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.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

30/30 Day 9

Last night I watched a dozen firefighters casually remove a dead man from the subway platform over exchanged jokes and giggling girls. Sometimes I need a form to contain a too messy moment. The cinquain was the only form I could totally remember offhand.

Cinquain for the Ride Home

Late night lonely blond smiles pretty over the dead man's frame
Firefighter on the other side grins a good old boy grin
Throws a white sheet down, and tying up the limp feet asks her name
No blood contortion crooked white cotton shrouded-- it's always the same
Just want the train to come, get back on his truck, make good of her skin

30/30 Day 8

The last few nights I've stumbled home way too late to type up my scrawled on the subway 30/30 pieces. Today I am mustering all my best bondage skills and knotting myself without mercy to my resistant thesis. I'll type up each of my last three pieces during two-thesis-pages-written breaks.

Polite Invocation of Women

This time last year
Was walking through snow
Smelling like a pap smear
And talking just as fast

Wet-- not owning
Snow boots. This year
Invested in waterproofing.
Faster tracks. I hate the snow.

This time last year
Lied. Claimed calculation
Of the blackout drunk-- slept
With its ex-wife mock-planned

This time last year
Took enough hours
To go to work,
Come home, spike

Medicine fever, cry
Maroon alone in bed
Before it believed
Doctors hadn't forgotten

themselves inside it. This time
Last year sounds like
miscarriage or bacterial
balancing acts. Really

It's just about snow
And the walking talking
Speed it takes to create
Friction that melts

The path revealing
Sidewalk cracks
And decisions about
What's worth stepping on.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

30/30 Day 7

The First Date

He met her on the boardwalk, made her wait
Twenty-seven minutes with leather chested
Out of workers double fisting tall fluted
Neon cups of frozen cocktail. She made friends
Easily, maybe he knew she could wait it out.

He ascended the wooden planks in a red suit,
Perfectly quaffed, eye patch subtly bejeweled
With her initials. She pretended not to see
The glitter against overcast sky, just batted lashes
At the horizon, deep leaned into right hip.

Approaching from behind, he hooked
Her elbow and they took off, wordless, feet
Syncopated—a sign that they were destined
To walk for some days. What do you remember
About the day you were born, he asked.

Marilyn Monroe’s ghost was on the cover
Of a men’s magazine in the Netherlands,
The Council on Competitiveness was founded,
There was a cord the color of homesick
Wrapped around my neck, and the day

They took me home, Chernobyl fell out
Near the town my great grandmother fled,
A discothèque was bombed, two-and-a-half-pound
Hail stones hit Bangladesh, and all they found
In Capone’s vault was a bottle

Of moonshine. Anticlimactic, I know.
He bit her ear, and she liked it. And you?
All my mother ever told me was that
The nurse laughed. Not your mother,
You, what do you remember?

Oh, I went somewhere else that day—
Can’t say I was there to take note. She
Frowned out loud. This time he leaned in
And licked the nape of her neck
Just along the staples, let the rusty

Sit in his molars. I’m glad they didn’t remove
The part that remembered all that. She smiled
At this, eyes still to the horizon
And without looking at him said, I think
You should write the baby books.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

30/30 Day 6

The Man My Woman Would Be

Before I couldn't stop the yes
Before they stopped asking
Before hankies and dance floors
And language for nothing, I knew

what I wanted. Flannel clad
chins, broad shoulders, no bullshit
Lots of laughs at the kids' expense.
Working man with a Harley.

The night Roseanne went butch
for Halloween, I was hidden
with the TV in a silk negligee
I stole from my mother.

With her big mouth
and beard-- she couldn't help
but find herself at the bow
of a bar fight. Me with my

busy hands-- couldn't breathe
with the silk on my belly
and moment Dan claimed
Roseanne as his husband--

went for the kiss and got
a taste of synthetic beard.

Monday, April 5, 2010

30/30 Day 5

On Dusty Mornings

Lanky Annie sits at the kitchen table
with her daughter, a wild looking seven year old
with too big eyes and tangled hair. Tim is
spread posture drinking coffee over
the kitchen sink. It's a dusty morning.

Annie stares intently out the window just past
the child who is hidden in a dirty too big t-shirt
and underwear, her head barely above the table’s edge, elbows
stretched to her ears so as to reach a heaping plate
of fried clam strips situated just within her reach.

Why don’t you just give her cereal? She doesn’t need
more fried junk. Tim empties what’s left
of a gallon of milk into the sink. There’s no more milk.
Shouldn’t even ask, right? Annie! Jesus. Hey
kid, what’s your mother looking at?

Rabbits. Mommy looks for rabbits on the morning-- I can’t reach.
She struggles to grab another handful of clams tipping the plate
which clangs back and forth until it regains stability-- Close your legs.
Where are her pants? Annie,
she’s eaten half the damn plate. Look at her.

He pauses waiting for a response, face growing
tighter in the quiet. The child’s eating
is pointedly audible-- Close your legs! I don’t need to see
that! Mildly stunned the child tucks her legs
beneath her on the chair, which brings her closer to the plate of clams.

I saw a rabbit Mommy. It’s black and red, right? She wipes the oil
from her hands onto her t-shirt as Annie finally turns her gaze
from the window and onto the child. There are no bunnies
in the dirt baby. You shouldn’t lie about things like that.
She reaches across the table and pulls the plate of clams

away from the child who stands up on her chair
and crawls onto the table to retrieve it. I’m hungry.
Tim sweeps across the room and grabs the child, throwing her
over his shoulder, bringing a coffee wet hand to her
small butt. He repeats the motion furiously. She wails

a practiced wail, mumbles about the clams through sobs. Annie
startles, jumping a bit in her seat at the sound of the first smack.
You don’t climb on the furniture! See? Now you’re coming
to my room-- Annie, this is your god damn fault. Dirty kid—
she’s out of control. The child is curling into a quiet,

rhythmic weeping ball on Tim’s shoulder, tucking
her knees underneath her, plump legs quivering
with the muscles it takes to keep them sealed together.
Tim turns toward the room with his free hand
clenched around the child’s matted hair.

