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Erosion
 
 
The soil exposed the roots.
When you loved a man,
 
he whispered your secrets
to another ear. The leaf litter,
 
grasses absorbed the shock
of rain, the canopy stopped the drops—
 
the trees disappeared. All night
you wondered where he went.
 
You sniffed his clothes in the laundry
basket for clues. The land
 
down-sloped, drug itself to
degradation. When you asked
 
he lied. When you waited,
he did it again.

Erosion

 

 

The soil exposed the roots.

When you loved a man,

 

he whispered your secrets

to another ear. The leaf litter,

 

grasses absorbed the shock

of rain, the canopy stopped the drops—

 

the trees disappeared. All night

you wondered where he went.

 

You sniffed his clothes in the laundry

basket for clues. The land

 

down-sloped, drug itself to

degradation. When you asked

 

he lied. When you waited,

he did it again.

Shel Silverstein

It was December again and a package arrived from Amazon. A package
from you— three hardcover books for my kids. The note said, From:
Uncle X. Happy Holidays. The Missing Piece became our favorite. It was
clear. I am the missing piece that you grasped in your mouth,
neglecting your natural tendencies, and you rolled with me one summer,
all over my bed, your bed, that golf course out by Elmwood Park, those
hotel rooms, and then you spit me out. Bouncing off in search of what?
Westward travel? Southern travel? The loneliness of bachelordom,
bachelorhood and the promise of an eternal life because you do not
burn like Paul and those others who founded churches and died alone,
penniless. The Giving Tree. I am the tree. You want shade? Here. You
want my arms, tight around your neck embracing the smell of aloe vera
and sweat. Here. You want my trunk, cut, etched with your poetry—you
are the only writer there ever was or ever will be. You want me to
float out to sea, elongate your days and nights, and succumb to
islanders and apples. Here. You want to rest on breasts when weary,
and whine about those other writers, doctors, students and professors.
Here. Then, you saunter off, finding no other shelter. To the desert
you go. This is a lovely book set. In metaphor reiterating how my
existence is a mud-caked shoe left on your patio after digging
ditching in a village all afternoon, then thrown away—the stench too
strong to remove and you find a cab to drive you to the market to find
new shoes, but you can’t bargain in Spanish, can you? You know
“zapatas;” you know “dinero.” Encircled by banana trees and lonely
women who stare at your green eyes, your grizzly face, your lips that
rhyme words in English. Here.

Shel Silverstein

It was December again and a package arrived from Amazon. A package
from you— three hardcover books for my kids. The note said, From:
Uncle X. Happy Holidays. The Missing Piece became our favorite. It was
clear. I am the missing piece that you grasped in your mouth,
neglecting your natural tendencies, and you rolled with me one summer,
all over my bed, your bed, that golf course out by Elmwood Park, those
hotel rooms, and then you spit me out. Bouncing off in search of what?
Westward travel? Southern travel? The loneliness of bachelordom,
bachelorhood and the promise of an eternal life because you do not
burn like Paul and those others who founded churches and died alone,
penniless. The Giving Tree. I am the tree. You want shade? Here. You
want my arms, tight around your neck embracing the smell of aloe vera
and sweat. Here. You want my trunk, cut, etched with your poetry—you
are the only writer there ever was or ever will be. You want me to
float out to sea, elongate your days and nights, and succumb to
islanders and apples. Here. You want to rest on breasts when weary,
and whine about those other writers, doctors, students and professors.
Here. Then, you saunter off, finding no other shelter. To the desert
you go. This is a lovely book set. In metaphor reiterating how my
existence is a mud-caked shoe left on your patio after digging
ditching in a village all afternoon, then thrown away—the stench too
strong to remove and you find a cab to drive you to the market to find
new shoes, but you can’t bargain in Spanish, can you? You know
“zapatas;” you know “dinero.” Encircled by banana trees and lonely
women who stare at your green eyes, your grizzly face, your lips that
rhyme words in English. Here.

Repression



Little closed eyes on the arm
pray for the other arm; pray
for the fingers not marked; tell
someone why you exist, why you insist
on listing the alphabet in
a fist; quarantine the left
from the right. Delicate, white
streaks—jet contrails on skin.
When the sky finally blues,
clouds dissipate, will
you open your eyes, will you
finally see him?

Repression

Little closed eyes on the arm
pray for the other arm; pray
for the fingers not marked; tell
someone why you exist, why you insist
on listing the alphabet in
a fist; quarantine the left
from the right. Delicate, white
streaks—jet contrails on skin.
When the sky finally blues,
clouds dissipate, will
you open your eyes, will you
finally see him?

