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Cases & Skins
Happy Valley, United States
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The Canary That Ate the Cat
Some day the tables / will be turned: you will stare in amazement / from the confines of your cage / at me looking in at you, / a cheshire …
The bed sheets rustle. / You’re an octopus of hands / here and there, and everywhere / I haven’t been touched before. / You tak…
Soon she will fly into the night away from / his drab lusts, / the movement of her glorious wings / awakening women everywhere.
I Change You
Because I love you / I promise not to leave you / as I found you.
All that school year I coveted, I dreamed, I ached. I even went so far as to tell my mother about my dream coat.
Come home to me at twilight / when the day is at its best and, / weary of this maze of life, / you long for warmth and rest. / Come home to…
His dignified bearing stirs me as I take in / the determined set of his shoulders / the faded glory of his once expensive suit coat . . .
Until I’ve No Reason to Hide
Oh I was a hider, alright. I hid in Girl Scouts and religion, I hid in daydreams of a whole different life with an entirely different famil…
She’s the bag lady in several layers of clothing, toothless and greasy-haired, pushing her shopping cart like a silent wraith along t…
If God were to smile upon me as in the days of old / If he gentled my step and blessed me / with soft spoken reassurances of love— / …
I Refused to Be Grafted
Our grafted dogwood tree was pretty in an odd sort of way— though didn’t it just figure that we would be the only ones in our n…
The Challenge of Ordinary Days
What did the warriors of old do with themselves when there were no more wars to be fought, or they were simply too old for the fight and hu…
We fell ungracefully, for there is no beauty in violence; / we fell against tables and chairs / banged our heads or tried to protect them w…
On our drive to the courthouse we witnessed / an elderly man wobble on his old-fashioned bike / near the ditch, where weeds brushed against…
This is Not About Me
I wonder too what would have been the outcome if she’d come home with me some day and let me be her friend.
The Insides of Things
My soul, it seemed, craved creaky doors and broken pottery. I needed to feast my eyes on warped closet doors and curtains limp and faded wi…
I am my own Knight-in-Shining-Armor, my own Prince(ss) Charming.
At night you sneak in and plunder me / bold as any thief under cover of darkness. / You wrap my top sheet around my body mummy like / and c…
Not in My House
No cobwebbed anger trapped in inaccessible corners. / No cutting words honed like the blade of a knife / or plaited into a cat-of-nine tail…
Dear Me at 15:
At 15 you think you’ve found your freedom from the pain and sufferings of your childhood. I wish I could warn you that this is not s…
Suddenly I am propelled backwards by the scruff of my neck, and Bec is hissing at me to shut up.
There is sanity in aged sidewalks / in the footsteps left behind by generations past.
Jump Rope Chants, revised
(What some little girls would chant if the truth could be told:) / 1. / Three, six, nine / you took what’s mine, / I bore your weight on my…
Just the whiff of pink rose / growing outside my front door / brings my heart to my throat, stirs a desire / to don frayed cut-offs and whi…
I was careful to never step on sidewalk cracks / out of respect for your health . . .
Tall and sturdy as an elm tree / you towered over me, mother, / majestic like. / I first looked up to you with admiration. / I thought you …
What You Have Taken
Still, I refuse in the face of this to fall out of love with pockmarked sidewalks, or give up without a fight the understated beauty of a r…
Out of My Head
Would you know me / by the defeated tilt of my head, / My stance pigeon toed / from all I’ve left unsaid? / (The C of my spine curves inwar…
On the Cusp of Womanhood
On the cusp of womanhood a girl’s rounded cheeks become more angular / as the innocent chin of childhood defines itself into a force to be …
My step-father is a tattoo-knuckled dictator, / hair buzzed cut / military style. / His power lies in the sour moods he wields / as a weapo…
My eyes burn hot / unblinking as the moon, / too stoic to shed tears over falling stars.
The ocean beckons me / but I am much too wise to be so easily led captive, / drowned before nightfall on the waves of my past.
My heart’s a prison from which there is no escape. / You ask me to share its depths with you, / but it’s only so many words / a…
We pass by like strangers / isolated within our own heads. / A weird planet, this, populated with the living dead. / We speak in superficia…
Once upon a time / a lonely teardrop fell, / it soon began to trickle and like a river swell. / It recruited other teardrops, / they slithe…
Little Girl Lost
I am a wallflower at a prom, desperate for a glimpse of you. / I am an empty box of cereal which promised but failed to include a special p…
Two of Us
I slid behind the wheel and said, “You know, I’ve Got a Feeling we’ll never forget the Things We Said Today.”
My bedroom looms black in the blacker night / like a celestial demerit against my soul. / Even the stars won’t lend their light!
These insolent ones whose souls are brittle, / slicked back like their hair.
The season of childhood whirled my playmates / forever out of reach.
When First We Found Our Voices
Oh when first we found our voices / we cared for nothing else / for now, world without end / we had the ability / to call things by their p…
He said any place is home, / to which I replied: / If I minded the rain I’d not live in Oregon.
Giving Up Midge
While helping my sister unpack from a recent move, I unearthed a plastic arm hidden beneath a pile of worn dish towels. / “My Midge doll!” …
My lover sits hunched / his naked back a mute plea for attention. / I rake careful nails over golden skin still warm from lovemaking, / my …
You Speak Poetry
You speak poetry liquid as fragrant tea poured boldly / from steady hand.
My Native Colors
The john is cramped and shabby, but reasonably clean. I pause before the mirror, staring at what they were all staring at a moment ago.
Portrait of an Artist’s Daughter
I stalked your deft shadow, never guessing / that your colorful abundance was not meant for me . . .
Of Avocados and Desire
I have been that avacado, peeled, exposed, gaped at—lusted after.
Richard Hansen motions for me to join him on the piano bench of his shiny baby grand. Entranced, and puzzled by his attraction to me–for at…
My third grade teacher, Mrs. Gunderson, was tall and gawky with unflattering glasses, and a dramatic bent.
Mother of Five
Baa baa mama / have you any sons? / Yessir, yessir / tons and tons: / One for my comfort / One to keep me sane, / and more than enough to s…
Let me write, let me write, / let me fill up the blank skied night / with words.
I’m wearing your resentment / mother, / a garment woven strong / seam-stitched / with the deceptively fragile thread / of your incalc…
Oh mother nurture that little girl’s dreams / as childish and insignificant as they may seem: / for her jump-rope chants may merely b…
King of the Mountain
It is only when I am earthbound once more that my heart cries out in anguish . . .
Summer of ’99
To be involved with a man, yet not all-absorbed in the romance of it, oh how delicious.
Oh mother, it’s not your puckered brow / which worries me so, / but your sour puckered soul . . .
For oh! There are so many means / of hobbling daughters.
To My Grandson, at 5
Your eyes, as blue as my favorite vintage marbles / held mine so trustingly . . .
The Color of Bones
I’ve gone far away so far from myself / and live on old bones and the most cunning of stealth . . .
After the Storm (Columbus Day, 1962)
After the storm, my brother cleaned up nature’s wrath . . .
Sacred Romance (Stay)
Sweet Ancient of Days, / Come to me wearing any disguise: / thorny rose / soft-footed snow / mournful wind / or rain tippity-tapping my wi…
I’m writing you out of my soul, using colorful adjectives to describe the audacity with which you pummeled and terrorized me . . .
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