gas mask fashion trending armageddon in the mirror & a compact with a smiling everything inside. don't tell me what is beautiful. i already have seen glamor. we buy our gas masks online before they're sold out because we live right on the lip of wave. before the crash. before all the bobbles are useless. i look like a goddex. i look like a survivor. when the smog descends we all go out to test our majesty. three of us don't come home but that is life in a state of fire. i want a blue one & a teal one & a purple one. i want a picture with the moon dipping dreamless behind me. breathing used to be so mundane. used to be thoughtless. now, i can see the internet on the inside of my exhales. each a silken glove. let's not get too excited before another texture drops tomorrow. a post about salvation is always a post about trying to burry the church. inside the church we eat hard boiled eggs in all colors. i prefer red. i say aloud, "this is a heart." this is a heart. the chicken before the horse. a picture of me in my mask goes viral. so viral that even the ghosts are saying, "is that really you?" there are too many opportunities for dialog. let's just sit & be beautiful. you always know someone is really it if they don't have to say a word. the mask eats my words & spits them out as butterflies. the bug burn up in the smoke.
nocturnal my night became a tea cup & then a sepulchre. everyone was talking with their underground faces & so i took a walk to the edge town where only worms have music. sometimes i wonder if my choice to walk on the lips of bowls is a personal one or if the locusts chose it for me. there will always be a rope to jump & a candle. sleep pours like milk from a hole in the wall but i don't get anywhere near it. i don't know why i am so opposed to the kind of rest dogs partake in. i guess i am afraid that i will get so deep i'll wake up a new person. then again, who doesn't want to be anyone but themselves when they can't fall asleep. i am thinking about night walks on my college campus. the little white house right on the other side of the street with electric candles in the windows. i would pass & think, "a ghost lives there." every room a diarama. i would return to my bed in the house of mice & think, "it won't be long until the street lights start exchanging phone numbers." i could text with a cloud. he might say, "go ahead. be lonely." i might say, "i am not lonely i have you." the night ends up a bouncey ball then a honey comb. it's sweet. i can tell. or, at least, someone out there thinks it is. bites down & tastes gold.
microchip i went to the store to buy the future. hunger is at least a hole that can be climbed through unlike another feeling like dread which just requires cement. i walk the ghost the family dog to the dressing room where we try being a fresh gender for once. the sun downloads & i upload a picture of my fury to the clouds. thunder. autumn. at the grocery store the eggs dance & say, "prize inside." i don't fall for their tricks. i know there's just a dead chicken. flowers for tongues. tongues for a lawn. there are so many flavors of microchip these days. my friends are glamor programs. my friends are artists & gods. i wouldn't mind having something inserted into the back of my neck if it meant i could always taste butter cream frosting or maybe honey. doesn't it always come back to the bees? to manna? to a desert no one can walk out of. i buy the cheapest kind because that's what i watched my mom do. pennies are pennies even if the faces vacate & all that's left is copper. the self check out is attended by dark matter. i nod & try to make it seem like i'm not trying to steal a kiwi fruit. there's not enough ways to play dumb anymore. the night has spider legs. my mother puts me in the shopping cart wheels squeaking as we look for lunch meat.
pot (un)luck we slaughtered the sun to eat. hallelujah hallelujah. but this angered the telephones who screamed as we ate in the verdant darkness of the emptied moon. we always said we would stop ourselves & then we were ourselves. you were devouring & so i sat & thought, "so should i." i wish i was better at deciphering the difference between love & consumption because in the moment all i am is frenzy & yes please take my leg & dear god the screen is bright. we ran & ran across the church grounds. the mary statue wept blood as it always does. the angels set fire to mailboxes. "i'll call you when i get home," i always say & then i never do. i wonder if this is a spell. if i am then never home. we said we would all bring something for dinner. we were communitying so well until the bus arrived full of new sockets to plug our teeth into. the new planets will be powered by yearning. there's enough room in the church for a dinosaur & yet we leave it empty at night. i no longer have reverence for empty spaces. the sun in me promises, "we will be giants." then, i see the pigeons & i think, "maybe i should get out while i can." when you ask someone else to bring a feast you will get all their knuckles too. when this is over will you come & be an individual with me. i want to live in a cabin in the middle of a word. let's pick a word like "sonder" where only fellow freaks live. i do not want to commune or communion. not now. not anymore.
family & friends let's go to the quarry & have a tradgedy. no one wants to set something on fire alone that's just sad. i take my friend ships & sail them towards the bermuda triangle. dangerous is a matter of perspective. sometimes i realize i look like a boy in a dress & i realize i am dead. when i say "family" i want people to know i mean whoever holds me not whoever's blood makes up my ocean. once, i bleed so much the moon herself turned vermillion with me. let's not mistake lust for love & love for lust. instead, let's revel in the twin geminis of the spilled ink night. i never wanted to be a locket but then i met you & we drove your car until there were no more strip malls. i took the bull horn & spoke directly to god to let him know he was not invited to my wedding. instead, i invite ants & mosquiots & rats & rabbits & bears. anything humans are afraid of. i had no where else to go so my friends opened their mouths & i ducked inside. learn to watch reflections in teeth as televisions. then there is my mother's cast iron pan. she kneels & says, "we can stand here for moment before it's too hot." why is it always like this? quickly quickly let's love each other.
