self-portrait as a cockroach 

i frenzy in the sugar sweet 
beneath the fridge. run from every leg.
swallow crumbs like manna. 
my eyes, two tails-up quarters.
when i fall in love, i bring with me
the rubble of choked cities & dust song.
i saw the bones of a god. bathe my self
in the after-shower glowing blue tile bathroom.
i divide. as many of me as i need
to tell a story. skirt the hallways 
asking for another crease to press 
my body into. my skeleton glints 
in neon over-head lights. i remember
when i was small. the size of a grain
fo rice. i eat like i can chew
a hole in the world. a place for us to escape
to a land of edible lovers. instead,
i look for warmth where there is none for me.
motors & gears & grease. the back of 
the cabinet where fingers reach.
i am accustomed to screaming.  to pointing.
there is the monster. my antenae twitch,
catch another ghost's hymn. i can never tell
if the shouting is from the alive
or dead. they are one in the same
to me. i follow the dark to a place where
everything is cool & unmoving.
belly of the house. no one is there but me
or so i think & then another of us
& another. the whole knot, jostling
for a finger nail's worth of safety.
i have ached for that. i am always so hungry. 


for joan

we put our gender in armor 
& tell it to fight. a museum blooms
every day beneath my tongue.
it is there i meet you in the middle ages.
girlhood always becomes chain mail.
the sword, caught in a net
like a great fish. hold your weapon 
in a way that lets them know you 
cut your hair & fed it to the dragon.
walk as if there is no fire that 
plucked out your eyes. i am here to tell you
there is a cave by the ocean. you must walk
until the sunset endures & rings 
like an altar bell. there, girls like us 
live like sirens. we do not fight for men
or with men. we are men. the kind
like blown glass. our bones iridescent.
catching the light of a fragile star.
we take turns undressing & knighting 
one another. cool metal on bare skin.
no one has to know what it is 
we become without the armor. 
helmet of crystal. i too have seen a skeleton
shatter as stained glass. when god talks to you
he does not remember where you came from
but where you are towards. rays of light
that protrude from your eyes & mouth.
a halo coming in the form of a song bird
perched in the tangles of our short hair.
the battle is over. there are only prayers
for the golden masculinity. the one 
only we can wear. 



my phone grows insect wings & whispers,
"it is time to be a garland." i follow
the scent of flowers to a static-scrubbed field
where everyone was born from the severed head
of another. the maypole arrives;
a thorn in the side. burst from
someone's body. we quickly forget them 
as they're consumed by vine. when i was a boyfriend-
girlfriend we used to go & eat wild. 
purple berries full of bees. his fingers. 
gasoline of the highway by the trail. is nothing
sacred? him picking me up like a jar of pickles.
a door floating in the air. in the creek. 
to be young is to circle like a shark around
the world's axis. there must be something
someone to devour? he bit off one ear 
& the other left me to be a may queen. luna moth.
motherload. milk maiden. coming to the spot
where everyone goes when the good thing
is about to spike. all love is a mound. or, at least,
it has been for me. we are climbing & i am carrying
all the promises in my rib cage like parrots.
finally, i realize the maypole is a spine. not yours
but mine. all the boys & girls & monsters
orbiting like faint moons. gravity tears 
buds from their necks. we kissed as much 
as a day could hold. each press, the spurring on
of another blossom. have you ever seen 
a maypole past the equinox? have you ever stood naked
in the forest? he was there cutting down a tree.
he told me he would not. he couldn't stop himself. 
now, the maypole says, "i am different." 
talking to your own body as if it is 
a grandfather. "good enough. good enough."
to survive may & maypoles. do not tell me
i am in love again. do not tell me 
this is not my skeleton. sky full 
of unanswered texts & headless birds. 



sometimes i open the door to the cellar
to find it full of thimbles or jars 
of peanut butter. the basement wants
to swallow our ankles. hoards history 
like a museum. smell of earth & worm worship.
the children go then to do our work.
lift everything again for the depths.
find messages in bottles & jars
of baby teeth & braid of hair
shed by travelers. everyone knows
a basement is a place a monster goes 
to undo his skin. a place where banshees
let their tongues rest as newts & snakes. 
where fathers take their children to teach them 
about saws & hammers. callouses 
that grew like beetles on our backs.
he ate handfuls of dirt. fed us the same.
you can only repeat the nightmare 
so many times before it becomes a place.
i basement myself once a day at least now.
embrace the violet & terror. a basement says,
"you are going to need to change species."
i pour out all the plums from my feet.
sacrifice a bird to keep the abyss from
opening wide & gash-like. find zippers
in the soil. where to pull & reveal
a bag to sleep in. a guitar case.
witched instruments that play. the worst was
the time it was full of mirrors. so many
version of my fear dancing merri-go-round
in the dark. hoisting each & making sure
they did not break. we burried them
beneath the catacomb tree. insects still burrow
to go & look at themselves a thousand ways.


air conditioner graveyard 

have you ever seen a building
turn to graham crackers?
mush of earth & knuckle.
riding the train through every electric forest.
the birds we used to wind up 
& let go. do you still think about
how we ate together? little wedding
at ther wobbly kitchen table.
taking out organs & placing them
on the table. my stomach & spleen
& ovaries. these all belong to you.
knive sharpener. the time the air conditioner 
almost plummeted to the sidewalk.
living above the world & waving.
wondering whee they go when they die.
a field of broken metal & muzzles
where the air is perfectly cool.
i am old enough to feel how the earth 
has shifted. this winter it only snowed once
& when it did i felt relief. 
the storm where the alley ways turned
to licorice. you wondering if the trains
were still running. a match stick.
a microphone. have you ever found yourself
in front of a crowd, wanting to tell
more of the truth than you should?
i miss our life. i walk barefoot 
in the machine heaven where 
all the birds lay still waiting for
someone to twist the peg
in their backs so they can live again.
face down. featherless. featherless. featherless.
asking the air a question as if it were
an eight ball. "do you remember us?"
"do you remember us like i do?" 



in the face of a bicycle spirit 
we waited in the grocer alley
with empty milk bottles & a knife.
the ceiling fan grew icicles 
& we watched as even those became teeth.
dear brother, how are we 
going to build a house from all this?
we tried to take make the home
safe for angels. wearing sunglasses
just in case they came & spit
their celestial light all over the walls.
once, we took a family portrait 
& there is a girl in it with five
extra eyes. the girl is me. she lives
beneath the sink & i come once a week
to give her another box
of raisins. you can live on nothing
but nostalgia. that is what we do afterall. 
opening the winter in a can. 
give me back my baby teeth. killing
fairies not out of necessity 
but out of anger. how dare they 
hoard bone? a television full
of mice in little costumes. posing
with the mannequin sister. doing her
makeup. brushing her hair. tell me,
will you help me pretend we are alive?
i used to invite the stray cats inside
to watch me burn pages of 
moth-smelling books. the icicles 
grow to the floor & become columns.
o colosseum. o air conditioning. 
let's not argue anymore. 


