9th Grade Lawn

I’ve just been moved from the sun to the clouds,
changed nests and perches, or schools if you like.
I don’t like this one; the ocean stings little toes and there’s
no one to do the splits with or steal a watch from.

There are mean girls on the 9th grade lawn, and even the ones outside of it
have gone to wearing 501s instead of A-Smiles, and I’m out of my element,
so I settle on ice cream for lunch.

At least in class I win at spelling, and my new friends are
right out of a Farmer Ted script, all dirty retainers and albinos, and some
short blonde boy named Jesse who loves the girl whose
breath stinks and has dandruff.

But I want at that lawn.

I want to be able to walk across it, sit on it after the rain, claim I’m
someone who can be on lawns. Then I tell my millionaire lie, and it
circulates the inner circle. It gets back to the principal and his inner circle,
and they form a circle to talk about me.

No one asked me why I lied, there are other lawns.
This is the time, I’m sure, that having a lawn, or even a box, is
favorable to the walk home when you’ve been seen outside the lawn.
No arms around you in the fog, and you can’t get on planes anymore
without getting drunk.

At least the bright flowers look beautiful in the fog.
I scatter their pink petals across the lawn.

The Crepe Myrtle

The Sycamore grows branches for crows’ nests.
The harvest starts in April, and the hiding not
long after that. The Crepe Myrtle is starting to
blossom honey leaves.

Today I caught an Eastern Grey Squirrel foraging in my lilacs.
I’d like to think it was a stop to smell the roses moment, a
cultured creature admiring the lilac’s fleeting
life and intoxicating fragrance,

like the Star Jasmine I encounter on my walks. I bury my
face in its blossoms, and take a deep breath.

My dog smells the roots of the Sycamore, then makes his mark.

There. There’s another bird song I don’t know.

Some mind field (for B.W.)

I was one of those people willing to learn to love ’til it
became the north star of my life.

I got sidelined by your bromance, and then I
got to thinking Beginnings are like snowstorms. But I
may never see through to you, or you to me.

Then I heard the words, life, my life, and then I saw one of your shadows.

oh, now I see one of you.

Was that you, laughing, impervious to the carnage around you?
I bought you anyway, flipping through, late at night.
I can’t relate. It will be months before I pick you up again.

I turned to the first page, again, and my human castle rises.
I’ve been trying to cut losses for half a century, and an awful man
from Texas could see right through me, and told me I was needy, too.

I just wanted a little more. Why is that so wrong?
Knock knock.

Citations:

“I’M A VOICE” from Beau Sia’s Well Played
“Yixing, Heating the Clay Pot” from Peggy Dobreer’s Drop and Dazzle.
“The Potato Eaters” from B.H. Fairchild’s Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest
“Letdown” by Sonia Greenfield
“Ode to the Book (II)” by Pablo Neruda

The Aftermath

Written with a line from Anis Mojgani’s In the Pockets of Small Gods

I’m alone in a room and I’ve closed the door on Rosie.
Rosie came bearing news, where’s my money?
G is in the back, sweating in the purple room, eyes black as bowls.

Heart, still, stopped beating? But I can still see, forehead
cracked wide open on nothing. TV’s on, and I
start combing for rocks in the shag.
I don’t belong here, here in the river with all of us
sitting in our boxes, trying to split the dark.

Always decapitate before breakfast

Yesterday, before breakfast, I decapitated a rat.

Rather, I should say, I cut its body from its head.

I guess it was a reverse decapitation.


You see, its head was stuck in a trap on one side of a fence,

and its body was dangling from my side.


I had a boyfriend who looked like a rat and a

rat named Poe, at the same time. He was a fry cook,

and maybe the rat was, too, in his last life.


I used to hold rats gently as a child, the same way I held this one,

when I wrapped its body in a plastic bag. Seeing the tail made me jump.


I walked around the block and told Robert he had a rat head in his trap,

explaining that I had to go all Aron Ralston on it with a pair of dull scissors.

I’m impressed, he said. I smiled and smoothed my hair back, feeling proud.

He asked, did you get a haircut? Yes, but I wanted an a-line.

I made slicing motions in the air to show how

I would have liked it cut.

Leaving the bang-burning house

Shells for ears, whisper deep water tales,
like the way Beetlejuice used to stick her beak in your ear,
click her tongue, waking up stem with I love your

oranges to be peeled, tiny star paw, hamster furry soul.
I will build a ladder for you. Climb out from the green rocks,
out from the cold, into the crook of my arm.