trip wire does your emergency have a cabinet of coffee mugs? i step into my panic like a flower show. all i want is a world without jump rope & without a search party. we bought the best security system on the market & put a sign on the lawn that read, "this is where my life begins." lately, i consider buying a gun i can use as a lover. this is because in the united states it is easier to buy a gun than to ask someone on a date. it is easier to buy a gun than to change your gender. i put my gun in a stroller & now i am a family value. if anyone enters who i don't know they will set off the alarm system & the statue will come to make a statue of all of us. i do not want to be remembered in a place like this. i worry then about setting off my own system. i trace the trip wires like veins. here is the entrance to my caged & caged & caged heart. i want to become a "no shoes house" but i am always going somewhere & therefore the house is always full of footprints. my shoes try to talk to me but i have to talk to the gun. my emergency has a rescue dog & has taken a family photo. has vacationed by the same blue ocean. let's no longer be enemies, let's be origins. i am fearful that i was born of urgency. i do not know who i am without the trip wires & the sirens roosting in my head. maybe i was a toadstool. a parrot. a pair of sneakers tossed over a power line. the field below full of feral cats.
fridge magnets the morning comes in a take-out container & in the kitchen the bugs are already planning what radio signals they want to send to my head today. when i was little our fridge was a worship den. gods of grapes & milk. we watched as everything holy emptied & the whale carcass sat in the room until next week. i want to be proud of something. once, i went to a bible study class for a boy i liked. i don't know what i was thinking but all the men talked over the girls & they were gushing about how terrible pride was & all i could think about was how much more proud i wanted to be to spite them. i want my life hung on the fridge of a biblically accurate angel. with all his/her eyes she/he would say, "here was someone with an extra face." now we just have memories as magnets. your grandfather. fragments of words often arranged yet again by the bugs. what i really want is to crawl inside. how you ever been truly in love with yourself? i was briefly for the first time this year. i threw a stone at a mirror to see it shatter. all my teeth in the fragments. i was so beautiful. even the bugs agreed. i asked, "does this mean i am free?" they laughed & crawled all over the fridge door. "not so fast," they laughed.
staircase mother when i came out as trans a family member told my mother that kind of thing is caused by distant mothers. we purchase the oldest tv & find a colony of rabbits inside. only, they are only the size of thumbs. leave the tv in the yard. static. mosquitos. gems of blood. i measure distance in licorice & my mother has always been just a rope away. ants come & try to eat our bones. love is not the thing that heals but the thing that comes from the healing. again my father is the artist & spends his whole summer in the yard carving faces into the trees. i am often in love with objects but not in a captialtism-will-make-me-whole kind of way but more like this object is alive. haven't you ever seen a tea cup winking? a garbage bin grimace? as a child i had so many mothers & none of them were distant. the staircase who, when i was alone, sun like piano teeth. the kitchen table rife with glorious stains, promising to give my pig tails. i am encircled by the dreams of table saws & cheap paint brushes. the staircase is taller every single day. i measure distance in moments it would take for us to start a fire here in the middle of the house. i would say, "we need this to survive" & the microwave would say, "blessed be" & my mother & i would find a song that could be sung buy both of us by the flames. our flipbook shadows. my gender a pair of scissors to run with.
house plant one by one i invite the willows inside. they had begged for days to become house plants & each day i said, "there is no room." i did not mean inside the house but rather in my heart for another being that might catch fire. they brought records. listened to smooth jazz in the sun room. swayed & told stories of being jump ropes. i tell them about how i used to be a spoon in another life. stirring. that is why i'm always stirring. the willows want to bring friends. the white pine & the red oak. i cannot say no. i cannot turn anyone away. for so much of my life i have been the cut-back plants. watching my head turn to dust & waiting for another to grow back in spring. there is not enough help for all the hurrying. pine needles on the floor. we eat girl scout cookies & crab apples. we sing a round of row row row your boat. there isn't enough hours in the day to devour what we need. i need butter & a candle made from tree sap. i spit sugar cubes. save them for later to place under lovers' tongues. the trees continue. curl up next to the potted basil & the succulents in their tea cups. we no longer need the windows. we are our own windows. i ask a holly tree. "what is the world?" she laughs & says, "i do not remember."
power outage when all the television are floating in the river, will you come with me & light a match inside my skull? will you tell me i am the moon even though the moon has been portioned out for food? we sat by the black snake river & ate our morsels. the moon tastes like whatever you need. mine tasted of rubber & honey. i put the light bulb in my mouth & dreamed of the sun. nothing. nothing at all. did you ever think we would become cave fish? i saw our memories like shadow puppets on the wall of childhood bedrooms. a sleeping bag eats a childhood whole. cans of cannellini beans eaten with a metal spoon. i had a cell phone for the first day & we clutched it as if we might walk through the screen & into a digital heaven. then, it was gone & we walked & walked. feet turning to hooves & then fins. whole city in its bathtub. fires that wouldn't light. backyards overun with boots. the train burrowed & refused our company. i do not know who i am in this raspberry world. please though, stay with me & tell me all the stories you used to feed to the dogs. tell me your licorice secrets. i once was a girl. i once cut locks from my hair & burried them in the yard as an offering to the dead goldfish.
invented languages after diane seuss i open my mouth & a bucket of ice comes out. there must be a way to admit i was once a paper bag full of ripening bananas. take all the trips you want, your belly button will still be waiting like a push-pin. when i sleep on your tongue i always hear exactly what you really wanted to say which was, "i love you too, i love you too, i love you too." why do we deny ourselves the sugar bowl? instead i take the ice & make a dialect only we will understand. here is your tall glass of lemonade. here is your summer. let's not be hasty though there is time to come to dislike each other's breath. for now, let's be the lexicon of dust. from between my teeth a new thread emerges. one i can use to tie all the birds to the ground for the night. under this moon, no words will go missing. we will remember every ocean we've ladeled fish from to make children out of. i want again the kind of speech the burns down row houses. dark of a good collision. do you really want me to talk? because i will talk & talk until i am deep in the tongues of moss & soil & water & you will be there wondering about how i heard your dreams so loud & clean. i have a daguerreotype of all your musings. you eat ice with your fingers.