22 love poems

we will see if i get there.
this is not a promise. 
know that i do love you enough 
to teach ground hogs to talk. 

you face is a lunch tray 
where i come to eat
with my fingers. 
do me now, i lay on my back.
let you feast off my shoulders. 

the numbers are talking
to one another & saying
we are fated to fall in love
& burn down the museum.

do you remember that weekend when
all the stores were closed & we 
couldn't find anywhere to 
call our masoleum.

i thought we were tails
of the same rope.

a love poem is like a shoe box.
you can use it to burry a dead chicken
or you can use it to fill with jewerly 
you used to wear.

i promise you there is more than enough
for 22 but at the end of the day
we all have limits. my tongue is often
busy being a salamander.

there might never be a time
i can tell you how many planets 
i have hunted for you. killed.
devoured. milked. instead,
i kiss the back of your hand
until it becomes a mailbox.

let's get ice cream to watch
the show. angels sewing new trees.
god in his boxers scratching his stomach.

everyone means something different
when they say they don't have a father.

close but not close enough.

i sometimes play dominos 
with the dead. i'll lay the pieces 
across my chest & wait for them to come.

love is only fun if it's destroying something.
if it's tearing the family apart. 
juliet swallowed a sword & said,
"i am divine."

it's not quite there, i know
but as with all things amorous
it will have to be enough or else
in my mind i will build a cathedral
to it. i will say what we had 
could turn the sun to stone. 

you write your name 
on the roof of my mouth.
i am a beech tree. i am a bed sheet. 
i am a salamander. a lunch tray.
fork, pen, & spoon. 


styrofoam garden

tell me blossom eternity 
while the landfill labors like 
a femme sisyphus. broken nails 
in the fresh soil. a flag worn like a dress.
we go to smell the wrappers 
still sweet with sticky bun. do you know
how long you will take to become air again?
i fly a kite made of only take out boxes.
the angels take turns spitting
in the river. we drink from hampster 
sippers. beautiful little animal. i planted 
this kind of farewell so we would
have a place to meditate & by meditate 
i mean panicking in quiet until
the quiet is so loud it eats your face.
haven't you ever used a foam cup
as a telephone? to my ear. whale song.
rotten teeth. broken-foot birds.
i sew my trash as if i'm going to be here
when the plastic bottle finally sighs
& says, "goodbye goodbye." what is
a garden but a place to come & be betrayed.
snakes twist around our ankles 
& i am always careful not to step on them. 
i am not mary or holy woman. i am 
a demon working trash bag of genders.
the trees bear cups of coffee. piping hot
only in may before the first 
terror-filled thunder storm. cracked knuckles.
the glamorous gods. won't you come 
& starve on endings with me? i don't want
to miss a moment of this our decomposition. 


spin cycle

in the washing machine basement 
everyone is asking for rebirth. 
it's just out of reach. soil & must that stays 
in clothing threads. gasoline. grease.
i try again to scrub out my blood. bleach.
a bruise opens like a garden on my knee.
cinder block.  cemenet wings. 
i run out of money for another wash.
cull the ground for beetles i can employ
as coins until a mouth opens in the ceiling
to rain down everything i need.
wonky corner chair where a mother
is always sitting & sewing together 
cockroach wings. i used to believe 
in cleanness. that another could be 
made fresh & new. now i see sometimes
the world becomes bone-deep. 
outside even the moon has smudges
& smears. mud tracked on the ceiling
from when we tried to be ghosts.
a little girl runs back & forth in the room.
catelog of orphaned socks that want
to turn into mice. when i open 
my bag of powdered detergent
i breathe in the story of clothes lines
in a field of perfect flowers. even the dandelions
have been growing with two heads. 
mail boxes in the lobby sing gregorian.
i pull my clothing guts from the machine again.
toss them in the dryer. hope they come out
new garments entirely. maybe a pair of 
iridescent pigeon wings. 


crochet planet cozies

i pull a thread from the beard
of a dead satellite dish. they bloom
all over the apartment buildings 
& thin kitkat houses on my block.
despite being ghosts, they still talk
to the planets. all week they've whispered
"cold cold cold. they planets are cold." 
i can't imagine what it is like to be in space
without a jacket. once i left my coat
on a plane home from portland & i imagine
that is what they feel like. watch
a tutorial on how to knit a cozie
big enough to hold these massive 
gumballs. someday i know a beast
will come along big enough
to eat us all. chew us until we're pink.
mouth full of burning stars.
until then let's be comfortable.
i buy slippers online & wait for 
the box to arrive. start crocheting
every night. sleep is for those without
existential dread. i'll dig in the yard
& find a new pair of eyes if i need them
to stay awake tomorrow. for now 
we have to dress the planets.
i notice they shiver, shaking in the sky.
"there," i say, as i dress each one
like a cookie jar or a teapot. 
they say, "skull skull skull." i do not know
what they mean. i feed them a packet 
of dice each. ravenous for chances.
some of them still believe one day
they might hold life. mars & her fantasies
of foot falls & birthday parties.
i will not be around to see that but
i tell her i hope it is marvelous
& it's true. i hope it is. 


gymnasium the size of thimble 

promise me the legs you used
to climb the dead tree.
i talk to me child-self. he cuts holes
in every moment i give him. 
a rope spills from my father's mouth
& he tells me to climb. we all know zeus
even if he hasn't come to us
in the form of a swan. i challenge 
my boy self to a race with my girl self
& my boy self loses & vows 
to burn every house he sees 
for eighteen years. i hold a spoon
with an egg in it. this is a relay between here
& the warmth of a struck match.
it is amazing how gigantic a space can become
when you start to dream of escape.
one day the gymnasium filled with
red rubber balls. i cradled them.
took care of them like nestlings
while the men came & reaped everything they could.
there is an ai now who can run away
for you & tell you what happens. 
i do not grieve my grief. it lives 
like a tossed frisbee. of course we can
get it back. i wanted a ribbon or something
to show that i didn't die. that i ran
as fast as my gender would carry me 
& then i was in the dark of a metal roof.
i was told there would be a crowd.
there is never the crowd you need.
would you believe me if i told you
i have won? i would not believe myself.
that was several sexes ago. now i am 
an amphibian. it rains & i come alive.
breathe through skin. climb the rope.
he changes tactics. he says, "run with me" 
& as he runs his foot falls shake the earth. 
i already know & he already knows 
i have not chance of catching him. 


empty box

when jesus resurrected he left
his vagina in the form 
of a music box. it's a television
in other version of the story.
the truth is always told
by femmes & then turned into
shadow puppets.
the jury is still out as to whether or not
jesus was femme but there is
a church on the moon where
they keep a single press on nail they think
was his. it's in a little glass box. 
queens come there to weep.
a reflection is something deposited
& not something you can scoop
from a surface. i see myself
in empty spaces. in television screens. in
a music box that opens & no sound comes out
& you wonder what makes it 
a music box if there's no song inside.
jesus didn't know what he meant
by leaving. considered sending
a text message for us to wake up to.
instead, he left in a tear 
like most of us do. i am still looking
for where to keep my empty 
& i am often jealous of jesus
with his infinite vagina. he gets
to be free of anything. he gets to
kiss angels if he wants to. devour planets.
whittle a face into the moon
& i am here in a museum of empty boxes.
i carry my own. fill it with pebbles 
from the stream. we all do what we must
to keep the tomb full. i light 
a candle. i hear a thread
of escaped music. toss my reflection
like a handful of dice. 


