First Memory

The picnic table. My sister’s
vaporous hair. Neighbors
in their unknown clothes.

I’m wild in blue shorts,
striped top. My mom’s
in my sister’s body.

The tenants of the lawn
rumble their tongues
like little engines and tickle

my untouched ankles.
I run the path of planets
around the wild grass

between the grass
between our houses. My
arms make airplanes.

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I love my dog more than my dad

I love my dog more than my dad
By a distance, not a tad
There I’ve said it, the cardinal sin
Preference for a canine to my next of kin
His big floppy ears, doughy eyes, cold wet nose
Means more to me than my father’s bones
That lay in a grave, I hope at peace
My accidental parent, who came from the East
And whilst my dog showers me with kisses
I remember the drink, the rows, the Christmases
He was never there, never told us he cared
But still I loved this boy soldier, unrecovered man
Though not as much as I love my dog
Sorry dad, I hope you understand

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how i cried anyway

my father and i do not look alike
at first glance, but

we have the same scar on our chins
from falling off our bikes and

leaving a bit of ourselves behind,
red bifurcating again and again in the cement,

so strange to imagine how our skin
closed hastily, unevenly

(easing pain is not the same
as making smooth again). 

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The Vernal Equinox

Each quarter-turn carries an invitation.
Spring’s on-again, off-again wind calls for séance, 
candlesticks and musky incense, perhaps sage. 

My mug of coffee cools fast. I do not fight
in-between-ness, transience set in scarcity.
No angels, fireworks, zombies or astronomers’

star stampedes. The clay pots hold slime browns
of marigolds and geraniums that bloomed
last August. The glass table for al fresco July

dining is spread in algae scum. Alder catkins
clog the birdbath. A one-inch Japanese maple
sprouts from the pot that once waved gold feather grass. 

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a mi sheberach

for so long, i wanted to be pink,
like my tights, like the ribbons,
soft and satin. 
i wanted to fit just right,
like blush fastening itself to my cheeks
and forehead when it’s the middle of the night
and the sun still burns in the air,
like the last drops of afternoon sliding
off the clouds to follow it.
i wanted to be girl, to be sweet,
to be rose without thorns,
to be dress, to be pure. 
i resented red in all her brashness.

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Little Town

Little Town Money almost enough.Sanity but not quite.Mellow mostly.Bowel movements plentiful.Hunger at times.Pain where expected.Growls and groans,grins and laughter,in proportion.Lambs and lions,about 50-50.Much more copperthan gold.Sex and sickness.Holiness and one barber’s pole.Hardware store.Movie house.Tractors – second hand.But much machineryin general.More than booksand places for a band to play.Scant art.Little style.A lot of unmarried virgins.A few […]

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Grasping at Straws

Grasping at Straws “The thing is, unless you change, nothing changes.”— Jose Mujica Cordano “It’s easy,” you tell your niece, showing her how to managethe simplest task, baby steps and all that, perhaps how to formher first question, her first double-u, perhaps how to maintainthe fire in the grate, perhaps later to count out her […]

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Haircut in Summer, South India

Haircut in Summer, South India My sister-in-law cut my niece’s hair— a strand, then a chunk, for each drop of sweat that taunted and whispered fever— until long black locks were shoulder high— then chin— then cut close to the head. A boy’s cut, she said would make the fever go away. Jennifer Jeremiah is […]

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A Master

A Master What if A Master could teach my son to fly over the cornfields of any countryside a person might wish or dream to see. This Master would dress like a carnival barker. My son, who long ago stopped minding my rules, would kick off his tennis shoes and take flight. People would see […]

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