Nothing Ever Does

I almost cried
when I found out you had come
to town and left again,
not only without telling me
but without even contacting me
in any way.

no call
no text
no fax
no telegram
no Morse code
no goddamn smoke signal.

the only reason I didn’t
break down in tears right then
was because I was not alone.
she was there all humble bragging
that it was all her fault, she
soaked up all your attention
with her drama and I
stupidly gave her the satisfaction
of seeing it upsetting me.

but forget her – Lord knows,
growing up, you always did –
what matters is what you did
or, as usual, failed to do.

you might have known,
or thought to wonder
if perhaps I might have needed
a few minutes of your
precious time – between your hair
appointments and doctor’s
appointments and lunches
and dinners and undoubtedly
some shopping – I would have
come all the way in from East BFE,
New Jersey to meet you for
but. you didn’t
even give me the opportunity.

and now you have the nerve
to write me all breezy and
“what is going on with you”
as if nothing happened.

I guess
for you
nothing did.


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.


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

Ouija II

who is that girl
who let so many
people beat her up?
we’re so ashamed of her, no wonder
she won’t come forth
to tell her story. have I met her
yet, is it someone
I know? where did she go?
come out, come out
wherever you are. olly-olly

use the planchette
to spell your name. we’re
doing another roll call.
don’t bother knocking on the table
or making the candles
flutter, we need it
in words.

who’s the girl
who taught herself to read
at age three, who still vividly remembers
the Richard Scarry book
with the picture of Lowly Worm,
she felt so incredibly sad
when she read those words
but didn’t know why
until many years later, because I
was a lowly worm,
crushed under mother’s heel
for so long. how the hell
did that child even know what
“lowly” meant? come, tell us.
even the worm must turn
and have her day.


what does it mean
to be a mother? you gave up
20-odd years of your life
for me, for my sister. it’s not
a sacrifice I myself
am willing to make.
even though you fucked it up –
your true charge, which was
letting me be myself, and
teaching me that I was okay,
good enough, whatever –
you carried me in your body
for ten months, were in labor
for twenty four hours
(on Labor Day, which is
an amusing tidbit and
a great icebreaker
at parties) and managed
to keep my sister and I
adequately fed and clothed
for fourteen years
despite crippling depression
and rampant alcoholism. for this
I owe you a debt
I can never repay. without you
I would not exist
this time around. for that,
I thank you. you didn’t have
to do that. happy
mother’s day, for what
it’s worth.

Stockholm Syndrome

if I accept all your flaws
and unconditionally love all
your behavior, regardless
of how it really makes
me feel, will you promise
never to leave me? if I’m a good
girl and don’t complain, never
make life difficult for you,
will you fill this void
in my heart, this black hole
that lives where my heart
should be? don’t answer that.
no single human
can be ever be
enough for me, so I’ll take
what crumbs I can get.


“what are you thinking?” my mother
used to ask me, whenever
we were alone and I was quiet
for more than ten minutes. I can
never remember now what I
actually was thinking, because
as soon as she said it, my mind
always went blank, wiped clean
like a blackboard, like a kill switch
on a computer, erasing all
the data instantly, just
so I could say “nothing”
and have it be true
in that moment, so that
part of me could believe it,
because that’s the only way
people with glass faces
can tell lies.

Continue reading telepathy


twisted, constricted
bent every which way, but
still striving towards the light.
I’ve been sadly warped by you, mama,
and never learned how
to straighten up and grow right.

what does sunlight look like
when it’s not filtered through glass?
what does love look like
when it’s not strained through an agenda?

trained and pruned,
grafted and transplanted
all that artifice and care
just to make me look like
everyone else.

the wires mustn’t show.
don’t look at the gardener
behind the curtain.
you wouldn’t like what you see.

miniaturized. my need for growth
was used against me.
no matter how hard I tried,
I couldn’t expand beyond
the hard limits
imposed by the tiny pot.
if left alone, I would have sprawled
over ten times that surface area,
run rampant, kudzu-like,
over all your proprieties.

the pathos of things
like trees tortured to stay tiny
but look like their normal size parents.
if this is what your empathy looks like,
spare me.
I’d rather have been raised by wolves
than oppressed by your idea of civilization.