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. 



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. 



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." 



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. 



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.



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. 



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. 



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. 



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." 



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. 



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."