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.

bodytalk

when I said “fuck you!”
earlier today, and accused you
of being five days early,
I was wrong. it turned out
you are right on time.
it was the computer
that made a mistake,
in the form of my
tracking website, which
consistently overestimates
your arrival by three to five
days, and my memory
of the incorrect predicted date
that led to this incorrect
assumption of your error.
I’m sorry. next time I’ll try
to remember that you’re usually
quite prompt, and reserve
judgement until I’ve
done the math.

the headache

the headache is
your best friend. it’s
with you in the morning
when you fall into an exhausted
uneasy slumber; it’s with you
when you wake in the late
afternoon filled with self-loathing
and guilt. every time
you move your head, the headache
reminds you that your
body is unhappy with you
and your choices. the headache
thinks you need
to try something different,
perhaps. it says
maybe alcohol and
cigarettes and constant,
constant cat hair and
spring pollen and lack
of exercise and very few
green vegetables are all
bad choices if you want
your body to like you
and to give you another friend
besides the neverending
headache.

crimes III

this was the worst yet. a
full sprawl in front of
a packed house, and during
a quiet song, just to add
insult to injury – of which
there was plenty. I tried
so hard to catch myself, but
as usual that just
made it worse. I did an
extended pratfall
worthy of a clown
in a circus. except
that it hurt.

and somehow
the worst part was
how various people asked
if I was okay. I’m always
so angry and humiliated
by my shameful,
awkward clumsiness
that any acknowledgement
of a tumble, any attention paid
feels like it might as well be
outright pointing and/or
laughing. that’s why I pretend
to laugh it off and
act like it’s no big deal,
because all I really want to do
is to be allowed to run away
and gather whatever shreds
of dignity remain to me
in private, or at least
where other people are
who didn’t see my downfall.

but belatedly,
thank you, gentle
friends and
random strangers.
I do appreciate
your concern and
common human decency.
next time I’ll probably
not be any more gracious
in accepting your sympathy
than I was in crossing
the damn room.

what the dreaming self knows

in my dreams I am
a powerful witch
whose enemies line up
and ask me to punch them
right in the face.

in the waking
world I’m plagued by
itches and pains,
dirt, doubts and laundry.

I think about quitting
smoking and take every
opportunity to berate
myself. I take down
a flystrip that’s been up
since at least August.
I am interrupted in
reading an article about
how people who hit
the snooze button are
more intelligent and creative
by having to sign for a
Staples delivery
of bulk toilet paper.
I make myself coffee
at 3 pm even though
I’ve done nothing
to deserve it, and try not
to be jealous
of a young poet
whose quote appears
in my Facebook memories.

I wish I could have all
the confidence and courage
to make things happen
that my dreaming self
knows is mine by right
of existence, that feeling
that I’m capable
and undaunted
and powerful.

what can I do
to keep that bone-deep
knowledge, carry it back
like a knapsack
from the dreaming hinterlands
to the world where
I’m still myself
on the physical plane?