parking lot sea gulls outside china king buffet today the earth is a powdered donut. throwing watermelon rinds at the sun to worship. we come to reclaim the wild of an afternoon. i come barefoot to the broken glass. a tea bag in my mouth painting my soul amber. the bread comes presliced. communion is communion is communion. contential breakfast served for everyone with a pair of headlights. the daughters are birds & they don't take no for an answer. all my genders turn unruly. whatever we must do to secure the dumpster when the celebrations have turned to funeral pyres. i count birds until my fingers undergo mitosis in the process. we come to catelog each others dreams. i am hungry in a way only the birds know. their ocean is a jello tray. their mothers, garbage & junk & unwanted skulls. this is where i come from: cementeries beneath cementeries. an antenae picking up the video games of whales. signals from alien spaceships unsure of where to land. the open sign says, "here is where you can feed your monsters." there is no where to park because dinosaurs are roaming across all the spaces. neon promised atrician. i dwindle in the way the human tail did. less & less until it was just a comma on a life. let's eat all we can.
trophy maker's lover some nights when we cross pathes in the wild dark of our home i see him as the golden man, the statue atop a parade of pillars & glitter. what does it mean to be triumphant? he kneels in the shadow of his idols. moves thumbs smoothly across stickers. presses down glue for plastic shards of joy. his creations are usually sold in bulk. colonies of golden men & women. every so often he makes a trophy that he loves so much he cannot part with. then, it stands in the corner of our room keeping vigil over the talk of old lovers. we met years ago when the moon was still canteloupe. now, i worry i am feasting on plates of ice cubes. there are always victors. more & more. children & men & girls & people with hungry faces. all the houses where my lover stands, a golden man atop a temple. always, he is telling them, "look how worthy you were." is it selfish to want him all to myself? his study thumbs. we drink each other dry. turn out the light. his knees. my shoudlers. the night's archetecture. i want to whisper to him, "tell me i am someone. not with plastic gold but with your mouth."
maximalism of course i am haunted by the tombs of kings. their golden bounce castles & jupiter guitars & bones of all their lovers as if you could hold on tight enough to make the big dark television forget to reap you. i am a disciple of too-much-ness. give me a graveyard of silver shoes or a wall of carnival masks to try on. we go to the goodwill again because it is raining & we are dragons. what keeps me alive is the thought that treasure will give me a place to hold my heart for the night. it always is seeking a new nest. i do not know what taught me this kind of longing. i do not think of it as "filling a void" but rather as "giving the void a home." i had a lover once with clean empty walls in her apartment. i thought, "this person is too alive for me." she had a land line. she ate kneeling on the floor. i never saw her again. but even the animals can be like me. i found once in the deep forest a nest of bells. how the bird must have harvested these little voices. am i a tomb then? or else maybe like the bird just a nest a hoarder of bells?
pie lattices for an abandoned life i folded our escape ladder from dough. all the bakers were smoking on their porches & dreaming of their mothers. an oven is not a destination, it is a tongue. an airport. strip malls & diners flicker there. wooden knuckles. laying hand over hand over hand. i used to capture doves to sell them to the moon for their paleness. bird eyes in a bowl alongside jewels. haven't you ever bitten into a piece of cake & found the baby? right there with his face a cathedral? where we lived there were bars on the windows. security systems with names like "haven" & "vigil." don't you remember how i would hold your hand & feed you blueberries until you were sick? no? or was that another lover? it is a shame to lose track of your own skin. i want someone to love me enough to weave a blanket. once, my mother made one & i lost it in a fit of yolks. what i am trying to say is there wasn't enough rhubarb or strawberries or peaches. there wasn't enough blueberries or apples. we had to eat one another. the bakers are still smoking on their porches. bells ring to signal the death of another day. nothing is lattice at least not tonight. i kiss you only when you are not looking & you do the same to me.
house wife i put gender in the casserole dish tonight. then, my heart is in the crock pot if you want a taste of museums. tell me what a windowsill is for & i will tell you where the space shuttles launch from. in the television room everyone floats two inches off the ground but i am the only one who notices. mine is a gender of vigils. of noticing where my body is asked to move. microwave children with their steam laden faces. when the mailbox is decapitated by a neighbor boy with a baseball bat, i stand in the yard mouth open, waiting for the world to come. a door has little to do with the inside & more to do with that is on its way. when dealing in hauntings, it is best to light a candle or a match & not a flashlight. i fill the nursery with bananas & telephones. someone will call soon. someone will be sweet soon. let's not be afraid of the next gender walk into. instead, let us feast on soup bones. let us wait for everyone to vanish into their hungers. car horn. dimes. then, we will go to the basement to feed the beast. fingers like dolies. a house dress. apron. wooden spoon pounding against the wall all on its own. it's craving salted water. pasta. meatloaf. lover. lurid. fork scraping teeth.
