NaPoWriMo #30

Monday, April 30, 2018

Affect Theory 

At night I peer into the scrying mirror of my 
phone to learn news of the full moon just 
outside, how the Scorpio moon continues 
to reverberate, and we’ll be feeling love spread
outward like spilt treacle, which is just how
British people say molasses.  Once I was fifteen 
and climbing into the bucket of a Ferris wheel 
with some kid from one of my classes.  I think 
he was a wrestler.  The moon: huge & I caught 
a mania, a spell of longing about it.  The trance, 
I guess, of a teenage poet.  That and the size of 
my new hoop earrings must have scared him, 
and he got off the ride metaphorically shaking
his head.  Right Ferris wheel, wrong boy. Who
knows how I came to be there that night, seated
next to some Mike and his neck.  That was the
fest in Heidelberg, and we were kids from the 
American school, stumbling around all new.
That was the same spring Crissy’s mom picked
up some British teenage boys hitchhiking and 
made them stay the night.  She felt sorry for 
them, how they’d spelled “Heidelburg” on their
sign.  She fed them dinner and turned them 
over to us, who subjected them to Harold &
Maude and feelings in a darkened living room. 
Oh, boy.  All morning I dreamed of a poet boy
who tried to engage me in an elaborate game 
of charades, when I just wanted him to spit it
out already.  Later I would see him rising 
naked from his mother’s bed, and have a 
fit of longing for a back that I had known.  

NaPoWriMo #29

Sunday, April 29, 2018

I Am Strange Here

(after a line by Merwin) 

I am strange here and often as a child
I would find myself walking uphill, for instance, 
and wondering who “I” was—who am 
I          am I me         who is me      
Sound can travel in weird ways—
raccoons trying to break in through 
the roof sound like they’re already in 
the wall   Or say you are a new mother but 
old by then, trying out the breast pump for 
the extra milk the baby would never take 
from a bottle, you could swear the repeated 
sound of the sucking mechanism was talking 
to you, repeating something like your love is 
cold                 your love is cold       you’re
wondering, Is that a Prince line?  Or the devil 
maybe, but right now you are too tired to care

NaPoWriMo #28

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Postcard to RBW

I send you a picture of my child holding up a spectacular branch against a background of weeds, explaining that I’ve lost the will to weed, and you write back, “I wish I could come fix things for you.”  The irises by the back step didn’t bloom this year, all bunched up there together and proliferating in one spot.  The time when I was supposed to divide them was also the time some other horrible equation entered my home.  The algebra of abuse, the geometry of “I’m not crazy, you’re crazy.” The number of years spent with the wrong man divided by the times I looked at him sleeping and wondered at his intelligent hands.  I don’t know if I’ll make it to the sea this year  is what I thought, but of course I’ve already gone.  We took selfies by the sea, two-thirds of us weird sisters.  This brand of friendship that can keep a soul alive while endlessly marveling, marveling at the limits of our power in the wrong environment.  I’ll see you when the hurly-burly’s done.  

NaPoWriMo #27

Saturday, April 28, 2018


“As the last card in a spread, Judgment would mean a good ending of the Seeker’s troubles through more spiritual application to his problems.”

It’s hard being a poet, all the tarot work 
and earthly limitations.  Keeping your empathy
close to the skin, as a poet friend might say.  It’s 
only right that poets should be a little in love with
each other if they like each other’s work, can see 
the other person paying attention to the world,  
trying hard to be a human.  At night I can’t sleep 
and I do a quick reading—six-card divination—
that ends in Judgment.  The bare blue bodies of 
the rising dead in the Rider Waite deck are a sight 
to behold, arms lifted, faces heavenward.

NaPoWriMo #26

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Guys Like a Positive Attitude

Jennifer said it in high school.  In my
memory she’s doing her hair, crimping every
painstaking bit of it and Aquanetting it
to a spiky web.  Guys like a positive 
attitude. Was she serious?  Sometimes 
she would say things that she meant 
seriously but which sounded funny.  
I think she was saying it as a true fact, 
as something she had noticed.  For years
it went around in my head as something 
funny—my goth friend saying off-handedly
guys like a positive attitude.  At that age
it wouldn’t have occurred to us to wonder
what girls like.  We liked sneaking into the
attic to look at Burt Reynolds in Playgirl from 
the seventies and rolling our eyes.  Oh 
God!  We liked dressing up in Anna’s black 
formals and rolling around on the unmade 
bed taking pictures.  We liked reading novels.
Jennifer was reading The French Lieutenant’s
Woman for school.  I remember seeing the
movie around that age and wondering about 
all the waiting.  How romantic to possibly be 
ruined by love.  But really it was sex that would 
have ruined her.  I read everything I saw, 
my mom’s copy of  The Hotel New Hampshire
anthologies at Anna’s house.  Once I tucked 
myself into a corner and read Cancer Ward
by Solzhenitsyn before dinner at Anna’s cousins’.
They had a whole room attached to the living room 
that was just books and a piano. I remember 
reading a story by Dorothy Parker called
 “The Big Blonde” one Saturday at Anna’s and 
looking up dazed, thinking, “Oh.  How very sad.”  


