Wednesday, September 14, 2016

hug your hurt

walking into a wake
the smell of mixed florals
reminds me of stomach acid that stirred
seeing my grandmother
stiff and sewn.
i was six
and afraid to step near the casket.

i'm no longer six
but i still don't care for coffins.

loss is brutal, painful, numbing.
it's a wasp stinging your heart
novocain for every living layer within you.
it destroys digestion
and the desire to desire.
it's for worms and only worms.

when i lost my parents,
i lost all empathy for liars.
when you encounter good grief,
the truth surfaces and glows neon
and everything else is a vivid waste of time.

orphaned at 36 isn't a disaster,
but it still makes me sad.
the sadness swells when i see a new orphan
and recall how disgusting it is to understand that level of alone.

i want to hug your hurt so hard,
and maybe need you to hug my hurt too.

Monday, September 12, 2016

my toenails, my america

if this were all equal
my toenails would be prettier.
or painted.

if we were all made equal,
there would be more women with thinner lips or fuller lips.
more short, bald men or more thick haired tall men.

if we were all equal,
my father would never have called gay men 'sodomites'
and he would have talked to me about finding the right man or woman.
because if we are all equal,
both are equally possible.
he would never have called ellen, ellen degenerate.

if we're all equal, all my sisters would have pursued their education
with the same vigor they pursued dating.
they wouldn't stay a day with an abusive husband.
in fact, they would never have given that guy a chance.

maybe abusive men wouldn't exist if we were all equal?

if there was real equality,
my neighbors wouldn't need to sell drugs
and wouldn't throw garbage in the street.
we wouldn't have to drive a half-hour to find a Whole Foods
and dollar stores wouldn't decorate every corner.

if things were really equal,
my niece would have had the same number of fans at her volleyball championship
that my nephew had at his soccer tournament.

if we were all equal,
there would have been a Jewish president,
a black president,
a woman president
way before 2008.
we started presidenting in 1788.
that's 220 years of white men leading.

if we are all equal,
i wouldn't be afraid to hold my partner's hand in public
and her father
and her father
and her father wouldn't worry about his little girl being judged or harmed for who she loves.

who am i kidding?

we are a nation built on a notion of equality for all
yet in 2016, we are invading the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe,
(this time with an oil pipeline.)
we are shutting down planned parenthood
giving Brock Turner an early release
and letting a racist run for presidency.
we are killing black men and black boys and defending the right to do so.
we are serving our children sugar for lunch,
and calling ketchup a vegetable.

i am staring at my toenails painfully aware they will never be beautiful.
but i trim them.
i tend the cuticles,
and i clean them.

i take care of my toenails
and i vote.
somehow, it feels a bit the same.

Monday, August 8, 2016

ode to four, you and life.

dearest kidney in my right belly,

4 is the smallest squared prime,
and today you turn so inside my skin.

from the day you joined this flesh, these bones
you've made more difference than any gift i've known.

you haven't just cleaned my blood stream,
you've changed my spirit
redefined my understanding of love
and empowered leaps into the better.

you give, and give, and keep giving me time.

time with my mother
time to say goodbye
time to keep orchids blooming
time to hold my nieces and nephews, my sisters and brothers
time to create, to sing
time to fail, grow, and fail again
time to face my biggest fears
time to stand up for myself
time to do stand up comedy
time to live on my own
time to fall in love
time to recreate a future rooted in balance, transparency, and joy
time to forgive
time to read books and find new music
time to walk and hold hands and smell spring
time to bundle up in a new winter coat and find perfect waterproof boots
time to feel summer sunshine, sweat, and freckle
time to know myself healthy
time to feel connection and possibility, in every beautiful shape.

as far as kidneys go, doctors say you are the cream of the crop.

so when i place my hand upon you
i still gasp at what you are,
who you came from,
how everything could not be without you.

4 corners of the world.
4 points on a compass.
4 years of full living,
all with and because of,

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

your orchid

i am the orchid.

i am the withered, dry stem that most assume dead.

i lay dormant without demand and require the least of your attention.

i am still with observation of light and energy.

i am vulnerably exposed, with open roots and heart.

i am settled in wood chips and rocks.

i reach into the air around you while you dream.

i have smooth leaves, green buds, and silk petals to press upon you.

i am the orchid.

i am not dead.

i am here to surprise you, to remind you that what appears gone is not.

please, ice.  please, wait.