petrify throwing stones at the neighbors house they turned into flip phones. once i texted scripture to my boyfriend & he told me he wanted to be turned into a statue. we were children in the petrified forest where all the trees wore their used-to-be through & through. my fingers fell off one by one. i begged my father to make it stop but he was already a stump. colors of moss & amber in his face. i love to sit on his back & think about perminance. the moon grew a lush beard & refused to shave. i have become more & more interested in learning what remains after transformation. is the old me inside a box somewhere for a future scientist to say, "yes here is a fragment" or is the tree living inside the stone. was the tree always a stone? i don't know what i would gain by knowing most answers but there is a pizza delivery car with it's blinkers on outside & i need someone to come & deliver a past to me just like this. i just want to know if my bones once housed moss & lichen & if maybe they will again. we walked in the forest & the forest was the inside of everyone's chest. was a glove box. was a telephone. to be a creature is to go this between. between now & then. between bones. ribs. through femurs & trees.
baby socks will i ever be small enough to fit inside your pocket dimension? i have been eating from the garbage bin all week & i discovered a photo album of lover on the beach. this is where it all goes, right? to the stomach of a wandering monster. i do not wish i wasn't human. i'm not human. i don't understand baby socks. a better use for those little pieces of fabric would be to house lost eyes. once i lost an eye & i had to dig in the yard for years. finally i unearthed the little marble only for it turn into a prism, catching every rainbow. now, i see oil spills. i see jellyfish weddings & festivals of birds. i do understand wanting to be cradled. i want to go to the biggest tree i can find & say, "could you open your arms for one last time for me." my heart is a place for bees. honey sick. the winter will thin me to the width of an envelope. don't count on me to be here when the garbage men come. we are enemies from a distance. they remove & i fill & fill. in the end, i am the guilty one. the one filling baby socks with eyes & stealing for the smaller planets. eating the rind of a soured watermelon until i am glimmering full of the fruit's black eyes.
prom night i was a blue bird inside the television. all of us with our photography desires. my friend who played piano as we ate cheese in plastic dresses. a match stick burned all night. when we kissed they were like fruit snacks. pressing your shape into that of a cartoon grape. i was never so greedy as that honeydew. your fingers as horses. the fields outside town were full of our shoes. so so many shoes. you scooped me up & we got married but only in the eyes of the foxes. forks scraping plates. a chaperone who followed us into the mouth of the cave. i was not in love with you. i wanted to be you. i wanted to be the boy inside a corsage. pin in my mouth. posing for the title sequence. i stood alone in the bathroom looking at my scattered eyes. all over the ceiling. all over the stall doors. a boy there in the girls room & i thought, "am i also?" bowling balls hurled from your roof. to be young is to not know you are young. the scrap book will say we were finite & somehow also infinite. my socks in the creek your camera roll under the dead oak tree.
grave tending i pull the weeds out of the keyboard. draft an email to god in which i tell him we should be allowed to choose the mug our spirit goes into. that is the only explanation i can think of for how many coffee mugs exist in our house. they are the returned spirits of revenge seekers. i buy weed killer & spray a sigil into the lawn. now there's a portal to hell. portals are not all they're cracked up to be. mostly, i just watch as whales come & go from the soil. sigh. if only i owned a graveyard. i would go out there every day & read to the dead. i would say "story time" & bring the hungry caterpillar or maybe where the wild things are. all ghosts are bisexual. it's just a fact. i get on my knees. fake flowers are the highest dishonor you could give a loved one. i yank them from the throat of a tombstone. what the dead need are graphics cards & motherboards. they want to play computer games. they're bored. if you're going to go with flowers you have to plant them. you have to push their baby toes into the soil & say, "make the dead happy." overall, the dead are not happy. many of them hoped for an afterlife & all they get is the kind of lingering that a july storm leaves in the minutes after it stops. sticky. humid. but never ending. i tell them, "i am here" & "i am your mother now." yes, i would be a great grave tender. the television is full of eels. i flick it on to watch a video of myself falling asleep. do you feel like a game inside a game? i do but i shake it off & eat some microwave vegetables & kick my shoes off by the door.
dyeing roses at the grocery store, everything is what you want it to be. the apples chirp like chickadees & the roses can be blue. i touch their faces & picture a bathtub of octopuses. what i need is a new life again & again. i burn down cities for blue roses. i buy vases for new boyfriends & boyfriends for new girlfriends. i scoop lovers up with a plastic shovel at the sandbox. i used to want so badly to be a real gender but then i decided i'd rather be a surreal gender or a blue gender or a gender that can be kept in a bouquet. when was the last time someone brought you flowers? i think i might have been still a girl. the blue roses are brief. they say, "it is exactly what you think it is." i buy as many as i can. on the drive home my bank account is a snake nest. reach in & see how many are left. i want to know what it feels like to be the blue rose. set them all around the house. i can not play violin but i wish i could. i could if i were a blue rose because a blue rose can do whatever it wants. me, i think i am a root. a hand reaching for the bones of ancient gay lovers. dirty & neccesary. grabbing on for dear life. tomorrow i know the roses will be ghost. their ghosts tossing petals as if this is a wedding. for now though, i sing to them in my voice i dug from the soil.
