When it’s your boys, when they are yours
you hope just for them to run off
the field with heads high. You hope
for nothing but the shininess of pride,
the quick gold glitter of no mistakes,
no Buckners standing cock-kneed and staring
and made the goat for a city. You hope
for something better for yours. You
cringe, afraid. These are not your glories.
And that is how you know that you
are meant to sit here in this chair,
your eyes shielded, your Achilles heels
tucked so firmly into your shoes.



The air is often softer here than there.
Here, lights expand like helium balloons,
each with its own fat cloud of silver air.

Here, the trees are unsure when to turn.
They ponder on it. There, they shrugged and left,
their spirits migratory. Unconcerned.

There, the water froze within your breath.
Here it rains down on you, softly still,
and still you wait and wait to become still.



When were we going
to call the guy in again

with his potional chemicals–
some sort of injection to save

the leaves? He said it
wouldn’t die and

he’s right so far. Not dead.
Maybe dying. There’s nothing but

the brown dapple of too-soon
fall. Nothing but the pretty

pied crispness of the leaves
shushing me as I clatter

out the door. I always clatter.
My heels always knock

on the door. It tries
to catch me fleeing. The gas

in the hydraulic closer hisses
like the cats who cluster

on the other side of it, their eyes
green like the leaves

should be but aren’t. Gold like
the leaves somewhat are.

Anxious that I might keep
going and the solid front door

never shut. It would never
block the pretty pinky-orange

girl cardinal who wants to break
the windows with her head.

With her beak the color of field
corn. Fierce as sunlight in August.

I heard the sudden suburbia
in my mind as I grabbed

the mail. Would a sickly tree
knock a thousand from the asking price
or more? How much more?

NaPo #30: Metro


And he sat down on the edge of my jacket,
then looked at me startled when I tugged it out,
the drag of the zipper odd under his khakied thigh.

And then I looked up and his eyes were like does’
and lashes like the edges of burring jimson weed
seed pods but beautiful instead of alien.

And then I was the startled one and said
sorry. And he flinched away from my startlement.
And the Metro driver saved us by stopping

at the next stop and ordering us all out
of the train. And I did not think of him again
until now. And the burr of that fear clings to me.

And I wonder how I frightened him with me
and my middle aged dumpiness and he
young and able to destroy me with a fist.
And his eyes were brown.

NaPo #29: Mock trial

Mock trial

I’ll be a witness, someone sobbing out a Perry Mason
fantasy of epiphanies, a gasp of “you!” and the music

goes dun dun dun, someone should scream, her hand
curled shaking around her throat then up to cover her

mouth, her lipstick is red in my head but the real image
is black and white and intense, bright grey. That’s how

I always think I should have found him, should have
stopped, cue a clangor of discordant trumpets, and scream

but it was more a soft huff of breath, was it out or in?
and lips too numb to do more than stay somewhere

on my face. But now, now I am playing at witness, playing
that a preacher asked for one and I stood sobbing and crying

yes, and there I dashed my name down on the paper, dashed
something down on too real rocks like the children of Amalek

but we are playacting, remember. I am a witness and shall play
at groping around in my memory for some forgotten fact,

a date, a time, when I last saw Jimmy, how I knew George
started the fire, bring it all up and out and set it

before the mock jury as I’ve been instructed as I sat
in that murky visitor’s office, the walls with two red holes

and liquid had rolled out and down and froze, and I
could only stare in horror dreaming that here was blood

more than the spots on my tea towels when he died
when I did not scream, when I did not feel anything

but now I will say that I was just a little angry, here,
talking of Jimmy and George, that I was betrayed, but

just a little bit, by a two-timing man. I can’t help
but put a little Hepburn in, a little smug call out

to Jerry the Nipper. What have I seen? What
did I do? Oh, I will be the greatest witness

anyone in mock trials has ever seen. I will make
a mockery of all of it. Can I get an amen?

NaPo #28: Laundering



He likes the detergent pods, but I
wear a shirt after and it smells
of swamp or something tidal, dying
against my skin. Like a dog
chasing my tail I try to turn quickly
enough to catch my own scent, try
to smell nothing long enough to smell
something, I open my mouth and ape
the lions using their tongues as scoops
for air and all those invisible spores
and then I realize that I’m inviting
invisible spores to the porous sponge
of my tongue. I shut my mouth.


Cold/cold then hot. I imagine my jeans
feel like me outside in that aching rain
that destroyed my umbrella, felt more
like a slapping wave with water shooting
up my nose than mere rain, and I couldn’t
see except there was a car’s lights and was
it stopped or moving, the light cascading
down the street on the water. Home,
I slipped down in more water, purposefully
despite the wrinkling of my feet in the cold
slosh of my shoes, and boiled.


You cannot forget the clothes
bounding around in the dryer, not here
with that clanking announcement that it
is starting and stopping, and the occasional
roar that seems related to nothing but might
mean the drum is about to slip its tether
and race down the hall, out the door, become
a hamster wheel for the neighbor’s golden,
and leave me shouting Amana! Come back!


I am satisfied with laundry. There is something
in that hot scent of clothes popped
out like a poptart from a toaster.


The sweater would be blue, grey blue
but blue, if you gathered the soft bundles
of lint we grow here and spun them
into an odd, lumping yarn. You would
snug yourself in, be able to hide
in any store’s denim section, disappear
if you were silhouetted against the soft,
close, raining, lowering sky.


Four hampers. It doesn’t seem
as if we have so many clothes but still
we can fill four hampers between two
of us and our hangers are not empty.

As I was hanging a warm shirt, I thought
I should find another like it, but looked
at my closet’s rail, hidden by dozens
of blouses, sweaters, thought of charity
but knew I would only be giving to make
more room for consumption, some Puritanical
impulse making me vow my next purchase
would be something unflattering and cold.

Surviving is Underrated