Tuesday, September 27, 2011



You may say I like to roam
to taste, and run, and shift from place to place
I love to live--you may say that
just do not call me quitter to my face

I love to learn a bright new trade
I love to enter rooms and shake your hand
But if you want relationship
go for the girls of the non-Quitter brand

For I will enter just to leave
and I will learn a thing to never do
I will grab a thing to put it down
and don't believe this won't apply to you

I'll put my shoulder to a plow
But what would happen if I were to heave?
Why, then I'd know the shortness of my come
That I was inadept--except to leave

So leave me be to quit and quit
To stop, to turn, abandon, to be free
Yes free, and free--oh, do not run--
Don't try to quit the quitting me


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Rant of Prisoners

sometime in 2010:

I will be one day the sum of all my missing, my most non-existent parts
I will one day thrive--out of a barren, shriveled seed, a crusted soil, a poison rain.

{I will decide what I am today}
{and tomorrow will stick to it}

This will happen somehow--in what men of old would call a miracle--when out of my nothing a something is born
when out of putrescence glory will appear, when the sum of everything I lack will culminate in His infusion.

{No--I will pick a self for this body this afternoon}
{and tomorrow will follow through}

I will die in the misery of marriage to this flesh, and entrapment in a sick sin/feeble mind
unless the Something comes for my nothing

Why is it--really, I'd like to know--why is it that this shriveled soil delights in its infertility? Is there comfort to be found there?
"I canot be shaped into glory because the stuff I am made of is not worth shaping, I can bloom no fruit or flower because the soil is simply not the right kind; plant something else"

Is there pleasure, some sad blankie, that I draw out of worthlessness?

Have I not seen and worshipped worth? Who could forget worth once she has met Him? Once Worth has infused her?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The God with 700 Names

My hands are red; my hands are dark
My hands are dirty, black, and blue
They're anything but lily-white
They're full of anything but you

Oh God, my God, please watch my back
This crooked back of polio
These crooked feet on paths of mud
These legs that are diseased and slow

Oh Father, Papa, Servant-King
I am the Princess of the Shunned
So wash my inside and my out
And straighten me till I can run

Your cross, it is a gurney wide
An intravenous saving thing
You word, it is a wheeling chair
Your grace, it is a mineral spring

You are the antidote to me
You are the antidote to me
My eyes, my mouth, my heart are free
You are the antidote to me

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"I didn't notice you for a beauty, the first time we met," you said.
"Hush!" said your friends. "Don't you know,
you are talking to a woman??"

Ought I to be offended?
Ought I to prefer that you were the sort of man to fall in before the girl has opened her mouth to speak, has put her hand to any nearby plow, has echoed reason or love or worth of any kind?
Ought I wish that my face overwhelmed you,

knocked you over,

the first
you encountered it?

(ought I imagine there aren't thousands of better faces to knock you again and again in the years ahead-- long after my.... elasticity... has lost the battle with time?)

Goodness, no.

I am as far from wishing that you had loved me on sight as I am from wishing I had loved you on sight... for I cherish those months of my indifference.

I prefer hearts that are earned,

(and I like to think

that we will make up

the time.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Darling of May


Now what shall I say to my darling of May?
To my darling of March, and of June, and July?
For the months have been few
that belong, dear, to you
and a history is one thing we new ones can't buy.

But you come every night that is seemly and right
And you carry your books and a Soon in your eyes
All our months are like moments,
and moments like months
But I shudder to crash through the barrier of wise.

Oh! The man, he is patient, and my eye is plank'd
I have vision that stops at the end of my nose
I can only remember
that soon our December
will go in the way that month always goes

I will watch as the seasons
turn questions to reasons
And flowers go sleeping and dancing goes sweet
My darling of May and of soon-to-be August
will watch for tomorrow, and I'll watch his feet.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Missing


Today I get to taste
the missing of your face
tomorrow I will know
the feel of touch and go

the circling, constant dance
supply that meets demand
the need that fills--the need
that needs to fill your hand

You see, in every tock
in every phase and moon
there is a timely way
to do this thing we do

this falling into love
this falling into yes
this falling into work
this falling into rest

today I get to want
tomorrow I can get
I have your heart--in part
Already, but not yet

It is the strangest thing
that part of joy is pain
as part of loving sun
remembers (too) the rain

I love to wait for you
to leave tomorrow wide
unscheduling my years
and eying up your side

The place I love to stand
The place I love to leave
If only--knowing it's reserved--
to come back soon and cleave


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Tourist


I'm a tourist! I'm a sojourner!
I'm galavanting through your heart with the rosy eyes of unfamiliarity!
You can tell I'm not from around here;
I am in love with even the cobblestones, and I've got a camera in my fanny pack.

