Saturday, December 23, 2017

raised to love

a fever brews in the blood
and shivers surface over skin.

here the beating self begins.
here, the weak body.
here, the wilting mind.

i fear being the burden
that slows her race with destiny.
i fear being her burden
that distracts her from joy.

i fear being unloved when i am most vulnerable.

she holds my face
and exorcises these notions.
she was raised to be kind and gentle.
she was raised to love.

this is the last fever i will be the fool.

Monday, September 25, 2017


the last time i was on manhattan
your fingers rubbed arnica over me.
with gentle compassion
your eyes stared into my skull,
with fierce protection
your wine numbed our shock
with soothing tannins.

with stained skin and bones scarred
i carried the silence too long
and you let me speak.

we have always let each other speak.
for twenty years 
through first loves, first heartbreaks
first highs, first depressions
first babies, first albums 
first homes, first deaths
first careers, first breakdowns
first acts, first curtain calls
first firsts and more firsts. 
i have always felt heard,
i have always heard you.

we have been young on highways,
shouting at the wind with pink lungs.
we have been older on desert mountains,
starving for oxygen and solace.

in this moment, 
i'm looking at you across a rooftop that overlooks Manhattan.
there will always be distance.
but we are survivors.
this friendship is prolific.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Five Years

does it ever get old,
this second chance at life?

aging is a mother-loving blessing
and every morning is a milestone.

at 17 i didn't think i'd live past 35
and told Alec this when i was 27.

i died no doubt.
buried sadness,
made more room,
and let a kidney resurrect a better me.

i've always been a hugger,
but now i hold on longer
because no one is counting
and touch is my memory shaper.

in these five years
i've touched the cliffs in Ireland
i've touched the toes of new born babies
i've touched the lips of women i love
i've touched the walls of a homemade prison and said goodbye
i've touched the fur of my pups
i've touched scars and cancer, breasts and hips
i've touched the strings of chords in songs i dreamed of writing
i've touched pages of novels that ignited my brain
i've touched the wool in weavings spun by a woman i adore
i've touched skin that gave me goosebumps
i've touched the peridot stone on my left ring finger
i touched the fading pulse of my dying mother.

when she gave me her kidney,
she cleaned out the garbage
and taught me the depth of love.

(before my blood was clean
i was convinced love meant struggle
so i embraced some bruises
and i cried silently in corners.)

when she gave me her kidney,
she cleaned out the garbage
and taught me the depth of my life.

i pause for flowers in fields, i pause for cloud shapes in the sky,
i pause for strangers on the sidewalk, i pause for kissing goodbye
i pause for memories in the making, and i pause to write down these words.

if you give me a kidney, i'll give you reflections on what it means to be alive
every year
until i die.

Thursday, August 3, 2017


(the eggplant couldn't wait
so i held it between my fingers and bit it
while i walked beside her.
the tall man born in the Netherlands said,
"peripatetic eggplant'
so i promised him poetry for breakfast.)

sit seven secure women at a table
and i drift and dream of matriarchy in the white house.

i will smell last night forever
and request a lifetime of conversations that crawl toward midnight
   with fever, cocktails, and Paul
(the tall Netherlands man.)

i don't believe sweat has color
so throw away what's pink and blue
and just pay me for every drop of salt on my forehead.

i want men who look me in the eye,
who balance respect with admiration on their tongue,
who share unfamiliar words, encourage risk,
and trust my body is connected to my brain.

i want women who drive women into independence,
who seek solution over opinion,
who hold each other in darkness
and let go when sunlight calls,
  because there is a world to run.

i am peripatetic
i cherish women
  and Paul.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day, 2017

Last night loneliness crept beside me
wrapped my wrists in its claws and whispered,
  'You are alone.'

I am a grown woman
but felt like an adolescent girl
who can't find a friend in the cafeteria.

My father and my mother are dead
and last night I could not feel any sense of them.

Is it dramatic to feel like I wanted to die?

I fell asleep only to dream of my mother,
who no longer wanted to be around me.
My best friend didn't want to be my best friend. 
I suppose Heaven is better than any best friend.

Is it still too dramatic to feel like I wanted to die?

It's these holidays.
There is a global design to find the perfect gift for dad, 
and the sales stab my sad gut. 
All the ties, the books, the cards  
  everything hurts on Father's Day.

My brother just sent me a picture of the sky above my parents grave.
  'My view as I lay here with mom and dad.'

I don't really want to die.
I just want my parents back.

We are all young children, 
lost in the super-market,
trying to find our parents.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

the experiment, 4/30/17

I see your roots
exposed and long.
Your fingers are my downfall
and your speed is near mustang strong.

Your colored skin has seen the sun
and your eyes glisten like wet dew.

I am in Ohio
washing rags in righteous water
wondering what will this future say of its past.

I told you to follow your heart
but that was the full moon talking
and now the memory owns me
like the promised land owns my sister.

If I let you break the rules and move me
I'd be knocked out cold
with shoulders stretched beyond sockets.

