version of Nashville. Something close enough.
It was nice to think that
if even for a second
cause darling, we ache for these places
in the pinball machine of New York City
and I wanted to take you there so badly
even for the weekend
even though you know
and I know
we don’t have the money.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Inheritance

I wish I could find the loose seam
of me where I can unravel myself,
pull back the flesh and check
under each hot organ, just to make sure
that everything lays where it should
that no little cells are misbehaving like naughty school children.
I could feel that my bones are thick, solid,
not hollow and light like a little bird’s wing.

My mother asks me if I will get the cancer test.
And I remember being 24 getting my first mammogram.
She says it’s my choice,
but I wonder what difference it will make.
When the dial on my life changes, it changes,
without permission.
And maybe not knowing
and waiting and wondering
is my inheritance.
The way the night sky gets to keep the stars
till they explode and shatter as if made of glass.
The way the river keeps the stones that fall in its path
and the ocean keeps all the wishes cast in bottles from the beginning of time.
All the heartache
that makes up this story is carved around my skull,
and floats behind my eyes each night.

“No,” I tell her, “not today.
But if I change my mind, I’ll let you know.”

She says she understands,
and her words sound heavy like bones
cracking under the weight of all these questions.
She is sorry, because she is a mother,
for what has passed at birth in the making of
our lives, in the rickety ladder of these chromosomes
the dominant, the recessive
the little consciousness that sits patient like an old poet inside me
holding the answer in a silver chest.
Her news is neither good nor bad,
it is just my inheritance.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dead Dogs

The time keeps sliding by
in that same sickening yearly circle
but not that much is actually changing.
I am back in February,
this same weekend, like I was 3 years ago
when the neighbor’s Pit Bull got loose
and tore open the throat of an old German Shepard
in front of 89 Luquer Street.

We were home that day,
for a change,
having finally carved out a small piece of sanctuary on that jagged island.
All the yelping, followed by the neighbors screaming,
brought our homespun peace to a screeching halt.
From the window, with the phone in my hand, and the bored 911 operator in my ear,
I watched that old dog fight a losing battle.
We all did.
There was a crowd of screaming Puerto Ricans stepping away from the blood
as if it was going to make any difference.

The old man who owned the German Shepard, poked at the mouth of the Pit Bull with his cane, almost like he was begging to be next.

Later they would have to hose the blood off the street
and some people left flowers on the brownstone steps.
I remembered you crying,
saying someone should do something,
but I couldn’t. I could just stare at the two dogs, the tangle of teeth, bone and blood
and wait for the end,
like everyone else on the street did. You asked how we could live here, like this
but I was so detached, at that moment, I was never going to be the same.

How patient that pit bull was
as if he had his whole life to drain that other dog dry.

There is no blood outside my window now,
no Puerto Rican gangs fighting, the chattering angry Spanish.
No drunken poor woman yelling out the apartment window,
cursing the god that failed her.
There are no teenagers in red, cutting cocaine in the car,
Or playing dice on the street as we walk home
with Chinese takeout. They always stood back
to part the way for us, and often smiled. I smiled back.
But I also kept my key between my fingers
like you showed me.

No outside my window, there is nothing but white people
white snow and gray sky.
Buffalo isn’t Brooklyn, and that was the very reason I came here.
I traded pain for ease. I can’t remember how many times I have made that mistake.
So in the end, I guess it’s me that can’t be satisfied
as I glance around the apartment and fret over how many books we have piling up,
wondering what size moving truck we are going to need this time.

And yes, it is partially about running away, but it’s also
about wondering when I’m ever going to feel the way the rest of you feel.
And at home.
The ache and frustration finally cooled with a dying hiss.
To settle into a life, a routine. To live in the present instead of the past and future.
To move on, in same way.
To stop counting the years between the dead and living as if it meant anything.

Mostly I wonder, if I ever do settle,
will I have the strength to end it then,
cause really, what am if I am not wanting something more?
What else do I have?