Show me--won't you, darling?--all of the architectural thoughts I've never seen
the memories-turned-foundations of this city that I am foreign to.

Even the language barrier is a romance: you speak only male, and misunderstanding itself only reminds me thrillingly that I am here, in a new place...what more does a tourist want than to be confounded by the culture?

I may live here, eventually, if they will give me my papers;
I'll know the streets like my own hand

Until then, let me wear my sandals and take my photos and gasp over vistas for their novelty;
let me linger in the arches and pore over histories and taste the flavors so unpronounceable to me;
It is right and timely and good that this holiday should come in its season; the politics and dangers and mortgages of buying in this city will come in their time; the romance will shift its kind and effort... what I know about this journey is only:

it is right for me to be here.

this is the place of which I have dreamed.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Death in Life's Shadow

I wish, I wish, I live for Life
How strange that death was once my heart's desire
I used to long for nature's axe
For burden (life) to fly in flood or fire

A car, just carried off a bridge
A grown intruder to my brain or breast
The skin upon my wrists is thin
The whole of me--in fact--is built for rest

The spine could snap and free me quick
As cripples lose their braces and can run
The head, the belly, back and chest
Could all have yielded me escape from snow and sun

For that is how I looked at it
The neverending living was for pain
The sin upon my hands was strong
Like sap or tar-- it does not wash with rain

And love was empty, work was vain
The bones around my heart would fracture, creak
I wracked my discontent with work
while thoughts of years on paychecks ground my teeth

But this is why the Life is strange
It's strange like beauty, mead and sex can be
These wonders touch at Truly-Life
At conquered death, at blindness turned "I See"

Child of Smoke

There are so many like her; she is a typeset, etched by the rural places, stamped in replica all over this county and a thousand others below the Belt, along the Mason-Dixon.

She's a skinny, wilty-haired girl with bird ankles that curve around the legs of her chair, like her spine and shoulders curve over the front of her desk. She has a strange shape, this trailer-born, skinny child of smoke--her curves are laid around her love handles and hung on her sagging 16-year-old chest, piling on top of cheap lowrise jeans and under "You Wish" baby T's.

Her arms are thin and unused, except for crossing anemically over her belly or contorting languidly across the desktop. Her eyes hang open, horse-like, and her mouth.

There is a singular idiocy to her phrasing when she speaks, to the little hearts that she dots her (missplaced) i's and ROTFL's with. She learned only to laugh as a child, to laugh and flirt and pout; she hangs on the words of the most worthless boy in the room, for he reminds her of her daddy. She examines her nails with her spare classtime, plans for the movies and the mall, a 20 minute drive from this town.

In a month or so, her belly will show the first signs of the next generation.

Chutes and Ladders

I've known that before, like Keats and Fanny.

That pull, like two magnets in a room,
That tilting like the planets as we sit on the same couch, though in a crowd and with plastic tea-plates and wine cups in our hands

It feels inescapable, as words of delight and instant mind-meeting spill from us like a stream.
We believe immediately--are fooled into believing--that there is no other course, that the track was laid for us and we have only come this far in order to meet in this room and fall together like a line
It is so much without effort tht we make no attempt at the work, the rung-by-rung that might have carried us upward for a little while. The ease was the illusion.

It feels inevitable, like the month of May, and always feels as swift, as much a victim as May is of June.
But it is no victim, and we have no right to cry, for we did not treat it with honesty or question it soundly, with blows around the midsection to test its hollow places.

We simply fell--into love--as if love is a chute and not a ladder.



