by any other name II

recently I found out
your middle name, and
caught a glimpse
of the alternate universe
in which you are a Dave.

weird, isn’t it? is that guy
drawing comics
about being a superhero
whose power is going
mostly underappreciated?
is he taking the subway
every day to his white collar job
wishing he were freewheeling, wheeled and (barely) heeled, but able
to pursue his art? or does he
work in a library and have
endless borrowing privileges?

does that guy have friends
who make fun of him
but only because
they love him? or does he
have a wife and kids, a
suburban walking-dream life
and no discernable inner narrative
worth speaking of?

we’ll never know. unless
a movie adaptation of the
– totally true story, mostly
autobiographical –
best-selling comic written
by Dave becomes so huge
that it spills over into
our universe, and even then
I’ll probably wait for it to come out
on Netflix.


you cook for yourself, and
eat what you make. you used
to finish it even if
you had to force yourself
past the point of fullness
or risk gifting the fridge
with yet another container
of instantly suspicious leftovers.

but yesterday when
the French Toast had been made,
and mostly eaten, and you
realized you had stopped
eating because
you were no longer hungry,
you didn’t eat the rest.
you got up and threw
the rest away, despite the
voices in your head saying
children are starving in China
you spent good money
for those eggs, that bread,
those sausages.

you remember sitting
at the dining room table
as a child, for hours upon
hours, stubbornly refusing
to eat the food your mother
had slaved over a hot stove
to prepare. you don’t
remember if you actually
ended up eating it,
or if she gave in and sent you
to bed without any other supper
than what you had
already eaten.

you probably drank the milk.
(there was always milk.)

you wonder at the expression
about eyes being bigger than
the stomach. first of all,
how is that even possible.
your stomach is quite
sizable. secondly, after all
these years of cooking
and eating, wouldn’t you know
by now how much is enough,
and how much is far
too much? it’s as if
those years of being forced
to eat food that was not
what you wanted, being shamed
and mocked for the food
you wanted, taught you that
there’s never enough, that
only too much is correct.
just in case. better than
not enough.

it doesn’t stop you from
feeling empty.


I read a book
about Sylvia Plath
and despair. it seems
so much easier
to write poems that
scorch the earth
when you’re not planning
on being around when
those cruise missiles
touch down.

well, I do not plan
on dying, ever,
so where does that leave
my stabs at poetry?

broken, Oedipus at Thebes
could relate.

maybe I’ll just wait
until everyone I know is dead
before I document
what I really think of them.

by any other name

well, I tried to hold out. early
in the new year I thought
to myself that it was remarkable
that I had not yet written a single
poem this month. it would be
a funny, fun challenge to hold out
until February. a little test
and trick to play
upon myself, since certainly
no one else was noticing. and
it wasn’t as if I had anything
to say for myself anyway,
so abstaining from blathering
about nonsense

was no big hardship. but
I simply could not do it. this month
seems fucking endless and
it turns out that eternity

by any other name
feels every bit as long. at this rate
we shall never reach the promised land
of the shortest month, let alone
get any closer to summer.
may whoever have mercy
on our shivering souls.


don’t tell me it doesn’t matter
if this person understands me.

as a poet, all my writing
is a constant attempt at
self-defense before the
uncaring judges of eternity,
I’m always arguing my case
in Anubis’s eternal court –
THIS is why
I am the way I am
this is why
I did that thing I did –
I do this even
(maybe especially)
the only person I’m trying
to convince
is myself.

so this is why
I did the most recent thing I did:
there was a little girl
whose father left
when she was seven years old.

she didn’t understand
she didn’t understand
that her mother did
the best she could
in an impossible situation.

she was told
her father loved her
but still he left.

her mother smothered her
and told her lies
about her nature, trained her
to abuse, invaded her sovereignty
so that she had no space
to be herself.

is it any wonder
she grew up thinking
the ones who really care
are the ones that
walk away? and the
ones that stay
can’t be trusted?

is it any wonder that
she doesn’t know how
to take care of herself?
she only has two models:
never there, or always.
so she ricochets between
extremes, craving togetherness
until it gets to be too much,
and then needing more space
than exists in the entire

weigh my heart
against your feather, and see
which one comes up


I am a girl
of sand and fire.
I am a voodoo doll
held together by my
pins. I am a sentient collection
of ants. I am a girl-shaped
form made out of ashes;
pour me through
a sieve and watch me
disappear. I am a gingerbread
woman; bite my head off
to put me out of my misery. I am
the Wicked Witch
of the West, melting in the rain.

I am a ghost, a breath
of hot air from your mouth;
I am steam, condensing into
being and then dispersing
as fast as I appeared.
I’m the last dying ember
of a dead star. I’m a whirlwind
of sand inside a sirocco.

I’m only real
as long as your eyes
can see me.


the sight of her
disturbs me. her head
seems stuck
at such a strange angle,
like she bent it down
for too long and
it won’t come up now,
it’s broken. I am afraid
that I will end up
like her when
I’m old. I already
have a hunchback.
it’s as if watching her
makes her fucked up neck
that much more likely
to one day be mine.

I stretch my head
back as far as it will go
just to prove to myself
that it still moves.

I avert my eyes
from her misfortune
as if to ensure
it does not become
my own.