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

Tropicalia

this place is wild with nature:
great green leaves like jewels
trembling in the rain with sips of
water held in their emerald cups,
little brown striped lizards
bopping and hopping around
like windup toys, sleek
dark grackles with feathers
that gleam iridescent in the bright
sunlight. at night the tree frogs
creak out their intermittent,
ugly song, while the pool
lights change colors with
aching, subtle slowness
like the way my mind changes
when I’m not noticing. I look
and they’re purple; I look away
and then they’re green. only the
steps and the walls remain
the same, like buried ruins
from some underwater civilization,
some long lost cousin
of Atlantis. I could live here
and forget about life
for a while.

beasts

there’s a reason
these myths exist. Circe
and the swine, Beauty
and the Beast, Red
and the wolf. men
see themselves as beasts
when they act on their
animal instincts.
they see women
as the humans, who
have the power
to set you free
from your cages
of flesh, if only
we would take pity
on you and see beyond
your rude forms
and beastly behavior
to the suffering men
trapped inside.

Continue reading beasts

fables II

newsflash: I haven’t changed.
if I’ve become yesterday’s news
to you, it’s only because
you realized there was a chance
to have an actual adult
relationship with someone
you seemed to like just fine
until you found out she
wanted to be
with you. that says a lot more
about you than it does
about me, frankly. you
might want to discuss that
with your therapist.

you’re that dog
from Aesop’s fable, the one that
had a bone, but
when he saw his reflection
in the water of a stream
he was crossing, was jealous
of that other dog’s
clearly superior bone,
and in opening his mouth
to bark at the interloper
dropped the actual real bone
into the stream. a bone in the mouth
is worth three in the stream.

well have fun forever
chasing what you can’t
have. I’m no man’s
bone. laters!

that ass

I was so incredibly
wrong about you. a lion
is a majestic beast, the King
of the jungle, a noble carnivore
that has no choice but
to be what he is. you’re no lion –
so far from a king, you’re a peasant –
a pissant, a donkey, a braying ass
standing in the street
kicking people in the face
because they saw you
at your worst and refused
to run away, always craning your neck
to try to get at that greener grass
on the other side of
the fence behind which
you put yourself.

my mistake was clearly
hitching my wagon
to the wrong beast of burden.
you’ll never move
an inch, you stubborn mule,
so I’ll leave you to your rotten
straw and hay. go ahead and
eat your words. it’ll serve you right
when they make you sick.

the Lion

I’m at 125th street, waiting. in an
exhausted daze, took
the wrong train
again. story
of my life. next to me
a woman clutches a pamphlet
with a crudely drawn cartoon
of a lion on it.

“There’s a Lion
looking for you,” it reads.
it’s just some creepy
Xtian tract, but the phrase
haunts me. I’m reminded of
the Tarot card for Strength,
and of Narnia.

where’s my Lion? has he
found me yet? will
he eat me already, and free me
from this hell of my own
making? or am I already
inside his belly – is that why
everything feels so very
dark?

Continue reading the Lion

strange bedfellows

excuse me, sir, but
for the umpteenth time,
could you please move over?

every single time
I get out of bed – which I do
with truly ridiculous frequency –
you immediately rush
to occupy my side. it’s
nice, I guess, that you’re keeping
my spot warm for me, but
you’re always reluctant to leave it
when I return in five minutes –
having done something
probably unnecessary like
smoke a cigarette while
tweeting a bunch of nonsense
or messaging someone –
and I’m getting pretty tired
of asking you
to move. and then
half the time
you insist on cuddling.

it was cute at first, but
you seem to feel compelled
to scratch me
multiple times
before positioning yourself,
and then you start biting
whatever part of my flesh
is in front of your face.

if I’ve told you once,
I’ve told you a hundred times:
no biting! or your cuddling
privileges will be revoked.
also you’re overdue for a
claw clipping. these deficiencies
must be corrected
before any further intimacy
will be awarded. finally,
your breath reeks
of cat food.

fables

the lion lay crying
deep in the jungle. a little
field mouse
heard his weeping and happened
to be headed that way anyway
looking for his seeds and nuts
to sock away
for winter. he found he couldn’t
just pass by this elaborate spectacle
of suffering without at least inquiring
as to the cause.

the lion’s roars
shook the earth in his vicinity.
the frightened field mouse, trembling,
crept up to the
enormous supine form.