Annie takes a clam from the gray table
and can't be sure whether she hears herself mutter--
Don’t be too hard on her. It's too loud
to tell over the chewing and spoon
to ceramic deep gulp down.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

30/30 Day 4

Just a short one today...
I am anxious to preface these all-- work in progress, but isn't that inherent? If I wasn't just publishing these as first drafts scrawled on the subway or between e-mails, I wouldn't put any of them up. I'd be too self-critical, protective, invested to share. And I think the only way I'll finish out this month is by just letting myself go, (it's the hardest thing for me to do with my writing). I am excited to have 30 skeletons to play with come May. Already with these 4 pieces I'm able to articulate so many kinks in my process, (if you know me you know I don't think kinks are for working out ;) ). Mostly that I jump about 50 feet ahead, leaving big ol' gaps. At first go, I lay down like half the story, beginning and end, often leaving out the middle where the two ends are more transparently connected. Oops. PS I hate titling things.

Fiber from the Husk

A man takes up machete in Brooklyn
hacks open the fleshiest green coconut
for the fleshiest girl standing in line
alone. I take it/ carry his calculation
my fat ass, swift metallic light, wet brow--
he reaches out, winks
an incurably long lash. I take it
hoist the ten pound reflection
onto my hip. Carry it like a child
through the fair, my tits
tipping over to one side, bearing
the weight of gifts not sure
what to accept as free

30/30 Day 3

March 2, 2010

College liquor says
Time Flies When You’re Having
Rum. Tonight time flies fast
as a working woman’s public bus:
A standstill. College liquor
wouldn’t notice, it’s the only
thing moving or lit

Women are howling shrilly, as is the custom
at the culmination of this…
they are joining the chief priest
offering their earthenware pots
overflowing with rice and jaggery
to the presiding goddess

On the junction tonight
it’s 10— it could be 4 I
could be 1,000 years old
like you and you
could need that change
for anything. I don’t have any.

An aerial view is the only means
of calculating the width
of women. Pinprick sized
saris, three million bellies
three million sternums— hearths
hung from trees and planted
along river

Target makes a poor streetlight
College Liquor is spitting
out lottery tickets—
crumpled balls that pile up
around my bare ankles. Strangers
grab my wrists when I don’t fall
to my scraped knees at their request—
eyelashes sore from batting
strained to find sky above belts

There is nothing like this anywhere
else in the world. It is amazing,
the way a whole city makes arrangements
for women to make this offering

Well-concealed pentecostal calves
scowl at my thick thighs and miniskirt
I’ve worn for two weeks straight. This
is a ritual— the journey home,
the bachelor’s degree. This
is no explanation. This is
the wrong side of a new Brooklyn

At the end of the ceremony
a small plane hovers above the masses
showering flowers

Somewhere in my dirty sheets
there is a hand capable
of catching arrows. I keep a knife
in my skirt pocket. Two men, strangers,
touched me tonight— one
whipping me around demanding eyes

There is a long return
to now blessed homes. A girl gang
three million strong wondering countryside,
each one departing down small roads
where children anxiously wait.

The other, lunging palms first
Catching my breasts solid between his
strange weight and College Liquors.
This is the difference between
what I told you I wanted
and what I don’t know how to protect.

30/30 Day 2

I HATE formatting on blogger! In light of that and until I find a new blog space, "/" will stand in for wide spacing.

(Working Title)

Silently our misunderstandings shred/ rage clouds our blood ties
I stare at his words/ wonder who he is
- from He Saw by Chrystos

I have known what men become
when they fish fish and can’t catch—
come home from all that standing still
briny feet/ all that the world wouldn’t bite.

And there’s usually a girl in her room
or mother’s bed alone who’s made to learn
to be a fish-- eyes wide, belly white, hook
it’s the barb that gets you

Last thing I remember is asking
to be taught to clean a fish
and sharpen a knife by hand. My father's

were the only clothes big enough for me
to wear-- my hips where his stomach stood
perky, drum hollow brown hyde.

He and I have raised weapons
for always-- he shrinking out of our clothes
hacking his long ponytail
away with a switchblade, falling in love with
blonde women leaving mother

to tweeze her brows. In the absence
of sharper knifed lessons I’ve raised
a naked hip/ shimmy/ unshaven pit
for a crowd— loved a woman
into her cock like my father
could never convince a thin girl, a mother,
or man in a locker room to.

We have both bought new clothes
without speaking a word

I am stuck half way between a fish girl
love sick for shiny things-- and a bully-- my
father’s best prodigy.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

30/30 Day 1


If I were here in the town of my mother alone
I would walk down the street to the only bar,
drink the right drink look a fisherman in the eye.
I'd take him down just to make memory
of how salty he was-- leave quick as fever
straight to the ocean to decide
if today's the day to drown/ let myself be
a blue whale washed up in some other girl's
harbor. I'd sit splayed legs at the phosphorus
edge/ pack sand hard against my panties
and remember how magical playgrounds were
before safety codes and generic slides-- good enough
reason not to wade in. Go back
to my crumbling hotel and take an almost
hot bath instead/ be content to hear
sets at shorebreak yards away, remembering
the ocean is always there
ready for the right woman.