Sunday, December 26, 2010

Watching and Thinking and Staring

Such a serious year it was
with Babbette dying
and all those holidays
without her sitting there
in her chair. The one
my brother sat in
on non-holiday meals of
scrambled hamburger or
shake-n-bake pork chops with
rice-a-roni or pizza porcupine patties.
She wouldn't say much,
just sit there watching
and thinking and staring
like she'd do alone in
her tiny apartment for days
with the TV turned on--though
she couldn't see it those
last few years--But
it was different, the watching
and thinking, the staring;
when it was in that chair surrounded
by her family waiting
for the turkey to come out of the oven
and drinking a 4oz. can of
ginger ale or diet coke sometimes
listening to the common disagreements
between her children, grown up now
still living nearby.
how long she had been with herself
and her curiosities, memories,
concentrations and questions
and had time for them too
whether she wanted it or not
there was always time alone
to scare herself and discover herself
over and again
in that cramped apartment
dingy yellow light
buzzing locks and a big phone
with blinking red lights, the plastic
dancing figurine of Satchmo
by the door, the
dripping faucet, the smell
of nothing ever been cooked,
a staleness, and the red bread box
with the lid that swung down
like a garage door, the window with
the flower print curtains, a dark white
in shadow and below it, that desk
with drawers full of mail and playing cards.
I learned to shuffle a deck of cards
while sitting on the carpet at her house
on the second floor
back when I was little
and she still lived on Eldridge St.
in between games of tic tac toe
and staring at her albums of old pictures
in black and white and some in color.

Christmas night I dreamed
a volcano erupted in my hometown
and I had to commandeer a four wheeler
from a maze of a chicken coop
to get to her,
and when I did I had to let her die
and watch her bloated in the face
not herself
speak morphined nonsense

Monday, December 20, 2010

Night of the Lunar Eclipse

I am lucky
to be sitting here
on this green love seat
alone for the evening
listening to the soft whispering
of boiling water(trying to tell me
secrets?)--the humidifier
that sits
atop the woodstove.

Its cast iron shape is
that of a kettle
but tonight in this light, from this
angle, in my current
it is the shape of
both baby chick
and ancient tortoise
complete with a curled handle;
a piggy's tail.

And I am reminded of children's books
and the many animal characters
I have met.
I always Loved
the Three Little Pigs.
Three siblings
of the same blood,
and each of them have
a drastically different idea
of what makes a home.

Where I am the fires go out and
the fossit never stops dripping.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Root Beer and Tea

I'll have a can of root beer
over a cup of tea
today and I will regret it
a few sips in, not because of guilt
over the high fructose corn syrup or
the calories or the fat, but simply
because I should know better.

Tea would calm my mind and body,
send a soothing settlement down
my throat and it might pool in
my belly like an undisturbed pond
or the glass of water that sits
on the nightstand in our room
while we sleep in bed.

Root beer does the opposite.

But I will finish the root beer now,
make the tea later
after I come home safe
tonight off the icy roads and back
in my warm living room
where I'll rekindle the fire,
turn on my favorite lamp,
plug in the Christmas tree lights
so he can see them through the window
when he gets home late.
That's when I'll boil the water
for my tea, perhaps it will be

And I will be sure
to take the time to watch
its steam rise becoming invisible
and I will let it watch
me from above like a spirit who watches
over loved ones with a
lingering jealousy
of the life behind their eyes, the
automatic beating


especially while they sleep
unaware and dreaming in other worlds
where men paint their faces blue
and aliens come to get them
and they get initiated by witches.
If they only knew the truth...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What Will She Become?

Before she can talk
they’ve got her stuck in
pink dresses, in cribs
with dolls and hearts and
flowers surround her
and even before

she can read, she’s learned
to walk in high-heels
and leopard-skin skirts.
They’re preparing her
for the eyes of men,
showing her what she

should be for them. No
hips yet, soon enough
though she will get them
along with early
breasts and her monthly
rushing of blood (her

connection to women everywhere,
her source for power)
which she’ll be told to
hide, despise, disguise
with PMS pills
and individually

wrapped tubes of scented
bleached cotton that come
in pink boxes on
shelves at the grocery
store. The same place where
her mother will buy

her magazines, when
she is just barely
thirteen, full of half-
naked women—
Beautiful. Confident. Thin.
She will believe those

women are real and                                        
she’ll trust them as her
mentors when they say
they know 10 things a
guy really wants. And
she decides it must

be that which she is
missing: a guy. So,
she sets out to find
him the only way
she has been shown. She’ll
stop eating cake at