Ferris Wheel Mishap




First one wire snaps.
Like a tape measure, it shoots 
to the ground; like the bow string after
the arrow is released, the wire vibrates. 
Then the slap of others snaking away. 
The children hear the hum, then 
movement begins — the roll. 
They clutch the metal bars, they hold
onto each other. It’s too late. The gondolas
attached to the rim empty
of their passengers. Goodbye, pleasure wheel, goodbye.
Ferris Wheel Mishap
First one wire snaps.
Like a tape measure, it shoots 
to the ground; like the bow string after
the arrow is released, the wire vibrates. 
Then the slap of others snaking away. 
The children hear the hum, then 
movement begins — the roll. 
They clutch the metal bars, they hold
onto each other. It’s too late. The gondolas
attached to the rim empty
of their passengers. Goodbye, pleasure wheel, goodbye.
Eventually 


Tell me again about her hair — dark, curly, and long, or how she brushes her fingers against your arm to steer you in the crowded market, or how her eyes are so bright that on the rocking bus ride up the mountain late at night you can read the map from their glow, or how she teases you about your accent, your clothes, or how she’s thin — her almost doll-size wrists flail while rapidly speaking of her undone chores.

Or tell me how you inch toward the wall when she stands too close, or how you step sideways in the doorway to avoid touching her shoulder, or how you hold your breath as to not inhale her shampoo or soap when you must sit together in the back of her brother’s car. 

Tell me about her parents’ farm — the chickens and rooster all flocking to the gate, lined up as if they know their fate, and they greet it warmly. We must entertain that eventuality. We must stare at one another, flapping out hands in excited speech recalling our feats and failures on some pasture not too far from here. Tell me you will wait for me to arrive and she will no longer be there. 

Eventually 
Tell me again about her hair — dark, curly, and long, or how she brushes her fingers against your arm to steer you in the crowded market, or how her eyes are so bright that on the rocking bus ride up the mountain late at night you can read the map from their glow, or how she teases you about your accent, your clothes, or how she’s thin — her almost doll-size wrists flail while rapidly speaking of her undone chores.
Or tell me how you inch toward the wall when she stands too close, or how you step sideways in the doorway to avoid touching her shoulder, or how you hold your breath as to not inhale her shampoo or soap when you must sit together in the back of her brother’s car. 
Tell me about her parents’ farm — the chickens and rooster all flocking to the gate, lined up as if they know their fate, and they greet it warmly. We must entertain that eventuality. We must stare at one another, flapping out hands in excited speech recalling our feats and failures on some pasture not too far from here. Tell me you will wait for me to arrive and she will no longer be there. 
Dreaming

image

All day I type, fold, print and stand. Busy, I exchange greetings with
the congregants and brown nose to the volunteers, but at night. At
night snuggled into my black blanket in my black room, I sleep and
left to its own wanderings my mind flies to Central America. A dirt
floor. Ten people in one room. You naked, me naked, trying to cover
ourselves with my blanket on a cot made for a child. You’re against my
back, your breath in my ear. We have to move again to another spot.
Comprehension is lost in language and deed. Scrambling to the pee pot
in the corner, then back to the cots, I search for you in the dark.
Mosquitoes buzz so loudly your whisper is lost. Finally in your arms,
you smell like the earth, like sweat, like a wet dog. Cradling my head
in the crook of your arm, you pray in Spanish. I say amen. I have no
idea what you said.  “Say it again in English,” I kiss your ear. You
do. I sleep in your arms. Come morning, I am in my bed alone. The
alarm. The shower. The dressing. The commuting. At dusk I stand in the
backyard, watch the children play in their playhouse, teeter on the
seesaw and wait for bedtime.


The Winged Boy

Shadow wings erupt from his ears, no, from 
his neck. The branches arc skyward and his arms
dangle like leaves. When he whirls, hemlines fling

towards heaven; eyeballs are skewered
like marshmallows and drip down to his blue shoes
until the summer sun burns them black.
The Winged Boy
Shadow wings erupt from his ears, no, from 
his neck. The branches arc skyward and his arms
dangle like leaves. When he whirls, hemlines fling
towards heaven; eyeballs are skewered
like marshmallows and drip down to his blue shoes
until the summer sun burns them black.
LycanthropyThis time the werewolf saves the women in the village; carries them offby their hair while their dresses are tornon rocks and sticks in the forest. The womenscream and kick, yet he trudges onward.This fearless animal lugs elevenwith one arm; in this other fist, he claspsa locket with my name on it: catharine. Insideis the photo from a barbeque, 2008, corn on the cob,(teaching the boy how to husk), hamburgers,ketchup, and arm wrestling with the overweight friend.Memories he clings to as he saves allthe women from romance. Why take the chance?He must take them to the river, drownthem in the water, munch on their still-warm,moist flesh and add their teeth to the chain.Oh wait! You know this story. You have donethis to men and women for two decades—every time you promise you’ll never dothis again, learned your lesson—you’re sad,sorry, remorseful, then you meet the next girlat the Walmart parking lot. The cars lined uplike gravestones. Each license plate listsan expiration date. Pick me up in your car,drive me around town. I know we won’t get far.

