You: the starving portraitist sitting outside the Shubert


You just

spilt art on your clothes

lifted your palms, twitching,

reading ruddy black, white

swathing your baffled body


inhaled colors’ smells

While paralyzed 


How The Hyperreal smells like leather, reminiscent,

An inside-out glove, Muscle drained of red–

Realized how you contract, molting fermented opaques

Caricature frame evaporates, vaporized by rubbernecks, eyeballs

Cocooned in ink, papier-Mache`d, amateur art, peering hard,

To atrophy your rigid frame.


You, vacant, rickety, intoxicated by the cold and wet

Leaning on cement

Elastically embracing your own bones, your being, oddly well

Watching passengers smear by on NY time   on charbroiled paths



swingless in the indigo rain

A broken pendulum, An unrolled marble-


There it is, that
pulsing magma that
dizzying charcoal that
deep, dark-black liquid
brewing grossly,
gaining consciousness
like a long-silent soul
when you polish the oil-lamp
but this one–
this one it doesn’t spring from
the spout
it doesn’t
burst from the seams
or drizzle to the floor like
it just
sticks inside
my ribs
telling me–
you’d better
open your fucking mouth.

Hymn of the Rescinded Daughter

I stepped into the room of stone.
I stepped onto the mark
I stepped upon the soiled throne
Whence rained around me sparks

Whence walls ignited, white as fear
My limbs, enthroned, went slack
Skulking vernacular pricked the ears
‘fore silence barked forth black

And whilst I clench myself to stone
And whilst I grit to life
A regent kin emblazoned bone
Now bellows charring art

Thee, in-furling shards of truth,
Are blemished from within
I ache to flare these injured texts
To sear in script
your every sin.

Meticulous Landscaping: A Sonnet*

Here in the passenger side lie Wendy’s bags crumpled by boots
The gentle pungent mulch compacts beneath each nail
Picking at the leather seats to stroke the tattered brail
And decode Dad’s lesson of the day like stringed stray roots:
Roots you tossed mulch over, the mornings of summer through July.
Disembarking the diesel F450 with silver smokestacks,
You’re mapping on your hands the clay-dried, thorn-bruised cracks
Wiping the Wendy’s grease on your sister’s off-brand “Nike” slacks
Step out into the cicada-thick air where, like Wendy’s, you fry.
You let the grass prick your bare calves and adjust in the sticky bed
Wiping soil across your forehead, swatting away flying things
And quietly recoiling from the grubs unearthed as dad sings,
Something he beat-boxed under his breath about marriage and rings-
Wash your hands in the cold hose-water until they turn Wendy-hair red.

*This poem was featured on the Cornell University Press blog for National Poetry Month, and can be found here under the following tags: civil rights, gender, national poetry month, poetry, women’s studies