Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pamela St. Clair

Here's a song for little Pamela St. Clair
Impossibly tall and thin at ten
Her limbs were floppy, and
She was energetic for her age
And broke her own hymen
Falling down the stairs.

whole foods lady

She wore pearls in a string
Prim and coiled three times.
I wondered if she'd coughed them up,
The whole thing in its entirety,
So full of wisdom was she.
And if she'd had them in her prime,
Before now, wrinkles and hair
So thin, for I could not see
Each pearl, rolling around in her mouth,
Spat into her palm, eyed and added,
Globe by milky globe, to the string.
Her hair was proud white,
Denying Old Age that one small victory.
She had given up hair dye
When it had become clownish,
A red flag that she was nearer death
Than she believed.


She said
You've gotten meaner with every pound
You've dropped.
Like clockwork, each tick downward
Has made you
Just a bit more
Of an unbearable bitch.

I said, for you,
The same is true.

She said
No, people actually like me.
They just want to fuck you.
Don't confuse the two.

And so she planted a seed of truth
From which grew a stalk
From which unfolded
A thousand tiny roses
Of doubt.

Feel Old

The year I learned with the heart-pounding subtlety
Of a surprise sledgehammer to the core
The true meaning of the phrase
"What goes around comes around"--
Being left by those I'd left before.

If anything my own beaten path
Should have shown how easy the nomad adapts,
The stepping away, stepping back
From places that once were home,
Now only footprints and timestamps, no more.

I wonder how this could feel like a sneak attack
When it so obviously lurked,
The only real outcome, waiting behind
Doors one-two-and-three, how this moment
Of domestic bliss would of course
Evolve into an image in a picture frame,
A time capsule, souvenirs, fleeting as
The hot bolts of a lightning storm,
Leaving the air quite different from its
Charged state moments before.

It's not like this was a snake in the grass,
Was not stealthy, fast,
Instead feels oddly like a relic from my past,
Finally finding its way home, perhaps
Following a strange path
But irascible nonetheless, inevitable,
Unshakable, a Real Blow but not
Emerging from nowhere, no.

And I've told myself this is how we grow,
Older but some of us not bold,
Determined to grasp the trailing strings
Take hold of disintegrating things,
Clasped tight to keep from turning cold.

But I feel old. I feel like
A yardsale in January, and the wares
Are valued solely by me,
And thus will not be sold.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I forgive the good wine

I forgive the good wine
That has stained your mouth and cheeks red
While we laughed and smoked and broke bread
In the warmth and light and frenzy
Of the circle of your friends.
From across your coffee table's
Foreign books and crocheted coasters
You were staring, said my eyes glowed
And because you weren't born here
And you dropped to basso buffoI believed you really meant it.
Now it's clear I was unable
To read properly your signals
(Though I boast of knowing well
The signs and looks
And hints of interest)
--I will blame this on the drinks
And not a lack of intuition.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lemont, IL at nine in the morning

Here's a picture for your headboard.
You'll be haunted by that specter
So perhaps you will remember
What you looked like when you got here,
That your skin, once alabaster,
Is now matte and dull and spackled
With a plaster coat applied
To cover every fresh disaster.

Shed that shell now, in good company.
We have seen your kind before.
And that glare so hot
It peels the paint
Off everything you glance at,
It's been captured in this headshot,
In your stony gaze and pallor,
To remind you what you looked like
And the days you've left behind you,
A ghost to guard you as you rest here,
Rest your mind and bones and flesh.

How did they see this ghastly face
And somehow never even guess
The weight that pressed your voice
And eyes flat grew more massive
As each day passed. When you
Murmured no's and yes's,
Simple, single-word responses
To the easiest of questions,
They believed that you had slept
And ate and woke up and got dressed
Instead of staying up for days and
Finding uses for your dresser's
Smooth black top (it was impressive,
all that energy expended
Just to let yourself pretend
That you believed this razor-gift
Had been presented by a friend,
And out of love and good intention).

While that act, so cold and confident,
Came and went in merely minutes.
Then a mirror is just a mirror,
Just a place for a reflection,
And you looked so wrecked and ravaged,
And you found yourself so wretched,
It was always back to bed.

You will see this picture daily--
Staring, sulking, lonely remnant--
(If we could, then we would brand you
Or imprint in on your retina)
And you will face that empty gaze
And note how little you resemble
(Or indeed even remember)
What you looked like when you got here.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010


It is all revealed in hindsight,
In the hints and glints of evenings
You intended to keep private,
How I never slept so poorly
As I did lying beside you--
Your snoring kept me so uneasy,
The simple sign that you were breathing
Left me restless, never knowing
You had drained me,
Left me, foolish,
Dry and breathless,
Left me lying in a bed
I've made before.

On its slow and steady creeping
Before finally hitting home,
This spiny gift that keeps on giving
Steeped in time to strength
So bitter. I would gladly
Lose each moment
Of the hot and prickly shame
That trickles, like a teacher's scolding,
Through each vein from head to toe.
You have let go, but I can't shake
This cruel token, like a splinter
Deeply hidden in my ribs,
The heart intact
But bruised and branded
By the pink and tingling
Of an old persistent slap.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Forgive yourself these bites of bread and
Lay aside the guilt
That's spread like butter,
Thick and ready now
To slide along your spine,

Melting with the blue and blinding
Flames, the shame
That rises from your gullet
Pausing at your throat. You swallow down
A painful lump of tears
To join the bread and butter
In the sewer you have made
Out of your stomach.

