my gossamer bridge of dreams

I.
the scab on my arm that
won’t heal. my ability
to leave well enough
alone.

II.
“you have interesting hands,”
you said. “if by ‘interesting’, you mean
‘ugly’, then sure,” I replied.
that was only a date
in retrospect.

III.
I lean back
on your body. “you make
a great pillow,” I say.
“you make
a great girlfriend,” you
reply.

IV.
I enjoy seeing my glitter
on your face almost more
than on my own – twinkling
like stars on a soft, dark
night; a jewel in the Ethiop’s
ear.

V.
driving by 20th and 1st
in late August;
the bitter cold
of last December
and his bitter, lost
heart seem
equally remote.

VI.
cigarette smoke
and my feelings about
the way things used
to be.

more poems after the Heian ladies

I.
weeds wave gaily
on the 14th St exit
from the FDR Drive.
my heart has abandoned
all those feelings that
no longer serve me.

II.
that deeply
annoying hum
in the background;
the moth that flutters
and suddenly dive bombs;
the stench of hot
garbage on steaming
concrete streets;
a persistent panhandler;
oh, you’re still here?

III.
games played whole-
heartedly feel as if
life or death hangs
in the balance, but
that friendly hooded figure
is nowhere to be seen,
no matter how much
we beg him to appear.

IV.
an old flyer, so worn
as to be nearly
illegible; a mural
tagged to a palimpsest;
a blurred receipt that has
gotten wet; the way
I felt about
you.

V.
when you arrived,
I took off my glasses
so your face would blur
into the background
into the sea of faces
and my eyes would
no longer need
to skip over it like
the lone monster
in the crowd.

VI.
my Unicorn Tears
on his lips, on his cheeks:
visible evidence of my
invisible heart
that he holds so softly
between his hands.

six poems after Sarashina

I.
the hare knows better
than to fall in love
with the fox. why
don’t I have
the same instinct
for self-preservation?

II.
gray clouds, swollen and
dull with rain,
hoard their water.
just so my eyes
withhold their
sullen tears.

III.
iron-loving metals –
ruthenium, palladium, platinum –
are sucked deep into
the earth’s core. my
greedy heart swallows up
its resentment.

IV.
this last blast
of late summer heat
is oppressive,
lowering. we all
dream of winter. yet
when it comes,
I will miss summer
again.

V.
the morning dew
lays lightly on the grass,
scanty as the tears
upon my pillow.

VI.
seagulls cry
overhead, and my wildness
cries with them.

entrained

riding the train but I’m
facing the wrong way
and it feels like I’m
being pulled back to the city
by my heart strings, I can
feel the spool inside my chest
winding and winding.

sometimes when I
feel like crying there’s a
silvery sort of nerve pain
that runs along my very
veins and a prickling heat
behind my eyeballs and
I don’t even know why
crying wants to happen now
because there’s no excuse
for it and as usual I’m
in public and idiots are everywhere
existing in my presence and
I know by the time I get home
it will have passed and I’ll
be dry as a bone, my strings
rewound and all tucked away
and no relief will be had because
the need will have withdrawn
inside me like a snail
pulling back its antennae.

tomorrow is another day
to want to cry and not be able to,
or to not want to cry and barely
be able to hold it back.

the compliment catch-22

one night you tell me that I
look especially beautiful.
I find it hard
to accept this gracefully
because a tiny, stupid
part of me is already
thinking about all the nights
to come in which
you do not say that and
how that part will think
that I must look bad
– or at least,  not
as beautiful, which
to that part is the same thing –
or that you’ve fallen
out of love with me, and
even though the rest
of me understands logic
and how I can’t be
equally beautiful
every night and how just
because you don’t compliment
me every night it doesn’t mean
you no longer love me, still
that part begrudges
current Brookes her compliment
on behalf of all the future
bitter slighted Brookeses.

this is why she feels like
compliments are a trap:
better to avoid the whole
thing and disbelieve
than accept it now, only
to regret it later.

the selkie

you left remnants of your presence
today – your toothbrush; tiny hairs
in the shower, coiled like secrets.
seeing them makes me feel
like I’m packed full of curled
fiddlehead ferns that are waiting
to open into full growth.
I censor my own words, my poems,
my very thoughts, for fear
they might prove unwelcome
to you. everything is pretty
and sugary sweet on the surface,
but inside I feel myself slowly
dying to break free.

Continue reading the selkie

dusk in the garden of poetry

listening to poets shaping the air
with their words, everything
starts to feel like a poem;
the tall trees listening like spirits,
their foliage, huge green leaves,
waves like elephant ears
or hands silently clapping,
the answer to the famous zen riddle;
the helicopters that zoom
overhead like oversized bees,
passing so often that everyone
cranes their necks to see them
and poets have to pause
to let their loud intrusions
pass; the tiny mysterious
ceramic figurines peeping out
from a niche in the wall
that looks like it should have
once held a fireplace;
a squirrel that runs across
the telephone wires and then
hangs out for a while, watching
these strange humans engaged
in their weird rituals.

Continue reading dusk in the garden of poetry