Kiss me, darling, on the heart
Touch me, always, on the mind
Brush your warmth--your fingerpads
Across my soul, and take your time

For we have years to wait and stop
To S-L-O our double-yous
And while our bodies sleep so still
We can't do everything we choose

Not with our minds, not with our tongues
Not with emotions or with hands
For these are all laid at the feet
Of the Maker of these lands

So wait with me, and while we wait
Let's pass the time with diligence
For there are bricks and stones to lay
And to preserve--there's innocence

Put Godly things into our stores
Let's tuck them up against the fray
For trouble comes, and treasure comes
We'll shore tomorrow up today

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Business Meeting

It is a Holy thing we undertake here,
the act of falling in love

so slowly, like a ceremony or a company merger
it is a dignified thing we do, full of weight (of weight but no worry, of dilligence but all of ease.)

Don't you remember the first business meeting we had, sitting across a polished Starbuck conference table with suppressed smiles? We are hereby called to order.

It is a quiet thing, a thing deliberate and bold and careful, it is devoid of worry because we konw exactly what we must do, and I confess, I know exactly what the end will be. He, that Other, will be glorified.

The anecdotes are the only thing to fill in, and all the rushing sweetness of future flirtation--these are the easy parts, the details that I don't yet know. They are for later, and I lose no more sleep over them than I do over your honor or sincerity:


There is work to do, now; the business of slowly-so-slowly learning love. and when the time comes, I assure you, even now--you will find me signing on the dotted line.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Salt and Pepper

April 2011


Let your speeches be peppered, my salt-of-Earth man
Let your Temperance be tempered by spots of Too Much
For the length of our days will stretch out like a road
And the scenes of some scenic parts must come from us

We must dare to delight, and to giggle like kids
We must sometimes say "damn" in a wry sort of way
And the hiccups of reason, mistakes of mere months
We will use years ahead to convert into play

They aren't joking, my dear, when they say "oh, tomorrow
we'll laugh about all that has happened today"
But if all they can sprinkle is white--only salt--
If they aren't using pepper--who cares what they say?


Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Sister, you never told me you had become wise;

You never told me.

But indeed--the wealth of knowledge hidden in your little chest could never be communicated.
The way by which a girl becomes a woman is too mysterious--how could you speak it to me except with your eyes and the shape or content of your hands?

How did you learn to pat a person's arm when they speak embarrassment to you; how did you learn to create whatever you wanted with a needle, brush, pen? And that, that twist of your head to the side, bright like a promise, is such a vast piece of wonder in itself-- but you have learned it without a lesson.

When did you totally unlock the secret that the ancients have been unable to discover--the secret of loving the humans? This is not a girl's business, and yet, you are not a girl.

So let your curls conspire to draw every person who might learn from you, now that you are a woman; any art that the Designer might use to spread Himself around is worth the means... and in your case, the means are many. I don't mind that you are a nymph, that you are a dryad, that you are a bird who has become dangerous by means of knowledge. You have somehow come to embody beauty without fully knowing it yourself, and it came quietly from behind; we are all of us ambushed by what your time with the Lord has made you.

It was Him, wasn't it? How else could you have grown up with so little blight to your person? Few potted plants are so straight and true... you can see the others, can't you? Other girl-plants grow nearby, with loud, harsh voices, with constant mournings, with crushing insecurities leading to demonaic manipulations, and eyes that skirt around yours, with miniature clothing, with nothing to say and no energy to say it. I was a plant so blighted, and there is no way of blaming the sun or the seasoning in the soil or the hands that put me in there, or even the desert that they left me in...

All I can say truly is that I was not what I ought to have been, and it is a joy like searing rain to see that you are.

Ma, Pa

I saw it yesterday, in the cemetery.
Two stones with only one marking apiece:

"Ma," said one. "Pa," the other.

And I am different today. Do you understand? It was their best (their only) name, it was who they were and what they accomplished, and everything else had been swallowed up but two letters. They were summarized: Ma. Pa. I felt that moment that all my ambitions for a succulent public identity have only been a mask--swept away by the sight of two dead stones.

Because some hopes are too precious, too much, too dear, too great to be seen; they tremble; my heart trembles around them, trembles that they might be lost, throbs in agitation when they are even suspected.