hood ornaments for dead cars

how much longer
do you have left until
the junk yard calls you "figment"? 
a dream inside the belly of a machine. 
up the street i watch as cars 
are made into promise rings
which is to say they are unkept.
portals to whatever future you can crush.
the upholstery blooming
with worms & their lovers.
parables written in switch blade songs.
rust coming like ruffles. how do you
want to be adorned when you die?
i want to be decorated 
like paper plate macaroni art.
bring the ghost children & the birds
to my face & tell them i was a vehicle.
we drove as far as the world would let us.
glued jaguars to our foreheads 
& tore holes in the wind.
headlights scooping sunrise 
from the eyesockets of the universe.
it is all about what you can escape with.
i always filled my pockets with coins.
planted seeds in my thighs.
so many little trees bearing just
one golden apple at a time. the junk yard
is what i know a heaven is. 
mushrooms telling over & over
the story of the universe. one says,
"let's start at the beginning"
then, sung in a round, they speak again.
me in the shattered glass of an oldsmobile.
goodbye says the maple. goodbye says
the rubber. goodbye says the hood ornaments
who dream of a miniature village
where they could hold their weddings. 


dollhouse w/o

i go to watch my inocence
like a zoo creature. she is cutting 
the heads off babies & making them
into offerings. she is picking flowers
& feeding them to angels.
the dollhouse is always a place 
without one wall. that is what
i was born into. a door off its hinges.
wing dissected from bird. feathers 
i tried to stuff into the seams.
the flashlight i used when it was 
a father night. how lightning bugs 
knocked on the windows & said,
"are you plastic yet?" they wanted to know
if i was alright. my dolls 
were hollow which is to say i did
not have them. they were bundles
of sticks & a match stick box. 
i have always cared for discarded 
girls. gabage girls & race track girls 
& gasoline girls. she bakes a plastic pie.
the pie is perfect in the way only
the artifical can be. let's replica 
what we never had. pretending to eat.
how long, little animal, 
have you pretended to eat? 
i have most of my life. the viewer
pretends there is a wall 
where there is none in the dollhouse.
the occupants do not. 


violin chest

it is tradition in our house
to lay the oldest son down
& hollow out his body 
for song. the dim light
of the basement wood shop.
all afternoon we tried to catch a horse 
to pluck hairs enough for the bow.
running in the fields 
with butterfly nets. the first time
i heard violin was when a girl
up the street laid down
in the driveway & begged to be
made a mouth piece. 
her father came & played.
the notes fell as a soft snow & soon
she was transformed into an owl.
still, sometimes i see her 
standing in the dead oak tree
on the corner. he carves with a knife.
two "s" holes from to reach inward.
to push through the pain
i try to think of how happy 
everyone will be when i get up
& perch in the middle of the dinner table
to open every gathering with a melody.
he tells me, "this will not hurt"
even though he knows it will
& i know it will. i bite down 
on a dead bluebird. the blue 
is contagious & i fill with clouds 
& running mice. when everything is done
we string thebow together. everyone begs,
"play something!" i feel lost inside
my own instrument. what should
someone play? what is a son?
i closed my eyes & spoke like
a wood pecker. then, a humming bird.
drinking the air. each note rung through me.
that night i hugged myself tight.
felt all the music of mailboxes 
& telephone polls as they streched out
inside of me. my father said 
when he was done, "you will learn."
i drop pennies into my chest
like throwing them into a well. 


wax father / mother

i found your forms 
in underwear ads. triptychs of gender.
school hallway where at the end
there is a candle wick. 
we would collect half-used lighters
like talismen. bottom of my backpack.
what kind of flame would you like?
you were busy mowing the lawn
for the hundreth time. you were busy
milking the cow of her wax. 
spilling jupiter & a mop to clean up
the tongue before it dries.
i never knew how to tell you i was 
trying to learn how to fly. instead.
i paced the roof in the dead of night.
plucked stars like blueberries
& fed them to the ghosts to keep them
from shoving me off the edge. 
a flame is a place of gathering. moths 
for their funerals. burned like 
secret notes passed by carrier pigeons
in the knees of night. then, genders
to feast on an image. here is where
everyone can see me. the light,
an agent of almost. shadows that
could give you a face or take it away.
flickering. here is where you are 
& then gone. you with the holes
burned in your socks. you with
a tunnel underneath the city where
you go to be a woman. a man. 
i pour the mold. pull the wick out 
of your head. ask if you want to choose
which light i pick to light you.
you go with the blue one. it's all
part of being alive. watching your
whole self melt in the name of a spell.
soon we will know what is left. 


toy chest

in the middle of a serious i go to find
where the toy soliders lay down to pretend to be dead.
once, i threw a brick at car window 
& the world caved in right there. i ran away
on doll-girl legs. hid inside a sweet tooth
until it rotted out & i was all alone in a sea
of lincoln logs. is everything a little bit about
conquest? what is taken from who? 
how the taking becomes a way of life. 
i remember stealing a friend's stuffed animal 
at a sleep over. how i hid that stuffed monster 
in the bottom of the toy chest & in doing so
the toy chest became a coffin. came to visit
& pay respects, saying, "i cannot play with you."
i was terrified at myself for what i'd done. 
my friend would say, "i wish i could find that stuffed monster."
& i would not blink at all, just listen & nod.
toys do have a way of wandering away & becoming 
boyfriends. i once had a pocket knife who knocked
on my window until i gave in & let him take.
i guess "let" is what we say when we want to pretend
we had agency over how we were taken from.
a pocket knife can be a toy as can a bb gun
& a lawn mower & a wooden spoon & even
a jar of animal bones. i rooted in the chest
for a mirror. for a plastic sandwich to take
to school when i had no lunch. pretending to chew.
have you ever pretended to chew? you can 
almost taste exactly what you want to. 


pink vinyl

she opened her mouth &
all the worms came out.
pink is a place where we go
to be threatening. the ear
of a shell where all the sea monsters
leave their pocket change.
i once again am laying
on the tongue of a straight girl
who doesn't know how quickly
a heart can become a harvest.
in school i was taught
to never say "heart" when i mean
something else. i don't know
what else i could possibly mean.
i mean the stake for the vampire. i mean
driving through the convenience store window
& stealing only the bubble gum.
i mean a gun in a refridgerator.
saving the ending for later.
i sit in her ear & whisper lists
of everything i wish we were:
lovers, pilots, pillow-fort sargents,
architects, & assassins. let's not
carry more rocks than there are windows.
i've learned to build an altar
to pink. play the pink vinyl sounds
only when the garbage truck is coming.
you will not take my paws or
my cream. i pull the blinds shut.
listen to a song knit from times she said,
"i love you" & meant it as a friend.
imagining flipping over each letter
as if it were stone. the grubs 
& the newts & the crawlers beneath. 


