Before It Hits

Your leaving
was almost as bad as that time
I caught my hand in the car door;

at first, numb
too stunned
to even move or scream
do anything

then reality hit like a fist in the gut
with a rush of blood to the damaged part;
the throbbing limb
the broken heart

the only thing is, I don't remember
crying quite as hard

Nothing New

"It's been a long time,"
he taunted over the phone.
"What's new? Send me a new pic of you;
something in red would be nice."
and I feel the shame rise within me,
red-hot until I could choke;
memories of what I used to do,
my conscience stripped, lying on the floor
tangled with my clothing,
the hot breath and hands searing my skin,
branding me for life,
a life I now wanted to shed faster than I'd shed my clothes.
How do you keep the wolves from that door?
Once they get the scent,
they always remember the way

"People change," I say.
"I'm no longer in that line of business,"
trying to convince him,
wanting to believe it, myself,
as my tongue curled around the words,
wrapping the proclamation around me
like a shield no one could ever hope to penetrate

"Is that so?" he said,
as if he knew otherwise,
just because his hands had known
every part of me like eyes,
as if they owned me;
a well-worn book one knows by heart—
always reliable, always there;
a good old standby
when nothing else
was new

Backseat Angel

I was only 13 when you taught me;
when I learned about God
and the devil
all in the same night

you told my mother we were going for a drive.
You pulled into the church's empty parking lot
turned off the engine
and told me you wanted to tell me all about God—
that you wanted to be the one to teach me
since you were the preacher's son,
that there was a lot you could tell me;
anything I needed to know
then you told me to lie down in the backseat
and close my eyes so I could learn all about
Heaven and Hell

It seemed they became one and the same that night.
You told me to relax
that you were just going to baptize me
and pray for my soul,
then you took my clothes off
and pierced me with your faith
and red-hot fire shot between my legs
and I knew in the back of my mind
that none of the stories I'd ever heard about God
went this way;
I never knew that
God meant pain
but you said it was okay
that this was the way it was supposed to be
and I saw your eyes flash like a wild man
and made me think of pictures I'd seen
of what the devil might have looked like
and you assured me then
that everything was all right
that this was simply
how angels were made
then you smiled a twisted smile
and shoved into me deeper, grunting like an animal
so I closed my eyes, bit my tongue
and waited until it was all over
until you were done
trying to focus my mind on other things
trying to listen between the grunts and the groans
training my ear to pick up the merest whisper;
the slightest rustle
of new-grown wings


Blinded in the supermarket, walking dumbly through the aisles, packing my cart high with sustenance;  steaks, breads, cakes, hoping to put some flesh back on your whittled frame, hoping your sudden plunge in weight is nothing serious, not the unspoken "C," certainly, hoping the tests come back negative, praying your three-times-a-day loose bowels are due to some strange kind of flu, thinking I can entice your appetite again with all this food as I pile the cart higher and higher, until it is spilling over with hope, adding melons to the mess, fingers tightening around their wholeness, the sweet perfection within as I watch children playing, running from their mother's shouts, using cucumbers as pistols, their innocent, ignorant bliss a knife in my ribs, twisting ever so subtly. I advance, numbly, to the check-out line, seeing people laugh amongst themselves, bantering about recipes, grandchildren and holiday gifts. I am a foreigner; amiss, not understanding their words and grins, and I'm fighting like hell not to break like glass, just shatter at their feet when the clerk hands me the receipt and says "Have a good Christmas," and I bite my tongue to keep the tears from coming, biting down hard until I can taste the blood, and only when I can escape to the hooded density of my car do I let it go, the tears running new and hot, diluting the blood, the salt making it bearable, making it taste just a little bit better


How much is missed within the breath of whispers, the
silence that precedes confession; obsession, an endearment
lost in translation somewhere between the movement of
my lips and the delicate shell of your ear

Never able to hear clearly; the vowels turning themselves
inside-out, tumbling through consonants, parts of speech
clouded, misunderstood, facial animation of strangers
never matching tone of voice; communication avoided

I try, carefully, sounding words into your ear; the hum and
hiss of tongue and whisper, syllables and sibilance curving
through canals, scrambled sounds the membranes cannot
grasp; sense cannot adhere

With timid patience, my eyes, my touch finds a place
where words cannot reach, someplace you don't need
sounds to know meaning; the push of breath and heart
beating, the last measured tones, gentle rippling of
overturned stones beginning to break surface, to hone
realization, a quiet revelation; a spark, a flash of bright
light in your eyes to guide us further down that road...

Tonight, there is a sun rising,
somewhere near the center of you.

Blood On The Sheets

Don't ask me about love;
I know nothing of it
even though I've had countless lovers,
boyfriends, even a husband

I can tell you a world about lies
false pretenses and broken promises,
but I cannot tell you what love is

I can tell you about lust, sex,
and all the different positions therein.
I know about anxiety, depression, anger,
fear, even contentment, but I'm afraid,
my dear, that when it comes to true love,
I'm a complete and total

Afterwards, In Fluorescent Glare

I wanted to tell you at the restaurant
after the drinks came;
something to help loosen my tongue
and ease the truth