Monday, June 6, 2016

this knowing

i sleep beside a lamb 
no longer a lion 

i find myself alive 
without fear

trust lays like silk upon us in summer
and the warmth of wool waits for our winter

we pioneered the deserts
and finally found water within her wells 
never once sought salt in our wounds

we sail without sinking 
with will we honor 
where we've been and what we build

there will be seasons with storms 
tornadoes, quakes and weaker bodies 
but I hold this knowing in my teeth and in my bones

these roots are the deepest kind
our skin is layered for survival

Thursday, April 21, 2016

on you, turning 50.

i studied the way you watched television.
your body balanced on one side,
your arm folded into a pillow.

you are 11 years ahead.

once you carried my body down two sets of stairs
when appendicitis twisted me in two.

daily you carried our grandmother
to breakfast and to bed.

decades you carried our nieces, our nephews, our dogs, our burdens
before you had your own.

your kindness rooted my trust in men.

you climbed corners to ceilings
calmed our adolescent angst
overcame fear
and cured loneliness in all of us,
  but mostly mom and dad.

half a century has held you
and we are four-leaf clovers deep for the hours.

i'd like to offer you an afternoon in space,
the oldest barrel of Bushmills,
every father-daughter dance deserved,
a fish-fry dinner with Jesus,
a day in the park with Shelby, Maggie, and Bear,
  but i just have memories and words, brother.

still, your kindness roots my trust in men.

Monday, February 8, 2016

holy hibernation

In between 
buzzfeed Beyonce Beiber and Gates
I pause 
cornered and craving holy hibernation
with screenless motion

look me in the eye and hold my hand
touch and hold this skin 
past this global lonely 
and last 
where water is without warning
and moments mean more than money

i hold gold in memories
made with you and you and you

in bed beside my mother
her spine to mine
a pressed, blessed bond 

bold and brief this time
between out

Thursday, January 28, 2016

walk over wire

ill fight you baby
fight for the cause
wrap myself in fire
break my soul for your laws
I'll carry the burden
rub my skin bare
i'll do it sweet thing
just to show that i care

i'll praise the witches of eastwick
Jack Nicholson too
bow down to the stories
you hold tight and you hold true
i'll carry the blame
I'll bury your share
i'll do it sweet thing
just to show that i care
i'll do it sweet thing
just to show that i care

i can give it all
and I won't beg for a ring
but my love won't mean nothing
if the sparrow can not sing

i'll make toast in the morning
bake a sweet cherry pie
walk over wire
40 feet in the sky
i'll cradle your babies
wash your soft dirty hair
i'll do it sweet thing
just to show that I care

i'll risk my reputation
wear the mark of shame
build a fortress for you
be the tiger you can tame
i'll study your secrets
just like a prayer
i'll do it sweet thing
just to show that i care.
i'll do it sweet thing
just to show that i care.

i can give it all
and I won't beg for a ring
but my love won't mean nothing
if the sparrow can not sing

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

for dad, the 87th year

you would be 87 on Friday
and we would give you butter
with bread.

in my mind i stand in the old kitchen.
i smell your burnt toast
and hear you smile.
'it's good. it will put hair on your chest.'

competition for you was complex
and ran deep among us.
nine children needing

for some, there was more than enough.
for others, there was never enough.
somewhere in the middle lies the truth.

i remember being on a ship in Canada after the divorce
and a woman told you what great legs you had.
your eyes lit up in confusion.

there were nine of us.
plus you, plus mom.
22 hands, 11 hearts
needing love, attention, bread, butter, forgiveness.

the earth has turned five years
and nine of us are all still down here in need.

somewhere out there,
as atoms or soul
in space and time and beyond,
i hope you realize how great your legs were
and how much hair we have on ours chests.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


caught up in notions familiar from birth
what once was comfortable won't always bring comfort.

i am reborn again against your skin.

inside your compassion pressed upon my chest
there is safety for spirit.
there is trust for touch.
there is water for washing.

our hips curve with wisdom.
our lips flush with fervor.
our bellies are full.

unknown shapes and unseen colors
unfold on the horizon
and my legs shake with grace.

i am willing love.