"th" sound

i planted thistle 
in the throat of a false god.
haven't you ever thrown
your head too far?
the yesterdays i vanished 
searching for that lighthouse.
my eyes, turned into dart boards
for any kind of wondering thrist.
he thrashed which is to say he put
his tongue behind his teeth 
& formed a pilot. paper airplanes
we thrust at the enemy.
the enemy, just a mask of pinwheels.
thumbless men who eat 
without their hands. lips pressed
to the golden plate. i never thought
i would have to call in a favor
from the thread keepers.
they weave me a vest. a vest of
thousands of gems. glitter or 
gutter. we need a new place
to put our vowels. i do not have
enough pockets or thank you notes 
to harbor this kind of push.
pressure against a porthole. 
the airplane flies & forgets
in a blaze of thunder. i call a radio tower
& then everyone can hear my thoughts.
i am saying, "i used to have teeth.
i used to have a thong." it's incredibly embarassing
to have a daliance with a sound. 
the words come back to me 
in flocks. thrive, thick, thaw.
the softness i always needed to reach
another morning. th all over again.
birds opening their th in the dawn.
a th in the mailbox & a th 
waiting to pounce. there aren't
enough words to tell you exactly how
i have been losing all my language 
to the hole in the basement. thorns 
in my bed. thrifting another mouth.
a thimble of honey. a throne of rice. 


pheromone machine

i fill my bike helmet with wildflowers
& drive across the bridge to where
all the bodies live. bodies in their
holes in the wall & their tree knots 
with their laundry flapping in the wind.
i take my eyes off & put them in my pocket.
speak in poems with the hopes that
doves will come & flock to my mouth.
to be hungry for hunger. to want to be
a jewelry store inside someone else's
imaginary wedding. come & get me 
i think & static leaves me ears. swarms 
of bees that live in my heart making honey
for no one but themselves. i do not know
what i would do with a body if i got one.
i guess rather if one would have me.
they make devices these days for people
like me who want to be a salt lick.
deer ride motorcycles. an owl pulls out
a gun & i raise my hands to say,
"i am just in love." he sighs & scoffs,
"as if!" i know it is true. love is not
a barrel to sit in but the balloon string 
you hold & follow. i am not good at that
or whatever else bodies do. i come home
without even a freckle. an arcade replaces
my house which is alright by me i guess.
the bodies come & go. my bones were made
for doorways. for going this way. for
spitting on the side of the trail.
i hold out my hand & a wasp stings me
right in the middle of my palm. 
stigmata comes in many forms i guess.
please though, if you hear the machine 
call me. call me & say, "i love you"
even if you don't. especially if you don't. 


hourglass w/ nails

i have watched a day turn into 
a pile of rusted nails. the teacher
puts me in the "game over" chair
& i watch as she makes my classmates 
play musical hats. when the music stops
you need to find a hat or 
you'll be turned into a beta fish.
there is a little boy in a cage
we call the class pet. he eats food pellets
with his hands. the window is 
a television. once we had a snow day
& all of us ran outside. feasted 
on frost & icicles. our parents were
busy talking to their lawns & so 
it was just us. the teacher said, 
"fend for yourself" which i heard as
"build a pie to sleep in." the hourglass sits
on the end of her desk. whenever she wants
something to be over like a rain storm
or a child crying, she turns the glass over
& tells the subject, "you have this long
to become a loaf of bread again."
the butcher's kids sit in a separate room
so they don't cause any damage. 
blood in their pig tails. spare knives 
in their lunch boxes. i have always wished
i was something dangerous. instead,
they handcuff me to a computer
& tell me to type until i know
where all the keys are. i am convinced
i won't ever know. the hourglass 
grows legs. a centipede. i crawls
across the wall. no one tries to catch it.
after the day is done i always stand ringing
like a struck bell. i tap on the telephone.
call my grandmother who lives
inside a pomegranite. she says,
"don't tell them we talk." i nod & say,
"of course i won't" even though
i know for sure i'm going to confess 
everything to the hourglass 
if i ever get time alone with it. 



i look for my fangs 
in the roots & brush of the old trees.
mouth made into 
punch bowl. candy dish.
i laid on my back & told everyone
to take their pick. dry fingers 
& damp fingers. the woodpecker
& all of his children. who doesn't want
a relic of another? like in the middle ages
when they harvested bones & flesh
from the bodies of saints.
i am far from a saint. but i am a body.
i am a garden full of weeds & worms. 
full of shards of glass 
& a dead apple tree that bears 
wedding rings & bells. i scavenge 
in the knots. all i want is something
sharp enough to bite a hole
in the wall. escape paths. i curse myself 
for all the ways i'm made myself 
into a nesting ground for others
but never myself. i said to each 
"here is a tooth." i could not
ask for them back so i needed 
something new. fangs. if i have to
i will use pocket knives. i will 
crawl on my belly with the snakes.
rattle for a heart. i am trying to blame
those who took my teeth. to be precious
is to come piecemeal. i know
i was never whole. i do not need to be.
the fangs come delivered by a hoard
of ants who just stripped a fox skull. 
wiping their mouths. two sharp points of light.
i lift them into my skull. marvel at them
in my reflection in the dark lake.
stars like freckles across my cheeks.
the ghost of the animal makes me promise
to keep these in my skull. i tell her, " i will try." 


butter makers 

i talk to the cream about divorce.
about severing. this is not science
this alchemy. transformation.
the cows who come into the living room
to play video games & eat sour cream
& onion chips. butter comes only
from the hard truths. the running-start
sentences where your tongue becomes
an aluminum bat. taking a swing
& missing. people are always hurling
apples at my head. canteloupes fall
from the ceiling & that is how i know
my father is home. saw dust on his back
from building coffins. every family has 
someone who builds the coffins
& someone who makes the butter.
i am often the someone who makes
the butter but if we're honest, we trade 
our roles if the sun is sick with strawberries.
i am a fan of everything stale. leaving
the butter on the kitchen table 
until it is a shrugged-off gold. knife
i keep in my pocket. you always want
the butter to be easy. you think it should be
but then it's melting into your skin.
soaked up by wheat toast or a tenderness
you didn't expect from the microwave.
melting the butter into a bridal shower.
into a baked loaf of baby shoes. worn out.
worn too freaking much. i do not want
to find myself again kneeling beneath 
a beast & waiting for cream. the cows 
say, "it was you who said you needed us."
they kick over the mailbox. they break
a window. i put a pad of butter
on everyone's tongue & for a moment
the world is still. there is a jar of nails
on the mantel. the cows stand 
in the yard watching us. it's my job
to make peace with them. i fill a bowl
with honey & sing until they return. 


jelly jar

let's fill the starwberry 
with all our hammer heads.
the blinking street lamp
finally executed by a middle-schooler.
someone asks me, "what do you do
with all your anger?" i boil it down to
guts & seeds. steam on my glasses.
my mother would talk 
to each berry before it became
a sister. i collect the jars. harvest them
from the den of a politcian.
he feasts on paper machete birds.
before i go he tells me things are
looking up. i try to avoid talk
of the sky. the sky does not grow 
brambles or burs or grapes & blueberries.
the sky is a place birds go
to make escape plans without us.
you don't need to toast or anything.
a spoon is enough to carry a knee cap
into your mouth. sharp & sweet.
no one puckers like they used to.
a wooden spoon can be a femur 
or a family. i come with the jars.
we boil them clean & give them 
their first confessions & communions
before they are ready for the rage.
pots & pots of it. taking the sun
& rendering it a fresh scab. wiping lids.
you be the jelly & i'll be the jam
or else the jar. is there always a vessel?
carry us into the next moon. 
i scope out my insides. cup
after cup of sugar. there i am 
alongside the gooseberries &
the orange finger nails. we eat 
until we vibrate like television static.
lightning storm flosses its teeth 
on the roof tops. the quiet pop
of a jar's lid. before we feast best we can. 



