for eyes

i need a quarter for my face.
my head is a gumball machine
of blue little worlds. i do not use
a shovel to search for them;
i dig with my hands.
fistfuls of dirt & soil. the smell
of a crashed car. we used to eat
wild onions when we were starving.
the onions would wink at us
& we would have to pretend
they weren't once the eyes 
of ancient boars. everything is hoofed 
at one time or another. 
i spent my eyes years ago 
on another sunrise. you were there
with your bunkbed body. 
you kissed me & turned me
into costume pearls. a string 
around your neck. i hansel & gretel 
myself back home. follow a trail
of discarded eyes i left behind.
daffodils blink & say, "you do not
want to know." i do though.
i want to know exactly how 
& where they come from. 
a basket in a grandmother's living room?
a factory full of thumbs?
i have no business wandering
so far from a source of light
but here i am in the fallow field
holding all the eyes i can find.
they are still not enough
& i do not know what else to do.
you take my hands in yours 
& tell me, "let me show you."
i do not trust you. not at all. 
last time i did you put my eyes 
in your mouth & spit them like cherry pits.
you said, "i am your eyes now." 


last quarter moon

hold your smile like a steak knife.
i want to lock the doors
but i know it is not yet time. 
what do you do with the memories
you cannot bury alone?
everything is almost almost almost. 
a cracked back door.
a tree hanging on by a wince. all the animals 
carry their crown jewels
& rebury them where no one else
can see. i pluck out my eyes
like white grapes & ferry them
to a safe dresser drawer. the moon 
has loose teeth. sheds all her nightgowns 
for a portal into our aging sky.
birds fall like dropped shoes. i tell the moon
she shouldn't be spying on us 
like this. she knows it is soon time 
for her to sleep. i too can be found a sliver 
in my bed. burning the midnight oil
& reading a headline about the end of the world.
i keep thinking, "isn't it here yet?"
the end of the world i mean. i try to cut
all my wants in half & then cut the half
in half. do you remember that strip mall
with the trader joes where we used to
always get in a fight? i loved the glow
of the shop fronts. once, we stood there
in front of your jeep & the sea gulls
took bites out of the moon.
i bet you it tasted like salt water taffy.
back at home your window
was full of light. the moon whispered you
all the glass shoes you wanted 
& that i couldn't give you. now 
once more, the can opener comes.
a glimpse at sweet honeyed peaches.
schools of raspberry fish.
i'm saying, "it's okay to watch me,
i am watching you too." a shared vigil
is just a love poem. i swear 
i can see your tongue. 


resurrection ritual 

i go to the graveyard to talk to dirt.
plant mood rings beneath 
the sycamore trees & ring pops
in circles around the baby burial markers.
return is a bread crumb trial.
what of myself will i break off
to find my way back to the oven.
i walk with so many halves.
a half a spirit. a half a gender.
a half an eye. the other half, living 
with the worms & dreaming of granite.
here, the fields sleep with seeds 
in their chests. soon everything will burst
& we will forget about the darkness.
well, not me. i am always trying to coax 
a dead girl from a batch of weeds.
i am always telling her, "you do not need
to be so dead." instead of hearing me, 
she swallows coal. lights mailboxes on fire. 
takes a knife to the center of her palm 
& draws a circle. the orbits we must sew. 
here in the kitchen
the spearmint plant believes in restoration.
washing my face in the mouth
of a passing monster. he says,
"you look familiar." i tell him,
"this is my house." we are standing 
in the midst of an ancient crossroads.
where the sun gets a foothold
& the crows  shed their genders 
like silk gloves.


spirit halloween

we drive your old car with the bolder engine
& from the parking lot 
the mountain whispers about us. you say,
"don't hold my hand" & so i make
a rabbit of my fingers & send them off
to rifle through the brush. i have reached the point
where i do not consider whether or not
it is safe for me to be queer somewhere.
i just say, "is this a good place to become
a monument?" it usually isn't.
in the store we collect rubber rats 
& decide they are our children. i fill a shopping cart.
walk through a syrafoam graveyard.
everything is temporary & permanent.
you buy fangs & a bottle of fake blood.
everything smells like nowhere. 
the wall of masks is patient. stares at us
from across the store. there is always 
a crowd watching when you look
like a bouquet of heels. like a bowl of 
truck stops. here is where i ask what it is
you want to be & you answer earnestly
& say, "a ghost" when i just meant
"what would you like to dress up as?" 



i go to the roadkill city
in search of a deer skull.
reach my hands into the ribs 
of a broken animal 
to lift out a new mask.
in the rain, everything
gets a chance to be washed
& new. a fountain can be anywhere
there is a desire to be 
un-gendered or re-gendered.
i come back to a closet full of 
lace & tadpoles. drink the fabric 
of a moth laden wedding.
o here is where i become
the breath i needed. here is where
i carry god's bones to the scrying mirror.
dip them in shadow & say
no more will you tell me where
i can & can't grow my teeth.
a jaw comes back like a crescent moon.
the deer walk, body-less & bloodied
by the light of street lamps.
i am one of them & a witch & a flock
of crows & a tranced rabbit.
i eat with my fingers. elbow deep.
reaching in for the heart.
a pot of silver bullets. a basket 
of dried lavendar. a hole in the sun
through which i thread my name. 