“why are you crying?”
he had to shout
to be heard over the
deafening racket.
“there’s a thorn
in my paw,” said the lion,
sullenly. “it hurts a lot
and I can’t get it out.”
he gnawed on the paw
angrily, but to no avail.

the field mouse thought,
what’s in it for me? he might
just eat me as soon as I’ve
helped him. I should just
run away right now
before he remembers that
he’s a predator and I’m prey
so I can live to scavenge
another day.
but. then the lion
would keep on roaring
and caterwauling
and it was hard to sleep
with all that noise.
the mouse had
twelve new babies at home
that needed their rest,
and a tired mousewife
who was at her wit’s end.
if she found out he could have
stopped it, and didn’t?
he’d never hear
the end of it.

“I can help you with that,”
squeaked the mouse shyly,
and before the lion could demur,
ran over to the swollen paw and nimbly
plucked free the thorn
with his tiny sharp teeth.

the lion yowled in reflex but then
suddenly stopped, shaking his paw in
amazement. he licked it
experimentally.

“it doesn’t hurt any more!” said he in
wonder. he looked at the mouse
and a new gleam came
to his eye. his other paw shot out
and pinned the mouse
to the earth. “I could eat you
right now!” he growled menacingly.

“you could,” replied the mouse.
“but then who would tell you
about the three dead zebra
on the edge of the forest?
they’ve only been a little nibbled
by jackals.”

“you could be lying
about those zebra. a mouse
in the paw is worth
two in the veldt, my mother
used to say.”

“I helped you with that
pesky thorn, when I could easily
have walked away. believe me
or not.” and the mouse shrugged
as best he could under the weight
of the giant, velvety paw. he tried
not to tremble and mostly
succeeded. the big claws curved
slowly out of their sheaths, and
surrounded him in an ivory
cage.

the lion laughed.
“you think I can’t sniff out
three lousy zebra
by myself? or kill three more
if I felt like it?” and he flipped
the mouse into his mouth
like a popcorn kernel. crunch,
crunch, gulp, and the mouse was
history. his children never knew him,
and his widow remarried
the next season. (in retrospect
being nagged for a while
seems like a small price to pay.)

the morals of this story are these:
if you put yourself
in someone’s power,
don’t be surprised
if they use it over you
in ways you don’t like. mercy
is rare in those used
to the privilege
of always getting their own way.

how quickly we forget
what pain feels like
once the stimulus is subtracted.

if you get the choice to be a lion
or a field mouse, be the lion
or be prepared to get eaten.

the wild kingdom

things are rough
out here on the savannah. lions lie
in wait and watch with lazy menace
as slender gazelles prance
or skip nimbly by, ankles buckling
with their own delicacy. beside them
stolid musk ox tramp
leaving their heavy hoofprints
in the mud, while cheetah and jaguar
climb trees and sleep in the shade
until their unsuspecting dinners
come to them, and giant snakes
can hardly wait to drop
out of branches to provide
a rude awakening to any
passing warthog.

but.
look.
I’m no springbok, I’ll admit,
but you, sir, are no King of the Jungle.
those gorgeous gazelles you’ve
got your eye on
will just use their long legs
to run away from you, and the sad-eyed
ibex will crane her tender neck
to look the other way. I may be
about as enticing as
a red-butted baboon compared
to those alien, elegant creatures,
but at least I know my place.

if you should ever need me
I’ll be with my kind,
wallowing in the mud
eating my vegetables
and biting tourists’ heads off
just for fun.