“A long time ago, being crazy meant something. Now, everyone’s crazy.”

I sit in the garden

I am protected by the brown fence high on every side

So high that I can’t see over it on my five-foot-six-inch tip toes

I chain smoke and read a book about Charles Manson

The sky and my sweater are the same and grey, like the ash that clings to my sleeves

A small spider connects one end of its web to my fraying jeans (frayed like me, thin and cheap)

and the other end to the chair at my feet

 

I look up and the squirrels are closing in on me

They are planning their attack of bombs made of pine cones

The pigeons are in on it, too

But their bombs are bird shit

 

I turn my head and spit a fat glob of nicotine laced saliva onto the broken and dirty stone patio

The boys next door come out to enjoy the mild, dingy weather and they bring their obnoxious music with them

My neck hurts and I wonder if its cancer as the sun starts to set

Should I go inside and make myself a snack? I’m not hungry but at least the eating fills one part

of me

I pick at the skin on the side of my thumb

I have to cut my nails short and paint them red because otherwise there are yellow stains at their tips

I only have one bottle of polish which I replace for 99 cents every time it runs out or gets too gummy or the cap gets stuck to the rim

 

Yellow stains at my fingertips like daddy’s but he couldn’t hide vices under red polish

I think I can hide them

Mama would hate the way I am now

 

My wrists are heavy with seven rings, nine bracelets and a watch

All collected when there was such a thing as family vacations

 

I sit in the garden collecting cancer

Charles Manson hides in the trees and breathes in my smoke

Drops pine cones on my head

I think I’ll go make myself a snack

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A Nursery Rhyme for My Mom

img_2573.jpgMother dearest, mother dear

Do not cry or live in fear

Just because I’ve inked my skin

Doesn’t mean a single thing

Do not shudder, do not sob

I think I still can get a job

I did not put it on my face

Or choose a hated sign of race

 

It’s not the name of a lover scornedIMG_2575

Or on my back, some devil horns

I make myself adorned with art

And a single, silly little heart

Do not shout and do not scold

I know they won’t look good when I’m old

Mother dearest, mother dear

It’s just not really that big of a deal

 

 

 

Thanks to photographer and friend Carla, whose wonderful blog and photography can be found here.

The Tame and Wild Olive Tree

*I adapted this piece from a short story I originally titled Wear Me Like a Winter Jacket which I posted on this blog in May of 2016. I’ve been in a poetry course for a little over a semester, and have found that where some of my single moment oriented pieces fell flat as short fiction, they translate well into prose poetry.*

The Tame and Wild Olive Tree

“How’s work?” Question.

“Great, mom.” Answer.

“And Will, how is he?” Prying question.

“Doing just fine, mom.” Blank answer.

“A proposal in the works? A grandchild, maybe?” Prying question.

“Not anytime soon, mom.” Avoid answer.

“And what about-” Cut off.

“Hey, mom, I’ve got work to do, sorry to cut it short.” Bite your thumb, tear a strip of salted skin down its length.

“Oh, of course sweetheart! I love you!” Desperate, sad, full of exclamation points.

“You too, mom. Bye.” End call before inevitable One more thing!

You sigh, shift pillows under your back, reach for pack on your table. Light cigarette with match, pull deep, watch blue smoke curl out of your lungs. Fill room with choke.

You don’t enjoy lying to mother, keep saying you’ll tell her the truth, truth is it’s just easier not to. The cigarette clicks as it exits your mouth. Baltimore is far from Salt Lake. She hasn’t visited since first year, you were still in school then, still living in a clean dorm on campus. Five years, more than enough time for good habits to become chain smoking and daily cheap wine.

You’d picked Salt Lake because it’s what good Mormons do, realized you were stuck somewhere you’ll detest forever only after breaking up with Will. You miss him, sometimes, then you remember he cried after every orgasm, hated most of your friends. Nothing else could be expected from a BYU boy. You only see him on TV, second row in The Tabernacle Choir.

You couldn’t imagine what mother would say if she saw your apartment, cluttered with not vacuuming, candles, half-pots of coffee, books filled with portraits of naked bodies.

Being able to hold down a steady job is relieving, it pays well, a boring position that is suitable for saving money. Saving money to drive yourself out of this Mormon hellhole. Daydream as you sit at a desk, send emails for someone else.

Daydream; Racing across icy tundra, through the Amazonian rainforest, climbing peaks. Maybe you’ve saved plenty, maybe your mind is stopping you, maybe your mind is shouting coward! on repeat.

You light another when there’s a quiet knock on your door.

“You know you don’t have to knock.” Playful statement.

She pushes the door open, small in an XL BYU Class of 2015 sweatshirt, baggy cut-offs, pads the short distance from the entrance to your mattress, plucks cigarette from your fingers. You grab her free hand, pull her to you, soft body folds easily into your lap. Long chestnut hair settles on shoulders.

