idol

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?

blinded,
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.

manifesto

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)
when
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
why
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
universe.

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

existential

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.

crooked

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.

what I said

I’ll never live it down:
the first time I saw you play
I listened and clapped
and then sat outside
in the garden afterwards
with my friends and said,
“I liked that guy’s music a lot,
but all his songs kinda sounded
the same.”

subsequently
I noticed that you were sitting
right behind me. ironically
the next record you put out
just blew me away, I instantly
became a huge fan, and all our
interactions afterward have been
marred by my foolish gaffe.

it soon became obvious
by the not-so-subtle hints you dropped
that not only did you hear me, but
you were mad. I feel bad. but
at the time, I was just
being honest. and now that
I know your music, the songs don’t
sound the same at all. so I guess
what I’m really sorry about
is the fact that you heard me.

the women in white

four women in white
just appeared outside the bar
like mirages from some other world,
some sci-fi universe where
females swathe themselves
in moonlight, even their heads
in white draperies and turbans.
they are so mystical I
am almost afraid of them.
what strange magic will they wreak,
what ghosts are summoned
by their very presence? I’ve
never seen their like. white
witches, cult members,
maybe one day I’ll learn
your mysterious secrets.