I live on dog-cheap days
in fading string tied shoes
and children dancing to ranchero songs, so

if asked why I am leaving
in consternation cannot reply
why the constellations
unseen yet
can arrive so soon

the sky is fading gray today
and there is nothing more to do
then jumping through colored hoops
hoping to reach heaven
counting and twisting until tripping
over those same laces come undone
we begin again
showing off tricks like gaudy ribbons
to capture the frame when
feet in air and flashing rope collide
and perhaps I will as well

*I first read the line “dog-cheap” in the poem “World’s End” by John Ashbery


two scenes


the fly buzzes around her ear, returning once more
she flicks it away
moves her hand in an oval, a one-armed conductor
but the humming is astray

if only she could pluck the foul creature from the air
smash it to bits
make it descend
the murderous rage surprises her
it is indeed only a fly


the child runs across the gray plasticine tiles
throwing himself onto the faded mattress
he takes a while
to get from his game of gravity
“are you good?” i ask
estás bien?
“i fell,” he replies
me caí

he is content with his giant leaps
what he would call falling

on flies

“It turns out that at some moment in their career every true writer has dedicated to a fly a poem, a page, a paragraph, a line; if you’re a writer and haven’t yet done it, I think you should follow my example and do it right now; flies are Eumenides, they are Erinyes; they punish you.” – Augusto Monterroso

they, suffocating, all enveloping
every drop of food that is not being eaten by
dirty human hands or rummaged through by
skinny cats is being eaten by

crowding around potatoes and oranges
slowly peeling away the layers to get to the flesh
boys surrounding a fight in high school hallways
they, the visible and ever present uninvited guest
ever exploring, finding new territory to conquer
what must i do to stop this terrible half buzzing unrest

they, some sign of the divine
for I may be bigger, but I cannot kill
swarm and move quicker
then my thought to swat one away
drunk on that liquor

zooming erratically
patiently on the ceiling
some new vantage point
they, wings failing

in threes and fours and tens and hundreds
and thousands on the kitchen cable cord
claim this, this life
this, this cucumber
this, this spot on the wall
while i cannot claim anything

i can’t write: exercise #5 (narcissist)

From a one word prompt: Forlorn

i’ve got a friend who calls herself a narcissist
because she believes in herself
because she has high self-esteem
and doesn’t need to be told that she’s a good writer
to know that it’s true

the sky is greyed blue
like a postcard

we try too hard
she apologizes for the clothes strewn about her house
forlorn, waiting and unchosen to go on some new journey
in self-deprecating
so afraid to be right
or good
we cast ourselves in shadows
when the northwest light would shine even in the rain

he wrote with whiskey

velvet disco pants and pink whimsied drinks
such a bad idea, but i had already fallen
his grin was what got me
his eyes caught me
and his lips trapped mine
he called me decadent
everything is sin, oh what extravagance
just a mattress on the floor and barely locked doors
cheaper than the vodka from tesco

the scene that i should not be in
where the wisdom, oh say
this is not the place for me
wrong page
my castle, my ruin
of what written in novels
all crashing down too soon

he wrote with whiskey
fairytales and brilliant tawdry things
but i cannot pretend
i am in these woods because i wish to be alone
always alone
with snow and such winged beings
the small folk do listen
if you will let them sing
silver and gold branches
dances that never end
roads of dripping rubies
and emerald envy dipped pens

he wrote with whiskey
under dim humming old lights
my velvet pants packed away
saved for some other handsome stranger
on some other bewitched night

i can’t write: exercise #4 (unholy)

From a one word prompt: Confess

i confess to not reading the word everyday
to being unkind to my family
my younger sisters
to not praying
and judging my neighbors
my faith fraying
at the seams of some old persian carpet
brought from babylon back to jerusalem

hear the cries of one mother
and her community has shut her out
but dare she not keep the child
dare she hushed and shot at
the babe wrapped not in swaddling clothes
but in shame and accident and lust
dare she
what sin, what great murderess
she does what she feels she must

i confess i am not who i say i am
i ask and plead
wax and wain about serving the poor, justice
i am a fraud
unholy, yet still loved by thee
how can i
wrapped in love still stuttering
finding myself stuck in the mud
there is no saving light
no angel to pull me out
i do what i feel i must
sit and write and go off the path
only to come back
with nothing else
“please help me, i am lost, i know not where i am
what i have wrought with these small hands
please take me in, and sin which holds me

and so i confess
i confess
i confess
until all is gone
and i still unholy, am pure
washed in blood of some savior
only to do it all again

white christmas

for unto us a child is born
unto us a son is given

and the flakes kept falling
soft crystalline
sugared praline cookies left by the fire
we are arguing about who is taller
(she is but i can’t admit it)
and the government will rest upon his shoulder
the lights twinkle in the growing
darkness and i am being
reminded that this is home, no more roaming
at least for a little while
at least for this snow which brings in everyone a smile
and his name shall be called wonderful, counselor, mighty god, prince of peace
resting in that cold heaven
blanketed and hushed in all things