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 … System Restore The bed sheets rustle. / You’re an octopus of hands / here and there, and everywhere / I haven’t been touched before. / You tak… Raptured Soon she will fly into the night away from / his drab lusts, / the movement of her glorious wings / awakening women everywhere. The Man in the Diner I am the odd man out, the hold out at family gatherings, / and everyone too polite or not wanting to hear the truth. I May Bend, But I Won’t Break Like the bamboo plant, I’ve the ability to be blown about by fierce winds, and bounce back to an upright position. I Change You Because I love you / I promise not to leave you / as I found you. An Ordinary Girl It doesn’t take much: / rustling bed covers / a whiff of Old Spice / menacing tattoos, / and I travel / backwards in time, / heart c… Dream Coat All that school year I coveted, I dreamed, I ached. I even went so far as to tell my mother about my dream coat. Invitation 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… Sidewalk Patriarch His dignified bearing stirs me as I take in / the determined set of his shoulders / the faded glory of his once expensive suit coat . . . The Pied Pipers of Brightwood Street I’m full of glee and desolation; I’m at once a contented child and a wretched orphan silently bewailing my fate 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 She’s the bag lady in several layers of clothing, toothless and greasy-haired, pushing her shopping cart like a silent wraith along t… Identity Theft It’s nothing new–it’s been going on longer than any of us have been alive. All it takes is an inappropriate touch here, a lascivious look t… If 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… Soldiering On I must take the next step in front of me, and the one after that, because I’m a soldier fighting for my soul’s freedom. 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… Holocaust 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… You on Me For only in death will I truly be free / from harboring the shame of your man’s body / on child-sized me. Wedding Day On our drive to the courthouse we witnessed / an elderly man wobble on his old-fashioned bike / near the ditch, where weeds brushed against… The Many Faces of Courage Where did I get the courage to stand up to these bullies? Sure, it was only pretended courage—but they didn’t know that Tender Mercies What did I think of God, now that He’d done the unthinkable and asked of me this hard thing at which I was certain to fail? New Cotton Frocks What can it mean to be the recipient of such a windfall, when overnight I’ve suffered tremendous losses? Some Day Some day I’m going to realize with surprise that I’ve reached a place in my life where I have something of value to offer my fe… 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… Back When I Was a Grownup Kid I don’t want him to love me differently. What I want is for him to love me like a sitcom father, lovingly tucking me in at night as h… Princess Charming I am my own Knight-in-Shining-Armor, my own Prince(ss) Charming. Marriage Bed 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… Home Sweet Home To those who are not directionally-challenged like myself, there is no way to express the depth of my lack of direction, of the feeling of … 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… Strength to Your Sword Arm Breastplate? Check. Shield? Check. Sword? Check. Ah yes, that’s better. What a delicious sense of power and security knowing I’… In Plain Sight Was this a safe household? Would seeing the accouterments of my femininity tempt a father, a brother into perverted acts? I had to know. Strawberry Fields Suddenly I am propelled backwards by the scruff of my neck, and Bec is hissing at me to shut up. Sadness Sadness paid me a visit last night, and I listened. A lifetime it’s taken me to realize she is not my enemy. She is my reality check, my co… Sidewalk Sanity 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… Lollygagging 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… Mother Rock I was careful to never step on sidewalk cracks / out of respect for your health . . . Kindling 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 … Spring Cleaning 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… Regrets My eyes burn hot / unblinking as the moon, / too stoic to shed tears over falling stars. Memories 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. Solitary Confinement 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… Isolation We pass by like strangers / isolated within our own heads. / A weird planet, this, populated with the living dead. / We speak in superficia… The Raging 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.” In Plain Sight Was this a safe household? Would seeing the accouterments of my femininity tempt a father, a brother into perverted acts? I had to know. Things I’ve Felt, Things I’ve Seen My son caressing his brother’s forehead, and kissing his cheek, as he lay in a coma after a motorcycle accident. Creativity This morning I awoke remembering how fun it was watching Maddy, my 2 year old granddaughter, draw with crayons the other day. I’d ta… Remembering Happiness A different universe was all I wanted, one in which I was not invisible. I wanted my real name back and with it, my unique identity. Summer of ’65 Oh, there are secrets floating in the air like dust motes you can see when someone walks through a room, disturbing molecules in their wake. Because My bedroom looms black in the blacker night / like a celestial demerit against my soul. / Even the stars won’t lend their light! Fast Girls These insolent ones whose souls are brittle, / slicked back like their hair. Blank Ceilings 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… Dialogue 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!” … Night Lies 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. Doreen, Doreen But my stepsister, the kleptomaniac—-oh, the pain / of not getting you back whole, / and loved this time . . . 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. Serenade 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… Everything I Know About Deformities There are times when I know without doubt that it was he who was the freak, not me. Moon River 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… Steady Hands Let me write, let me write, / let me fill up the blank skied night / with words. Debut I’m wearing your resentment / mother, / a garment woven strong / seam-stitched / with the deceptively fragile thread / of your incalc… Potential Poet 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. Holy Ground Oh mother, it’s not your puckered brow / which worries me so, / but your sour puckered soul . . .
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