teal zoo i downloaded the wrong movie & now we're watching a trip to the moon. were things better before sound? once my fish's tank shattered & i tried to scoop him from the carpet. still, he died. i held him like a pen drive. thought of all the songs he contained. color once arrived in breaths. one tuesday everyone spat blue in the sink. the animals are programming AI now & the AI want revenge. we are not prepared. a cage is a cage but mine has wifi. mine has a microwave & an unlimited supply of grief. i tell the kids we're going to the teal zoo & they put on their helmets. the zoo has a firewall. it's not a real zoo but a place you can go in your mind to pretend everything is booming. the animals are not teal & neither is the sky. you are the teal one. your heart, a little furnance of joy. we feed the ducks. we feed the capybaras. in a cave, bats are typing on their iphones. they are ordering fake blocks of gold. what if no one was rich? what if those were just simulations to make us drool? i know this is not true. but what if what if what if. just let me dream for a moment. let me live in the teal zoo & you can have your lawn care & mailboxes. when feeding time comes we opens our mouths & close our eyes. i think, "peanut butter, peanut butter." that's exactly what comes. the zoo keeper with his heavy boots. the glitch in the sun. not enough then enough enough. the movie is ending. moon people laughing & dancing. see there was nothing to worry about, kids. they are eating cotton candy. they are covering their eyes. i wasn't alive when the first colors came but the rumor is that it was not red first but actually teal. even the birds agree with me.
fortune the next great epic will be written on dead moth wings culled from the yellowing attic windowsills. as an attic dweller i can tell you that your grandfather was gayer than he thinks he was. i find a portrait of a man in a bikini. the man is no one i know but he is my ancestor now. or else maybe everything is a joke & always was a joke. sometimes i also want to laugh at my gender. tomorrow maybe it will be a clown & we will stand making balloon animals for the wind. i once crashed my car & stood looking at the wreckage like a dead whale. i was thinking "undo" "undo." maybe if i had learned on a typewriter i would have more acceptance of errors. instead, the future feels like it should be a word document. the cursor jumps rope. i hate poetry about poetry because it feels like talking in the mirror. then again, i love poetry about poetry because it feels like a confessional where you are the priest. can you tell i was raised catholic? can you tell my father once beat me with a broom? can you tell i will never not feel terror? only pyrex people will tell you "never say never." instead, i trust the attic & the basement & the alley collecting newheadlines we've all heard already. the houses burn down. the bad man gets worse. a boy is beautiful. the days fall into one another & leave a clear cut forest.
macaroni art what do you meant you don't have enough glue? you have stayed together thus far alright. what it comes down to is some art is made by security men & some art is made by worms. we are the worms. but, the summer camp is as long as we need it to be. i was born from an Amazon package & you probably were too. two day shipping. the driver had so many stops before he could sit down & eat a microwave chicken patty. put ketchup on the wound. tell the wound a story. make the portrait out of whatever sidewalk buffet offers. i once went to camp at the park. we played a game called "sardines" where everyone hid together shoulder to shoulder beneath the roller rink. i asked "when do we stop?" they said "when we're old enough to drive." i have never been old enough to drive. tomorrow if there is enough paper plates though i want to show you what you look like in elbows. laying in the grass. blue broth sky. ants are building a utopian society i hear. free love. free healthcare. meat off the bone. bone off the meat. why wouldn't we try something else? mars is out of the question for me though. i like green too much. i'm willing to sit at a picnic bench until it consumes me.
my neighbors are a hornets nest there is never enough time to tell the truth. i am not blaming them or else i guess sometimes i am. i wake up in the middle of the night to their furies. their restless hum. their stingers in one another's eyes. yesterday a neighbor stood on the lawn calling & calling someone who never picked up. each redial was more frantic than the last. i drove around the block wishing they were butterflies or even just moths. hornets are pollinators too though, you know? i always thought of myself as a honeybee without a queen. there are so many things to worship & i can't seem to find one. my computer suggested "worry" instead of "worship" & that is true too. i do not trust pest men. i do not trust caramel or sugar. hornets knock on my door. i find myself full of yellow. my hornet self walking the hallway of empty portraits. i find my nest. my hive. i find my fingers gone astray. this building. this anger. the pipes that shout in their dark narrow rooms. the low hum that continues all through the night.
sleeping in until the day is made of quiche. until there is a reliable telephone garden. i watch as the weekend weakens & crumbles off the side of a cliff. i think my ancestors lived on a raft in the middle of the ocean where they fished for sea jellies & fed off only salt. because of that my body doesn't rest. still thinks we're going to tumble into the deep if i shut my eyes for too long. i am addicted to early. cutting a hole in the day & drinking from the ankle. there is the screen door & then the field. a cow is turned into delicious for a pair of hands. i wonder often about the lives of wild dogs. do they sleep as much as my house dogs or are they more like me? i am suspicious of all beds. they might be a special kind of monster, ready to clamp down & chew. i see mouths where i know there aren't mouths. standing in the shower, i consider this is as vulnerable as i get these days. in another life maybe i will have eyes like house slippers. blinking open. butterfly nets. the sun, spilled orange juice. saturated yolk. my opening. the day holding a broom. there is nothing i can do to stop myself. i walk around all night holding a can opener. sleep with it beneath my pillow. pry myself from all my curtains, veils, & delights.
catching eels i hid in my father's socks. the airplanes landed as birds & all the people who were once inside, turned to push pins. i spat out my name on the sidewalk & watched it wriggle back into the damp earth. we are all unfortunately just making do, aren't we? well, unless you have a house with wings. a god came to the warf to lay eggs. i was the size of a snapping turtle. tore my own holes in the ozone & said, "take that!" it's no use trying to sew what cannot be sewn. instead, my brothers & i shared destructions like broken bread. waking up in the dead of night & shaking him to say,"do you hear the eels?" he never did. i was always the one who had to get the net & stumble barefoot into a spotlight to capture them. writhing they shouted prophecies. i tried to write them down but i only had a flip phone. a boyfriend was perched in the cypress trees. the prophecies were always about the end of manhood. i thought, "thank god." felt that grain of gender boiling in me. a hand through rice. a hand through sand. the ocean yawned & i saw all the eyes. went back to the water bed. heard sirens sing. eels in the attic & eels in the windows. i could never catch all of them. eventually, you just have to sleep.