I’ll no longer linger at you from my red velvet throne, instead
you and I will leave Tetris behind, in a game of climb-the-stairs defection.
It’s either up to the hot attic, to the spineless books, or to

the smiling Chow Chow in the filthy yard, drinking cocoa from her cave.
Come, let us all run on campus, off-leash. I’ll put you in the crook of
a tree branch, then help you down again.

Mornings are dreams

I only hear ravens and crows at first light now. Moss has started covering the backyard, like a map of a little forest, sunlight green.

I still get hot flashes, so I roll up my sleeves to release the heat, and it won’t be long before I have to shower the night off me, of sweats and strange dreams and a dog that visits me at 3 am, like clockwork, to crawl under the covers to get warm. I think I smell skunk on his breath, then it passes. We both start running in our sleep.

The day starts easy, with hot water, lemon, and a bit of blinding sun through the window. It seems to always be red. M awakes and goes straight for the espresso, so I close the doors to my cave. I think maybe I’ll fill it with talismans and flowers and more art, then I think not.

My cave is simple: a handful of poetry books, filled journals. My penholder is a small replica of a typewriter, and its one of the only trinkets I like. Above my head is a print of the movie Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock, signed by Kim Novak, the artist and main actress in the film. Kim and her doppelgänger take up the right part of the frame, and one of them holds a bouquet of flowers. The doppelgänger is crying, and looks down and away. The other Kim is looking directly at Alfred Hitchcock, who stares back from the far left of the frame. The espresso machine starts to go. I jump a little. I’ve been doing that a lot, especially at night. At every little sound my center reacts.

In the middle of the print, Jimmy Stewart’s character is gripping the top of a building. He’s about to fall, a look of terror on his face. I like this print very much, it’s filled with rage, sadness, terror, and indifference.

I will move through the day slowly, the sun will be out a bit. Maybe I will read a new poem, or read the same ones that always give me comfort. I pull at my growing bangs. Time to wake up.

Where will you go when it’s all over

Where will you go when it’s all over, because
the stars in your galaxy are all askew?
Will you fly north, only to return to see
your rooftops removed?

There’s a ghost that rides its bike in the
tennis courts at night. I shine
my useless flashlight on it, and only
illuminate the wheels. I left my phone at home.
I am afraid.

These are times of stupor, as we sit up
in our painted trees and wonder if there
will be flowers in the spring.

There’s a ghost that rides its bike,
like a hummingbird with a compass. The
hummingbird is a compass, a warrior litmus,
rings around the planet.

Where will you go when you’re all over?
I walk the dog at night. My god she’s beautiful, a
face full of scars, eyes full of stars.
I am not afraid.

Stories You Might Have Missed in 2020 (San Bruno Edition)

The Joneses across the street gave birth to their third child. Assigned female at birth, they are waiting for her to identify. They call her Horse. On occasion, Horse escapes, goes door-to-door, and forages for food.

People have figured out that the fireworks are just that, and why are there so many people outside the gun store?

Dog adoptions are up, as are people complaining about dog poop on Nextdoor. Your puppy turned seven this year.

We all got fit, or fat. We won’t know until next year when the Peloton pays for itself, or it doesn’t. Gen Z continues to negotiate time off to surf.

The number of crows has now matched or exceeded the world population.

The cat still doesn’t care.

Brozzi’s Good Death (The Hope of Now)

I wanted this to be beautiful for you.

In the photo I had of you, before I
gave away all my memories, your face is hidden,
arms outstretched to the right, sun on your olive skin.
Your dreadlocks fall around your downward gaze,
illuminated like light through the Catalpa.
And if I animate you in the time between
first light and dawn, your boyish smile and
sleepy brown eyes light up my morning,
even though you’re gone.

I missed you like you missed Reya, after Camilla took her away.
I watched your story like an endless election night, and
my longing never waned.
I watched you search, fly, drain accounts, dent couches.
I hoped you would hold your daughter again.

Hopes for 2021 Include

The bat, understood
Glass slaughterhouses
Soft ground for red geraniums
Using the term scarcity in a sentence
Fewer planes, the return of the songbird

I know nothing more than you were reunited, a decade later. The last words
I read were: “She’s ok. By bedtime last night she was cool,” you said.
You all returned to Norway. Camilla took up singing again.

Two years later, you died in your sleep. They call that a good death.
I found a selfie of you on Instagram, electrodes attached to
your hard, lean, body. Why did you shave your beautiful dreads?
I don’t know how you died, on account of no account.
I let the mystery be.

Did your heart break, or finally unbreak, leaving nothing left of longing?
Maybe you came here to do what
you needed to, to grace us with your beauty,
and show us the depths of a father’s love.

Hopes Now Include

Let love lead me
Let the mystery be