The makeshift ashtray

A better word for purgatory

winter reverie

to be
a natural

means following
the groove

of splintered wood
cracked like collapsing

baby’s breath

a crown
of September flowers

tracing blurry outlines

feeling your nose turn cold
at the half moon

the child’s manifesto

There is
a place I go

crouched on knees
bending shoulders
into the corner cupboard

behind after school
ravioli and canisters
of powdered delight,

still like the day
and night Atlas
took a walk

marks like the pox
propped up on elbows
on the unending rug,

afloat on a clear afternoon

the heart


like boats
tied loose
black purple
water in June
on our bellies


stars interrupted
crackling orange
tear shaped ice
stuck between
sandy inlet toes


as sweet as
backseat mama’s
lap, desert dust
running down,

oscar’s in november

We saw indigo too
she laughed at my accent —
east coast
through and through

a wrinkled mirror
worn from too many
special effects
of those that
boxes of fine china

remembered by a snapshot,
mapped by the river

whispering this is my first
and last time
my roommate and his girl,
who hated pie,
clutch fingers against flushed
cool skin

snowflake stars
like tears on the edge
of your frostbitten hood

the mayor’s prize

Tragedy happens
when we weep,
bent over
edges of our arms afloat

Mother always
wanted a house
with a weeping willow
and a stone for sitting

Gave birth
to a repeating row
of styrofoam heads
their hair askew,
waiting for the click clack
of closing metal

Waited in my father’s arms
who thought ketchup went with
tuna fish

You stood
arms soft, slack against your shearling
short jacket,
stared intently at trees —
how have you changed,
how have I been blind to
the colors of autumn —
who will she be? —

I turn
there are caterpillars,
lined up on my arm, sitting setting
sun lighting each fiber
she calls me,
love, the day is over

for my three

It’s not about the father
it’s not about wanting your desires
fulfilled by your father
it’s not about him
it’s not about longing
for him
it’s not about his needs

It’s about yours, the female
child, a day away from birth
about forgiveness
about freeing yourself from
the hook

they all say
it’s about the woman’s
failure to birth
and sustain that dream
the father’s dream,
the father’s ascension

I destroy my heart
every awakening
losing the weight
between cries to friends
across states

and yet there remains

for all the cooks I fell in love with

it’s 2 am
the soy pots are washed
dried wheat
like polished rice
at what rate
does the heart beat

you smile at each other
in your own secret
ways, edged against a ceiling
to ceiling
green ladder
I knew slow

motion in turns
that’s how we know how much
to sell
called out advances

your sunburnt,
blushing cheeks.

for courtney

I imagine us small
holding hands
eye to eye
finger to finger
afternoon sunshine

pours through crevices
the tips of our hair touching

the summer I
drew through the rain
on a creaky deck
singing songs
that weren’t mine

I watched an airplane
lights against grey blue sky
we both hate the 4th,
who wouldn’t

if they knew
how to wear
their souls
on their skin

our ancestral
lines laughing at the
front door,
we met

the long meal

I arrange things
on my kitchen table, that’s
also¬†a desk, that’s also
a set down of groceries, that’s
also the space
between love and hatred,

like cousins you hear
loudly enough for empty seats

truly, I found no path
on your map of big goodbyes

hit by opening umbrellas
striped by shade and sun

I said
let me go
let me rest
let me pause

beneath that tree with the broad bottom
you return,
tracing your new skin
meeting lips so full of words

your small touch in a pink room
the red waffling of your shirt,
catching bad jokes just to talk
we talked all night

to remember in sight
to live in horizons
to die in their shadows

creating today

february in oregon

I thought Mary was disgusting

For wanting sex
with her students,
I let the copy machine blind
it out, no matter how
many times she said
I like
your skirt,

I think I’m falling
in love
with a student,
my student, not a mistaken
something you woke up to
muttering no nothings
to behind the rim
of his hat,

I notice

you and I
hate it.

But nightdream on my porch,
it’s just where the heart

goes in the changing sky,
I’ve studied the weight
of your gaze
fresh off an idea
and how your anger, I accept
kicking and screaming,

the moments of least intention