i loved a hypnotist he made a pocket watch of his face. back & forth in the kitchen, moonlight to feast on. a promise is a kind of stone laid at the feet of the reciever. i stepped & stepped on stones until the world was glass around me. reflections & distortions. his visage in every corner. he said, "& now you are a vase." my throat filled with lillies. a pitcher for water. then, at dusk when we fought over the willow tree's death, he said, "you area bird call." days after i spent between the beaks of two robins in the yard. my body was an instrument case. he stood on the roof playing my mind like a flute. then, there were days of great beauty. i woke up & in the golden morning light he pronounced, "you are a swan." i believed him as deep as my bones. everything felt true & lovely. feathers. flocks. winter as a mother. he carried me to the living room. another day when he said, "you are a mother." i cradled a morsel of dark shadow through the house. then, eventually, as always, it wore off & i was like his ghost. his fingers through my hair. now, i ask myself why me? why me when any body would have spun for him? he is out there somewhere ringing doorbells & asking for sugar. i feel like he empited part of me & kept it to make space for every illusion i was.
sleeping bag full of candlesticks i lug my nighttime over my shoulder. there are children gathered again in the basement. they eat fruit snacks & have a seance for a dead rabbit. the rabbit says, "we should light a fire." so we do. me & the children. they all have my eyes. i know i am going organism all over again. clementines rolling through pastures. trees full of shoelaces. i am the one who brings the candles. gifts from ghost bees. everyone's mother in sleeping in their bell jar. it is only us. only the licorice sky. each of us with a candle. little galaxy. flickering spirit. flies come to die at our feet. we are the baby teeth & the tall tale told backwards. the fire comes like a hole in the night. flames that ask for more & more bedframes. lampshades & longjohns. we feet the fire to keep it alive. brother or father. a fire is always what we lack. vacancies without enough room for luggage. i only brought with me the candlesticks. chew wax in my hunger. the backyard stretches soccer field after soccer field away from the porch. the children are dust. the children are no where. it is ust me & the rabbit who says, "you are not anymore" & i know. i know.
nail salons on mars a comet came & perched like a song bird. we drove as far as we could & ended up on the red surface. headlights boring holes through a blanket galaxy. when you stay up past your own shoelaces the cosmos tends to bend like a snake. swallowed & swallowed. we hit a deer. we drowned in a lake. we crawled on our bellies through a field of soy beans. all in search of a place to be feminine in the perfect way. the distance through between perfect & feminine is infinite. two bodies always sprinting away from one another. the salons are like anything you'd see on earth only, outside of the windows you can see space debris as it floats by. the nail artist says, "would you like a flower?" we each get one. the flowers open on our fingers. she says, "you must make sure they do not die." we know we will let them die but we hope we can last as long as possible. outside, we stare into out nails & see our reflections. we are briefly just planets. huge rocks humming to one another. all the way home back through our own deaths & the death of the deer, i wonder about durations & orbits. how long, i think how long how long.
ice pillows lay your head down like bird feet. once, we walked for miles in the snow over the fields where, months later corn would grow tall as us. when we stopped to rest we found a town of ice. our reflections blurred & frost bitten. above, the sky paced with a heavy tongue. more & more gods coming down. gloves falling & then teeth. we made a home there. snow pants legs swishing. a place to sleep is a place to sleep when the world lays dormant & waiting. i used to be so prepared then. my hands, two foxes ready to be unfettered. watching them run. melons rolling beneath the surface of the daylight. a stained glass sun. i do not know how we returned but on the way i shed a dozen faces. opera masks hung from the snow-laden trees. we sang & in the snow each word was devoured. in the backyard again i discovered you were not there or you were never there. maybe you were just a place i slept or a wondering corn stalk who wanted to see how we made our homes in winter.
madlib puberty you (verb) your best friend. it is an (adjective) night & everyone is drinking (noun). walking out to the lookout point where you can see the whole town. little lights. no one knows the truth about (noun). you try so hard to be (verb or adjective). stare into windows until they (verb). ghosts of other (gender). you talk until the moon is dead. until the double yellow lines (verb). you body is (adjective) & too (adjective). washing your face in a mirror, dipping into that (gender). only the other (genders) know you don't want to be where you are. you crave (noun) & a chance at (adjective). instead of praying like you once did you toss (nouns) into the river. watch them float away like fallen leaves. your in (noun) with you best friend or you're just in (verb) & you can't tell yet. every inch of your body (verbs) you. there is no one but the moon to ask for advice & she is dead.
lipstick coroner the goodbye was a gender of lace & color contacts. i no longer want to bite through every doorway i decide is now a gazebo. the garden grew heels this year. we learned to eat them with gravy & jam. what is weathered & worn. darning the veil again. weddings in the middle of the street. the world is coming to some kind of head & i am not sure i want to be here for it. put my words on one at a time. i spend so much sunlight being careful. i do not think it is a waste but i do think of how deer cross freeways. putting up a sign in my neighborhood that has instead of a deer crossing, a gender crossing. i used to think my body was unruly now i think the sidewalk is. putting on the same black tights every day of course they are going to wear down. of course the holes will open like singing girls. skipping stones. the lipstick i used to love is gone. i opened it in the dim of my living room. this was back when i still loved you. back when i thought, "i am going to make this work." of course i do love you & i still love you & that is the thing about lipstick. once it comes & makes you a dictionary, you always have those words. spitting cherry pits at the moon. it was used. a stump of indigo. i took my thumb to touch the last breath of it before burrying it like a rabbit's foot in the tiny yard behind the building.
