I once believed there was a secret room

When you live in an ivied
rock of a house
and come out
only at night
to pour milk for the neighborhood cats
You’ll understand the uncanny
of the comfort of hotness
of summer air
that is suddenly interrupted
When just beyond the garden gate
you swear you see only darkness
and you’re out among thorny bushes
In a sundress; no bra; bare feet

I don’t leave my house
because I once believed
there was a secret room
in my great grandmother’s house
Situated darkly
far from the window’s peripheral
accessible through a door
built for a body rolled into a ball

And I knew
that all the jewelry was kept in this room
All old journals, all tossed attempts at art
The impossibly windowed room
was brighter than all the others in the house

Only there can I meet the stranger
that stalks my garden gate at night
Only there will I marry him


My friend’s brain

My friend’s brain
is a patted white movie theatre
and on the screen
is a constant projection
of a marijuana leaf

The one cell
that hasn’t abandoned her
takes form
as the projectionist
“I had to adapt
to survive.”

I got her
a double sided pipe
so she can smoke with her love

I still remember
the time she got stuck
in the cat door
and licked herself clean
until she passed out

I don’t wear makeup

I don’t wear makeup
Every guy I meet is fascinated by this
They stroke my cheek
They pet my nose
They pull my eyes wide open
so they can look
at the underside
of my eyelashes

No makeup at all, they say, Hmm

I’m on a date
Smack my ass, I say
I can’t, he says, searching my face again

Let’s make a deal, he decides

Let’s go on vacation
Aruba, Bahama
Come to my parent’s house for dinner
If you get pregnant on our first date
don’t worry
I’ve got my grandmother’s ring
in my pocket right now
We’ll honeymoon somewhere cold
so we can shack up in a cabin
for a month
just the two of us
We’ll have four children
There is a lot of pressure on me
to become governor
I need a good wife to come home to

He’s on one knee

I’m crying
We’ve been through so much together
He’s the love of my life
I love you, he says through snot
I love you, I say as I taste my own tears

He’s calling him mother and his sisters
to tell them the good news
His whole family is on speaker phone
Aw gosh, goes his mother,
your father says you can have
the new Mercedes as a wedding present
His sister Dana
is going to be my maid of honor

I spot red lipstick
I bought once on a whim
I saved it to use
only for Christmas parties

I swipe it on
pout my lips
in the foyer mirror

I turn to look at him
He nods quietly

He leaves

Big Calm

Seldom did the big calm
appear in our city

Among museums
of world war history
was the peculiar presence
of peace

A machine rendered free
of its original purpose
in the middle of a national park
as if in a lull by a spell
Stillness finally achieved by displacement

The war machines are most fun
You can hide inside of them

Without ammunition
without intent
it was
feral giants
Made into feasible jungle gyms

Not far off
from an enduring tank
is a brutalist Soviet half-wall
in a stand off
with a medieval canon tower

Somewhere in a clearing
is a triangular mechanism
with an unknown purpose
Surely just for channeling alien gods
light years away

Drum on my belly

Drum on my belly
There lives little old me

I attended a workshop
“Giving birth to yourself”
Not up for interpretation
Here is a tent
Here is an opening
The vaginal canal
Hope you remember
how to do a backward roll

First we must read journals
we were assigned a week prior

He’s balding
a pot belly and stringy fingers
He’s thirty five
and has a creeping, shaky crush on me
He reads:
Sometimes your mom really is a bitch!

The truth is
I was in love
with my step brother
says the woman next to him

Our organizer reads us one of her poems
With pride:
Childhood is another world
But three years in adulthood
is barely enough to seal a wound

I hide in the tent

Their living room (looked like it was from a magazine)

Their living room
Looked like it was
From a magazine

The parents
Of my dark, considerate boy

Do you know the kind of things
he says to me?
How he wants to
breathe into my ear
as he holds my neck

And he was here once
In a little body
Sitting on this flower couch
Along Mrs. Robinson

Hands on his lap
And later he whispers to me
Do you want me
to punish you?

We had dinner
In a white dining room
French doors
Open to a patio
White linen is the signage of the refined
Flowing from the doors

They’ve an in-house library
Two floors
In Manhattan

Is this where you learned
to read Henry Miller;
D. H. Lawrence?

Your mother is serious
Unlike mine
You all keep your elbows
off the table

We sleep
in separate beds
At your parents’ house

You sneak into my bed
Press your hand hard
against my mouth
So your little brother
Twenty years younger
than you
Doesn’t hear

I played the game
All weekend
Accommodating and stand-offish
Practicing to smile
Genuine but quiet
And I learned
it costs to be a woman


I went to her house once
On her bed
were burnt stuffed toys

Her father
Set their house on fire
And left while they were inside

We both know that
Death takes a ride sometimes
Black hood
Face red, molten skin
Burned alive body
He took for sake of compost

None of this prepared me
and when I met him
I expected a room
with newspaper clippings
Red string connecting prophecies
Instead it was a near empty formation
Concrete walls and a mattress
A tax-book nearby

I should have known already
They all told me
I over-analyze
At this point only Woody would fuck me

I stood in the middle of a crowd
a four-way cross intersection

Immigrants come here
To have children
That become artists

We buy pomegranates

I’m five
We go to a street market
And buy pomegranates

Just days earlier
I threw up
from eating tomatoes

Throw a gold and purple coat
Over me
Let me roll in a bear hide
It is the same thing as eating
a pomegranate

I’m six
We’re reading
About Persephone
while safely tucked
under the comforter

I didn’t have a crush on Paris
or Theseus
but on Hades

How nice it would be
to live with little light
Black stone carved from the quiet
Collected after the storm
Somewhere cozy in infinite space

Where secrets cover you
without resentment
Like hot towels
Pools with steam
for getting hot and sleepy
Purple lights appearing when needed
They are for luck
Borrowed from the other world

I am not hard core

I could only spend half my time here
And when I am present it is not
because I want to house in my body
Jealousy, decay, rebirth, ambition, whatever
I just want a quiet home

This thin skin

A dull wound
Pink, soft, velvety thing
But no nerves left in this thin skin

My new skin is frosting
Once you’d swing your hand
into mine
And meet the thud of wood
I could only be looked at
And God forbid there was a mirror around
In it you’d see
Branches like blood vessels
running over logs nailed together

Now I am a quiet pink
No pores
And I bleed strawberry syrup
A burn victim
Having laid with white gauze
Like it was a muslin sheet preparing
The unveiling of Venus

I’ve had my feet bound
The seat of sensitivity
reduced to a three inch sole
To train my crying

I’ve had an iron clasp of bars
around my waist
To practice posture

I’ve had a stack of books
To balance on my head
But to read them
meant my skin would stretch further

If I am the elastic girl
My enemy is the Geek

At four in the morning
I would sneak into the barn
to free the chickens

Bite my head off instead; sure
It will just roll its eyes
and bounce off
back onto my body

Try to peel my skin
And you will find me a singular form
unified to turn liquid at a sign
of danger
Sliding under the crack
beneath the door

Kiss me
It will be soft like a rabbit’s ear
A kiss personal
Yet unknowable