You say it’s dangerous
you say it’s too risky to be alone
it is winter
I lay in a field
in the frost the bridge across from me
my hand on my chest
my skin is hot
(like desert sand)
I am not sick
I press the snooze button on my alarm
three times and then
finally wake up happy
I step in to the outfit
already laid out, place my foot
in a shoe that didn’t cost
I sit on the couch drinking coffee
a stain appears on my shirt
I glance out the window – no rain
I scrub the stain out,
eat the leftovers,
eye old memories hanging
like art on my fridge
my phone is fully charged
I’m flat on my back
my heels spread as wide as the mat
my fingers stretch like star shapes
my palms face up because I’m
trying to be open and at peace
I’m trying to welcome news things
like change and balance
but the man next to me is sleeping
through his shavasana and snoring
so loud I can’t count my breaths
or empty my mind or be grateful
I turn to him and whisper be here now
but he is somewhere else
and now I roam
A lung has escaped my body.
I’d been walking down the street when
it emerged right out of my chest.
The left one. Not the right – the smaller one that keeps room for my heart.
It’s no longer in me but out.
Not at all fleshy or muscular, but more
like something boiled for far too long.
liquid lung trickling down my leg,
swelling over the edge of my sneaker,
splatting like blob on the sidewalk.
I was twelve when I learned the truth about my father. I’d always wondered about him. Ever since I could talk, I asked my mother about him. Who was he? Where was he? Did he know about me? She would spark a cigarette and puff on it a minute before responding. And then, when she finally did, her answers were always different. He died in the war. He was lost at sea. Sometimes she’d ignore me, walk into her bedroom and lock herself inside. When I was eight, for an entire year she had me convinced the mailman from Cheers, Cliff Claven, was my dad. And when I found the nerve to ask her more about him, she switched the story up, telling me my dad was a spaceman, and then weeks later a pirate. She never repeated the same story twice.
For years, I never understood why my mother made up stories about my dad. It was as if she wanted me to know there was something more to it than whatever lie she mustered up. It was why, I was sure, she left the picture and court papers in her sock drawer. She knew I’d find them. And when I did, I knew her and I could never have an honest conversation about who my father was.
I became angry. I acted out. Fights at school, drugs and all that. I hated myself. I hated her. Even though it wasn’t her fault. It was him I wanted to hurt. But I couldn’t stop thinking about what my mother thought of me. When she looked at me, did she see him?
To cut open my heart
can sometimes feel like the moon
I float in the hours
until the sea swallows me whole.
(But how else can I
untangle my colors?)
Perhaps you can try to wrestle
like water over my head
(It won’t matter)
Published September 21, 2017 by Ground Fresh Press Magazine
From Sunday March 5th – March 30th, 2017 my poem It’s written on the back of my handis exhibited at the Luman Winter Gallery at the New Rochelle Library.
Jackie realized it had been a while since she looked Anna in the eyes. She’d been working, scouring the restaurant. Purposely sitting in direct view of the entrance, watching who walked in and out of those doors. She eyed the hostess as she walked across the marbled dining room floor with a couple following behind her. She led them over to a two-person table nestled beside a wall where water cascaded down onto a row of glossy rocks. What a fluke Jackie thought; she knew the man. Not his name of course. She never bothered with names. But she could recognize his thick, peculiar widow’s peak anywhere.
Jackie turned to her plate, took the last bite of her salad, and peered up at Anna, who was blabbing up a storm about her third divorce. Groaning silently, Jackie nodded her head, faking concern and caring less. It seemed Anna couldn’t help but confide in Jackie all the personal details of the men she married. Jackie always wondered why her? Sure, she was the only child her mother ever had, but why disclose the intimate details of her relationships to her daughter? She hated it now and she especially hated it back then when her mother trapped her at Madison Avenue restaurants like this and blabbed on about her father.
“Your father is a handsome man,” Anna would say, but he never supports me, and he doesn’t appreciate me, and now it’s too late.” Then she’d run her stringy fingers through the front parts of her sandy bleached hair, her lips all pursed, her eyes adrift and dark like the shadowed bends of a river. Now here she was, again, the third time in sixteen-years swallowed up in an unruly swirl of self-pity, carrying on about another incompetent husband.
The waiter returned with two martinis and placed them down in front of Jackie and her mother. “Henry just doesn’t get me,” Anna carried on, slurping the top of her glass as elegantly as a lady could. Jackie reached for hers and took a big gulp, the vodka burning the back of her throat, her eyes watering like they always did when drinking martinis with her mother. She didn’t even like martinis. Definitely not wine. The vodka was okay, but she preferred a Cosmo, something with a splash of juice or soda. “You know he didn’t even come home last week,” Anna said.
The man with the widow’s peak closed the menu and placed it down on the table, amused with something his lady-friend said, when he happened to catch Jackie in the corner of his eye. He did a double take, squinting suspiciously, wondering how he knew her. He was certain he didknow her. Her face was familiar, but something about her was off. He couldn’t place her. He cleared his throat and turned his attention back to the lady across from him.
The plan was to find out why this Birdie girl wandered around our rooms, stealing our things. Living in a dorm with over sixty of us, we’d all roam in and out of each other’s closets from time to time, borrowing clothes, flat irons, hair dryers, and stuff like that. But from what I could tell, Birdie was the only one who strolled around our quarters, pocketing Q-tips and razors, deodorant and dental floss. And no one had a clue why.
The girls on the floor left it up to me to investigate the “Birdie situation.” I’d been known to not give a rat’s ass about poking my nose in other people’s business. It was true of course, but to my defense, I’d only get involved if it meant I could help someone. Like the time I’d spent a week spying on Jamie’s boyfriend Kurt because she’d suspected he was cheating. With a camera around my neck, I followed Kurt all the way down to the west wing of the theatre. While hiding in a groove in the hallway, I watched him walk straight into one of the back rooms. Minutes later, Chelsea, not Jamie, walked in after him. The next day, anticipating 9:00pm being their usual meet up time, I hid under the desk in the same room they’d met in the night before. Needless to say, I caught the whole thing on film and went straight to the darkroom to develop the pictures. A day later, I presented my proof to Jamie.