ExhaustionExhaustionExhaustion10 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
I wake, swollen with noon heat.
Half dressed, I stumble,
elbows and toes catching
on the clawed feet of chairs,
the blunt holes of open cupboards.
I sometimes forget my name.
In the kitchen, I pepper the rice
instead of salt. Black flecks surface
in the boiling water,
sea turtles migrating.
If I knew where you went,
I would follow. But all you left behind
was an old sweater, an empty notebook,
complete and infinite
as the space around a closed fist.
WaitingWaitingWaiting1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
Pale willow girls wait by the river, brides of the water,
Guppies swim through their veins, silver darts of bright pain.
Their names are hieroglyphs of mist, frost and rain.
They walk barefoot in the snow, leaving tracks so they know the way back,
A tracery of breadcrumbs that the ravens will never eat.
Twelve princesses slip underground,
Dance in slippers of tattered frayed silk,
Corkscrews of ribbon, stiff with blood and melted tallow.
They inject themselves with music until their eyes hum like bumble bees.
Then they sleepwalk through the day in a haze of yearning
For fierce wet stone beneath their frenzy of feet, of bon
PostcardsPostcardsPostcards4 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
In the parking lot, my brother shoots plastic arrows
at our station wagon, sleeping bags piled in the back.
"Can we have a pool shaped like a bass guitar,"
he asks, "when we get to California?" I float gum wrapper boats
in the shimmering heat mirage, my knees barnacled
with scabs and mosquito bites. As we drive, we count road kills,
eighteen wheelers and truck stops named after some guy.
You can drink it," Mom says cutting open a barrel cactus.
"Even if you get lost, you'll never die."
She taped Dad's latest postcard to the dashboard.
"Found work. I love you all. Come." We have postcards
from almost every state: amarillos from Lou
Gus Number FiveGus Number FiveGus Number Five4 months ago in Short Stories More Like This
Jenna and Cindy filled their mouths with watermelon seeds, spitting them fast and hard until the air swarmed with seeds like shiny black dive-bombing gnats. “My seeds are winning,” twelve year old Cin yelled, her thin body tense and urgent with victory.
Jenna just kept spitting seeds. Eight years old, she already knew the seeds that flew the farthest would be Cin's no matter what.
Jenna puckered her mouth preparing for another losing bombardment. Suddenly she paused, lips plump and pouting as the mouth of a painted candy box cupid. Spitting the seeds into her palm, she stared at them for a moment, chewing the
PluckingPluckingPlucking6 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
The table between us is a moon.
But the air is heavy. It lies
on us, muffled heat stilling
our breaths. You drop your fork,
but I still won't look at you. Even angels
would crawl if they were here.
"Why can't we be friends?"
I am thinking of a Flemish tapestry
I once saw in a white stone house,
walls dense and prickly with roses:
a line of stiff scarlet soldiers,
a rearing horse. The soldiers' thick fingers
grope at the blank cream cloth,
seeking purchase, gravity.
"What are you feeling?"
"I want to be a Flemish soldier,"
I tell you. Only my fingers
would constantly pluck at the expanse,
searching for the thread
that will unra
MoonMoonMoon9 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
You left the knife on the drainboard,
bits of lettuce scattered like green rice.
We should get married, you tell me,
this house tight as a ring around us.
In every room, sleep waits for me.
Sometimes I wake sprawled on the wooden floor
not remembering that I fell.
Things blur, the copper pans
hanging on the wall swell in tight glowing bellies
woven rugs flow like rivers.
At night, your face flowers into an open moon,
filling our bed with light
There is no place left to hide.
Rorschach's BlotRorschach's BlotRorschach's Blot5 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
Spiders and bears and misshapen trees,
when the swollen fruit drops it bursts into wren wings,
salamander tails shivering, the color of bruised plums.
It tastes so sweet, the tip of a beak.
With a straight pin, I peck at my arms,
a Pollock of blood, swarms of carnelian bees.
Sweet sweet stings. The poison sings.
They say hallucinations, the saints said visions.
"Ollie ollie oxen free," they call running through orchards,
the evening air loosening, a grace note of despair.
There was once an apple and it was bitten,
poor thing, all hell broke loose.
"Tell me what you see," he asks.
