Massacre.

“Keep your Nails clean and Short, also your Hands and Teeth Clean yet without Showing any great Concern for them.” G. Washington

It’s the little things that slay us.
No big deal. Just a little thing.

Each piece works alone, but not when
you put them together. It works

when you’re looking, but not when you
turn away. The word “and” where “or”

belongs. Just little things. A dash
instead of a slash. A small moan

of pain instead of screaming out.
A new bruise instead of a bump.

It keeps happening, over and
over. Figure it out. It’s not

my imagination, it’s yours.
It’s nothing to worry about.

It’s all going to be fine. You’re safe.
Just relax. This won’t hurt a bit.

Braggadocious.

“Turn not your Back to others especially in Speaking, Jog not the Table or Desk on which Another reads or writes, lean not upon any one.” G. Washington

The grass says:

I tell you, there is
a hard storm coming.
Just feel the dryness.

I cry out against
thunder and pounding;
I rage against it.
But you don’t hear me.

The air says:

I am much stronger
than you imagine.
You can’t know my weight,
my enormity,

my hugeness, how much
I carry, how much
I touch. I am full
of heat, of water.

Beware, or I will
release what I hold.

The pond says:

I am flat. Trust me.
You don’t want to be
around when I’m flat.
That’s just the surface.

Do you have any
idea what is
happening below?
The hidden battles,

the slow and sluggish
slide into fury.

The stones say:

You think I’m heavy,
but I remember
air, and air knows me.
Winds can lift, and I

can fly. I can fly
to you, but I am
still stone. I can throw
myself, and then fall.

Supreme.

“Kill no Vermin as Fleas, lice ticks &c in the Sight of Others, if you See any filth or thick Spittle put your foot Dexterously upon it if it be upon the Cloths of your Companions, Put it off privately, and if it be upon your own Cloths return Thanks to him who puts it off.” G. Washington

There is a spider in the laundry, and another
in the bathroom. I try to not look in the basement.

I catch them with a paper and a cup, then outside
they go. Did you know there is a myth in which spiders

weave the threads that hang stars in the sky?, the sheer fabric
that is the transparent warp and weft of the heavens,

the tapestry of all Creation. Some believe they
labor forever, making the magic of our lives.

Some believe the existence of spiders undermines
belief in science, for only God could imagine

creatures as strange as spiders. so entirely unlike
us. This is why I want to save them, these mythical

makers of all things. He chuckled. I know, he says, that’s
why I like to kill them — to destroy the Universe.

This is not a poem

This is not a poem.

I want to write poems
for you, but I am

broken in body,
overwhelmed in mind,
and in pain, in pain,

in pain that distracts,
jerks my attention
like plucking at strings
of a small pain harp,

little gasps and cries,
each one shattering
the thought before it.

It is hard to write
on anything else,
so I bite my tongue
and wait. I want to

write a poem for you.
I do. A love poem,
a fear poem, a note?

Just wait. I promise,
I will keep trying,

I will. I promise.

Prayer

The prayer that is a moving blade,
a breath at just the right moment,

a slight shift of one hip, letting
loose, letting it go, and falling.

The prayer that is listening,
only listening, saying nothing,

waiting for a point of balance
around which one spins like a top.

The prayer that sits in the darkness
like a child in their room, alone,

almost like a saint made ugly
or a monster made beautiful.

The prayer that is a bomb, that’s dropped
into your life at a hollow

point, like a perfect word heard at
the perfect moment, like a poem

you wish you had written, you wish.
The prayer that is a last weapon,

or a lost weapon (a lost soul,
a lost chance, a song’s lost ending,

a forgotten dream that changed you
even as you forgot once more

that you are changing, that we all
are changing). The prayer that you will

remember long after you’ve stopped
praying, after belief became

filled with knotted-up questionmarks
being teased patiently apart

by needlepoints that untangle
and translate things that used to be

magic and meaning into what
else now, a sense of belonging,

a sense of purpose, a sense of
what? Of letting go and falling.

Controversy.

“Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs roll not the Eyes lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.” G. Washington

How to build a disagreement, a dispute, a difference
of opinions grown huge, like that famous goldfish (how
famous? Well, so famous, you already know how famous),
the goldfish so gold, so sad, so hungry that even chow
(disgusting stuff), even crumbs of fish food could make it
glow and grow until it was the greatest goldfish ever
seen. You know how great? As great as a Great White!
The shark, of course, because, we know things, clever,
you know, and a fish is a fish, a shark is a fish, but
a whale is not a fish, even though that goldfish was almost
as big as a whale. Almost, not quite. Still, for just
a goldfish, it was too big. Huge! It could really boast
of its bigness (like a whale!), but for a fish, that’s too dense,
too big. Makes no sense. How to build a story that makes no sense?

Dissent.

“Shift not yourself in the Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails.” G. Washington

It’s anxiety. It’s tension. It’s not enough sleep.
It’s not being good enough. It’s being too good. Too smart
for my own good. Too smart for your own good. Too smart.

It isn’t standing up nobly to resist oppression. It’s
frantic. It’s the loyal opposition that can’t take it
any longer, tell top brass what they really most need

to hear, and are threatened and fired for their pains.
It’s the family intervention that happens after
they’ve cried themselves dry and sore and aching

and the loved one keeps on keeping on with whatever
it is that hurts them and everyone around them, but they just
can’t see what’s happening. It’s the pain in the body

crying out stop, stop, STOP, but hey, no, us? We’re tough.
People depend on us. No pain, no gain. Just push through.
What happens if you don’t listen to your body? Yeah, that.

The pain chews back, chews you up, chews on you like a bone.
You wanna ignore me? Yeah, just try. Pain that buzzes
like an electric shock. Pain that freezes when you aren’t cold.

Pain that burns when you aren’t hot. Pain that bites like
a bug inside your cast where you can’t reach it,
but there is no bug, just the pain. Pain that shivers,

pain that crawls, pain that stabs, pain that throbs,
pain that aches, pain that moans or whimpers or cries out.
You’re not listening. You’re not listening. You’re

making me angry now. Trust me, you don’t want to make me
angry. And then the pain moves in, your new roommate,
the one with bad breath who never flushes, the one who

eats the special treat in the fridge you were saving,
the one leaves Legos on the floor and burns your best pan
and forgets the milk on the counter until it spoils and

hides the bags of grocery behind the recliner until
you can smell them and wonder what it is. Yeah. Hi, roomie.
You don’t like it? You should have listened at the start.