There is a sprinkled spell in all this
magic, science, witchcraft, fairy dust, and god
making cells so
there is no release.

do you remember our first kiss?
because a thousand rising and falling suns won't forget.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

North Collinwood, 4/23/17

on tuesdays, fridays, and saturdays
i hear gunshots in bed.
only at night
do they catch my breath
when they wake me from sleep.
volume defines proximity.

every day, around the corner
artists gather to make music, sculptures, coffee, and Neapolitan pizza.
we drink mugs made in her studio,
wear scarves made in her workshop,
wear dresses designed in her store.
it's a living, eating, breathing-it-all-in community.

last easter weekend,
1.9 miles away,
a triple murder took place
leaving three children without their parents and family dog.
the street is numb.
the street is nauseous.

(shock drop and roll
while the media fails
the police force ails
and the councilman weeps for the nest he's trying to keep.)

every June
.4 miles away
the main street bustles with black, white, brown, pink
kids, grandmas, teenagers, stray cats and pit bulls.
west to east and east to west
food trucks dress the air with aromas,
music tickles feet with beats in the sidewalk
and everyone sweats beneath the summer sun.

every century,
the earth spins
and duality unfolds itself randomly
in the country, in the suburbs, in the city.


Friday, April 21, 2017

the shape of my sleep, 4/21/17

At 4:56am I realize I sleep like my mother.

Turning to my side
I feel my knees bend and fold on each other
I feel my left arm cross over my neck
I feel my left hand land upon my pillow
and with bullet speed 
memories of my mother 

Her arms were painted with freckles, 
shoulders to wrists, 
a pointillism tan.

Veins like mountain ranges 
rode the surface of her hands.
I followed them with my fingertips as a child
and turned her palm open
to find infinite life lines. 

Do I rest my elbow over my eyes
because it fits so
because she did?

It's been four years.
I know I don't miss you enough.
I reduce grief to fit in my pocket to function.

Here I am
awake and aware
in morning darkness.
I counted your breaths on the last day.

You were just here
are here
shaping how I sleep.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

the h word, 4/12/17

in third grade i was itching to age
and put my breasts in a training bra.

my mother and aunt joanie understood 
and carefully catered to my bumps.

who would i be without this female foundation?

no family man ever told me to follow my dreams
or fed faith in self.
there was little space for my voice in a room of brothers
  most used volume like a sword.  

my mother never shouted and i heard every word she spoke.

the idea of losing her sister
after losing her,
  annihilates me 

at 95, there is not a wiser woman who knows my face
  yet it's been a year since I held her hand.

she is my mother's sister,
and i have forgotten to be my mother's daughter.
my own modern world fails.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

key west, 4/10/17

I am a passenger on the 7 Mile bridge 
where the midnight moon is full
and the ocean reflects like a poet.

I am a two hearted thing
and it will be this way indefinitely.
without a choice 
I am anchored to a double truth
land and sea
city and suburb
man and woman
living and dying.
I am led with a conscience,
  aware of duality.

Hemingway's bedroom smells like a distant grandfather
and cats sprawl across his mattress.
I touch the walls knowing my sentences are short
and I prefer dogs.

what if we woke every day before the sun rose
and wrote the virgin thoughts of morning?
I imagine this 
  and collecting ceramic tiles for a floor I do not own.

today, I dabbed holy water on my forehead
showing my Protestant sister 
the father, the son and the Holy Spirit.
there is a difference
between a cross and a crucifix 
between our skin and its response to light
between the shape of our breasts.
but we still share smiles with our eyes.
the codes in our blood are magic and human,
despite all the bits and pieces that will never match.

I am drawn to people eager to sweat
who cherish the body, the shell, and romance
who know there is no warranty
who understand maintenance is required.

Away from winter and monotony 
my body whispers 'i am but once'
and the ocean reminds me to write this down.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

your kind whispers

You are not the Joe who frequents strip clubs
or the George naked beneath a trench coat

You don't offer candy to first graders on sidewalks
or dabble in online chats with curious preteens

You aren't an uncle in pursuit of his young kin
or the president who grabs women by their pussies

You are your own kind.

You play Jesus on stage
and draw in the fragile seeking affirmation.

You earn parental trust
then pour wine down virgin throats.

You whisper words you're gonna be a star
on staircases that lead to bedrooms.

You puzzle piece a cult together
and publicly appear perfect.

I'm forty now, not fourteen.
I don't know where you are
  but I know who are you.

I wonder how many stars have heard your whispers.
I wonder how many carry the weight of silence.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine 2017

you are the morning skin to touch first
and midnight warmth beneath the moon,

you are purposeful kisses, slow and delicate
afternoon dances beside the kitchen sink.

you began as walking along water
and now you breathe beside me in bed.

you are my courage in doubt
my saltiest sweat
my first note sung in solid tune
my abdomen trembling in release.

you are the sweetest creme brulee.

you are the silence when the windows are down
  and the wind is speaking.
you are bread crumbs left on the path
  reminding me of home.
you are a gentle visionary,
  and i believe in everything you see.

you are the always, in all chaos and calm.