“still”

creeps into my poems lately

(check the last one)

I’m still young, I still write poetry, still

compel hands to hover over the keys,

fingers to tap out some muddled sentiment

on this hot whirring box of wires

missing my older poems written

at 19 when I was a little more wild

maybe more unaffected

I still have time (we all think this way)

to do something with my life

Melancholy

I do still get that strange thoracic ache

of childhood, which I used to call “homesick”

in order to make sense of the sudden lump in my throat and

the furtive thought YOU’RE NOT ALRIGHT!

At 28, I am still unclear why these pangs plague me,

catching me especially

as I drive through Granite weekday mornings

while I curse the clocks forever ticking forward, forward

when I haven’t yet figured out age 10 — so complicated

a thing to dissect. Still I have no name for this melancholy sense

that elbows against my stomach and lungs

shoving for space inside my very skin.

racing

I’ve been feeling a bit like a racehorse missing a leg

asked to run the most laps in my life

I’m a stupid fuck, trying to race when I can’t even walk

and dredging up words is such a chore when

I know there’s been something dark and creeping

nested under my ribs since birth

that I have failed to name

Smothering

If I saw him sauntering down the street by the university
I wonder which impulse would overwhelm me first:

to wrap him in my arms as if covering a sick child
in a sentimental blanket, and press his slender
warm torso to mine and pull my palms along
the knobs of his spine?
As if to engulf or consume him

or to grab his lovely, sun-kissed neck
with one open hand and smother him slowly
against a wall, connecting my fist with his
perfect cheekbone, savoring each wince.

Rage and desire wrap so tightly in my twisting heart
and they are both about his body.
So I don’t visit that town anymore.
I won’t let myself see what could happen

Child

I spy anger in the sharp of her eyes
and the flash of tongue over teeth.
She sinks, thumbs plastic cusp of cup
and growls a deep theatric moan.

I know her mind’s still wild. Her child brain
hides black desires and fragile dreams
from our adult eyes. We pry.

She says she wants to be a vet. She wants
to rescue horses, save pets from fevers
and wrap wailing puppies in blankets.

She doesn’t yet know chemistry labs,
love rolled up in sex, the sting of
the first swallow with your so-called friends.
Of Mom’s secret shelves and Dad of the past.

Now she has the trouble of finding
a bus buddy. Of spelling C-L-O-S-E
and writing a’s, circle first.

She’s angry and it pulls at me-
the urge to grab her straw blonde head
and kiss the silky dirty hair in disarray.
She’s angry and for that I love her.

Self-Harm

is agitated ticking, tapping
snapping, drumming, thrumming
with anger turned towards my
dumb bones, a humming drone
from the abyss, I scream
I hate myself even though
I don’t, I want to die although
I won’t. Curse my genes.
Rip me at the seams, snip my
threads, I want to bleed,
to bash my skull on concrete
and wash my conscience clean.
I scar like trees from wildfire,
knotted lines of lies I heard,
taught to hurt my own skin first
or worse, pretend there’s nothing
there at all. Before too long,
the storm will pass and blossoms
bloom. Red fruits burst forth
from coal-black gloom.

Let my love down

You found out the hard way:
I struggle to love.
I shirk from opening
myself up. Armor amassed
from lingering blows.
Only time and the old scars know.
My tears are tales
I need to let go.
Your loyalty guides me
like tracks in the snow.
Your hands are warm;
the touch sets me aglow.
Time will show us the way to go.
The lonely hawk cut me hard and deep.
I still hear the voices in my sleep.
Your whispering quiets
my fearful heart.
Say you’ll stay near me,
not split me apart.
Teach me to adore you;
sing the song of your soul.
I’ll let my love down
like a weeping willow.

a fierce love

my God, what if
he is surrounding my heart this minute
as I scratch a poem down hurriedly
on a diner napkin while he’s in the restroom
what if he’s building up his life around me
brick by solid brick
if I wake up one foggy morning
two years from now and say,
“I can’t imagine a day without him”
what if he breaks me down so badly
my muscles stop working and
I can’t even cry
my God, what if his loyalty heals me
so completely, I forget how to hate
what then?
how will I survive such
a fierce love