It is the glory of the home that I long for, the glamour of an apron, the fame of my children's eyes, the sheen of a clean floor, the adventure of wet toddler curls, the divinity of careful daily instruction, the resplendence of clasped hands and synchronized steps, the Masters of Community conferred by a different institution and carrying no letters with it.

But if I must have letters, I prefer Mrs to PhD; if I must be take up a diploma, I would prefer the hearth's diplomacy ("Share, son"); really-- I want Ma more than M.A.

How could the wind in my ambitious sails be shown up as hot air--before there is some whispered promise of the thing they've covered for all along?

Is it weakness? is it a giving up?

And will you honor it, Oh God, this one thing that I want enough to hide and bargain for? Is it dangerous, this quaking kind of desire? (Anything is dangerous that is so MUCH.) Worse...is it going to be enough for me--after a lifetime of cultivating cover-dream--will it ever be enough to shackle myself willingly to a kitchen, bedroom, rocking chair? Will my created cover-dreams flare and declare the smallness of my life?

Oh, of course they will. That's why love is a decision; that's why the Great Adventure will ever be my Significance. University or nursery, stage or pew, there must be only one theme for this life. Bring ivy-league bricks or babies, mics or men, songs or stoves, greek letters or love...

There is but one Significance to me. He.

Fifteen Dollar Sandwiches

It wasn't the money I wanted--

It was a fifteen-dollar sandwich, and a turned down collar and bedding with blue linen and some passing girl's shoes (as if I would ever wear heels like that!). It was Barcelona--it was Anywhere--and laughter echoing off a foreign pool (I didn't need to own the pool, just to know the ones who did, see). Not the money, no.

It wasn't he adoration I wanted, either--it was the song. I wanted the music; I did. I wanted to tell the truth to the masses (but applause is music, too, yes? It's just that I'm a natural with rhythm, see; it's in the blood). The instrument, I loved the instrument; I loved having chords in my own throat.

It wasn't readership, but the turn of (my own) punctuation that I needed to work out and work up and work on. I only wanted to be useful, to say it as it hadn't been said (where would the world be without writers?). I was willing to listen, too (with my mouth open, yes, but only to save time)(it's called dialogue). And I wasn't in love with the sound of my own typing fingers--(well, my laptop's new and very quiet).

The world needs writers; it needs beauty too. Is it vanity to love beauty and seek to embody it on occasion? (every occasion? please) Realism demands that I recognize what women are for--shall I cast off my role, my femina? It was the curve of my own leg I wanted (lust? please). The work was necessary, the failure was only for overcoming. Shall I not do what must be done for the sake of a waist, a face? I am only a woman; I don't put on airs. I know what we are for.

Now the dresses, it's true; I wanted those. The body for the dress, the dress for the body, the lipstick for Ava Gardner, (the world needs its Ava Gardners). For other women. Perhaps for men, too; yes, a little bit for men. (I suppose could blithely maintain that it was only for me, except I never shaved in the winter or dressed on Saturdays; sort of makes colander of my theory)... no! It wasn't vanity; I only wanted my Me to be worthy, contribute to he cause of Beauty.

I didn't want to be petted (to be protected from seeing myself? please); I wanted to be loved. I wanted him, let it be known. Is it selfishness, to love someone thoroughly? Is it selfish, to take what he offers and give what he wants? I was losing self, not worshiping it; did I ever say anything but that I loved him? I said it; you could have heard me if you'd been there and we hadn't been always hiding from the world, I said it all the time. "You make me feel like I have come home," I said. I meant I love you. "I can't imagine a future without you in it," he said. He meant I love you, too.

This is love.

I would have stayed, too. If my face had not begun to age, if he had been better with punctuation. And if there had been fifteen dollar sandwiches.

