Sunday, April 25, 2010

30/30 Day 25

Day 25 is a collaborative piece with my girl Diana. When we were little ones we used to watch the sun rise from Tompkins or Union Square after having spent the night playing strange games with people and pens. Poems constructed by passing the paper and pen back and forth or around to whoever was there was a favorite. We have been meaning to do a new one for quite some time and finally fell into it tonight. It's really amazing to have to be open to perceiving someone else's pace and story.Kind of magical. So this is the product of us each writing a few lines and then passing it to the other with only the last line revealed so there's something to work with, but far from the whole picture. Reading a poem like this aloud for the first time beats most bodily versions of the big reveal.


I'm rarely seen like this, living
In my imperfections. But it's the only way
I'd ever let you worship my feet.
A single bee to the tip of each toe
Ten tiny deaths-- your tongue honey salve
Ten licks sweet-- I'd let you worship me like that.

Ever since that bluejay made off with your offering
My toe nails haven't stopped falling off. It's clear
Time I sail away, find new sand to dig
My feet into. Knee deep. Slathered in oil.
I'm new. Mid-twenties born again-- queer as Christ
And seeking loyal followers.

Today I'll wear a crown of thorns to keep
Your eyes up, away from the nails
I can't hardly convince to stay on my toes. I'll wear
So much come hither smile you'll forget to wonder
About the parts that carry my legs-- knee, calf, heel--

Mama always said be careful with the charm, I've yet
To see your teeth but I know they're sharp and ready
For the rip and tear. This is where
I lay my heart on your plate, tasty. You eat loyal as I knew
You would. This is the meal

I needed-- thorns heavy above the table,
Your ready and willing jaw-- chew chew-- you swallow
Loyal as I knew you would-- honey licked lips,
Stingers like salt. This is the table I knew you'd crawl under
Just to kiss my feet.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

30/30 Day 19

I'm a day behind...


In the town of my father there is a perfectly square
Hole in the ground. Chlorinated, sloping, begging
To sanitize me-- make clean lines of me
Like the houses and trees is hides behind.

Down the block my grandmother exhales
Aqua Net when she yawns. Chicken greased hands
Unfurling rollers that have marked her pillows
Since my father and uncle were doing lines
In their twin beds. She is too-awake velour

House dressed, preparing to serve her toolbox
Of a husband and doggy bag grandchildren--
Always feeding. Always scouring dirty kids
Or counter tops-- not a smell of her own.

Monday, April 19, 2010

30/30 Day 18

Pocketing Change

City street barefoot, shoes in hand, lipstick
smeared jaw, no nothing to say I wasn't just
there where you think I was. I am practiced
in eye to eye with 4AM's pious glare.

The definition will say no one knows
a call girl is a hooker-- that she wears
the damage like caviar or knee socks
It will say she takes cabs home.

One day I'll buy a window for my bed
a bathtub with feet for walking away
and a fireplace for my hips-- they stick out
and get colder than the rest of me

Unlearning a good day's pay is like

looking up at your mother's burdened
nipple the day you're born and deciding
to weave your infant hands around her ribs
executing a meticulous ace bandage binding

I know a girl who thinks a cup of coffee
right dance open lap gripping hair quick wit
bump and grind pony ride patience
costs a shard of glass to street bare feet

How quickly you'll forget there's no
standard dowry-- your weight
in childbearing hips or shiny quarters,
There are ones who want you to stay the night.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

30/30 Day 17

I'm still railing against titling-- 30 names in 30 days feels like as much of a challenge as the poems themselves. I'm behind on posting, but luckily not behind on writing-- I'll fill in the days between 12 and 17 ASAP. Can't explain how gratified I am having made it through the halfway mark. Can't explain how full I am having all of this amazing poetryenergy to access everyday as people are posting.


Confession Some days you wake up
Singing-- half sleepy moan gone to
brazen off melody bellow yourself
out of the sheets These mornings
should not be your secrets These

Are poems too What are the stories
you don't want to tell The eyes
you avert out of real want to dance
What tongue do you say yes with
in faith you'll leave able to tell
the next story?

Monday, April 12, 2010

30/30 Day 12

To My Lovers' Grin
When I Tell Them My Family's In
The Restaurant Business

It is a dirty magic in these walls
Duck fat and mouse traps
Tonic water, butter. The restaurant cats
Prefer hand whipped cream to rodents,
The chefs-- vodka to their children.

To make my point,
I would tell you I was born
On the dish room floor
But you'd only think it
Romantic and blush.

I was born two weeks
Late five pounds too small
In a Catholic Hospital corridor
Nuns hand-etching crosses
At my mother's thighs.

I am a dirty magic, showering,
Perfuming against the kitchen smell
Of my father. You'd like to think
I can wash away one,
Preserve the magic for you--

I would offer to take you down
Into the basement-- undress
In the wine closet. Let you
Suspend me with twine
From a meat hook in the walk-in

But you'd giggle and choke and
Stop reading the poem. I am tired
And magical and running
Out of soap. Not the kind of
Dirty you're grinning for.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

30/30 Day 11

She Asks Me

What I'm going to do about ageism in the community.
I look at her from behind the safety of long panel tables
Face skeptical, wrinkles accusatory. I call on
The elephant-- look eighty years straight in its eyes--
The word is pressing. My jaw looses
It death. She considers me. I am more afraid of my mouth
Than she looks. Sixty years my elder, I address her
In the we. We have gone on will go on unbelieving
That our families are real. The way I came this morning,
Flimsy under fingers of another woman. Desire
Not real. Need-- lies. And one day we, you and me,
Really won't be. Those lines in your face-- the time we wasted
Unbelieving ourselves real-- arrive here
At the shrieking or bellowing fear-- they'll forget us just the same.

30/30 Day 10

The Only Thing Here

She drink coffee
She laugh at tea
She wear steel toe boots in the dessert
She will only watch me touch myself
She throw her head back and laugh at my hands cramped
She no one I know
She got hair on half her head
She got thick lines in her lips
She don’t let me want to feel them
She birth mouths and teeth and leave them in the oasis
She the only thing here

I am the woman at the end of a beach town dead end street
Who knows exactly when the slap board walls are going to salt.

I am afraid of hurricanes
Family photos gone with the rip tide.

I cannot dance with my mother inside me
I cannot come undone from our body.

I am scared that my frame is a failure
That I was used before I even came out.

Wind makes me panic,
Litany everything that could be lost,
Scramble to measure mother’s weight
In ratio to the knots of gusting clouds—

Hurricanes find me watching her feet
A small nest I am to tend.
Single blink of my obnoxiously long lashes--
Her stolen opportunity to spring up

A woman’s desire
To be swept into the storm,
So transparent to a child’s
Always racing heart.