Lycanthropy

This time the werewolf saves the women
 in the village; carries them off
by their hair while their dresses are torn
on rocks and sticks in the forest. The women
scream and kick, yet he trudges onward.
This fearless animal lugs eleven
with one arm; in this other fist, he clasps
a locket with my name on it: catharine. Inside
is the photo from a barbeque, 2008, corn on the cob,
(teaching the boy how to husk), hamburgers,
ketchup, and arm wrestling with the overweight friend.
Memories he clings to as he saves all
the women from romance. Why take the chance?
He must take them to the river, drown
them in the water, munch on their still-warm,
moist flesh and add their teeth to the chain.
Oh wait! You know this story. You have done
this to men and women for two decades—
every time you promise you’ll never do
this again, learned your lesson—you’re sad,
sorry, remorseful, then you meet the next girl
at the Walmart parking lot. The cars lined up
like gravestones. Each license plate lists
an expiration date. Pick me up in your car,
drive me around town. I know we won’t get far.

At Sunset Downtown
 
 
The radio announcer foretold of love and marriage—how one only needs curiosity and that’s it. Oh, how curious I was that you’d leave Omaha for the uncultured, uninhabited west, for some one stop sign town with a Labor Day Parade as its only attraction and a gravel driveway leading to your house. Now, I sit at the river, watch the sunset and curse myself for not following you. I should have gone. Should have planted myself in your shoes, in your dumbbells, in your calves. Every time you moved, I ached and felt myself become wet. Here, the radio cries, is the answer to every marriage dilemma. I don’t listen—sand in my ears, tumbleweeds in my backseat, blood in my underwear. Please come back. Please.
At Sunset Downtown
 
 
The radio announcer foretold of love and marriage—how one only needs curiosity and that’s it. Oh, how curious I was that you’d leave Omaha for the uncultured, uninhabited west, for some one stop sign town with a Labor Day Parade as its only attraction and a gravel driveway leading to your house. Now, I sit at the river, watch the sunset and curse myself for not following you. I should have gone. Should have planted myself in your shoes, in your dumbbells, in your calves. Every time you moved, I ached and felt myself become wet. Here, the radio cries, is the answer to every marriage dilemma. I don’t listen—sand in my ears, tumbleweeds in my backseat, blood in my underwear. Please come back. Please.
Birds




I hate birds. Their wings flapping, beaks pointy 
and their pecking, pecking at the ground
for bugs, worms, gold—-God knows what.

Once, a little bird flew in my face. 
To swat the thing away with my arm 
was out of the question—it was a friend’s pet.

So, I hit the deck. Flattened body, arms 
covering my head, tears soaking her welcome mat,
I laid in her foyer until she assured me

the beast was locked up in its cage. I rose,
trembling. Her eyes, her kids’ eyes large.
It was like a bullet ricocheted off the walls

and I dodged it. I survived. Now, 
I imagine how to murder that bird.
Poison? Too easy. Bird-nap? Too 

hard. I purchased a snake for my son,
under the guise that he needed a pet.
Allergic to cats and dogs, possibly

all fur, we ended up with the corn snake.
There is a snake in the Mexican flag
on the verge of ingesting an eagle.

Birds. Left over dinosaurs, right? 
Whatever happened to the extinct
monsters should have happened to 

these flying atrocities. The solar flare
missed. The asteroid wasn’t big enough.
Noah, that workman of God, could have

at the very least, left the birds off the ark.
Look how they break up a lovely sunrise;
listen as they pollute the air with song;

look at how they leave excrement on 
our sidewalks, cars, roofs. Look! 
With my gun, I saunter off to the field.

Watch how they flee. Watch how I aim,
watch how my hunting dog chases 
down their fallen bodies. Cut open

their breast, tear off their feathers, 
fry them up in skillets and listen 
to the crack and pop of the grease.

Birds


I hate birds. Their wings flapping, beaks pointy
and their pecking, pecking at the ground
for bugs, worms, gold—-God knows what.

Once, a little bird flew in my face.
To swat the thing away with my arm
was out of the question—it was a friend’s pet.

So, I hit the deck. Flattened body, arms
covering my head, tears soaking her welcome mat,
I laid in her foyer until she assured me

the beast was locked up in its cage. I rose,
trembling. Her eyes, her kids’ eyes large.
It was like a bullet ricocheted off the walls

and I dodged it. I survived. Now,
I imagine how to murder that bird.
Poison? Too easy. Bird-nap? Too

hard. I purchased a snake for my son,
under the guise that he needed a pet.
Allergic to cats and dogs, possibly

all fur, we ended up with the corn snake.
There is a snake in the Mexican flag
on the verge of ingesting an eagle.

Birds. Left over dinosaurs, right?
Whatever happened to the extinct
monsters should have happened to

these flying atrocities. The solar flare
missed. The asteroid wasn’t big enough.
Noah, that workman of God, could have

at the very least, left the birds off the ark.
Look how they break up a lovely sunrise;
listen as they pollute the air with song;

look at how they leave excrement on
our sidewalks, cars, roofs. Look!
With my gun, I saunter off to the field.

Watch how they flee. Watch how I aim,
watch how my hunting dog chases
down their fallen bodies. Cut open

their breast, tear off their feathers,
fry them up in skillets and listen
to the crack and pop of the grease.