i call you a headline to get your attention.
come on & stocks tank. a share holder
is the last living member of his species.
tomorrow we will commemorate month
of months. a place where we can
representation ourselves in a strike.
the oldest woman alive is selling 
a new flavor of cap'n crunch out of
her boat house. people gather to watch
a corpse flower bloom. it is new years
or it is not. it is christmas again or it is not
& a food drive for our kindergarten troops
is all we have to do to feel good. canned
sausages. canned pudding. a world record
for the largest can of baked beans. middle schoolers
pay off their teacher's medical bills 
by auctioning off their fingernails. we all 
are doing our best or so i am telling you
because today someone set fire to 
a beautiful tree we used to love. i once 
returned to a childhood playground
years later just to find a stump where
a hearty oak used to stand. i smelled
the stump. a reporter held a microphone
& asked, "have you died yet today?" i had not
until that moment. a sound bite of my saying,
"let's not be too worried" when i most certainly 
should be very worried. a new drone 
delivers chocolate to a sea monster 
on it's way to rip open a peaceful.
the fig tree doesn't grow in places like this.
we sit in your grandmother's living room
& wrap each dinner plate in newsprint.
on the television a celebrity is 
a memorializing. casket. bag pipe.
the plates are pristine. never used. 
we keep & keep. we do not talk but sometimes
i move my mouth along with 
the television host as he says,
"a hurricane is spotted off the coast of florida"
& "but there is some good worry." 


aubade for tornados 

the fossil footprints bring 
their whole bodies. here is where
land opens like a hot dog bun. 
pressing a fork into the sun
to smear yolk over our skin.
you once told me that you 
could smell when the wind 
was about to go out for blood.
bolder grey sky bruising 
with a star beneath. we held
bow & arrows. shot out the eyes 
of an old god who was peeping in
on our froot loop breakfast.
sang like a smashed radio.
tin & string & sour. milking 
the old cow as she dreams
of wings. flying elixir. crawling
into the stone basement where
the house collects all its sorrows.
we hunker down in the vertabrae.
light matches to see glimpses 
of one another's tangerine faces. 
peeling skin free to taste 
each other's sweet flesh. marmalade.
wheat toast. the clouds forming
a crown of wildflowers. laughter
of the harpies. the day breaks
with the help of a can opener.
prying open the lid. here comes 
the legs that snap the windchimes 
from their nooses. 


clouds in the attic

i teach my tongue how to fly
by watching the crows 
in the alley. send each appendage 
to it's private heaven. i am cutting
as many holes in the wall
as i can. picture me as a vapor.
picture me as a body spray.
i crawl on hands & knees up the stairs.
i am only six year olds & in the living room
my father is making monster noises.
the clouds speak with voices 
knit from spider webs & ice cream.
vanilla warble. a mummified bird.
i sit in the clouds & talk about 
meteor showers. ask them if they remember
what killed the dinosaurs. they insist 
defensively that they had no part in that.
they don't understand i'm not accusing them,
i'm trying to learn if i might dissapear 
the exact same way. history has
a way of doing sommersalts
that turn into tires down the back
of a mountain. the clouds are by far
my favorite guardians. they say,
"look at me, i'm now a hippo"
& "look at me i'm fractured skull."
they feed me jewels. brush my hair.
then, hold my hand 
to walk me back downstairs. i ask,
"when will i be allowed to separate my body
into so many beads?" the clouds lie to me.
they did not say, "never" they say,
"elsewhere. elsewhere you will be like us." 


funerals for teeth

goodbye to the choke of cherry pits 
& knuckles. how we chewed through
every ceramic plate the angels handed us.
bit down on gravel. road a bicycle 
into town to burn down trees
at the park. a basketball sun smacking
the raw spring dirt. come & show me
where you plant them. your tooth.
canine & molars & bicuspids. 
i will take you to the masoleum where 
another girl made me into a wind chime.
kissed the face off me. we robbed graves
of their teeth. tossed them at passing cars
like wedding rice. the dead laughing 
toothless in their sleep. i take mine 
& burry them like squirrels hoard food
before the first frost in november.
one here & one there. one for me to find
in an old pair of shoes. another in
the medicine cabinet to remind me 
i am an assembly-required human.
one. just one, i plant like a peach heart.
i water it with sparkling soda & push 
chocolates into the dirt. you have to promise me
you won't try & find my tooth.
some days it is the only thing that
keeps me going. my little future life.
one day it will bloom. will it be
a green leaf? a head of hair? a finger?
i am not sure. all i know is this little self
loves to sing but only when it is dark.
we go to drink the moon together
from coffee mugs. cream & sugar. sweet. 
tell me then, how do you tend 
the run away parts of your body? 
you do not have to show me where
you keep them. i just want to know
if you kneel to them like me. 


pin holes in the plaster 

the puncture is almost large enough
to walk through. poster after
poster. paper machete rib. i spend hours 
pulling pins from my bedroom wall.
have you ever performed archeology 
on your own face? pix axe? brush?
i find all kinds of relics. my old life 
standing in the corner with 
a pair of sunglasses on. who taught you
your favorite disguises? i hold
every thing together with thumb tacs.
arm to shoulder. band poster 
to my back. i would turn & turn 
in the nights here as if i were a water wheel.
window full of polished stars. seeing
the bare wall. the beast's belly.
all the holes left like little eyes.
i mistook them for doorways but 
there are sights of vigil. they say,
"goodbye beautiful thumb." i say,
"good morning eyelash." putting tongues
into trash bags. i should not have to move
ever ever again but i know i will.
i know there will be more faces 
from which i remove the lips 
& let them encircle me. i run my fingers 
over the raised spots where each 
wound is left. one of them 
starts to bleed so i hold my finger there
until the small trickle of blood stops.
i step back. i might be selfish 
but it is hard to imagine the life 
of a space after i am gone. my ghost
still there wrapped in birthday cards 
& blurry photographs. i exit
through the narrowest wound.
i want to say i carry nothing with me
but i carry everything. 


uses for the hexagon 

build the comb in the hive.
break out of the basement
using only the shape,
a spoon, & a casserole dish.
carved into pupil. a puppet 
in a graveyard. burrying 
the dessert plates along with 
finger foods. filling 
your mouth with honey
until no more words
reach through gold. have you ever
tried to tell the most important 
story of your life in metaphors?
i am a liar. i stay up all night
weaving cataracts 
for me & all the selves that will
spill out by morning. i do not want
to be a real boy. i do not want to be
geometrical but here i find myself 
& all my angles. measured & 
measured for precision. tell me,
did your body ask to be a strawberry?
mine begged. begged in a confessional 
the shape of a hexagon. 
eight priests. disciples 
of the gospel of mary. it always 
pulls me back into an altar.
breaking the tomb into bite sized pieces.
any circle can be made into
a home. that is why i cast like this.
one side for every way i've died.
nine lives for any cat. i fall from 
tall buildings. i pluck out my eyes
to roll them as dice. you stand
& watch. i wish i could see 
if you're smiling & if you teeth
are hexagons too. 


a study of triangles 

pythagoras took out my teeth
to find the river. he said,
"a child is a measurement."
how happy are your bees? how many
grandparents have you used
as firewood? we take a plane
& cross over the bermuda triangle.
you say, "you know we are going
to grow gills?" that is the last thing
i hear before the plane becomes 
a sea monster. a whale
once beached itself in my bedroom.
i used my end table water glass
to try & pour enough to keep her alive.
she died like a suitecase full of shoes.
i am a catapult keeper. take one
for a walk around the block.
the neighbors warn me that
you need a permit for that.
i do not have a permit. pythagoras
feeds me grapes & tries to get me
to do math. i laugh & tell him,
"there is no such thing as a number."
all the numbers are offended but you know
someone has to tell the truth.
isn't a zero just an emptied egg?
if you've ever blow the yolk out of
an egg through a little hole
you'll know exactly what i mean.
taking a wrong turn & ending up
at the feet of the pyramids. they laugh
because this is all very funny
how an angle can meet another
& name itself. pythagoras shouts
with discvoery, "this is how we are going
to whittle down the moon." 