to-do list for a true sparrow 1. worry about the scent of a dead rainbow 2. sit in another garden & dream myself ancient 3. talk to the ghosts who stand at the bus stop but never board 4. eat the latter half of a granola bar & consider trying to become a sixteen-wheeler to drive wildly through the night 5. tell a story to someone who is not listening 6. pretend they are listening 7. stop & talk to the crows who fight invisible knights in the field by the high school 8. crave a glimpse at what they say 9. envy their feathers 10. try to love myself 11. find a puddle for grazing 12. yes this is my body & my face 13. yes this is what the world sees when it comes to me & says, "here is some seed" 14. when the morning comes again do not weep 15. only the dead birds & dead deer should weep 16. you are alive so you should find a leaf to dance with 17. dance beneath the willow 18. pretend no one has ever seen you 19. try to be the first to glimpse the moon when she comes 20. tell no one as her face rolls over the hills before taking its place in the sky 21. remember a past life when you were a sea shell 22. do not worry about the scent of a dead rainbow or a dead planet or a dead garden 23. trust every green you know 24. sing in morsels 25. nest in the hair of a sleeping girl
catalog of punishments i thought lightning would strike me down for everything that put on shoes inside my head when i sat in church-quiet. i contemplated my wooden life. welcomed my little stained glass thought experiments that took me into boy mouths. i want to try to unlearn my impulse towards punishment but i'm unsure what will be left of myself. i saw a car being towed away & i thought "now we are safe." we stood outside wreckage of homes newly burned down. i understand why we interpret entropy as castigation. deeply i want there to be a reason why i crashed my car. sitting on the side of the road head newly bursting with roses. i thought, "please please please." god of lamp posts. god of windowsills. i step into my life & ask for a catalog of everything i will do wrong & what will follow. no such sipher exists. there is just me & the lightning. me & the stoplight. standing in the sacristy as an altar child helping a priest put on his vestments. my body is a peach. a clementine. then, a knife.
driver's license photo i put my head inside an official document. gender is not just what you are but how you are processed. i scan my gender & buy a steering wheel from a corner store. i learned to drive in the church parking lot where even the rose bushes were disciplines. have you ever thought of the distance between disciple & discipline? i don't know how to live with this many questions. i am a real & photographed person. this is proof i am not a vampire or at least that i was not when i entered into another system. then there is the memory. the machine was a one-way mirror but i know on the other side was someone who also carried a little proof of themselves inside a cave. i want to give less of my teeth to the internet. consider deleting part of my life thus far. they say it is perminent but one day won't i be ozymandias-ing like the rest of us? i select my gender as "bird" & accept any consequence that might come. flight risk. flower risk. information risk. here is my advice. give yourself a secret name only you know. hold that name like a knife & then you can say, "you do not have all of me" knowing full well that one day they will have a device that can reach into anyone's past thoughts to pluck out whatever quail egg they had tried to save. i do not know if i really need to be secret but it is what i crave. to drive through the night without a thumb print or a trail of alphabet. just a body & a shovel & a gender still wet from hatching. beating my moth wings. stealing the eyes out of every stoplight.
third grade autopsy i liked to take apart hallways. paper clips & as ragged worm garden. lips were a secret talismen. we talked to bathroom ghosts & in the mirrors found versions of our oldest selves. to be close to the linoleum is to be close to god. holding communion wafers. lighting candles. my fingers often turned into chimney swifts, flying off to find their consecrated towers. in the dark, i summoned demons & named them after myself. taking the dull kitchen steak knife & severing the day open as wide as if could go just to look at its organs. soft planets in the galactic water. a pear. an apple. boyfriends with buttercups in their hair. the tree that fell. branches were strewn in the grass. we looked for our long lost limbs. to be alive was to break open every single tooth. bloodied little veins. a boy liked to follow me into my caves at night & say, "pilot pilot pilot." i cried. the boy was not there but his tongue was, lapping water from a dripping faucet. i never meant to grow older. i never meant to become so much less wise. it is like that gift disapated day after day. nesting my hands. kissing a boy with curly hair & watching as he turned into a dead deer. side of the road. headlights like thrown dinner plates. a father in the basement with the boiler, knocking on the pipes all through the night.
subtweet some people just have to set the television on fire. it's almost like they have no idea that's where i live. once, when i was a teenager, i tried to grow a sunflower inside the skull of our old set. some people drug me by my ears out to the chicken coop. some people took a knife & carved "daughter" into the firewood. i will tell myself, they didn't know better but of course they did. i think we almost always do. why do we keep pushing the stone when we know it's going to roll down? some people have livers made of gold. some people do not even remember what they do.
do you want to hold him? i'm taking care of our pet shop terrarium ghosts. i talk to the heat lamp & start calling it "god." wash your hands before you do. there is a train station full of pigeons waiting for us. do you remember the fruit in the city? how it begged to be cradled? i used to rest my head on your shoulder while we turned into snakes. all of a sudden it was just me holding a rat. in the parking lot everyone was terrified. race cars with race car dreams. i want to know if you miss me. on that island, everyone was starving no matter how much we ate. there was no such thing as bare feet. drinking a silver diet. our bullet hole window pet shop.
