Though he’s male
they call for a female officer
who pulls him from his car
seat then lays him
on a steel table
and opens his blanket
unzips his onesie
with the lions and giraffes
slips the undershirt over his head
tears open the Velcro straps
removes his diaper
lifts his body up
with gloved hands
Read more "Christmas at Dixon Women’s Prison"
holds him in the air
like a wet cat
When I was young I used to drive
with no companion or destination in mind.
Cutting through heavy valley heat on the 101
then curving toward the coast through Topanga Canyon
1969, on an unmarked road by a no trespassing sign,
parked between the boulders, eucalyptus and
sage with four-track off and eyes closed
I’m seventeen and waiting for a
transformation—that wasn’t coming that
Or any time soon.
For every hasty engagement
Read more "Canyons"
there was a Benedict Canyon.
For every cleaving together
there was geography.
In a room
with no books,
on the walls,
with a click
you can look
over the shoulder
of Marc Chagall.
With his brush,
you can glide,
fly a blue horse
through a mackerel sky,
dance over the yard
Read more "Things You Can Do"
in the garb of a bride,
or carry her
supine over Paris.
That spring, I was ready to drop piano lessons. I wanted free school day afternoons. I wanted to be driven far out of town in beat-up jalopies at high speeds. Put on greasy lipstick dark as bitter chocolate so that some boy would think I was at least fifteen. I wanted to dangle a lit cigarette and drink gin and gingers in roadside dives, like in the movies. I wanted the boy behind the wheel to say, “Hey, you’re cool and sassy for a girl.”
My mother didn’t fancy my growing up so fast. She said, “Give it one more summer, honey.” Meaning the piano.
I crumbled. “Okay, but that’s it.”
Read more "Piano Lessons"
She rose at 3:15 from her plastic chair,
the wooden desk carved with curses.
Her bones began to sing.
She ran home to unwed shoes,
lost socks, and blue shadows,
chores to complete until dark,
criticism swallowed like bites of tough meat.
She focused on the bright stars,
Read more "The Girl Who Wanted Soup"
the winter air, crisp as a white shirt,
Mother died. Father fled. Chaos ensued
as though I were swarmed by hornets
unloosed from a nest hidden high above.
His second marriage magnified the buzz
and stings, my hands tied behind my back.
After seventy years, there’s still a gallery full
of fierce memories. The debris of the natural
disaster that divided self-before from self-after.
I fold and refold the blanket of experience,
Read more "Collateral Damage"
unable to make the whole lie flat again.
Children are building cities
in the sand
All of them have rivers
They pull buckets of water from this lake
that is secretly a river, make rivulets
that satisfy their god complexes
I don’t like you! yells a girl
Read more "Beach on the Great Sacandaga Lake"
at a boy who has interfered
with her creation
My icy fingers remember
the lime twins,
fused side by side,
creased down the middle.
Our young bodies too—
Read more "Self-Portrait As A Popsicle"
their mysterious creases and folds.
The least I could do for you,
my Double Buddy,
was break the popsicle apart,
give you half.
Even the universe was young once
but though it was small
its events were immense
and shaped the course of all that followed
the matter inside us
the starlight around us
No memories remain of that formative time
Read more "3 Degrees"
but its afterglow is everywhere
faint but unmistakable —
three degrees in the background
pervading our world
whether we see it or not
Last night the sky was a child
Read more "Sky Communion"
coughing into a blanket, drawing
itself from a pale aurora jabbed
with another storm on the sun,
as if it’s got a circle of old friends
jumping tombstones. There might
have been a tribe of younger stars
dropping empty green rose-stems
through our curtains. Except last
night the child slipped its ghost
and stretched the sunrise against
the river trees.