"White," I say, hospital sheet
Going, going, goneGoing, going, goneGoing, going, gone8 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
Three dollars, three fifty, four, the bristles
of Daddy's hairbrush, a handful of porcupine quills
rough as his unshaven face. In the trees,
moths roost like hens, their wings so still
as though Daddy had painted them.
The auctioneer, his black felt hat drooping
with the heat, strides across the snow of their wings,
Daddy's wristwatch nesting
in the palm of his hand, a raven. "Nevermore,"
Daddy would read to us. "Never again,"
Mama said bundling up Daddy's things with prickly twine.
He painted everything: house, barn, yearlings, tractor. "Sold,"
yells the auctioneer, a weathercock in his arms,
wings rough as
BirthBirthBirth1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
Because he swims in her womb,
the water she drinks blurs into wine.
Gnats land on her skin, black pearls,
they buzz like bells and she smiles.
He takes her pain. When she grinds wheat,
the pestle scrapes his skin raw.
Before he enters the world, he memorizes its pain.
But each time, the pain falls fresh,
an unbitten pear. Each bite startles him.
This is my flesh he thinks.
He wants to wake, a cool stone tomb,
the end, no more, please.
SleepSleepSleep1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
For the first time, the angels sleep. They perch in trees
above the river where the women wash.
Drunk on the angels' mulled breath,
the women wrap wet linen
around their hips and spin, the angels' snores
buzzing in their bones. They pound the dirt flat,
the earth humming, a beehive beneath their feet.
Mary pirouettes, whirls and shimmers,
her unbound hair eddies through the air
as though she is still a virgin. The child crouches piggyback
on an angel's shoulder, his hands twined
in the angel's mane. None of the women see them,
and he laughs. Ollie, ollie, oxen free,
he's safe. The angels dream of clay pots,
hot ground mea
BeliefBeliefBelief2 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
She tells him the child is not his.
The old women mutter and cluck
as they slap wet cloth against river stones.
He wraps his arms around his chest as though he fears
he will also sprout with child. "A dove,"
he quietly asks? She points to a blood spot
on her cheek. "He pecked me here." It still hurts
when she touches it. It always hurts.
He loves the child, the cuckold's hatchling. He loves his lying wife.
But he knows she lies. When the old men stumble
into the stable, beards matted, coarse as grain,
he simply mutters, "Drunks," bad wine, betrayal.
One afternoon as he saws cedar planks, sawdust thick as pollen,
an angel catches his
SacramentSacramentSacrament9 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
Her belly hangs full and heavy, a sack of potatoes.
The painter's wife grabs at a pew to steady herself when she stands.
The priest glares, his vestments white, the words:
"Fornication, serpent's tooth and Whore of Babylon"
lie like uncoiled strings inside his mouth. He knows,
she will drag them down to sin, her mouth a peddler's pack
filled with combs, bodkins and prickly heresy.
"Eat and you shall become as gods." But Ann only smiles.
The knife unfolds like a bird's wing. When she cuts her palms,
the Xs are red cross stitches.
"Drink and it will become wine," she says and it does.
The angels napping in the church eaves
SkinISkin1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
She wants her skin back, her wrinkled rough rhino skin,
not this skin so fragile and tight.
She wants transformation, water hardening into ice,
the pale brittle blue of a girl's mouth.
She is so cold, she wants grasses brimming with heat.
Her horn would shatter the frozen lake, shivering with cracks.
Another girl stares at her arm spider webbed with cuts,
the razor once moon cold now warm with blood,
pain so deeply buried blooms like red poppies.
She shudders. She is so cold. This blood did not taste like wine.
But it was warm on her tongue.
Even with twenty mattresses fat with swan feathers,
the princess felt the pebble, bruises surfaci
Painter's WifeThe Painter's WifePainter's Wife1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
Whenever she sees the virgin's face,
her mind smoothes itself into a blank.
Her husband thinks it's grief. Rather it is grave recognition.
She hears the hiss
and scratch of angel wings. When she sleeps,
the angels curl up against her like fevered damp children.
They never console her for the dead child
that floats in her belly. Whenever she forces it
out into rough being, it swims back
into her huddled emptiness again and again.
Her husband has painted a multitude of virgins
as though by painting a woman with a living child,
he can give her a living child.
But she knows better. The virgin bore a child
WoundsWoundsWounds1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
I distrust open wounds,
too much of the pain is the surprise of blood,
the consciousness of fragility.
This wound you have given me is small,
it measures only finger to wrist.
Don't flatter yourself.