honeysuckle lions

we went into the sugar
to be caramelized as martyrs.
my shoes on the merri-go-round
& my face painted on the back
of a beetle. the bush grows 
like a dead man's beard.
wild rush. all the life of 
last year, sweet & seeping. 
i remember feeding you my tongue.
did it taste like rain? we plucked 
ticks from behind each other's ears.
purses of blood. who comes 
to your stream to drink?
i am flowing & flowering away.
at night i hear the bushes.
they growl like a coloseum.
like they are begging for more 
sacrifices. greedy plant with 
her throat caught up in all 
her lies. no i am not a boy today.
no you cannot pluck off my hands
to use as love poems. i remember
how easy it was to gather
the humming birds & say 
listen, there are not enough ways
to explain i am losing myself in you.
their beaks in my ears. call me 
a seraph with unrly several faces
& no god left to harbor.
harvest me. tell your friends i am wild
& i will let the worms know 
exactly where my hair lives now. 


vacant bird house

i don't know how to be a ghost anymore.
your mouth spills sand into the living room
& i come with a box of tissues.
please, tell me when i get to go home.
the birds are carrying suitecases out
of a hole in the wall. anything
can be a bird house with enough doors.
a shoe box. a crawl space. my skull.
feathers in my mouth. you are always saying
you make your model cities for me.
i am so tired of pronouns & how they beg me
to enter sentences  against my will.
i want to be a ball of clay. i want to be
a bird feeder. seed in my eyes. 
the blue jays kill squirrels & steal 
their acorns. the birds make sure to say,
"that's not us." blame is a lovely
little halo. well maybe more like 
a hula hoop. what do you want to do 
with it? i want to point fingers 
at every little swallow i see. it's all your fault
that i am sad & angry & never feel rest.
the swallows laugh. they know they
are going to fill their next house 
with marble busts. i used to think
i wanted a yard & now it winks at me
& says, "i am full of dead birds."
of course, the bird were going to die
just like we all are going to die. i just wasn't
expecting to have to build tiny coffins for them.
lower each hollow body into the dirt
like a dictionary page. goodbye i say
& the birds empty their loved one's house
of its plastic shoes & compact mirrors. 


jesus billboard 

come & take off your face.
my o my you could be a good
telephone. do you carry your head
like a purse? does your wallet
open like a bleating lamb?
sometimes i stare out
at the cars & i think 
"all of these people in their
sheepskin coats." call this number
& find me on the other side of the line.
jesus speaking in bird calls. jesus
speaking in credit card numbers.
a tithe is required to be saved.
so is a sacrifice. what of your life
are you willing to drive
eight more hours towards?
rubber & road. i once was 
a motorcycle. then, in the morning
flocks of geese. i have seen people
pull over & weep. i have seen 
my face as a bumper sticker.
no one knows anything 
about worship, do they? to worship
is to fill yourself with firewood
& go looking hungrily for the match.
it is not enough to beg. you must also
stop at the gas station 
& convert the clerk into a believer.
trust me when i tell you 
i see a dart board in you. if you are
not careful you will spend your life
against the wall falling in love
with missiles. jesus is talking about
natural disasters. about tornado warnings
& the instructions that float like veils.
i see thousands a day & not one was 
like you. take the steering wheel
& toss it into the gasping woods.
i am ready for you. for each
of your knocking bones 
& for all of your tongues that journey 
like worms the morning after 
a drenching rain. i am asking you
are you tired of fighting?
i am your only way home.


ash tray

have you seen my crystal organ?
i need a place to desintegrate gracefully.
rubbing the white ash between
my two fingers. i taste dead fish 
on the air. the wind is holding
a knife. the neighbors pull thier blinds shut.
do not ask for help but if you do 
make sure you know where all 
your jewels are. bargaining again
with a passing angel, i say,
"have you heard the one 
about the lost daughter?"
we enter the room of smoke.
cats flicking butts from their cigarettes.
my grandmother is often an outline
in a doorway. her old apartment complex
with the duck fountain that never worked.
instead, it gathered rain water
in its belly. crystal ash tray 
on her little porch. she would often
lose a finger. i saw it turn to dust. 
i know this is what is becoming of me.
o vessel. gather me up. make me 
into a morsel of carrying. i do not want
to be scattered yet. instead, i want to lurk
like the scent of tobacco years later
still sewn into her clothe gloves.
a haunting the size of a tongue.
birds sitting in their ash trays 
in the trees. an ash tray 
between my ribs. bear trap. bird cage.
all of it, waiting for the knife 
to cut them loose. 


graveyard for trees

i bury my hands. shovel in my teeth.
the graveyard is full of televisions
playing reruns of the superbowl. 
i still don't know how to play football
& i'm uninterested in learning.
trees die in rainfalls. one limb
at a time. they stand & watch a hand 
fall to the earth & become the home
of mushrooms & little bugs.
i too know what it's like to mourn
the body piecemeal. i said
no freaking way & that's why 
i'm doing the taking apart myself.
a little headstone for each hand. 
mourners come. other hands of all 
my friends & former lovers. the trees
are not like this. they do not mourn
their dead. instead, they wait for
them to become part of the soil.
years from today they know
the loved one will glimmer behind their eyes.
my hands were mischiveous agents.
always picking another apple & 
shoving it into my mouth. i wanted to
let them run rampant. let them
strangle as many dandelions as they pleased.
i could not see them wither. i am not a tree.
the trees say, "this is a graveyard."
we are standing in a parking lot
& then in a mall bathroom & then 
in an arcade. i think a graveyard is
an onion. one petal for every species.
goodbye previous galaxy. goodbye 
old rotting moons. ours is fresh 
& shiny. i often push rolled up notes
into the ground for my hands to read,
"i'm sorry" i say. they don't respond.
the trees lay down sideways beneath 
every broken strip mall cathedral.
i leave flowers for them. the tree ghosts
spit them out & say, "we are not dead."
i say, "i know. i want to join you."  


bicycles for the trees

escape is a state of being.
escape the telephone. escape the holiday
escape the bone structure. escape 
your father's tongue. escape
the teeth of the bear who lurks
by the telephone poll desert.
i tell the tree, "you should 
run way with me." a forest on foot.
they say, "roots roots roots."
always an excuse for not 
flowering in the deep knots 
of the wild land. of course i do
the same thing. i say, "not today"
over & over until my body is nothing
but a windchime. the trees have dreams
of living inside an ice cream parlor
& having an adolscense. i have dreams of
swallowing so much dirt i do not
remember being a piece of chewing gum
in the mouth of a wingless system.
everything here is meant to make us
into escapees. exit signs 
line either side of my days. a boat
with a beating heart i could ride
into the sea monster lands at the edges
of the map. i mean screw it 
maybe i'm a flat earther now. maybe
i need to find a fairy ring 
& pull it apart. incur the appropriate 
wrath of the magical beasts.
i shake the sapling at the edge 
of the creek i say, "there is still time
for you!" the tree stands up & gets on
her bike & rides away towards 
the supermarket. she is going to buy
as much ice cream as she can eat.
i kneel down to touch 
the warm earth where she was. 


