Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How to Survive a Sinking Ship

Wave hands, palm outwards, in a slow and graceful motion. Warm sweaters. A history of movies ending with a sunset. A tendency to avoid artichoke hearts. Run up and down near the railing, get your circulation going -- you will need it! Tie heavy objects around your neck. Put your last will and testament in the toes of your tapshoes. Practice "glug-glug" to yourself. Say it in a whisper. Pucker your mouth so you look like a goldfish. Jump into the arms of the nearest captain. A sore back. Abrupt seating on deck. Water the color of tarnished coins, of old shoes. It is only true if you say it is. Water can be both heavy and cold. The swimming pool is so uninviting; deck chairs like fallen tentacles. Ignore the moans of the elderly, take their hats and see how far they sail. All along, you were only entertainment. The stage has shifted, left, then down.

Monday, July 21, 2008

falling/her fists full

cat growling under the chair/broken shoelace/four-square/tripping over the toy tank in the driveway/the wrong word in French/the cleaning woman having her tea on the kitchen table/burnt rice for the fourth time/something skittering in the walls around midnight /breaks her right hand/her brother moaning in his sleep/a head-sized hole in the hallway floor, she can see all the way to China/sunburn along the left side of her face/a butterfly on her cast/the chair falling backwards because he leaned too far/the taste of chalk/poison oak rubbed in her underwear while she was showering/drawings of horses in marker along the wall/abandoned tree house/the swing shattering mid-air/crutches for the fallen boy, forgotten in the tool shed/peeling tennis balls, swollen and soft in the creek/rubbing cold cans of soda around their necks/falling when the horse stopped quick at the fence/getting up laughing, dizzy as a dying bee

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Name Change

I want him in the supply closet
at the lawyer's office, waiting for the
half hour to pass, I want him
to protest, softly, I want him to call
my name, twice, and I want him
to kneel with his head under my skirt.
I want him to take me, there, as
the attorney parses my husband's divorce
petition, and I want us both to pause,
trembling, while the receptionist
calls us and tries my cell phone,
and I want us to stay there, in the dim room,
with the door locked from the outside.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

beyond the porch steps

the ground is full of entrances:
rivulets, groins, fissures,
glands swelling from under
brown leaves crisp as paper,

roots grab hold
and twist like a blind
hand finding an eye,

dark mold,
in the crotch of things,
on the rotted squirrel
skull, on the fallen hive

Monday, July 07, 2008

On Dying in the Kings County ER

You slip from your wheelchair
to the floor, it's too dark outside
in the tiny windows, too late at
night, the sky all one dark pupil,
and the coffee machine
at the nurses' station is broken.  

An orderly kicks your foot, perhaps
she hears a sigh from somewhere
else, thinks it's you, believes you
are still breathing.

Dead, the smudged linolemn
is cool along your cheek.  You
don't mind it so much. The last six months,
the stroke made everything a pain
in the ass; your fingers refused
to unpeel from pencils,
the smirk in the garbageman's eye
made you throw books, and your children
kept switching their names.

Now you have no name.  Your fingers
and toes get colder, a peculiar heaviness
fixes you to the floor but your muscles
no longer ache, your bowels no longer
sing their bombastic, unhappy tune.

Somewhere, a TV high on a wall
is playing "Cheers" and you finally
feel your skin brightening, lifting
to the tempo of the laugh track.

A man with a dark hat is touching
your chair, a nurse is knelt at your
wrist, but you are hot now, feeling
the sun as you did that day

at the beach in Coney Island:
a new bikini, a new strip of skin
burning at the top of your hips
but you were beautiful and you
knew it, wringing your wet hair
into some smiling boy's face, laughing
and shrieking as he grabbed your arm, and

it's that kind of burning now, that kind of
joy, as the room glows beneath you and
more people gather, and more attention
comes, all too late to tie you down.


I have a feeling this is going to be rewritten a LOT, but I haven't posted even a draft in forever.