A Memory

Somebody’s pressed a lit cigarette
to my skin.

I cry; they wave me away like I’m
smoke and they say
that I’m fine,

but the burn doesn’t hurt
like their gall.

The body will heal
while the mind will still ask,
Why would you hurt me at all?

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Abrasive Personality

I was born along a cutting board,
prepared for your display.

You held me to a cheese grater
and flaked my thoughts away.

Life Cycle

You live and you die by that couch.
Your flesh is the skin of that couch.
You sink in and sink in and
the sun always rises
and sets by the side of that couch.

You wake and you eat
and you drink, then you sleep
and you wake and you drink some more.

Purification

If you ask about my past,
my teeth and tongue and tears will fall
out.

But I can filter it through my fingers
for you, drown it
in the ink of an old pen,

and send
my memories miles away,
without a word.

Desert Rose

I am a flower withering
close to the ground,
leaves curled like fists.
My roots, so thirsty,
so thin, have died
in the blood red,  rust-like dust.  

The passing sun tempts me
with cloudy promises.
I’m sorry, he says. Then he burns me again.  

In the senseless hot sun, my petals,
my hope and my heart,
have wilted  and faded.
I am a flower wanting
and waiting
for the sun to repent with rain.    

A family is
me and my cactus mother
and our search for respite in the cracking, dry dirt.

A family is
stinging eyes that burn
from the sun and his stinging lies.
We adapt at the cost of our sanity. We adapt
with the taste  of the desert’s dust
on our shriveled lips, or we die. 

Mercy

10.
After that butterfly died, someone mowed down its sunflowers.
The field was boring and bare
besides the rabbits that lived there.

9.
One day, there was you. Sweet, spotted thing
with a bright blue collar. We thought about returning you.

8.
Instead,
we watched you with amusement. You were the bravest
little explorer in the big, bad field–a slice of bright blue
poking mischievously from the grasses near the creek.

7.
More dogs arrived. Bigger than you. Bigger than me.

6.
If we listened hard enough, we heard you whimpering. I didn’t see you, but I saw
the way their heads jerked
as they tossed you around. I figured

5.
Hoped

4.
That your neck snapped like a twig mid-air
and you died.

3.
I climbed the fence despite my fear of falling,
over brambles and back down into the wispy creek with my brother,
with branches
catching my hair and dragging me
backwards, begging me not to look.
We followed your blood just beyond the yard with the trampoline.

You breathed shallowly in the sticky grass, with your eyes fixed on something. Something. Something.
You’d bitten through your tongue.

Sticky red and bright blue. On the other side of the fence,
children laughed as they bounced high into the air.

2.
The sun set, and evening descended over the year and over your life.

In the darkness, the first few firecrackers snapped and I shivered while I stroked you and whispered that it would be okay. It would.

The vets were closed and it was a holiday weekend and there were gaping
holes in you, but you would be okay. When I picked you up, your head lolled
to the side.
A man called your name from the house with the trampoline.

You left often, they told us. You liked to explore with the other dog. The woman thanks us
and thanks us and thanks us and I think she’s reduced to breathing that way,
just like your distant panting in the grass.

1.
They call and tell us you died.

0.
I came to visit a few months later.
The field was still empty,
save for the sunflowers that grew tall as a trampoline
over the spot where we found you.

 

 

Comfort

I want to write words that take your hands
and twist inside of you like branches.

Like veins.

They’ll leaf in some lost part of you
and bloom from your brain
when you want to hurt and hide and die.

Life is gentle and gracious within those green words:
Nobody hurts and nobody hurts you.