altar clothe

i saw god in a stock photo.
we were walking through the goodwill
seeking refuge in all kinds
of beautiful nonsense. there he was
with a linen scented face. i was looking
for altar tools. it was a cordless november.
all i wanted was to be a human again
but that always feels like something
i'm reaching for. do other people 
see the mirror & think "almost there"?
i brush my teeth with a paint brush.
mouth full of trees. i've learned
to fill every empty space with a knickknack.
in between my ribs are snowglobes 
& that portrat of god which i purchased
& he quickly vacated the frame. a coward.
always running from containment.
if i were god i would first turn all landlords 
into fireflies. there, they too can learn
to try talking to lovers with only
the light of their own bodies. power out.
summer's talons. we sweat & quickly ate
the melting ice cream cones from the freezer.
when you get fired from a place
i'm told you put all your desk things
into a little box. mostly, i stumble through
the day like this. all my little needs in a box.
god could show himself any time
but he is afraid. he knows he's 
royally fucked up for the most part.
i bought an altar clothe with 
little bird knit into the doilie. i bought
some lost candles to make into a crown.
i am a winter-is-alway-coming kind of person.
the cockroaches playing their keyboards
beneath fridge. all i wanted 
was a holy moon to slice at the counter.
sitting with sugar dripping down 
our chests. a bookend. a chalice.
the checkout line, a glorious little purgatory. 


steel wool blanket

the crickets come to the window
to promise i can be more clean.
beneath skin. beneath bone.
beneath chicken flesh & guts 
there is a tissue paper garland.
one thought biting the tail 
of another. that is where my teeth
are gift wrapped. that is where
my skull glows full of cave worms.
i sit in the kitchen sink with 
a duck call & a gun in my lap.
in this country anyone could have
a gun in their lap & so i have one too.
i name the gun "honesty"
& pet her like a dog. i  just wanted
to shin like the glass cabinet 
full of plates we cannot eat off of.
skin comes off like a tasty-cake wrapper.
tell me the cream is right. tell me
i am as soft as you hoped i would be.
you aren't a man until another man
takes you completely into his mouth.
cuts his gums on your sharpness.
delight is a blimp i once saw burn
on the front lawn. we put on sunglasses.
we took out lawn chairs. tell me,
are you going to sleep in the guest room
or on my forehead? i have space.
the blood was always alarming
after sleeping in such a device. 
but, i've gotten used to it.
to seeing the wreckage & learning
i still need to call it my body. 
tell me, when were you last
comnfortable? i think i was four.
i stood naked in a thunderstorm.
washed. raw. electric.


horse-drawn suture 

i came with my mint floss
& my hooves to the rift.
the floor broke open one night
& we all ignored it. simply moved
the sofa to the other side of the room.
fed plums to the fireplace.
listened to the sugar as it turned
into birds. i pointed & said,
"what is this?" & everyone put on
their binocular faces & looked at
the neighbors who were killing
each other again. stray cats outside
always the spectators or maybe 
the angels. i don't know if i live
inside a wound or a body. inside 
a family or a sneap pea's belly.
behind a paywall or out for 
the whole town to gawk at. 
all i know is that we need a horse 
to haul the void shut. tossing shoes 
at the open mouth of a boyfriend.
every time i've tried to say the thing
the thing grows insect legs
& i can't get back there. i need to say,
"this is all coming undone."
the word abuse has too many eyes.
sees the quarry & the blood sacrifice 
& the doing our best. i no longer want
to be doing my best. i tried with all my might.
i just wanted to seal the chasm.
instead, i saw it grow even as i tried
to thread floss & shoelaces in an attempt to
pull one side to the other again. 
the horses road through
the living room frothing at the mouth.
two of them fell inside. their voices 
like dropped pennies. all the while
every watched tv. it was wheel of fortune. 
cheering. laughing. a studio audience.
i could swear sound came too
from the hole. 


palm mirror 

we went to the beautiful store
to get our faces made into needle points.
future can fold into cream
& into a knife. sometimes 
i punch the blush into my face.
there is the blood beneath
the surface. the moon is an organ.
cut open, it spills like a thumb.
i always wanted a mirror to hold me
in my most miniature form.
here i am small enough to slip
into your back pocket. powder.
a new purse. pickle jar full of tongues.
mine molts over & over. what is
& isn't worth cutting a finger off for?
i look & i see a girl whose head 
got sacrificed for a good harvest. 
each year the crops grow back as
little compacts where there used to be
peaches. i picked & picked until 
my skin was fuzzy as the fruit.
to have a girlhood is to be schooled
in the art of checking. all genders 
have their girlhoods, only some 
are more inferno than others. sometimes
the burning is brilliant. here i am
the size of a cherry. the size of 
a rear view mirror. then, on the worst day,
here i am the size of the sun.


sun stain

give me the first teeth again
& i'll write you the hymnal 
of pterodactyl flight. i'm letting the attic
ripen a certain prophecy. all in all,
i never meant to be the scribe. i always meant
to draw pictures of everything i saw:
a father with a closet full
pilot helmets. chrome crossword puzzles.
mom in the car on the way
to another planet again. 
my brothers & i discover we can
leave our mouths open & let the sun
color our insides with crayons. 
i was taught to whittle my sadness into
a useful shape. i make mine today into
a miniature tree. the tree catches 
on fire. funny how quickly a coping mechanism
can become a little disaster. i go to where
the bird's return their feathers.
they will be born again as fish or
if they're lucky, tigers. 
i watch every day as the room turns 
inside out. my little salted snail life.
the sun sends a bushel of rats 
to eat holes in my plot. i don't tell 
any more truths. i know they will
crumble from exposure. instead, i just recite 
a litany of screen doors. let time 
walk around with an apple for a face. 


the inventors of caves

speaking into the stone
the pathways came like strands
of lost hair. on the mountain,
i tried to send my ghost
to get lost down a mine shaft.
she always came back with
bundles of twigs, saying,
"the angels gave these to me."
i do not want to be a flashlight
or even a yo-yo. i want to be
a chisel & a skull in a pot
of boiling wings. the caves fill
with hard candies. my brother 
lays on his back waiting to be
mumified. i go out to the roof again
like i used to as a child
to feed a whole roasted ham to
the angels. their teeth are
pocket knives. their eyes 
rolling in starlight. i told myself
this year would be different but
here i am again with my hands
still covered in grease. still thinking,
what if we were toads in the
wild spring earth. i know i do not
want to be your rose bush anymore.
i know this deep inside
my underground rivers. 
do you remember the cave i took
you to? how we walked further
& further & the air was cool
as a fresh march day break.
stagatites formed from your face.
i saw us in every single rock formation.
imagined you leaving with out me
& me still seeing your jaws every where.
instead, we left together. the angles
dug these absences in us 
just like they did the mountains.
there is a cave where our knees
used to live. i go there to tend
their feathers. i'm not sorry anymore
but i do want to tell you i have seen them.
i've seen who made the caves in me
& they were terrifying. they were hungry.


candy house

unwrapping the door knob
& putting it in my mouth.
my father believed in 
the kind of sweetness
that turns your teeth into 
hag stones. i remember standing
in the yard eating a bag
of gummy chicken's feet
& thinking "this is breakfast."
bubble gum cigars. he said,
"this is how to be a man"
& then said, "did i tell you 
that you could be a man?"
i shattered windows with jaw breakers
& blamed it on the phantom 
chicken coop. every poem 
is a biography & a fantasy.
i planted dice & grew a tree of 1s. 
the bed of licorice we watched
the men eat. on their hands
& knees. i said, "why can't 
i decimate something. the wants 
of a static blanket child. 
so much sugar. bath tub of sugar.
bowl by the coffee holy water 
fountain. in the chimney 
my brother & i would say
there was a chocolate solider.
one who might come & liberate us
in the middle of the night. 
he would put a finger to his lips
& say, "no one wants to have a gender
until they do." he would pull us
like blimps through the air.
cotton candy sunset. our father
asleep like a tootsie roll 
in its little wax evening gown. 



