a miniature offering to a new friend

a notification
your small face
encircled
a query
a question
a note
a gesture
new you may be
but this friendship
feels ancient
and makes me want to give you
some grand thing
to balance out
all you have
already
given me

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The Dissolution of Fear Itself

It eats at me
a gnawing thing
burrowing deep, it
settles into muscles
and organs.

I breathe it
into sentences
here
with you.

As I reveal it,
I feel it
breaking.
Teeth and jaws
melting
into bones
and sinew.

I’m fearlessly reborn.


Featured image from the Sleep of the Beloved series by Paul Schneggenburger.

Love in a Time of Bleeding

I think I must be lucky
as you lay me down
blankets soft and warm
eyes heavy.
Our dog breathing in
the space between us.
I will not feel it
when you come to bed
hours later, or minutes,
I’m never sure.
But I will wake
in the night
and you will be there,
as you always are.
Soft and warm
hands reaching out for me.

I think I must be lucky
as you feed me.
Turning out healthy food
in our small kitchen.
Dragging me into a world
full of flavor.
Sometimes I want to buy you
a chef’s hat. And I know
that you would wear it
at an angle, jaunty,
dapper, as you feed me.
Feed my heart alongside
my stomach. Feed my joy.

I think I must be lucky
as you take my hand
beneath the din of the city
and lead me on adventures.
As we enter new dance floors
discover strangers and cocktails,
bar rooms and restaurants,
craft shows and wineries.
My gorgeous sojourner.
I see the eyes that
follow you, as I once
followed you. I smile
in the faces of those admirers.
They so wish they were me.
But I am me. And I know
I am lucky
every time you grace me
with your kisses
every time you show me
I am loved.
I know.

Sestina: Fire, Grief, Drunk

I remember my grandmother’s life
in a way that I have never seen, her might
revealed in the face of countless griefs
Before the weight of them drove her, drunk,
over the edge into this weakened state.
I remember her before the fire.

They say there is no smoke without a fire
and that is true in my grandmother’s case, her life
defined by flame, this charred and dusty state.
She never knew the force of it. That fiery might,
much stronger than her own, would leave her, drunk
mingling cold beers with her tearless grief.

But back before she reached this outcast state
the world I’m sure was not so full of grief.
Her eyes sometimes reflect forgotten might
within them burning a long-banked, potent fire
The world has forgotten her pre-frail life,
but I remember it with my imagination and I’m drunk

on the idea. I envision her before the drunken
stupor that has followed her from grief to grief. The state
of her before the fire took her children. Took her life.
Deep within her eyes I see the her before the fire.
I remember, with my imagination, might.

In my mind’s eye she sometimes might
sit around a table and deal poker, drunk
a smile on her face and that familiar fire
born before her, cigarette hanging in state
and all the men bow their heads in grief
as she takes their money. Poker is her life.

She moves within that carded sphere. Life
simply drawn in cards of black and red, her might
felt in hands of five. She gives men their grief.
Her hair like a beehive and she’s drunk
on joy, her hair disheveled, concentrating, stately.
Her cherry’d cigarette the only fire.

I dream her life before she was a drunk
imagining her might before this state
her body bent by grief, heart weak with fire.

What Waking Stole

dreaming, we know how high the moon

how deep the sea, how red the sands of distant shores
where intersecting places dive up t’ward the world
where they part, and where our dreams divide us
sheer us root to crown and send us seeking
sleepers waked and walking in the world

we have looked across the intervening space
at strangers faces, over coffee, sometimes in a crowd
we have known them from the footprints in our dreams
the shapes of somnus feet spelled out in recesses
somewhere behind the eyes where lies

a rumbling recognition

we have reached out to each other, each to each
slumbering arms spanning seas and continents

caught each other in passages to nightmare

and soothed our friends to waking

we have plunged our bodies into seas of strife

removed villainous weapons before they could cut

staged hot air balloon rescues from the edges of cliffs

we have been the heroes of each other’s dreams

we have stood together, you and I,

upon the crumbling bridge of moonlight between here and Mars

we have built a ladder out of childish things

clambered ‘cross it to the shadow’d crags of distant shores

we have been pirates, villains, friends and lovers

and sometimes, when we wake, we still remember

before the light of day mutes memories

we know, still, the faces of our friends

and we know

we know

we know how high the moon

A History of Unsettled Debts

When I was 14, I threw my pads at a crowd of men and watched them scatter like fish. Even the hint of my period was more terrifying to them than the gnashing of serrated teeth.

When I was older, the toying and teasing of lovers forced me away from parts that I should have embraced, feelings that I should have delved happily into.

The litany of horror and disgust built up quite a tab.

Reparations must be made. But it’s hard to know where to start.

When she was 14 she noticed the lurking presence of a security guard while she was with her friends at the mall. Eagle-eyed, he followed her, eventually stopping at the food court and chatting idly with her friends.

She felt guilty, though she had done nothing. She felt nervous despite her innocence.

Years later, these experiences compounded, she finds herself in a sea of flesh-toned people, voices raised, shoving herself at the gates of oppression and awaiting an answer.

The bias is so obvious. The litany of abuses have become a chorus against which she sets her voice.

Reparations must be made. And she has barely begun.

When he was 14 he found himself flat on his back, slurs and insults chanted at him. He was too different to be let alone. To strange for anonymity.

Now he stands on stages and announces his truth to the world. Makeup immaculate. Chin up.

When the show is over, he still feels the sting. Alone, his brave face cracks and runs in black lines down his cheeks.

Reparations must be made.

But when the list of abuses is so long and varied, when the charges are built up over so many years, it’s hard to know who should pay the bill.