Poetry

a broken ballad of sweet cherry wounds and where they come from

 

When it’s time to undress, I hook my lip like a curtain

pulled back, and it’s what you’d expect.

A grimy finger digging a gemstone ulcer, the sore utterance

that sat salted and festering just inside my cheek for 2 years.

I bite it when I speak, fall asleep to its pulsing ache

and wake up with a lolling head full of seawater,

but I do not bleed.

 

I did bleed from the knee

when I was 14 and fell from my bike,

watched the glittering cherry-pie opening in my skin

as it stitched itself hair by hair together before my father

saw. Before he could find out I zoomed to the elementary school

down the road to meet on the tracks with a boy from second grade

who I’d converted to Christianity.

 

A tiny backpack-bible had sat on my desk like a brick

and seeped stone juice, I recall crisply how my mouth watered

at the gold-leaf paper, wafting the same smells as cherry wounds

I’d forced myself not to drink though I ached to:

I’d like to rend my cracked lips and suck their supple

blistering sin from my skin like a mother lioness.

I’d like to nurse the fruit-rot dessert into ingrown fruition.

 

If I hadn’t eaten my bible, maybe I’d have blossomed

In yellow explosions like the honeysuckle I pointed out to you

along the railroad tracks, maybe my father’s face wouldn’t

have contorted like rotted vines, maybe he’d not have

retreated underground glistening invisibly among

the charred grubs. When they saw my wounds

my family receded like singed frayed

hairs dragged on the dampened sidewalk like

a leash without a dog but the biting under-earth smell

still there, trapped in my own hair, smearing me

across the flat clouded years.

 

Maybe if they’d known that when it bubbles, my cherried palm

crowns nuggets of gold which I eat to glow. Little do they know

I am one of those goldleaves, the rotted tar sugar of cherry

Potholes in the road, the unfurling fresh hot truths from

Broken skin, the chugging of the railroad which

Ticks out the lifecycles of honeysuckle blooms that

Rattle as no train passes.

 

I remember clearly they’d rattle quietly without dropping,

underbrush lilting against the heaven-bound train

towards a sweet Jesus future of endless blood.

crisply speaking stories which taste like distinct copper

filaments found in the body, in the tracks beneath the train,

the human brain, and the innocent glistening wound from

elementary school when time stopped under the sun to

inscribe a girl in god-history

in the neighborhood’s very veins.  

 

So here, I am naked now; this is my body,

My blood and my chugging seawater head

On repeat underneath the empty sidewalk

of my old town, a broken bicycle leaning

in the rain like a rusted shut music-box

streaming copper in silent refrains.

Unrequited

(Still) in this café
Seems like you should write a letter
(You) clutch your jawbone aching from its clasp
After year’s end, assign it to a bin then
(Grind) your coffee-pulsing head to ash
You’ll pick your finest fountain pen
(Ever) stagnant in that sticky seat
To dip in textured golden flakes and
(Taut) with a premise
Seared bright in paper so it can’t be read
(With) possibility that renders time
But appreciated for its shine
(A) word

(choice.)

A word,
but appreciated for its shine,
with possibility that renders time
seared bright in paper so it can’t be read-
taut with a premise
to dip in textured golden flakes. And
ever stagnant in that sticky seat,
you’ll pick your finest fountain pen,
grind your coffee-pulsing head to ash
after year’s end, assign it to a bin then
you clutch your jawbone aching from its clasp.
Seems like you should write a letter,
still in this café.

Ex-Sonnet: Something Beneath the Library

The past few nights I’ve dreamt a stair abyss.
Every narrow city was electric.
Technicolor compasses melting under carpets.
It seemed I was a speck of ink on music
Despite the darkened picture frame and wine,
Each animal collapsed black holes in rooms below
And almost hell’s where I’d wake up at day.
Some secret vacations existed in a dictionary
Some soiled taupe school cardigan
Some hiding cosmic threat to waking peace
In catacombs where no child thought to look.
Along the hall which less and less grew worms
My sweat confessed the staircase was a maze
Where every sky became a clean white glaze
The last I slid on a black and cracking bridge.

 

 

Species—Micromphale*

*“Delightful small people but smelling strongly of garlic.”
-Suzanne Lucas: In Praise of Toadstools

Shy little boys cling to the waistcoats
of trees with their caps pulled low.
Little boys run, sending up spores and dust,
they stretch their hyphae
into community pantries

sprouting upwards from volvas (not vulvas)
and skidding their fungal feet into the
neighbors’ Earthen carpets, Into worm-filled upholstery,
Into the sighing screen doors wafting food spores
which graze their Laccarian gills, but their

little-boy mycelium never root. Not in concrete,
tile or pavement, but they float and flay their scales
to fan the ground and dance over fertile soil releasing
from their fruiting bodies: Asci first, basidia when
that won’t work, popping Blisters

in the ground with secret names.
Growing bodies twice their stalk-lengths, bursting through
the annulus, little boys curl, purpling, rebirthed
from dirt, crown bulbous heads like saprophytes,
to eat the neighbors’ cats—or, they bend

brittle-stemmed, shimmer darkly and
sleep outside on beds of moss to dream up
spotty mushroom rings who glisten like the star-
white backs of grubs in twilight dew,
barely beneath the earth’s dark gemstone crust.

“It was found only twice in solitary grace, on earth banks under beeches and quite ravishing with the loveliness of grey and white and a dancing form. Two of the painted group were successive stages of one toadstool.”
-Lucas

Salem’s Redemption

Part two,
You tilt your chin to the singing sun.
Brazenly trudging like the vandal you are
To Middle-ground, bestial, bruised,
Mushrooms ringing your ankles
Like minnows. Thunderstruck,
Bucks started, tagged your black eyes femme macabre,
Receding like seeds from you, Queen of der hexenkries
Nigh woman or girl, but hellion with breasts.
Because clearly you’re Hera
Fair Contessa reigning Amazons
Weaving their pleats with perfume and barbs.

Sanctum

Did you know your 

Inner words your 

swirling sentences 

That they can

they can

steam up

 

steam up your sockets

That they can light up 

You 

And that

You

 

can be 

The light in the room

In lieu of power and 

Rage 

Or for exploding:

Love and shout 

A toast to self 

 

Just the beautiful Your

Reality 

Of that

Which is humanly

And truly 

ocean-deep,

It draws jeers 

And tears all the same-

did you know

that