i took a daguerreotype of my grandmother
when she was eating carrots 
in her husk. fallopian flute players
& their row boats. when i say
"discover" i mean dig up every root 
of the grass one by one. 
leave the yard as a picked scab.
my grandmother
stood taller than the house &
thin as a toothpick. she bent
holding a wooden life. teeth chiseled 
from a broken bust of persephone. 
her plants how they died. one after the other.
then, her little cat butler
with his ghost up on the ceiling.
he meowed at the cleaning man
& the sitting woman. we try to save 
as much of ourselves as we can. so, 
we cast the fishing line backwards.
there i was & there i was & there i was.
only, all i can see is the purple veined woman
with a shovel for a heart. 
a breeze blows her hair. sheets of
glaciers & violet mornings. knuckles 
like acorns. touching the fins 
of a beached whale & briefly
believing we could all lift it together.
a family is not a thing that does 
but a thing that does itself.
the whale becomes us.
what can't be mended. what stays 
on the spring time beach 
& waits to become a cathedral.
that is where i find her. amoung the dunes.
broken shells. none whole are left.
or they were whole to start. 


family crest w/o color

we gutted the squirrel 
of all his wires & found
a flag rolled up inside.
inheretance comes like this.
like you are killing a moon
& then it is spitting picture frames
at your feet & you have
to let it live.
my family comes from
talismen ferriers & traveling
sales people. for us, a doormat is 
a place of promise or at least
so we were told & so we tell others.
another crest comes in the mail.
each one is different from the last.
we look at the knots of corn
& ask "what could this mean?"
the trick is they tell you
we had horses or an apple tree.
a skull we burried & never spoke of again.
isn't that what it means to have a lineage?
a fear of what was burried 
& where the next tree will come from?
do you know there is a time in which
we will all be royal & then i guess
maybe none of us will be?
thank god. i'll be relieved of all the pressures
of false monarchy. i have a loose tooth
& when it falls out of my head
it is not a tooth but a dice.
rolls a one. go figure. on the crest
i see myself as the belly-up whale.
i'm gone. already gone but
i hope i'll be a feeding ground.
all the little creatures will come
with their forks & knives.
they will have a great feast of me. 



red comes like echoes 
on the cliff above the television 
graveyard. someone is on
the other line for you.
you find yourself in a white 
house again & you think, "no
no no no no." walking & hoping
there are no more reds in you
to bleed out. once you laid
on the empty bedframe 
of a small god & you painted
the posts & the floor with 
your guts. you have a way of 
escaping yourself. plastic grocery bag
of a person. the apple fall 
from your chest like softballs.
tripping & making a birthday cake
of the stairs. all you want is
for the sky light to not attract
the sudden deaths of cardinals.
it is you though. you are a magnet
for the internal as it severs 
& shows itself. a roadkill prophet.
kneeling in the shadow of 
a crumpled elk & twisting the bone
into sculpture. the blank is where
a red goes to be born. a pair 
of scissors. valley of ashes 
on a post card in the mailbox.
yes, i am going where the surface
is a knife away. whale watching tour
in a red ocean. there is the white 
whale. there is the cruise ship.
sunglasses night. i could just
go by myself. scrambling 
little ants. i stain everything
& watch as the color deepens. 
a man stands in the corner of the room
so he can watch. 


can openers

all i can say is there's never
a mouth when you need one.
all the cans with their 
googly-eyed dreams of thanksgiving
for food pantry people like us.
did you know you can 
get whole canned chickens?
we used to slide those animals
from their final captures & sing
to the beast as it went into a crock pot.
i search the drawers for a new god.
one with enough eyes to see
how quickly the end of the world
is coming. there's a soup ladel 
& pasta tongs & enough measuring cups
to keep me sane. i shared a house
with storks in college & they were always
swallowing the can openers.
once i was so hungry i opened
a can of black beans with nothing
but a steak knife. it makes me believe
that if i had to, i could cut an escape hatch
in my life. i'm saving the carcasses  
for future hideouts. i'm holding on
to the crescent moon so that they don't
build hostile architecture to keep us
from sleeping there. so many things
are useless without a companion. 
take this poem. if no one reads this
then isn't this just a can of pilfered eyes.
will you then be my can opener?
careful not to cut yourself 
on the lid. mostly i am cynical.
i believe there is not much i can say
that would change the world. the best
i think i can do is kick the world in the shin
& say, "i just want to feed my friends the clouds."
i like to hope though that we could
one day build a castle of cans. will they be
empty or filled? i am not sure. 


open house

there is no door.
this is where the wind goes 
to put up her feet & watch 
a soup-filled television. this face
could be yours. so could this window
& this white picket dog & this
tea pot with a picture of a husband
printed on the belly. sometimes 
a baby wanders through just like
a passing balloon. you can pretend
it's here if you want it and pretend
it's gone if you don't. that's the thing
about scent. there is no escape.
this has been contagious. more 
& more open houses & more & more
people standing outside with 
lottery tickets in their mouths.
we are waiting to see if we can
nest for the night. i invent a daughter
to go & collect twigs & scraps. 
let's be love birds in the sense that
as soon as a gun shot is fired
we are flying away. they don't plant
fruit trees in cities because they want
us to buy shovels & dig in the earth.
sometmes i grow a grave site
by accident. where else though 
are the rabbits going to go? 
everything in this world is free
to look at or at least that is 
what they'll tell you. as a child
we would go to the white computer
world just to see everything we 
could not have. this is no different.
look & look & look. this could
not be yours. a bowling ball
rolls across the floor. a parrot bathes
in the sink. in the basement
there is an old bust of elvis. 


chance of rain

frogs fall from the sky so we call our fathers
& ask what we should do. the last time
this happened it was a jupiter summer.
all the planets were bobbing
in the river. we had to temporary
to fish them out. instead the phone lines
sing old frank sinatra songs. i don't know
who that is so all i'm imagining is 
la da di de la da da. the cattle prod
worked well enough to get the sun to stop
talking about politics. the sun believes 
in meeting in the middle. i tell him 
he has spent too long away from the moon.
once you light a rock on fire
it'll start to say wild things. i was told 
it was going to rain but the chance
keeps shrinking & now it's as thin
as a piece of peppermint floss. my father
finally picks up but by the time he does 
it's stopped raining frogs & so he says,
"what frogs?" real rain comes. rain with bolts
& bicycle tires & obelisks. the internet
has been slow all week. if it doesn't speed up
soon i will be left with my own thoughts 
& their manic buzzing. how did people
use to work for hours just to make
cookies? how delicious they must have tasted.
i take the phone cord & i tie it around my wrist
& it's almost like having a god.
my umbrella tears quickly. bullet holes 
& pocket knives. in this kind of storm
the best we can be are bugs. the line goes dead.
my father is molting, i just know he is.
i remember when water held out faces 
like little mirrors. i would try & do 
my makeup in the rain. those times are gone though
or so i'm told. the sun smolders like
an incense cone. smells like onion grass & 
dandelion teeth.