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La Belle au Bois Dormant

sleeping-beauty

 

No man ever kissed me into life.

 

But I awoke, clawed up,

From under the pink briar roses—

After what felt like a hundred years

Of over-salted stilted holiday meals.

 

Your barbs still stick in my flesh,

Passive words of indifference,

Served over dry gingered Swedish cakes and tea.

 

Lost in a bland suburban day dream,

Stuffed head-first in a crystal coffin.

 

You never knew, my eyes were never shut.

But I heard everything, I saw it all.

I could not speak,

Gagged, scratching these words on the damp glass.

 

Your needs, your needs,

Oh, all of your needs, scraping at me.

Mother, child, spouse.

 

I bleached my house.

I made it all clean.

I made my hands bleed.

 

I watched the hot sun,

The cold stars, the knowing moon,

They, they told me to keep going.

 

Beauty, it will all be over soon.

The jealous fairy’s curse will be broken.

You will, you will awaken.

You will be loved.

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Helix

DNA Sketch

-for Maggie

 

Our double biopolymer strands coiled,

Lying in wait—

Across decades of secrets,

And countries, and long-ago things we will never know.

 

Two chains bound by hydrogen bonds—

Threads curling, a lacy Indian dream catcher

Of proteins and amino peptides.

 

Tiny gossamer threads fold into

Beautiful origami–

Pale rice paper swans.

 

You are not alone—

No, not anymore.

 

For 52 years I was an anomaly,

The only child.

 

A lone rubber raft, torn and patched—

Bubbling lost, a small cork in the cold sea.

 

I want to compare my hands to yours.

I want to look at your toes.

I want to see our grandmother’s wry Irish smile resurrected,

And hear my raucous cackle in your laugh.

 

What other words will I have for you?

That day, when we meet and I call you sister.

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Finally Free

miss havisham

Don’t let them tell you it’s not a death.

It is.

 

The cold stack of papers—

Signed and notarized,

Fly across the country.

The endorsements final, the money itemized.

 

You wait for the death.

You know it is the right thing to do.

The smiling lawyers await you too.

 

It is like euthanizing a pet.

 

You make the decision, then the appointment.

And spend the night sadly examining the old cat’s eyes—

Curled round your head on the pillow,

Rough tongue and toothless mouth

Licking those final treats from your dry palm.

There is nothing left.

 

Don’t let them tell you it’s not a death.

It is.

 

That sad fairy tale, it is done—

Cobwebs on Miss Havisham’s wedding cake

The dusty crystal awaits the wrapping and bins.

 

The pale bride comes loose at the seams,

A malfunctioning windup toy put out of her misery,

The wires popping out, beginning to smoke.

Rising, imploding into the crimson clouds.

Reborn, reinvented from her sins.

 

Don’t let them tell you it’s not a death.

It is.

 

You, Mother

I had to be perfect.

 

You, Husband

You expected me to be perfect.

 

You, Child

You needed me to be perfect.

 

You, Greek Chorus, chiding or otherwise.

Judge, judge, judge.

 

Look into your heart and know—

I am I, am I.

 

Do not think I underestimate, or forget.

It is still a death.

 

I am finally free,

Whatever that means.

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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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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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?

 

 

 

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