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Four Haiku

altar vessel

After Sylvia Plath

 

I wear this skull smile

Hidden in my black toga,

Vessel now empty.

**

I’ve done what I did—

The blood jet, is poetry.

You will not stop me.

**

My gold, beaten skin

Will not speak to God again—

I am I, am I.

**

I am I, not more—

Fused with the world, done.

Infinite nets, cast.

 

 

 

 

 

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Taking to My Knee

kneeling2

I bow for myriad reasons,

Always my own.

 

Supplication, protest, personal, or otherwise—

To that over which I may

Or may not

Have control.

 

Genuflecting at the altar—

To worship the wheat-wafer body of Christ,

Among choking incense and magenta stained glass.

 

The black-clad faithful, they nod in approval—

I, the stolid girl of duty.

 

Then oh, she rebels.

The trap door awaits me, for the trip to hell.

 

I kneel at your feet—

My head on your thighs

You stroke my hair,

Following passion my mother will never understand.

 

I contemplate the world.

My white privilege, my cultural damage

Does not absorb

The sacred, the sacrosanct.

I am not a time bomb, awaiting implosion.

I walk the streets freely, unquestioned.

 

When we kneel,

It insults the John Deere hat wearing masses—

Chewing tobacco and proclaiming

They will make America great again.

 

What does that mean?

The collective fear curls into a boil that sings

Oh say can you see

By the dawn’s early light—

 

Oh America.

Oh flag, oh anthem

This is not my America.

 

And I bow to my knee

Not from disrespect

But to pay tribute to those betrayed

By my America.

 

 

 

Totality

Eclipse

The moon, it travels so fast.

How long does this moment last?

Cold dust obscures hot hydrogen gas.

 

When time moves slowly, it ticks hours,

Moving quickly, it obliterates weeks.

 

Oh, black umbra of eclipse hanging in the sky,

Lead weight, iron anomaly dangling from some invisible thread—

You mock me, burn the soul from my eyes.

 

I belong here no more than I belonged there—or anywhere.

My life compressed into a few family photos,

Crystal glasses wrapped in tissue and packed in rubber bins—

A gravitational confinement only found in ancient stars.

 

You are in the shadow of the moon.

You know what you left behind.

You know you are alone.

You know what hell feels like.

Not fire, not heat—

 

But paralysis, blackness and the crackling gold corona,

And laughter in another room.

 

bg2017msg_Spoonbridge_006-test-2048 (1)

 

Oh, spoonbridge and cherry

Oh, audacious blue rooster, ten feet tall.

Oh, icons of the Twin Cities—

The highways twist over you, confused grey concrete entrails.

 

I pass you, each morning, on the slow morning crawl to earn my keep—

Lyndale to Hennepin.

I know these signs, the turning lanes, marked in green paint, still half asleep.

 

The red metal letters spell L O V E

For the wedding photographers and the tourists’ selfies.

The well-fed geese fold themselves under the cherry fountain mist.

 

Love.

Love brought me to this strange planet.

 

Where the land is too flat, the roads too wide—

Where cars move too quickly, people too slowly.

There is not enough time, energy, sex, or money for it all.

 

Love is not enough.

 

I do my wash religiously, once a week.

I change my sheets,

To create order from the chaos.

 

I see the shattered eyes of children

In the homeless shelter where I work.

Displaced, thrown away, all of us.

 

Hey sweet, can I fix you some tea?

Would you like a cookie?

Why are you here?

Are you as lost as me?

 

Nothing I say, or do, can change a God-damned thing.

 

Once I was someone’s mother,

Someone’s wife, someone’s daughter, someone’s friend.

 

It is late September.

I count the wildflowers on the highway’s edge.

I remember my lush hydrangeas by the sea, pink and blue cotton candy,

And the bell-sounds of long ago halyards on their masts lulling me to sleep.

 

Lady Daedulus

Daedulus.JPG

The rust gate at last released,

I hesitate, by the iron fence—

Afraid to leave.

Decades of padlocks snapped,

My bolt cutters did their job,

Working, bit by bit.

 

Trust, trust.

 

Sun scars my cheeks,

Atomic tangerine tiger lilies sway in the breeze

Alongside the wild lavender brush

At the hills along the highway—

The cars rush across the vast, flat plains.

I thumb a ride, to the airport.

 

Trust, trust.

 

What is it like when the small plane door finally slides?

 

It’s cold, so cold in the clouds.

Tethered to you for the tandem dive,

No wax wings—

You jump, I cling.

The earth gets closer.

If you don’t pull the cord, I will die.

 

Free fall, flush in the gut,

Spinning and screaming—

Until, the bright striped chute opens,

Red and white.

Lifting us into a great glorious florid waft—

We float down, to the damp grass,

My feet thud on the earth,

My knees bend, but do not break.

 

And you say,

 

You are still alive.

You will thrive.

You have freedom, you have choice,

You have earned your voice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lethe

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed on the internet.

Branded crazy, dumb as stumps, goaded, extorted.

Bullied and sullied in an abject abuse of power,

Fruit flies, dissected on a slide.

 

I heard your lies—

You, insatiate demon,

You will not take my voice,

Your tiny talons may claw my eyes

But I will not sign your parchment.

 

I heard the river Lethe—

Its black murmur grows to a rush,

Ferrying me on foam rapids

To some crazed misogynistic alternative reality.

 

The arsonists are in charge of the fire station.

 

The tabloids become real news—

That reveal all,

While the rest is fake.

Narcissistic hypocrisy blackens the sky.

 

Go on, grab my pussy.

I can take it.

Rant on my bloody facelift,

My menstrual cycle.

 

The moon, the moon holds my power.

We are more than body parts and functions.

 

The sea, it will rise into truth—

Churning black, around the water spout,

Sucking words, images, half-truths, hatred

Into a vast explosion of indignation and rebellion.

 

Which way do the stone-faced blue blazers point us tonight?

Where have you brought us, America?

 

 

 

prom queen

I wanted to find mercy—

In the warm air,

In the little breezes

That would save me

From the peacocks in full flourish,

The flowers blooming in florid obscenity

Red, blue bird-couples rejoicing in the heights,

 

Here, the snow still falls.

 

We sat, each on our end of the wire,

Listening to my tears,

Then the hush grew so loud

It was all I could hear

Through the ice storm,

Bullets punctuated on frozen glass.

 

Then, I remembered.

 

My hot tears sent you running

For your overcoat.

 

You bought me a red rose last week.

Called me your queen of May.

Now you have nothing left to say.

 

This is the cruelest breath I’ve ever drawn.

The silence echoes on the walls,

Broken only by flickering streams of blue street lamps . . .

 

It is unbearable.

Such emotions are inhuman.