NaPoWriMo #25

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


The alarm goes off and my son walks into the room in his bedtime polo shirt asking if it’s daytime.  I tell him that it is.  “You could knock Ms. Hunt over,” he says.  Ms. Hunt is his pre-K teacher.  I don’t know if he means that I personally could knock her over.  Maybe I could, if I caught her off guard.  She is smaller than me, but younger and has the look of a scrappy girl who played softball but cleaned up nice for the homecoming dance.  I tell him that “You could’ve knocked me over with a feather” is an old-fashioned expression for saying you were surprised.  He asks me to repeat it, looks at me in a measuring way, and then says, “Can I have my audiobook now.”  

At the yoga workshop, we meditated on each chakra to test it for relative speed, direction, and tone.  I thought my heart chakra was surely fine, but when I got there, the image that came up was my heart on ice, like the terribly sad almost-end to ET when they think he’s dead.  My heart, like ET, was covered up and disturbingly still.  But like ET, it started to glow again, faintly from under there.  Before school drop off, I spritz lavender spray on my sternum, thinking it will wake me up.  “Maybe this will wake my heart chakra,” I think.  Wake up, ET.  

I might as well move to California. 


After school drop off, I take to my bed.  The other boy I live with is angrily cleaning out the bathroom cabinet on the other side of the wall.  “Lotta crap in here,” he says, stuffing my empty antidepressant bottles into a plastic bag and throwing it on the floor.  I take to my bed.  Oh, I said that already.  I go to pick up the thread of what I’d been dreaming, like Gretel.  But you know all the trouble she had.  I’m like the one kid in a gangster movie, I think.  I’m just here in my pants and my turtleneck. My ‘70s hair.  Or I’m the woman from that movie, looking sad and agitated, as per usual, but ready to kill you quick as look at you.  The one who was in the movie about the unhinged housewife … You’re rooting for her and also disturbed, how she’s suddenly yelling at Peter Falk and his construction worker buddies around the table.  They’re just doing their thing, and there she is unaccountably crazy.  She has her reasons.  She’s such a good actor … Gena Rowlands … A Woman Under the Influence… Then I’m asleep again and gone.

NaPoWriMo #24

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Gray rain and warm and leaves over the driveway 
since yesterday.  Is this weather to remember the dead?
Angela comes to me, gone from this plane since we 
were twenty-three, though I’d last seen her at twelve, 
shocking everyone by having chosen shoes no one else
would have worn.  She made her own worlds.  Not just
the shoes, but her steady gaze, her air of knowing she 
was loved, though she had no father.  Her strange humor. 
We sat next to each other in fourth grade, and I learned 
the first day delight in a friend so utterly herself it must
have hurt, though if it did, she never showed it.  Our 
cranky teacher, who ruined my year, once turned her 
disapproval on Angela, who was always floating in late
from her house across the street from school.  You’re
cramping my style!  Angela spat back.  She is somewhere
in a photo album of mine, a ribbon around her neck, 
Cherokee eyes and Kool-Aid lips.  Every time I hear an
owl I think of her mother saying a hoot owl at night 
means death.  But the thought of her is life.  She was 
so odd, that kid.  She was all I needed to know about style.  

NaPoWriMo #23

Monday, April 23, 2018

Take This the Wrong Way


At the playground, E joins three other children on the metal turtle’s back.  They contemplate things with their different angles of repose and hair.  One child had been playing an elaborate game with him on a different structure, trying to imagine where the rooms of their house were and what they were for.  There are ghosts in our ship house! he says, trying to lure her back.  No response. 


I speak with an old friend by telephone while watching through the back window as my son brandishes a tree limb. He is gardening with his collar popped.  I’ve gained 30 pounds since moving here, I say. He took the end of my youth and now I’m just this lumpish thing sitting here. That’s how it feels, anyway.

You never know, she replies.  Things can change suddenly and in ways you would never expect.  She refers me to the acknowledgments of her second dissertation, in which she thanks her lucky stars for my friendship and brilliance.  She is planting vegetables and nearly making science money now.  I just sit there.  


Things I read entreat me to focus on what I want more of.  I want more of the firm pillows and fewer of these overly fluffy ones.  I want love, just white light washing through.  Suffusing.  Love and firm pillows.  


I take the car he leased to do errands after dark.  I sit in the empty parking lot of the library branch and stare.  I stop by the store.  I take the highway home and slow down as I come upon a police car stopped crossways across the lanes.  I’m really most comfortable this way, taking the detour alone and crying a little while listening to the doomiest music.  The song is explaining that really my life is relatively easy.      


Before bed I think, I must unblock my throat.  I think, Maybe palpate my sternum and third eye, tune in the receiver.  In this way I can receive and transmit the proper energies.  In the morning, I kneel next to small desks and observe the children in their works.  We talk about haircuts.  O has gotten a haircut.  He has visited his father all day, despite the separation.  Your parents must be in a divorce! E says.  Yes, it’s true they are divorced, replies O.  E and O both read well above grade level, but both sit outside the rug circle sometimes when they won’t stop moving.  It is a rectangle, anyway, E protests.  No matter what happens now, I must prepare my instrument to transmit and receive.  Most people are out there trying so hard.  
Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground