Thursday, February 24, 2011


There are people in the park selling drugs to other people in the park. Cars are passing us. Most of them go by once and we never see them again, but some circle several times because the people inside them are nervous. You and me, we’re walking and holding hands, and I’m starting to free my hand from yours because you’re making me feel bad for wanting the things I do. And I feel like I can’t help who I am, and sometimes I don’t want to be reminded that I’m strange. The things you’re saying today have me feeling misplaced. Now I wish I had just stayed in my bedroom, but instead I answered my phone. I wish I had known better. I wish I knew what I needed.

Now there are people selling drugs to us in the park. When we leave, I stare from the passenger’s seat at all of them. I try to watch for their faces as we pass them, but they never turn to look. They’re content with what they’re doing, while I’m always looking out of whatever window I’m sitting next to at the time.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

summertime anxiety

your tongue was cold
from letting ice cubes
melt inside your mouth
i tasted the remnants of Coca Cola
when we kissed
you'd been pool-side
bathing in sunlight
and your bikini was still wet
when you pressed against me
it left a damp smiling face on my shirt
you undressed in the locker room
and we laughed together
at your tan lines
the smell of Coppertone
ran up my nose
as i closed in on your skin

and now
my neighbor
the young Mexican girl
is trying to call her little dog
out of my backyard
the rhythm of her language
thumping like a drum
it reminds me of the chanting of family spirits
that tried to get me out of the house
mom would call from my bedroom door
"sweetie, it's so beautiful today.
why don't you go outside?"

i guess i'm overwhelmed
at the loss of that summer
when i was full of promise in my youth
the fear of leaving this couch
mounting up
with all those wasps
building their nests
around the doors of my house

Thursday, July 9, 2009

native bedtime

that side of the open window
where the noise
of a thousand lonely crickets
blends into the humidity
the snakes in the yard
silently hunting in the black
for mice
and i
don’t love
anyone at all
little cuts
on my fingers
starting to scab over
and to me,
morning always
comes too soon

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Third Wheel

Southern summer came back to us.
Black ants are crawling
on the kitchen counter
and in my bed.
I’ve got a glass of grape juice
and a pill to put me under,
so I can ignore the
tickling of tiny legs
walking over me.
The soles of my feet
are dried out from
running around on
the beach all night.
There’s still sand
between my toes
from the cartwheels
and front flips.
The three of us
stripped down
to our underwear
and got waist-deep
in the water.
Their imperfect smiles
and her cleavage
were flashing beneath
the dirty yellow moon.
We didn’t see
anyone else out
the whole night.
They started kissing,
so I left them there,
wading in the lake.
I didn’t feel left out.
I just walked
down the road to
your house and
climbed up on your roof.
I tried to imagine how
it might be if you were home
and not vacationing with your
family somewhere in the
salty air of Florida.
My face swelled up
from happiness
or bee stings.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

School Shootings

I was having a picnic with Haley when
I decided that I wanted more.
I grabbed for Haley’s chest, took a
handful of her flesh, and I
consumed it right below her wide eyes.
I am stuffed full of private parts,
and I feel nauseous
all the time.
I am wrong. My brain
has become mis-wired from all the knocking—
from fists fucking my face between rows of lockers at
any high school ever.
I am an island but not
an ideal tropical island that people want to visit.
I am an ugly chunk of earth removed from a beautiful land by
an earthquake.

Summer Champagne

I just want to feel excited about a moment I’m breathing in. I mean, if it happens, it happens, because, tonight, I don’t care whose bed I sleep in. I’m leaving it up to fate. Maybe I shouldn’t think this way. Maybe I should quit my job. Paul says

“Right now all you have is time,
and someday that time will run out.”

I probably shouldn’t let anything hold me back, then. Maybe I could live off other peoples’ leftovers for the rest of this summer. I could turn their trashcan tops into fine dinner plates. Maybe I could drink the rainwater from big thunderstorms. When the town’s people got tired of me scavenging in their backyards, I could always hop a train. Maybe I wouldn’t even know where I was headed, and maybe I wouldn’t mind not knowing. Maybe I would feel free then. But I know I often get lonely, and then I try too hard to have some significant connection. People get weird when I try to explain things I’ve bottled up for too long. I pop a cork and foamy discomfort sprays all over the room. They get wet, feel embarrassed, and just want to go home, and I want to keep them there so I can apologize for everything I’ve done wrong in my life.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lilla, My Sister

The morning before my sister vanished is so vivid to me: We walked a few yards from the banks of the lake where she reached her hand out to touch the inside of a beehive. She described the buzzes of life and danger rattling against her skin to me, but she did not get stung. It was a strange thing to think of sweetness without any pain pricking back for what’s been taken. I spent the rest of that lazy-rolling morning sucking honey from her fingertips as we laid out, daydreaming, on the wooden planks of the dock. She sang so quietly that I couldn’t make out the words, and she laughed and giggled gently as though drunk on wiser secrets. By the next morning, she had disappeared from that summerhouse. My parents and I woke up to just her sparse clues:

a few doors left open, her white ribbon left out in the flowerbed.

Mom spent the whole day crying at the kitchen table, and my father spent most of his time down the road using the phone at the country store. I spent my time desperately trying to retrace that enigmatic sleep-walk she took right out of our lives into her own fate. I kept my eyes shut and imagined the steps she might have taken. I carefully placed my feet on the floorboards, and then, there I was, out in the garden, but I still couldn’t find her. Some river bank, some lake bottom, maybe. Some film I’ve already seen. In some song I heard on the radio on my drive home. Maybe. Maybe she’s in one of those things.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Southern Air

There's whiskey and Coke
in my Dixie cup.
Jessica is cutting my hair on
some back porch steps in
a green and golden afternoon.
She's revealing the mystery of
the scars on her face.
It was a car wreck where she
went through the windshield.
All that was outside and mute became
loud and real in an instant.

Now I feel too much.

I wake up wrapped in sweat-soaked hotel sheets in
a southern city by the Gulf of Mexico.
I walk out onto the beach and
lay low like bones as the waves stretch over me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Before the Emergency Room

I was sprawled out in someone’s back seat. I was sipping grape juice from a plastic cup, and I was watching Ellen as she crushed some pills and sprinkled them in my drink for me. She packed everything back into her purse, and then she calmly held my hand underneath the pile of coats that had been placed between us.

Someone was driving us fast through the deserted streets. Our speed and the rain blurred the city lights into the kind of abstract art I want my life to feel like. Something like being exposed to things and feeling all the emotions but remaining motionless.

You had been passed out in the front seat since we left the bar. Maybe you were dead. Still your long hair was flowing over your seat and trespassing onto my side, and it dangled there, just above my knees. All I could smell was cigarettes and Vodka when I leaned forward. I was looking out of my window for anything familiar, and without much thought, I started tying the ends of your hair into knots. I felt Ellen looking at me and smiling before I had even noticed what I was doing. I turned to look at her face. Her nose was bleeding. I watched as the blood trailed down to her lips. She never noticed, and I never mentioned it.