Monday, April 27, 2015

Still Life with Archaeology

It was the year we all discovered our conjoined twins. Some were hiding in our hats. Some clung to our ankles. A few had been pretending to be our mothers. We recognized them by the tattoos on their wrists, the word effigy, which is Latin for copy. We took photos, bought them flip-flops. After a week of holding their tiny hands and washing their hairy bulbous feet, we wondered what to do with them. They were smaller than us, less pretty, smelled of vinegar and pepper.

We decided to build tree houses for them, then take away the ladders. It was windy when they first went up, and near dusk. Trapped up high, they stared at us, mumbling. It was windy when they first went up, and near dusk. The trees shook. Their hair whipped behind them, blew into faces, into mouths. The sound of their weeping was plastic bells, and dog claws on kitchen floors. When it rained that night, most of the twins washed away. A few shrunken pieces stuck to telephone poles, a few hung from power lines.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Still Life with Marble Head and Glove

It was the year we lost all our right gloves, so our right hands were chapped and cold. We didn't want to lose our left gloves too, so we wore them all the time, even in our dreams.

At night, our gloves are too big, flapping in the wet breeze. They become damp, covered with frost. We slip them off and suck on them, trying to warm them up.

I tell you not to swallow yours, so you do, like a lizard swallowing a fish. Everyone likes your style. Soon glove-swallowing is a dream epidemic; we wake up with green scales on our wrists, our tongues unscrolling to snooze the alarms. The left gloves are filthy, tattered. The trees have all fallen and become industrial bricks.

Under the table, a lake is drowning our gloves. Drowning them, then tacking them up to dry, plum lipstick stains on all the thumbs.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Dear New Jersey,

With your yellow bird-like people and your people like birds, with your bisected jade skies and your sullen-faced nephews, with your sheets of dark glass replacing lakes, your floating teal dry-cleaners, your saffron clouds clinging to roads that end in staircases,

how you cuddle me as we huddle smoking on the whitewashed porch, while the crows call like broken hinges, as our unborn toddlers build the country's biggest purple Jacuzzi,

how you take my hand with eel-tongue fingers as you whisper about revolutionary-hatted ghosts, about steam-driven disasters in the underground railroad,

which is underneath us, right now, in this parking lot covered with antlers, in this backseat covered with ultramarine velvet, in this shallow hole we have dug in your backyard

to bury the things we cared about and forgot, under our pink and green apple trees, our lawns the color of LSD, under the persistent drizzle that tastes like persimmons and asbestos.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Under the Rec Room Sofa

Questions about home scrawled all over white looseleaf. A solid black square with a triangle on top, the white word “heart” in all caps in the center. Random pictures of birds: chickadees, nuthatches, a kingfisher tucked into apple blossoms. Ads about women's hair cut out and pasted on – a dozen vintage hairstyles involving curls and wigs. All the women are smiling and wearing lipstick, their eyebrows odd, solid, black and huge. A polaroid of an older shirtless man with glasses. He has yellowish red pimples all over his chest and face. His forearms are dark and hairy, his eyes a little too large and intent. A baseball card with a man in the midst of pitching, one leg up, his face covered with red thread and a leaf. The plastic green garnishes that come with take-out sushi, taped all over the margins.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Earthquake Season

The mouse bounds along the bottom of the chain link fence: its paws and underside are light tan – its fur darkens along the spine, dark brown with long strands of charcoal gray. The mouse runs with its tail just above the ground – twice as long as its body – long, kinked pale flesh, like a human scar. He runs past the coke bottles and scrap metal, past the plywood and piles of sand and shells. The music of trucks idling and a faint Mexican ballad. A warm damp breeze curls in the orange ditch. The sparrows clinging to the top of the fence chatter and shake themselves in light rain. A grey tabby lies on its back, scratches its shoulders against the dirty sidewalk, its belly fur white, shining like a dull moon. The children inside the fence kneel in a circle on the long, dry grass, whispering and trading small red stars.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How to Make a Woman's Shoe

Your mother is weeping in a corner. She sits so high up, on pillows and bandages, that she is almost invisible, just a shadow on the underside of a cloud. You and your sisters are wrestling on the sparkling granite floor, tearing each other's hair and clothes. Wearing pumpkin and skeleton masks, the nurses swoop in and out, checking the dials on the walls and injecting blue fluid into the pinkish wallpaper. The hems of their velvet robes sweep your faces as you shriek and grunt. You have the stone in your fist, the red stone with an insect in it, and your sisters are trying to pry your hand open. The insect sometimes moves – she squats uncomfortably, or holds her stomach. In the distance, your mother sings a lullaby, forgetting half the words, then slumps in sleep.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Light green,

glowing inside with the machinery of blonde seeds. A cool hunk, warts and all. Ground into drinks, into chips, into soda pop. The essence eludes the taster, the holder. Turns bitter and sharp over time, when set in vinegar. Darkens, loosens, softens. Shrinks. Is sliced often. Is ignored and discarded daily. I don't know why: why don't you ask? In the form of a girl, it is shy, pale, barely clothed. She avoids the sun. She likes to lie in the cool mud along the river. She wets her feet and her hair, and wears a large straw hat, when she can.

A Door into my Starry Night

By the time I was ten, you became
handy at cutting my hair

so I looked like a sunburnt boy.

(but that might have been your unborn ghost)

While you whistled

a song that sounded better
as a whisper underwater.

