Poem for the week of September 14th


I’ve got crystal qualities
but I’m not a prism of my past,

pushing every present light
through the painful colors

of before
and when I stand here, I am not standing 
in the steps I took before

I will learn myself like a song
never sung before 
because if I love myself
I will be home all the time,
settling into the worn armchair of my limbs,
putting my feet up on a sense
of security and safety

If there’s a string tying me back
to my childhood traumas and thunderstorms,
I will cut it
for hopes of petrichor and incense,
for hopes of more than at-least-I-am-not-suicidal
for the present, for the life I am knitting now
out of better, different string
less like a noose
and more like a ring

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Poem for the Week of September 7th

To Mom Again

I said I wouldn’t pay
the money it would take
to spit on your grave,
so you might as well donate
to the crowdfunding campaign
and get me out of this state.

Did you ever think you’d be paying
to get me away from you? It’s delicious,
your debt-riddled wallet, and I hope you open it
for us, the women who supported me
when you were so silent. 
Go ahead and fund the family that I had to choose,
but don’t you ever let me catch you
thirsting for a “thank you”

That well is so dry it’s dusty now, and it won’t rain here
ever again. Not when your daughter
has her first child and makes you a grandmother
twice over. You: never stopping to think
that your daughters are fucking away their pain
on a catholic education, on a mattress in a trailer
with a 36 year old named Ryan,
never stopping to think that my manic obsessions
with success and thinness
had to do
with not being like you.

Have you ever thought, at night, when you are lonely,
that you might have a husband
and a place to call home
if you had ever treated the infection spreading
through your body, heart, mind, and spirit
as something serious? Do you know how sick
I think I am now because of you?
Thank god lovelessness is not contagious,
that there is no infected love lost between us,
that I was able to hate you early enough to save us,
and by us,
I mean me.
Just like you always did,
only I love it and I mean it.

I’m here to save myself
and others who are saving themselves
and I’m here to bite back on your bit,
to suffer in feminism and call you a bitch,
to make you less than a dog,
less than a cut and never a stitch,
because mothers can heal
better than any regular witch
but you lost your magic
when you drowned my girlhood
with it

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Poem for the Week of August 31st

Crack Me in Half Why Don’t You

It feels good to be admired for not sinking into mire
though it takes as much work as striving
for something higher

It feels good to be striving, known as a striver
to pick needles out of my heart,
and pretend I’m not a crier.

If I do my chores, will you love me more,
lift me higher? What kind of financial straits
are you in that my life is dire? Father,

trust your daughter not to sink, not to wither,
stop wrinkling your brow 
over what she did not ask you to give her.

She’s in better hands now, that is sure
and should inspire your own new family
as you trim the old wires,
change the telephone numbers, the cars
you keep at home.

Give me your boats, let me worry about loans,
just meet me out west
when I choose to roam.

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Poem for the Week of the 17th

Cause and Affection

So we drive
to Mary’s home, get stoned,
vow to never go out alone,
howl at the moon and ask her parents for subaru loans
all for a good cause
all for the good taste of young problems

And the man I love sleeps upstairs,
thinking I love less him
and more splitting hairs,
but eye contact is what I want, to know he cares
and that it’s more the weed
and less that he’s scared—
all for a good cause
all for the sweet print he pressed on to me

Still I stupidly worry
the roads will crumble under our feet,
leave all of us bewildered with nothing to eat,
no one to cook for, no common talk
to remind and to greet,
no thickly built homestead to shelter
from snow, rain, or sleet—
all for no cause
all for the old ache of worry I’ve learned to grow myself

We are home again, listening,
loving through walls,
reminiscing about old jobs and cleaning out stalls,
and despite the routine
I still feel enthralled
all for this cause
all for the life we are lifting from stone
all for the farm, the future, the unknown

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Poem for the Week of August 10th

In Guardian’s Stead

I want to say I learned to fold laundry like this from my mother
but she always screamed at inside-out shirts
and mismatched outfits
so maybe folding laundry like this
is something I learned
from love