I wanted to tell you about all the other men.
I wanted to tell you quietly
that your wife was a whore,
that she just couldn't help it,
that they all somehow reminded her of her father,
that elusive man she still chased in dreams

but I couldn't; didn't want to cause a scene,
ruin the evening
and the meal passed in silence,
save for slight clinking of silverware against dish
and the quiet hum of emotional devastation on the horizon,
and afterwards,
trading the subdued lighting of the restaurant
for the harsh glare of Walgreens
to pick up a few forgotten things;
you grasped my hand in the toothpaste aisle,
a small smile before contemplating which brand was cheaper—
which tube had more value for less cost,
and there, amongst the display of mouthwash and floss,
slick as spitting the fresh mint residue out of polished mouths,
the filthy words shot from my lips;
all the men and motel trips,
revealing the going rate for your wife these days—
compare her worth alongside
the cavity-fighting products spread
in harsh fluorescent glare before you,
you'll see she costs
even less


It's a sad day
when you realize you wasted your life
hating the wrong parent—

the one who never acknowledged you
the one who seemingly ignored you,
the one that you feared and wrote
countless, twisted poems about
and saw sometimes in nightmares

and then you learn
through a lot of therapy and reflection,
that your paranoia and over-all psychotic persona
is really a gift from the parent who doted over you—
the one who never left your side
the one who instilled their psychotic beliefs on your mind
while you were still too young to know
what the hell was going on,
and you drank from the offered cup, innocently,
because parents always know best
and you grew up wondering
what was wrong with the world;
why you couldn't trust anybody
why everything only enraged you
and why you could always only see
the tarnished side of the coin

that kind of parental attention
I could have done without
but, they say every learned behavior
can be unlearned
and even though I'm still a far cry
from experiencing true peace of mind,
I find that dear Mother bothers me less
as the days go by;
her poison tongue doesn't grate on my nerves
quite as harshly as before
but sometimes
the warm afternoon sunlight glinting off my father's urn,
slightly beyond the range of her maniacally gyrating arms,
is just a little too much
to bear


If I just would have screamed at you,
if I just would have let it all out after
they patched your wrists back up and
you were resting comfortably on my
couch, your immortal future before you,
that chip on your shoulder temporarily
knocked to the side by all the recent
drama, but I held my tongue and pushed
that white elephant into the closet, into
the dark where it didn't exist, letting you
believe you were the center of the universe;
Lazarus back from the dead and every
ego trip since then has been a thorn in my
side, a bitter reminder that silence is not
always prudent, now wondering how to
reverse the damage, how to scream myself
hoarse by letting you know you weren't
the first one, the only one with problems
and fears who staged this ridiculous act in
hopes of testing the waters; gauging
reactions, as if all eyes were riveted on that
performance, all critical decisions delayed,
the entire world revolving around that
poised and hovering blade

Red Light Bulb

I wanted to turn the leaf over.
I wanted to re-invent myself.
I wanted to leave the old me behind
and hope that men would never find it

After years of 'yes,'
they don't understand 'no,'
but perhaps my voice is not yet thick enough
with conviction;
they eyeball me like a juicy piece of meat,
dripping fresh blood and just waiting
for them to sink their teeth into me,
but I shake my head and tell them I'm off the market
and they give me a knowing look
and a smug-as-fuck smile
that tells me I'm merely fooling myself;
that it's just another way of women playing
hard to get,
and I wonder deeply why they don't believe me—
either I was that good
or that desperate.
"People can change, you know," I say,
and they smirk and reply "Sure—
just like changing a light bulb;
something unscrewed eventually needs
to be screwed back in,"
and they laugh at their little joke
and snake their arm around my waist
while I attempt to hide my anger and shame
behind a look of disdain,
then the light bulb pops on in the back of my brain
that lets me know some things just can't
be changed

The Elements Of Nothing

It's the way your trivial complaints
grate on my nerves; how our own
father never said a word, suffering
silently, even up until the morphine
kicked in.

Him, I never knew, folded deep
inside that world of his, but you,
making sure every whine is
acknowledged, until I could scream,
you, always the center of everything;
even your suicide attempt a stab at
attention, escaping with mere bandaged
wrists and an attitude that one should kiss
the ground you walked on.

Now, your fears of tumors quelled as
they wheeled you out into the reception
room, my wanting to smack the smugness
off your face that said 'I knew all along
it was benign,' wanting to hit you and
cry at the same time, remembering the
morning Dad passed; my knowing he
never had a chance, never once seeing a
mischievous glint in his eyes, never
happy and smiling, turning to us to say
'See kids, it was really nothing"

Lady Luck

It had been that kind of morning;
the pelvic cramping and blood spotting
warning me of a possible loss

I wanted to turn down our big trip to Reno;
we'd planned months in advance for it,
mapping our course, saving our money,
hoping to hit it big to dig us out of the
hole we were in, never expecting a
third person to come along for the ride

I didn't think I should go—thought I
should stay off my feet, knowing there
might still be a chance to redeem,
however slim, but I give in, sitting
motionless in the car; quiet, watching
life slip by through the window,
moments gone in the blink of an eye—
you, unaware of the situation,
chatter endlessly on, taking my
silence as mere trepidation of losing

The casino looms like an all-knowing
demon. I follow you, unseeing, through
the overly-bright building, hearing coins
dropping, bells ringing, everybody happy
and carefree, and me, knowing there
would be no sense in fighting a battle
already halfway lost, walking freely
amongst the happy people, a murderer
of hope, a bucket of coins clutched tight
in my sweating grasp, abusing each
precious moment, eventually pushing
the coin through the slot, pulling the
lever, taking my chances, knowing the ball
had already dropped; now rolling completely
beyond reach, no stopping at all, no going