That's Ruth's Affair

A lady singing to her lover
Near a public park's last tree
"Lost my self and gained another,
so we --soulless both-- will be

Hanging here by ribbons, posies
poisoned here by sighs and sweets
We shall dance as if we're joyful
We'll hold hands on all these streets

You will kiss me like you trust me
I will hide my husband's ring
Go ahead and shut your eyes
So you can hear--not see--me sing

Was it idleness that brought us?
Was it some slow mind's disease?
It was born in my imaginings
In the thoughts designed to please

I didn't dream these rabbit trails
Would bring me to the flesh--the man
but body followed mind--as ever--
fancy walked before it ran

So let us linger here a while
I cannot bear to be alone
I cannot bear my baby's eyes
I cannot bear to go back home

I will not bear tomorrow either
when my husband calls me: ('Ruth!')
And your wide mouth is not around
to shield my vision from the truth"

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Request


Let me live for loveliness
Let me trade in lights
Let me chant my overwhelming
undulating Rights

Rights come only from without
A potter lends them with his wheel
Let me keep in my clay curves
A treasure moth and rust don't steal

Oh, let me prance and dance and roll
Let me flaunt and bow and trill
I will pour and lay myself
I will shimmer and be still

Only let me in Your sight
Only let me take Your name
And I will only be Your child
My coming comes because you came


On the Rocks

She would stand there in the darkness with a petal for a skirt
and prop herself on backs of crowds and drape herself in strobe
And while her clackers teetered, throw her weight from toe to heel
Her hair would catch and complicate the earring in her lobe

She used to find tonight's conviction in a stranger's conversation
--used to love this darkness and this spicy, hopeless air--
she used to warm her hands on every hothead's flirting rhetoric, and
used to find a poem in the bottles by the bar

She stands there at the door tonight and cannot quite go in
The clanging glasses ring defeat; they keep a hollow time
and panic wrings her hands--tonight has happened (so) before
She steps inside and orders sorrow on the rocks with lime


Saturday, March 5, 2011


I'm better looking when I'm crying
My eyes look greener when they're wet
I've drunk thousands of the wantings
that taste better not to get
And I've danced the dance of lacking, and I've dreamed tomorrow's corn
But I could swear, my baby, I've run out of things to mourn

The problem comes when you forgive it
when your father comes a man
and your mother comes a broken heart
and the world becomes a Plan
you run out of ways to shout about the pain of being born
and I swear to you, my baby, you run out of things to mourn

So you sing your songs of glory
and you cry your cries of pain
but you can't remember reasons
or the friction, or the rain
so you write a poem of justice, and your mouth goes wide with scorn
But the outrage is a little forced--you've nothing left to mourn

One day you find the sun is out
You half-way mourn the cloud
then let it slip and slip away
Let fall the joyous shroud
It takes you and you cannot weep, can't paint your face forlorn
And if you cry, it's over milk--you're out of things to mourn


The Germans 2


I forgot that

I love you


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Germans


We'll meet about once a year, probably

For sushi rolls and discreet shows of taste in wasabi
We'll smile the smiles of scared she-chimps
and grasp each other's elbows in manicured vices
before we sit and cross our knees to open the joust

We will play catchup as a points game,
asking after old friends off a checklist
jumping to mention first
(+- for Intimacy of Terms)
where they are going and how they are doing
in these stacked years since the school days

But She is the one we don't ask about,
for there is a limit to our cruelty;
also I cannot take it, for she was mine and is now


The strain arrives in about half and hour,
as smiles begin to crack and militant humor loses ammunition,
and we cast about for the key phrases of graceful retreat:
"before the bank closes,"
"cookies for tonight,"
"meeting my brother."

We'll never stop, either-- it would admit the breakdown of diplomacy
the ripping of our nametags (HELLO, I'm Decency)--
we hug through our purses over the table,

and for an instant, I wonder if you really hate me at all.


Monday, February 28, 2011

Sleeper Mode

I watch in fascination
as desire changes

The livid unreignable passion of my body's heart, swollen and defiant for these 13-odd years (I am still so young!)--the curse and bane and treasure and power of my baseline-motivation--

it has, miracle of miracles and loss of losses, it has somehow inexplicably come humming to a quivering standstill,
like a car from 1915 who is brought to the bend in a road and left running, shaking on its wheels, only barely wheezingly awake.

Parked. Inactive.
A rest unexpected.

All because the other appetites swallowed it up:
conversation, truth,
historical accuracy
one's own history,
grey hair earned,
efficiency learned,
a pot-pie made,
a love hoped for like a business partnership on the foundation of simple-honest all-right-yes and signature on paper and toothpaste squeezed correctly and he knows how to change a tire and I'll learn to budget;
competence and commitment becoming, eventually,
an awaker of idling engines.