bedtime story

tell me i am your tapioca pearl.
make me as small as a crabapple 
carried in the mouth of a dove.
i put on my headphones 
& become a tongue. how, when i was
a glass bead my father would roll me
between his hands. tell me stories 
of the origins of purple
& where flowers choke on red music.
i want the one about the old man
& the dying planet. i want the one about
a greedy tree. your thumbs over pages.
your voice a mug of water.
how much i crave the miniscule.
to live into magnifying glass words.
oceans odf silk. a blanket made
of mowed law. outside, i am 
the skeleton of so many demands.
the stop sign & the stop light
& the library mood. babysitting trashcans.
shoveling a heap of eyelashes.
here & now though i am just
a banana leaf with a baby on top.
the sound of rain. i ask for you
to read another. talk to me until
the sun is a clementine again. 


on a saturday evening god tries to forget she has children

takes off her shoes & leaves them
by the shoreline. she thinks of acorns 
& how they came to her in a dream.
knots of life. everything in a way begins
as a fist. she tells herself, "i am a zephyr.
a tumble of wind." walks across 
the foreheads of clouds. plugs her ears 
with wayward feathers until
the world sounds blue & grey. soft to the touch.
she imagines walking until there is
no world beneath her
or above her. just glass & grapes. she thinks,
"maybe they would get on without me."
all of their voices come in waves. crashing.
"please, please, please," they say & she
can only pluck one tongue from the torrent.
now, she finds a hem where her universe
meets the next. there she sits beneath
an old fig tree. the tree sings & she wishes 
there was no tree at all. she doesn't want
to be reminded of her work. 
creation is a lovely burden, she thinks.
everything is a child. everything a kind of need.
she wants to be in a place someone else
has furnished. she wants a voice 
to shout down from above & say,
"here is your house. here is your life."
she wonders if gods can retire. she knows
they cannot. creation is a circuit of power.
always the tether between her & each heart 
& root & gills. master of a thousand leashes.
she wants to eat ice cream. cool & slightly melted
so she does with a tiny silver spoon.
sits with her back to the universe.
pretends, for just that night,
that it is a mobile or a diarama 
& not a sea of teeth & longing. 


dress zipper

the best poems are confessions.
somedays i want to live alone again
in the raccoon dark of the mountains.
wake up with a bird's nest knit
in my hair & tell the nestlings
stories of spearmint & fire escapes 
that grow like spines on the buildings
in the city where i met you.
your thumb & forefinger
grasped the zipper on the back 
of my black dress. we were married
in the way we weren't. a promise 
around a promise. windows that folded
into diner menus. i want to turn around
& have you always waiting
to put me into my body. then, i want
only dresses i can zip myself.
i've heard of the coat hanger trick.  i've heard
a wife is a pot full of onions in the kitchen.
wooden spoons in our eyes. 
i use my fingers like wolf spiders.
take apart your face. take apart your gender.
then, there we were in the closet's mouth
making jupiter pinwheels. your legs.
barefeet. here comes the bottle.
the parking lot. feeling for a seam 
to turn into a passageway. i want
your help but i also want 
to get undressed alone & put on a candle.
sing until my tongue is just a ribbon.


winter strawberry garden

we planted the hearts of squirrels
beneath the skeleton
of our grandfather & waited for red
to bleat through the snow.
in the barn the barn owls
are hacking security systems 
across the world. i am looking for
an outlet where i can charge
my sweet tooth. there is a plot
to kill the sun but it is thousand of years
in the making. i know i am not
going to be the one to stop them.
so, i sit back & watch everyday 
as the strawberry grow up through
the skeleton. swell & cry out.
i devour them as they do & 
if any travelers go by i make a show
of looking for a ripe one
only to shrug. we have to get creative
with our hoarding. i find owl pellets
& pry them apart like easter eggs.
in one i found a doll house fork & in
another i find a sim card. 
the owls know more than me i suppose.
when spring comes these strawberries
will go to sleep & i will have to 
find another animal to burry.
for now though the sky 
buzzes grey & ever the crows complain
about how hard it is to find
something sugary to make the day
less sharp around the edges.


tree of matches 

in the grove we once wore 
only our first communion faces.
felt the pull of the ocean
calling us to become just wood.
sailor men on the shore
blowing kisses to the mermaids.
jellyfish carcasses. a gutted moon.
eating what is left. i tell you
do not stetched your shoudlers 
or unhinge your jaw. i do not know
what kind of move will be what it takes
to strike an arm against an arm.
i have seen a man with windows 
that held in the fire. a boiling house.
melted bars that once kept
the irises in. i did not mean to grow like this.
i bloomed & then each day became
a new red fist. the roses bite
my ankles. there is a bouquet 
of snakes. i always wanted 
to bear a rocket ship. something 
to send off with all the bad news.
instead. i became a danger 
to myself & others. there are people
who would pluck my fruit. 
they are the kind of people
who fill their throats with kindling
& then blame the fire they swallowed
for the destruction. fire only comes
to seal the deal. lick the envelope. 
i should know. i should know.
i am one of those people.