Others have opened me from throat to gut.
StoriesStoriesStories9 months ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Green pills, yellow pills, white pills. I wonder if they color code the pills to match the malady, green to soothe, yellow to wake, white to purify evil thoughts, black like ravens who peck and caw, Jezebel's bones, sodden red tulips, dogs lapping, tongues so black, black holes that like eating novas and girls like me that just happen to see the testifying of bricks. "Here someone was murdered", fickle neurons, scandalized hieroglyphs of blood, constellations of wolves such bloody tongued dogs.
"Open," the nurse says checking to see if I have swallowed her pills. I always do hoping such sacred behavior will loosen me of this place.
ChildChildChild1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
Ancilla, gillyflower, cathedral, chime and stone,
frightened child, you were only thirteen
when the dove pecked you,
so frightened, I dreamt my belly split open,
pain rang like bells in my my bones. Virgin, gillyflower,
my child was a gillyflower but she stung,
fragile as a wasp's wing she was,
she is, cathedral, chime and stone and my mother cried,
"How could you, how could you," all the way home
but there is no home, the river tastes
of mud and piss. Whore.
They called me whore, not virgin, not blessed.
I wanted, want to be stone,
and my mother wept.
SlippingSlippingSlipping4 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
We camp out in a warehouse, eat three day old sandwiches,
the cheese stiff as cardboard, edges curling.
I start to rock, my hands curled into seed pods,
my mama's rocking chair, maize dust pillow.
She didn't really have a mother so she didn't know
what to do. You feed me chocolate
scraped from a shiny wrapper. "We will be different,"
you promise, pulling me into your lap, your body
falling into the rhythm of my rocking. Then you twist the foil
into a ring, silver as the chrome on my Daddy's T-bird.
He would polish it for hours, his cloth swooping like a bird. He flew away
when I was eight. I flew away when I was sixteen.
I left th
EndingEndingEnding10 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
I dream, the earth splitting like a cracked egg,
Light thinning like dye in water.
Air hardens until we burrow.
I wake wanting to know if we will fall.
An apocalypse is an ending
This is a becoming.
FallingFallingFalling5 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
The body is weightless,
bones hollow as flutes.
They sing startled crescendos
beneath the world distant and harmless for once,
a map of what was.
"Here lie monsters," they warned.
Here lie creatures luminous, grotesque, incandescent
beyond anything you might know.
ThirstThirstThirst11 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
You cut to tatters my red skirt, the red of Jezebel's blood.
You wear black pants, white shirts. You want to be a preacher,
God's words cleansing you. "How many angels
can dance on the head of a needle," I ask?
The dogs drink until their muzzles are painted tongues, arthuriums.
And somewhere else a king sends his beloved's husband
into a battle where he will die. Maybe the dogs will drink his blood
and transcend into feathers. His blood is innocent
caked with sand and grit, hard as a pea. The princess shivers sleepless,
a hard knot of something unknown prodding her spine.
My heart knots whenever I see you with love and s
ListsListsLists9 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
We bask, the sun weak as watered milk.
We create lists of things we remember,
stalling on artichokes, "green" long forgotten.
Basilisks have returned.
They gather around the bird feeders,
clumsy wings batting away sparrows and hummingbirds.
Even honey water excites them.
Pathetic really. Until you remember
it was us who brought them back with our lists.
There are still people
who think money is worth something.
Their lists fill with numbers, denominations.
Paper bills swarm thick as locusts.
They are rich
until our dragons eat them.
We all have our distractions.
We thought it would be more exciting,
GlassGlassGlass1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
Glass is dried light.
What we cannot touch
now holds our wine.
Yet once caught,
a nervous hand, brown grit will shatter it.
My words are dried perceptions.
What I cannot say
now fills the silence.
A strained image, a hesitation ...
What I give to you
is a thing alien to itself.
Stick-MenStick-men with blazing matchheads march across the table, single file, towards a glass of water. Latin incantations are said by a sole stick man by the water. It's a mass suicide. One by one they scramble up the slippery glass and jump in, their flames extinguished. This is the way of the world. Someone has placed lilacs on the table. I don't know why. This is the way of the world. I am their god, yet I only observe. It is not for me to determine their end, only to watch, and keep from getting splinters in my fingers. The lilacs smell good over the smoke. It smells like rain outside.Stick-Men10 months ago in Free Verse More Like This