You argued with a postman
about whose death it was,

while I played my recorder
in the corner, swallowed

the blue glass beads from my lace hem.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Self-Portrait as Portrait

In a rococo gold throne, holding a wine glass
filled with blue house paint,a tiny pink weasel
in my lap. Draped in yellow spangled fabric
until I'm a series of offbeat triangles. My hat
a lace paper boat. My chlorine-green hair pulled
back with duct tape, with shreds of a bloody
shower curtain. Tattoos of closed eyes covering
my cheeks. Men holding blueprints on the wallpaper.
A window framing a teal cow field, and a clump of
drowned daffodils, the cows troubled, herded past
the barbwire fence by toddlers with electric prods.
My childhood in the form of rubber dog mask
next to the window. A black animal heart under
my bare foot. Yellow dish-washing gloves nailed
to the bookcase in the shape of a flower. Pencil
scribbles floating lint-like in the air, someone's dark
face hovering at the window's edge.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Long Winter

Frost slick in the tub, on the bathroom floor. Tinsel in our cereal,
pine needles on our pillows. During the mashed potatoes,

she stares at our mouths. We, down-puffy, shuffle alongside her
Country Cruiser past the unplowed road. As she steers, she sings

about preferring poinsettias to us. Snot soaks our red mittens;
we try to breath as we cry. We sweeten our horrid insides

with her perfume – she stirs us a bitter yellow drink,
we vomit ice into her curls.

Our blue Tina-Ballerinas in the fireplace.
She punches the sled dog under the table, whispering, love,

my love. She holds us, drops us, on the white tile floor.
Seeping golden angels in the snow bank beside.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Self-Portrait at Five

A dog's mask, the mask of a leopard;
A woman crying in the attic and bathroom.

Chocolate milkshakes spilled in the shape of a gun.

A baby crowing like a sick bird upstairs.
On Halloween, the girl who melted

into a bag of skin when she went out too late.

Snow for my hair, eyes, mouth and ears:
Frostbite and boiling water

for my feet. The girl stuffed

in the oven by the baby sitter
instead of the turkey.

Urine puddling in my Sunday patent

leather shoes, bruising
on my arms and upper legs.

Naked in the forest behind the house –

Running in circles, back and forth,
a snake in each fist.

Monday, April 06, 2015

How to Become a Little Lamb

Fully commit to the gaudy destruction, to the blue earred rabbit, to the gold locket tattooed to your throat. Stroke the double-headed fawn, brush clean its gold incisors, feed it handfuls of little girl braids. Add marshmellows to the pink plastic carriage drawn by white mice. Tie them all high up in the oak tree with your red ribbons, and catch the honeyed rain of their tears in square chrome buckets. Call the mailman “daddy” and give him kisses that last as dark smudges across his wrists.

Play simple tunes on the recorder as you sit under your cone cap, with its tall silver peak. The nurse will see you now. The nurse is your mother or god. The nurse has an angel's wing tattooed over one eye. The nurse hands you rubies and sapphires, and tells you not to bite down when you swallow. The nurse has no teeth, and is missing a foot. After you have swallowed, she will sing to you about the war, about the giant horses and aardvarks in the king's sea, while the high ceiling rotates, and the stains on her gown become maps.

A Change of Address

Here's a wall where a tunnel was before. The tunnel leads to an underground lake. Scent of burning feathers. You skinny-dip with a red-haired white girl; you want to touch, you don't. Your father's face rises to the surface, his eyes closed. He sputters, reaching for you.

You're dressed again, surrounded by candles and chanting. The lake, greenish blue and cloudy, recedes.

You check out your bangs in the mirrored window, smooth them down with your fingers.

A dozen huddled figures are revealed. Whitish stone, faded and worn. They face each other. A dozen sticky red lollipops. Hold on to your flashlights, keep the extra batteries dry.

A drawing of a ruined castle. A light pencil sketch. Some leafless trees looming. Nobody around for miles.

The crack in the ceiling gets bigger. A dark cloth over your eyes. It was like a family, a family in a circle. He was wrapped in shower curtains and duct tape, now floating face down.

The blue water in the kitchen sink, cloudy with detergent. Only salt and baking soda left in the cupboard. Little white humps stick out, like knobs of a spine. I dreamt this once. There's a clock somewhere, too.

Crude drawing of a leopard on a cave wall. The words, “I sold your bird” painted in blue. Three fingers in your mouth, a numbness in your face and arms.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Shaindel Beers is also doing a poem a day.

Sugar Easter Egg

The pale yellow frosting draped around the entrance to the green world had a faint lemon flavor and tasted of dust. The walls were sweet, but rough on the tongue and impossible to bite. The clear cover between the inner and outer world was plastic. The figures inside did not move, and could never be shook loose. Once there was a small pink carriage. Once a family of mice was having tea. There was grass but no sky. The light that did leak in was blocked by her eye, or had to seep through the spotted candy walls. Variegated. At first, they had to be held steady with both hands, but they shrank each year, so she could manage it with one fist by the time she was 8.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

National Poetry writing whatever

The Missed Opportunity

A girl and a woman in a boat, the woman's face hidden by a large hat. A large mound of earth sits in the middle of the boat, seperates them. The girl is not sure if the pile is dirt all the way through, or if the dirt is covering something. Sometimes the dirt shudders a bit, but that might be a breeze. The girl asks the woman where they are going, or what her name is, but the woman seems to be sleeping.The row boat is surrounded by gray and black swirls in the water. Pencil marks cover the boat's shadow on the river. The girl's eyes are dark gray, staring at something beyond us. She is nearly all white, a smudged, paper white, buttoned up to her chin, her hands covered with pale gloves.