I learned to labor like this from my father
who taught me about circuits and resistors
but my heart doesn’t turn to ash in my mouth
if I’m confronted by something outside of work
and so maybe my toiling, 
the cooking and cleaning,
clipping and boiling,
is the toiling of love

I learned to settle into this body
to touch yours with soft paw, warm palm
Something reciprocal awoke within me,
a hunger to be met, recognized, and fulfilled
I think this time the skill came from you
and from being treated like love
instead of left alone
with stripped wires and dirty laundry

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Poem for the Week of August 3rd

Making Hay

Tuesday gets overcast before 3pm
but I will have the floors swept
and the cigarette butts will be neatly gathered from the alley
before nightfall

My good attitude never rests 
though sometimes she grumbles

Maybe my goodness
was never that great

But when I come home starving
ready to howl and snap like gale force winds
and thick maple branches in storms
I feel great

because I can reign in the lightning
and with only a little brassy ozone
in my tone
I can ask you

If you are hungry, too,
if you are crumbling, too,
and when you smile
and say yes
like I can fix you

the clouds are more transparent
if only for a moment
if only for a Tuesday afternoon

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Poem for the Week of July 27th

Visiting Hours

These are the darkest hours, not from weeping
or lack of sunlight, or even sadness
just the empty red sun setting
on cat fur and hollow water glasses

These are the darkest hours, between pills
and no pills, magic in my head
or in my bloodstream

When does the sun set on coping mechanisms,
on serotonin and inhibitors, on semi-starvation
and slim hips? 

I’ve never had an illness that tied me
to hospital beds and get-well-soon cards, but maybe
I should have

Maybe I would have learned some generosity
of spirit, some perseverance in my work ethic,
some better medical analogies and genetics
fraught with something more tangible, 
less tragic

I’m not envious of broken bodies
just the heartbeat that would so easily prove
I am well

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Poem for the Week of July 20th

Born Indoors on a Wednesday

This willful child between my ears is throwing a tantrum again
and while I love her
and seek to treat her like she erupted
from my own womb
it’s not that easy— 
because she constantly erupts into headaches,
and piercings and scars and haircuts

I just want to tell her, sweetheart,
please stop crying,
there is no such thing as closure
and therefore no possible way
that you are missing out

And there is no such thing as perfection
so stop counting your pores,
sebaceous filaments,
keloids, tiny pimples, puckering piercing holes,
because they are innumerable
like stars
like spots on tiger lillies
like pebbles on the beach
like the freckles you love so much
on fashion models and your best friend

Just because our bodies have been chopped
and photoshopped
doesn’t mean nature has given in
to a powder-pressed reality just yet

Sweet child, spend some time with a tiger
and you’ll realize that your emotions
are the least fearful thing in this world:
all bark, no bite; all paw, no claw

And you’ll realize that stripes
are not just for scars,
prison jumpsuits,
stretch marks, cut lines,
underwear, endings:
they are horizons,
they are river mouths,
they are careful lines on a map to paradise

Poem for the Week of July 13th

Story For the Child Who is Old Enough

When your mother was young and very explosive,
she was ripped into pieces by the force
of her life under compression
She was still alive, but she kept breaking
and breaking, just sewing herself
back together

Now, momma wasn’t always this good
with a needle and thread
and sometimes the pieces missing were so big
that a doctor had to help her
put herself together
and sometimes the pieces would open up again
and sometimes the seams would heal
but they would be uneven and thick

One day, your mother’s mother
saw that she was having trouble
knitting her skin back together,
and she saw the lumpy seams 
of your mother’s inexperienced stitches
and she said, “Someday, we will file down your arms
and your legs and we will fix you, like new”

But your momma had worked hard
on her seams and her new skin
and her explosions always happened for a reason
so what was the point of pretending
that her cherry bombs had never been detonated?
Of pretending like she’d never seen
a firework before?

So she ignored her mother and went back to playing with fire
which was bad
but she learned to be safe with it
which was good
and now that same fire
keeps her heart warm
and sometimes hot when she needs it
but never hot enough to burn you, dear one,
when she holds you
in her spread out, quilt-like arms

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