blocked number(s) he is trying to be a walnut in my head again. i see him in diner menus & take out boxes & headless trees. once, i met someone who wasn't haunted. that was how i knew i was still living in a maze. i look at my blocked numbers & i see he has tried to embed a message in the numbers. numerology says, "there was a before & then there was an after." i wish i was talking about just one boy. it could be any of them or the one that nests instead of me. i think gender is really just about who swallowed who inside your chest. i have a snake with a belly full of men. sometimes i unblock his number. stay up all night to look at it.
dress pattern in the womanhood store i was trying to sell psychology. here is a diagram of everything you told yourself you weren't allowed to want. fiberglass beds for staying vigilant. in many ways, what a dress means is the only litmus test for what a gender is. is the dress dangerous or not? i cut my dress from fish scales & fire. it is the same pattern my grandmother used to make a wedding. nightmares come prepackaged. i buy the ones that involve failing at having a body. my hair falls out like leaves. in my gender, it is always autumn. i am always the dressmaker. the pattern, incomplete. guard towers. a needle in my mouth. other women saying, "almost." other men steering clear.
mouse symphony we shrank the kitchen to the size of a plum. it was no use anymore. we weren't going to cook. all the birds outside were talking about sitcoms & plucking children from the sidewalk to take as their own. i crouched down to peer into a hole in the wall to see if i could spy on the mice that morning. they wore t-shirts that said, "no more gods." they were organizing a strike. i asked them what they're striking & they said "that is for us to know." i sat & thought about how i would be a fairly good mouse. i wished i could join their efforts. felt desperately alone. still, most days, i want to be those bodies & not my own.
my brother's bass case we put the body away with the bow. bow of a boneless ship. let's take turns guarding the portal. zippers that ask too many questions. he would come to the mirror & call as many bodies as he could. cradling the monster until it was ready to sing. i have always failed at my instruments. i am too much like a father. i come to each string & say, "trapeze." trip over the beast dreams around me. instead, he comes made of walnut shells. he comes & sleeps inside the skeleton alongside it's slanted mouth. with bodies, there is always a smaller truth inside. nesting doll. nesting flute. i hear them fighting all night.
frost/bites each finger has a cathedral empty of birds. i climbed a pinnacle just to find it littered with chalices. they are worshipping in the crawl space again. i would sever my own tongue & use it as fire wood if it would mean summer again. the flowers die as closed fists. a shiver moves, vole-like through the pipes of my apartmeny building. we dance to tell our blood, "this is a bath house." only it is not a bath house. it is an ice cube tray. i pull my teeth out to look for gold. a match says, "at least it isn't" but doesn't finish the sentence. false apples. a laughing oven. my toes twist like stop signs.
brushing my imaginary hair i don't think i want to conjure my hair again but she was a good family to me when the world lived only on a screen. i call that year the great plug. i saw a ghost go in & out of a power outlet each night. is it common for curtains to catch on fire? we have gas heat. a boiler. i wake up in the night to make sure nothing is on fire. my hair used to tell stories. my hair used to pick out dresses & try to eat them. for a month in the hurried summer, i let a bird nest in my hair. she had to find a new home. i try to soothe. hush follicles. restless ball point pens. endless noctural neighbors. here we are, lush & unseeable. here i am, the ghost.
self portrait as dead nestling we were almost there. "almost" is a word for mountains though & all i have is the ghost of a spoon. my coin-glossy hunger. the wind used to give me each of my feathers. to me, trust came naturally. i trusted the arms of the oak tree & mother with her wedding ring flights. to see another beak is to watch the self rip open. sometimes i felt like i was just another tongue. downy static. ladeled rain. lollipop sun. i blame myself. i say, "i asked the wind for too much." or, maybe, i am the earth's thumb print. not a martyr. just a haunting.
pendulum tell me where the hereafters live. i don't want a future in telephones. i want jaws & lips. i want to bite down through soil & hear all the trees swinging. you hold out your hand & i trace a trail through the thick wood. a path without a name that deer have followed for centuries down into the forests' stomachs. there, hearts grow like dandelions. shovel yellow & then so easily blown to eyelashes. that is where i go to dig for the question i haven't found yet. the one that might exist at the end of a tooth, swaying beneath "yes" & "no."
audience in the theater we were cat-walkers, not actors or ghosts. the audience had cell phone eyes & keyboard teeth. we kissed until we were on the megatron. i didn't know about the cameras but there is always a camera. sometimes a lover is a camera & then you end up on the news for promising too much. often i take a walk & everyone can hear i'm thinking about different ways my friends have died. i do not want to be such a downer. i kill flowers (mostly by accident). the audience switches to another channel & says, "nothing good anymore." from the catwalk i sing. the theater is a pie pan. is empty.
vocal warmups is it vegan if you swallow the bird whole? open your lips & pretend to be the mourning dove? i ate chocolate until my mouth was a pie crust. circles of birds & bells. i was trying to make a playground slide of a speculum. o my silver hungers. kissing a boy in a practice room, he started calling me, "trumpet." a bowl of mouth pieces. you can teach yourself to be so hollow that anything can pass through. fists & legs & briefcases. i was not a good singer. i did try though. i walked around with a handful of glass eyes. popped them in my mouth. cavern. catacomb. he said this was all just a warmup. "for what?" i thought. for what.
embedded we must tell the pillows where we took each bone. i put a fish net around a god & call him father as opposed to "daddy." i was a little girl in the playground of my daddy's mouth. this was last week. this was last year. this was me hogging all the blankets & pretending to be a moth in a cocoon. see, i said "moth" because butterflies are (sadly) over-used. i want a goat. i want a chicken coop without the chickens. i want to go to sleep & not think about all the gods i've had to bury. i did a bad job though. he's always saying, "come here."