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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Poem for the Week of July 6th

Crystals, Insects

We met like fireflies meet over fields, vaguely
attracted by lights in the night without eyes

We met in some kind of make-believe oasis,
like there might be poetry flowing through the veins
of our neighbors (it’s always nice to think
your house is not the only one on fire)
but you turned out to be real water

And I turned out to be real ice, a cave of crystals
on the inside, but goodness
I glow green tonight

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Poem for the Week of June 29th

Lines of Best Fit (Convenience)

I’ve lived cramped in a small space like the barrel of a pill
with all my good intentions and kind inventions amplified
where I thought the electricity
of my own body might kill me

This might have been around the time I thought
about how living so cramped isn’t living at all,
about how a pill could be a shotgun if you could get your toes
around the trigger,
and you flew out west with a woman I never heard of
It wasn’t anything to do with me
but I still noticed you were gone

I’ve always wanted to live on top of mountains
Have you beaten me there yet?
What’s it like to have the sky
as your patio?
The desert as your deck?

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Poem for the Week of June 22nd

Delta

I am only in love with myself in a sea of darkness
but keeping track of numbers is not the same as drowning
this time

This time, it’s not about the blood on my hands
or trapped inside my body, it’s about the blood
pumped through my body by the power of longing

This time, it’s about the longing

Who hasn’t been a tiny girl, raising hands up to ask,
What is that? Why is it so small? When will I be a tree?
And the yearning for a sweet-mouthed reflection
bragging on long gams doesn’t go away
but this time, it’s about the yearning
and not the mirror’s image of the girl who yearns

Wanting is enough, baby girl, wanting is magic
It is through wanting you will find what you need
You will learn to be your own river,
holy water flowing from your fertile mouth

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Poem for the week of 6-15

Summer Prayer

Bleach these bones by the river
take them, use them in the sun
Make my core whiter, lighter,
erase the stains of what I’ve done

Sand down the grievances
I’ve carved into my body,
chisel blessings there instead
Write over my body
with the wonders of forgiveness

You can take my ribs in your hands,
carve along the length of my thighs,
use my wrist bones for your dice
but tell my fortune with them

Make it something about peonies,
a river and bleached bones,
make my fortune roses and gold-tipped fingers
by the gurgling bank
with smooth, flat stones

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Poem for the Week of 6-8

Bite Plate

I’ve got a calm canyon
opening in the middle of my chest
I ask the splitting ground what it wants from me
but it doesn’t know yet

My ribs spread out like grasping fingers,
my breath all thin and winding
like a river through me

This great divide in my center 
is a silent yawn with cracking jaw

As my father shuts his mouth, as my mother shuts her heart
there is greater opening, more microfractures,
tiny abrasions, more silent gaping of the maw,

but it is my hungry hands grasped around
the broken toys of my ribcage
pulling cruelly
and I was the one who kept silent

and I was the canyon who grew
weeping in tiny, silent breaths
I was the crevice with jagged edges
that cracked the treasures of my chest


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Poem for the week of 6-1

Driver

She’s the kind of girl that does yoga every day
but doesn’t wear her seatbelt 
even at night
I can’t promise I’ll bend myself like a car
around a telephone pole
but I can promise
I keep my lights bright

And I can promise you
no bullshit friend
no lemon car
no crooked tooth

I can be some kind of safety
as we’re speeding through the stars
but I’ve got no map or compass
just some poses and a strip of cloth
to keep the body safe
just some words to offer up
in place of a destination,
instead of some new place

But I can promise you
no frying wires
no spit-lipped words
no empty road
no cracked lipstick
no callused hand
just a spot on the map
and no fence around it

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Poem for the week of 5-25

If You Live to See the Sun Go Down

Volcanoes and women are unsafe mountains
with craters and scars that are proof 
of the massive upheaval it takes
to grow into something tall enough,
something explosive

We are trembling mountains, breathing 
down the necks of those who would scale us

You know nothing of ash
You know nothing of shifting plates under your skin
You know nothing of the cracks and compromises it takes
to rise above the earth like a mother
heavy with fire
You can’t burn like us, with light in rings
around the world

Seeing the scars of women does not qualify you 
to burn like us, to screech like us
in fiery laughter
There is magma in the soul that can make an island
or a disaster
and we do not owe you a warning

If it’s any consolation, the largest eruptions
make for the prettiest sunsets
sometimes for years
after our fire 
roars at the sun

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Poem for the week of 5-18

My Body Could Be a Canoe if I Could Hollow Out My Bones

I’m going to gather up all my crystals with me
and go to the river
get naked like I’m going to sleep
and sit in the river bed
with my eyes closed
surrounded by the sharp and beautiful

I’ll be cold so no one wants to touch me
and the water will carry my thoughts away
I’m like a rock here, covered and loved
by the sipping water

Here, no one hates me for my body
for my insides, fluid like the river
and wet with tears like the water
No one fishes here for my worth, pulling the hook in
throwing me back when my mouth does not open

My throat is lined with fish hooks
but in the river
even those go down easy

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