B. Brown

So what, we can't turn the world on its heel
And reenact the starts, the steps and stops,
The puffy breaths outside the bar,
The game of pool (on a snooker table,
Don't get it wrong)
We lost but really won.

(A technicality, but still)
Mine were the winning shots,
The stars aligned,
And if not for our six's kiss
On Lenny's stripe
On a its way to the corner pocket,
The game was ours, a tidy product
Of quite the partnership.

Lenny was an asshole, anyway.
He seemed the petty type
To press us for our spot.
So you, the king, abiding
By your code, abdicated,
Opting to avoid
Any kind of spectacle
(Though you were far better,
And you and I know
What really went down).

So when you leave tomorrow
For a town I've never seen
To hang your thesis show
I hope you come back
And crash on someone's
Slightly too-short couch.
I hope I see you around so we can
Find another bar that has
A party hiding in the background,
Talk about the cigarettes
We should be putting out,
Or something equally profound.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Throwing mothballs into eaves and corners,
Caverns of my mind,
These are meant for you to find,
So the places that you flutter--
Since you've chosen to ignore
And ghost across my borderlines--
Will reject your soft appearance.

While your presence here has gentled,
You have come to think you're welcome,
Weaving in and out of everything
That floats between my temples--
Striking, still, the strength
And stomach ache of ancient recollection.

We had spoken of a cord
Keeping our two hearts connected
(No matter how we stretched it)
Til you cut it perfunctorily
(With much torquing, pull-and-tugging,
It still felt somewhat abrupt, we
Weren't bored, and plus you loved me).

I can't seem to close the door on this
While yours is locked, the key is lost,
Forgotten in the folds of clothing
Left on someone else's floor.
Now I'm talking to the corpse
Whose foot has propped open the door
So the lazy draft of memory
Is free to wend and wind its way
Through every eave and corner,
All the caverns of my mind.

Foxy Lizzy 1


Monday, February 22, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I have built a brick wall

I have built a brick wall,
(Impenetrable and tall)
Made strong with tokens from my lovers
(I've loved them one and all).
And here I do myself a favor,
Where once felt fresh and raw,
I've packed my wounds with sand and straw--
A flesh price, paid in full.
(I saw you pull the wool
Over my eyes, I say I saw!)
Blinded still, blindsided too,
Eyes shrouded, closed in awe,
Surprise felt twice
(Not twice as nice),
For blindfolds, too, are flawed.

And since I fail to learn, each brick
(No matter large or small)
Fits snug inside the same damn mold
So blind, you see, I saw.
Contained, exchanged in glances thrown
Across fluorescent halls,
While first surprise is quick to bloom
(Or sometimes at a crawl)
The seeded ground that thrives in Spring
Too soon is felled in Fall.
It's then I'm on familiar ground
I somehow don't recall
And there I find the second round,
Surprise both winged and clawed.

These bricks lie in a patterned stack
(Professionally installed)
So well-rehearsed, and so I come
For every curtain call.
(The bricklayer sets his burden
At my feet, it seems I'm certain
I have earned all this applause,
While he turns, and leaves, appalled.)
And thus with bricks stacked at my feet
I'm once more in the wrong--
While I had thought myself a queen,
It seems I'm but a pawn.
(But still, I have the gall
To step up to the stage to play
My role, I know which lines to say,
I'll smile then, to demonstrate
That I have learned nothing at all.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Town snake, he.
Town fool, I.
When we finally
Threw him away
Burned in effigy
(Did he feel that heat?
Flames licking his feet?)
It was so unsettling
In some other town,
Strutting around
His feet fine
Town wolf,
On the prowl.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I have called myself a rock face
Free of fracture, cold and quiet
Yet you've slipped along this surface
Fingers finding every crack to
Climb a wall, you find each soft space
As you track a line of sweetness
Running like a coal deposit
That you recognize as weakness.

When you promised me you'd break me
I didn't realize that your smile
Was a smirk, you meant to warn me
That your body lacked a soul.

That when you left, and in your wake
You left me crumbled on the carpet
(Such a mess in my apartment),
You would take a piece, the spoils
Of this absolute destruction,
A reminder you were thorough,
That I'll never be quite whole.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


It starts as a snail shell,
Cold and coiled, below the hips,
A blip so insignificant;
Now, six years after the fact,
When our laughter breathes heat
To fill that mold, to hatch
A snake, a traitor
That lifts its blunt-nosed head
To yawn as if it wakes
From a sleep so deep
We thought it dead.

Then let the hunt begin--
The statue come alive, we find,
Has set its mind to make a certain trip,
And what first tread softly
(And carried no stick)
Steps hale and hearty now,
A strong grip on its wits,
With years of quiet reruns
Of the same, specific outcome
To keep cool a hot head.

So set on its path,
Kept directly on track
By grit and steady hands
And a stiff upper lip,
Led by a flickering,
Two-pronged tongue,
With blatant disregard
For the portents of destruction--
Potent caution and heady fear--
So hell-bent on victory,
On its way to cross a line
That, once so distant,
Now seems near.

There will be no catching of
Or creeping up,
No hope to outrun
A creature on its way
To cross a gap that
For six years' sleep
Reached infinitely,
Now with every second
Is easier to leap.