Category Archives: Syllabics

On the Limitations of Superpowers

Call it rage, call it fear, does it matter?
It’s a quiet shriekhowl corked inside
a good person trying to help,
trying to float on darkness
flickering with starlight
(ancient memories
of light and will
on edge
and sawtooth
chords tuned sour,
memories of
dissonance wrapped in
thin silk to quiet their
thousand unnatural shocks).
If this was the ocean’s surface,
the stars would dance and flicker, shifting
in place. If this was a bed, hands reach out
as if what is already there isn’t
enough. As if there isn’t enough
love, pain, or sense of direction,
or whatever it takes to
make that shift from one place,
one state of being,
to another.
If this was
this was
super strength,
I would still need
to be able to
break or charm something not
me, other than what I love,
other than love. If I could fly
would I still float above the ocean,
tethered like a buoy over hidden depths
and clefts in which shine pale oblique lights
of hunger and horror and beauty
made fey and strange? This is it,
isn’t it? What’s the point
of leaping over
tall sky scrapers
if I can’t
If I
can’t see you
in the shadows,
if I can’t even
say who you are aloud?
Try to remember. Try to
forget. The body remembers.
Try to forget. Try to remember.
A fist wrapped around a wrist as thick as
a thumb. I’m numb. My fingers are full of
bones and thorns. Bones break. The thorns fracture
and scatter like an invasive
species, and grow like dragon’s teeth.
Even a superhero
with lightning in their hands
is thwarted. Even
shooting webs
are mute
severed) their tale
retold, repainted,
and sanitized. What’s safe
to say? The secret gesture
that says “me, too,” and we both know
what is meant when our hands flip and point
to a heart caged in bones, like all the rest.



robin’s egg blue reminds me of peacocks,
of eyes, of Robin, of my mother’s
voice as I tried to choose a dress
for my first prom, of my son,
of my daughter, laughter,
wine glasses gone wild
and filled full with
water, of
into these
tiny ornate
surprising jewel-tone
structures, of first dates, and
last dates, of first dates that are
also last dates, of safety, risk,
of being broken open like birth
breaks open the heart, of breaking like
an egg, like a dry stick, of broken things,
of lost things, of going on living,
of labor, death, of things I love
to remember and am so
afraid I’m forgetting,
of things I want to
forget and am
afraid to
call to
of the blue
egg now empty,
cheeping of hungry
young birds, of the farmer’s
eggs at market, the scattered
wisps and threads of blue reflections
in certain nebulas, of cirrus
clouds, of fairy dust scattered in midair,
of fairy beads shimmering cheaply
on my wrist, of the glowing teal
stone for which I carved a bone
and cast a puddle of
molten silver like
a spell, of beach glass
broken and then
polished smooth
and soft,
of lips
and mouths as
soft and cool as
beach glass, of dancing
wild as drag queens under
a summer afternoon sky,
of stained glass windows spilling light
over a casket, a rosary
(of sorrow, of joy), of hallows that are
a whisper of white barely contained
inside a curve, of floating with
flower petals on the air,
the way wind tangles hair
and blows it into
my mouth, the way
beg for
the way
makes fists of blue
bruises and unfurls,
of mornings, of something
so beautiful I only
imagine it touching my hand
hollow over hollow and filled with hope

On Aurality

The buzz bang clatter shatter whooshing rush
of restaurant chatter. I just smile and nod.
This is not an aura, but a shockwave
pulsing against my skin with each heartbeat,
an auditory strobe staccato sheet
of porcupine pins flying in close shave
formation, grinding at 300 baud.
I practice reverse hedgehog position
as if it’s some kind of yoga. Deep breath.
Focus on the edge of the plate as if
it’s someone else’s navel. Resonance
means dialing down the grins and arrogance
all unintended, but still. My phasic
reflex stutters vibrational, compressed.

On Almost Falling

Orbiting at the edge of warmth, the sensation
of almost falling that lends a sense of sweet grace
and sweeter gracefulness, teetering and tossing
up one hand, one arm that balances and falters,
then finds its way to rest as if upon altars
or some other sacred space, the curves crisscrossing
as they define the shape of comfort, a safe space
which nonetheless pivots toward awkward salvation,
a station point, a counterbalance, like shifting
from foot to foot, from eye to eye … a dizziness
that swings and sways from slow waltz to breakdance and back,
that falters familiarly and still strange, and tracks
the lines of largeness sketched in halting drowsiness,
drawn toward perigee before pausing, wistfully.

This uses a sonnet form that I haven’t been able to find anywhere, so I might have made it up. It felt like dancing, and really seemed to suit what I wanted to do with this poem. The form has the rhyming scheme of ABCD DCBA EFG GFE, with twelve syllables per line. I liked how couplets appear in the middle, moving part of the poem, swinging towards and away those pivot points as if they carry tension, instead of resolving it.

On Being Sick, Again

Sickness scrapes the words from my brain, right as rain, except not.
I ask my son to write this down because I can’t hold words
in my mind long enough to make a fist they won’t leak through.
It’s sand. That’s what I meant. Hold on tight and then it’s all gone.
That’s what the words do. Shift and sift and flow, tie in a bow,
oh heck, I don’t know, I don’t want to know, I want to sleep.
There, let’s make a new rhyme, pretty patterns for all the words
that want to dress up in frilly outfits with lace and flowers
for the April showers that chill me to the bone, that hone
the fever like a sharp chicken bone, cutting through the sweats
that stick skin to skin like “Hello, my name is [blank]” labels
glued to my front with muck and gunk of all unpleasant sorts.
It’s fine. I’m not hungry. I don’t want more eggs. And I’m not
acting like a child. I’m too tired to think of better words.

On Hollow Things

Things we scoop out — watermelons, avocados,
tomatoes, squash, eggs, bread. More things we scoop out — clay,
logs, bowls, barrels. In America we’ll have scoops
of ice cream, in Britain it’s beers. Take something full
and make it hollow. Take something hollow and then
fill it up again. Buckets. Guts. Tanks. Boots. Cupboards.
Nature may abhor vacuums, but boats filled with air
still float. Why do churches feel more perfect empty
than full? Is there a purpose to this movement back
and forth between empty and full? Let’s sit and watch
quietly for a minute. There must be something
other than emptiness. It’s all relative. Look —
you can fill a pepper with sausage and rice, but
what can you put in a hand that lost its spirit?

La Vessie Est Plein

The moon tonight is shaped like a spoon, cradling a droplet
of dark, heavy and solid. At sea, the weeds pump themselves
full of air, floating lighter than water, are carried by
currents helping them move from here to there, from this to that.
The weeds are called wrack — beach wrack, rock wrack, toothed wrack, bladder wrack —
as if they are wracked with guilt, pain, sobs, grief. I was sobbing
tonight, again, with grief that comes and goes like tides, holding
me back or holding me up, I don’t know. The tides lift up
the sea’s air bladders and shift them gently, in currents slow
and strange, like water dirigibles, trailing messages.
On land, the idea of the bladder flips and inverts,
carrying liquid, like a wineskin, sloshing or flaccid.
A bladder is feminine in French: la vessie est plein.
Let us speak plainly. In English, bladder is gender neutral.