Pass the cigarette back and forth, no prying questions, blank answers, avoidance. Last pull, drop the butt into a half empty glass of water on the floor. Sunset spews gold light.

Brush her curls back, kiss her neck, think maybe this is why you’re still here. Not money, not cowardice, but her. Best part of every day, when she crawls into bed in varying stages of undress, asks what you want for dinner.

She’s wonderful. She stays wonderful. She stays.

A Series of Chronological Haikus

London I
xxx
Countless days, wasted
Ever been this desolate?
Never sleeping right.
xxx
Belgium
xxx
Rude, nice, confusing.
Why are they excluding me?
Who are these children?
xxx
Catania
xxx
Me, mom. Three others.
We shouldn’t have come here with
Them. Please stop fighting.
xxx
Highgate Cemetery
xxx
Wet: moss, ivy, leaves
Darling wife, mother and. She’s dead.
Bodies keep melting
xxx
Amsterdam
xxx
Lights, fur cloak, champagne
I feel so old for sixteen,
Incompatible
xxx
Berlin
xxx
I am connected
Me/the city is pockmarked
Pain she remembers.
xxx
Istanbul
xxx
Yellow, blue, gold. Cats.
Mosques sound like muffled beehives
Nature conquers faith
xxx
Seattle
xxx
Sun, long car rides, lakes
I’ve never been happier
Laughing endlessly
xxx
Cumbria
xxx
Sheep bleating, dew grass
I cry on a mountaintop
The world is ending
xxx
Mother Nature doesn’t give a fuck. She will defeat us soon enough. 
xxx
London II
xxx
I learn to love you
No more wasted days.
Becoming home
xxx
Kew Gardens
xxx
Conservatory
Nice but, not real, not nature
What’s urban wildlife?
xxx
Scotland
xxx
Peat, fog, Irn Bru
Where the dinosaurs once roamed
Cold wind. I’m grinning
xxx
Edinburgh
xxx
Rusty typewriter
City of daffodil hills
A charming grey place
xxx
New York
xxx
Be my saving grace
Too much crying over boys
Dumb. Angry lipstick.
xxx
The summer of no bras and not shaving and wanting to heal myself.
xxx
Chiswick
xxx
Crystals, matches. Poof!
Blaze. Memories up in smoke.
All to heal myself
xxx
Portugal
xxx
Gold: peaches, shells, sun
Back hurts. I can’t get up. Please.
Make me a sand throne
xxx
Seattle
xxx
An entire year, gone
Slicing meat, taking names, I
Have to split, cut quick.
xxx
Oregon
xxx
Water’s inviting
Where the dinosaurs roam, but,
Be careful, don’t slip
xxx
Lopez
xxx
Dirty kids play drums
We are bad at making fires
Fresh. Doors stay unlocked
xxx
Montreal
xxx
I feel rain on me
Wet, not made by my own skin
Elation chokes me
xxx

 

heart/chest/heart/beat

I used to be afraid of drums

When we went to parades

And I sat on my father’s shoulders

I could feel them in my chest and it scared me

I wanted to run and hide

I didn’t love music

I didn’t live for it, like I do now

Now I hear that beat

And I realize I feel it in my heart,

Not my chest

 

When I was younger

I didn’t love the stage

The theatre bored me

I had no interest in watching people perform

but that changed a some point in my youth

Now, performance is what I live for

Although I was born to be spectator first,

Performer second

Rarely and never necessary

 

I wonder if

When she sits there

In the back row

Legs crossed and a smirk

Like some kind of rock and roll goddess

I wonder if

She wants him

I wonder if

She knows he’s still hers

When he puts on an actor’s mask

And picks up an instrument

When he’s a rockstar for the night or just the hour

I wonder if

Is he looking at me?

Object Permanence

sugar,

water,

purple petals sprinkled

and mixed in a big silver pot

reduced and strained, poured

into a tall glass bottle

shaped like Paris’ favorite monument

kept in the fridge

to be combined with penguin seltzer

in an ice-filled glass

when the summer has finally warmed enough

to sit outside,

on a pink and green quilt,

and sip

those purple petals

adorn the dashboard

of a character I made up

named after a Norse goddess

and turned into a werewolf

the same small purple petals

that a broadcasting company attached to my story

when they marked me as top five

and made my name worth googling

and solidified my place as a writer

sugar,

water,

purple petals

that I want attached to me, drawn

permanently

as a reminder

of hot summer days when the lavender bloomed

and the bees went mad,

swarming our overflowing garden

as a reminder,

too,

that creativity is not a choice for me

writing,

regardless of who does

or doesn’t

shortlist my words,

is as much a part of me

as the ink on my skin

importantly permanent

a reminder,

too

that I am an artist

that I am a writer

that I am still the girl on the pink and green quilt