birthday parties, she
will start eating pills
instead of food. She
will fall for the cool
athletic boy in
school, the one who would,

in Kindergarten,
pretend to shoot her,
the one who calls her
a chick, the other
guys fags, her friend fat.
The one who’s father

spanked him for playing
with his sister’s great
Barbie collection.
The one who is so
dreadfully sad, but
would rather die than

share it. And she will
devote herself to
him, believing she
can save him, she can
be pretty for him.
She’ll cover her face

each day with products
tested on rats and
unknowingly, she’ll
be hiding behind
all that lip gloss and
mascara and blush

like the child who’s been
forgotten during
a game of Hide-and-Seek
still there waiting to
be found beneath the
covers of her bed.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Can't get myself to write about
what my sister might have said ten years ago
or how often Dad took us out for pizza
only about the teapot on the stove
and its soft whistle of "hellow,
yes, I am boiling now, um if you
wouldn't mind, just pop my bum off
the top-o-this flame here" and how I do
turn it off absentmindedly while deciding
which kind,
too late
and I rush to fill the cup
and watch it change color in the leaking
pluming intercourse
of hot water and herb.
I drink it and feel devine.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Two Children on a Tuesday Morning

She's in her swing
asking for an un-duck
or under duck
or under dog
and I push her high and stall
for that climactic moment
when she is as tall as she can be
above the head of me
the adult, the nanny, the lady
who comes three times a week
to tell her brother to use friendly words,
to stop hitting her, and to go to his room.
He is behind her screaming
he is digging in the dirt
with his flat blue baby shovel
but to him it is large
and masculine and does the same work
as the shovel farmer Bill uses
in the field next door, he's
digging a tunnel, he says,
and its gonna go to the other side of the earth.
Actually, he is going to build four tunnels!
AND ONE FOR MANNY (the dog) who is
nearby whining or chewing on
a chunk of firewood
and later we look for seeds to plant
and we scavenge below the bird feeder
and under trees for pinecones,
and we grab a few of those crabapples that he is
convinced are cherries from the tree his parents
planted for him when he was born
he loves the tree
and talks about it even when its
out of sight
and from our bucket of gatherings JoJo
looks up and sees the moon bright in the
middle of our morning
Her short fleshy finger points up
and there it is and her brother's
never seen anything like it
and his head turns diagonally and he smiles
and he asks, HOW IS THE MOON
It's always there, sometimes we just don't see it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I used to be the girl

I used to have this flare
this plan, this idea,
that I was something special
one of the best poets in class
with the most charisma
and the awkward jokes
that everyone seemed to like. I used to
be the girl with the curly hair
who wore layers
about average weight
short but not too short
I used to be the girl who chewed on her pens
bit her nails to get them low
then bit them more to make the
best rainbow shape and I
used to be the girl
who walked through leaves
by herself in the woods dreaming of
her most silly thoughts of dangling
understandings and natural world awe,
she was the one
who sang at the top of the hill
with just an okay voice
way up there where you could see
the lake and the lights at night,
where the stars were bright (she
went up there once to star gaze with a blanket
when she was lonely)
the lyrics were
what's up beautiful world, I love you

And I was the girl who snowshoed
around a tree, creating the enormous word
in the snow, while hearing the Who on headphones
and I used to be the girl who painted
pictures spontaneously and wrote
poetry deep from the heart, and I
am the girl who wanted everyone to love her
and wanted and believed she could love everyone
and I am the girl who's not sure where
she went years later when she's boiling pierogies
and stoking the woodstove.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dirty Woodstove Fingers Remind Me of Our First Home

Drove too much today, burned too much
fuel then I came home and collected some more
wood from the basement where there's a
small pile still not dry, it steams shhh-ing me
when I try to get it going
in our tiny cracked woodstove, it's just not
as nice as the Vermont Castings
we had in our yurt when we relied on
it more than we had relied on
anything in the world before, and what's more
I get going soon after on
the meat loaf that will bake in the oven
for over an hour and we
didn't have an oven for two years either
or electricity or
running water
and even though no one believes me, not
even him, I miss the hell out of it
and its honesty its gritty,
dirty, depressing darkness, its making
us get up in the middle of
the night to pee outside under the stars
and the full moons were the greatest
in the middle of winter, below 10
degrees that's when I'd pee right there
by the door, leaving my mark in the snow,
like a real animal, then growling when
stuffing the woodstove full again and again
throughout the night
and purring once I'd gotten close to
him under the layers upon layers
of fleece blankets, sleeping bags and