Tag Archives: GloPoWriMo

It Happened So Long Ago

Did the fire in my brain come before or after the fire
in my mouth? My mother will never tell, and the records
have all been lost. All we know is there was burning, a pyre,
nerves gone haywire; we know there was a scream, a cry, a cord
anchoring one end of a wire at a fixed place, flashpoint
channeled from this, here, toward infinite possibility.
And there are scars. Of course there are scars. Even at knifepoint,
when the scars are cut away, new scars come. Serenity
comes with disregarding the scars, the old face, the new face,
whatever. I’m usually not the one who has to look
at it. I live behind the face and forget what’s erased,
what’s seen. I forget my hair is blue, that my smile is crooked
to one side, as if wryly amused. When you look at me,
I look back. When you smile, I smile, too, happy to be seen.

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.

Drawing on Skin

Suzanne pushed her breasts up, soft globes of petaled skin,
and arched her neck back, eyes closed as if half asleep.
From one angle she looks gracefully relaxed, chin
tucked under, edging toward being a boneless heap,
some final abandonment. While from another,
the quiet conceals nothing of her triumph,
her glorious defiance. Why should a mother
not trace lace and lines, not carve from her flesh giants,
not be beautiful in whatever way she is?
Let women sprout orchids with open throats, lilies
chained around the necks of tigers. Go forth, she says,
exist as art. Coconut milk drips from you, bees
honey-dance by your lips. There is a heat
muscles knot over bone, burning beneath each teat.

Not Pretty Enough for You

It’s hard to tell — Do the beauty’s brilliant blue eyes open
to reveal the red-rimmed fatigue of a demon sketched out,
or is it the reverse? Does the demon open its grin,
cracking through the smooth lotioned skin, the painted perfect pout,
and loosen the teeth that ache from being held in so tight,
cooped up and forced inside the mouth too small for them to fit?
Or does the woman know that demon far too well, and fight
to contain it, exhausted from trying, and crying quit;
looking numb because that’s what is left as she throws her all
into armor and elegance? All I know is her hair
is almost perfect, and the same no matter which face calls
to mine: her tresses dark and light, shadows like a black bear’s
fur, highlights bright as the edge of a wave in the deep dusk,
small loose tufts floating free around her face scented with musk.

Burning Hands

I’ve never been to Burning Man. I hear it’s hot — desert
dust & sky both wide open as if they can’t bear to touch;
folk knotted into clothes because they can’t bear to wear much;
even clouds shred into wisps that barely cover, & flirt
with the dirt of a far off horizon. Hot. & then cold.
Either way, it’s intense, & that’s before adding in fires
& lovers / towers of flowers / stegosauri & spires /
the glowing teeth / awkward bots / glare / creatures / cheers raw & bold /
the bear / the bent / the beasts / the burning / the burn. My hands hurt
too much to touch you, too much to touch myself; skin gone thin,
gone rough & harsh, skin that throbs & pulses while dancers spin.
Sometimes my hands throb like this after drum circles, alert
& alive, remembering the beat. Today, they raise prayers,
lifting up, a flaming statue of palms cradling air.

On Making Beautiful Monsters

Don’t let a poet into your Build-a-Body workshop!
There’s no telling what they’ll try to put together, and
for all the wrong reasons. They won’t care if mushroom bodies
dangle or dip or jut up like combs and wattles. Feathers
will have to be included, of course, and vibrissae. (Who
cares that they belong on different phylogenetic
branches of the evolutionary tree?) A poet
might vajazzle a cloaca with ommatidia
just because they like the sparkle and bounce of the words, but
trust me, you do not want to see those words put together.
Pray they don’t add a sprinkling of blastomeres for some cleavage,
or knit neuroglia over biofilm for a net
to scrunch into a purple nictitating membrane. What
it comes down to is no one quite wants a poet’s bodies.

On Breathing

I sing the praise of elderberry and zinc,
how they attach to the lining of lungs,
block viral replication sites. I think
the word “alveolar” deserves more tongue,
more friction, more rasp, more love. I would purr
it out, with a little gasp for the “o”
and so open the bronchioles, where blurs
the breath at the end of the line, zero
point between blood and air, where breath meets flesh
and they merge. Such an essential pleasure,
to part the lips, and relax, let the fresh
air in, and down; delighted to measure
its cool progress through the maze of branching
paths, how it follows them all, sans choosing.

The Z Sonnets (A Cajun Crown)

Original version links:
Zest
Zing
Zipper
Zodiac
Zombie
Zydeco

Eh voilá, l’assemblage complète!

THE Z SONNETS (A CAJUN CROWN)

* Zest

The whole Cajun branch of the clan had spunk.
Zesty? “Yes, you better believe it, chère.”
(That’s what my grandma called me, in a funk,
when she wanted me to listen and care
about the old Cajun stories, but not
too much, because that was her job, not mine.)
She’d nod solemnly, pursed mouth, and then rock
back in the green and white lawnchair, sip wine,
shaded by our Iowa hackberry.
This was before indoor air, before shade
became redundant in summer, when we
carved our lives around weather, lemonade
and lime pie, water with a twist of rind,
storms that just twist, and old gals still sharp-eyed.

* Zing

Storms that just twist, and old gals still sharp-eyed,
but we’re going to twist away, blow their minds.
Let them pop! We’ll Lindy Hop side by side,
step and slide, glide and grind, until we find
the bang-a-rang zing-tone ringing out loud,
the glue that got Colinda in trouble
with mama, ‘cuz dancing tight’s not allowed.
No bad boys, bad girls? Just stick close, double
trouble, we’ll find a way. I’m shifting gears
from Blue Moon to Atomic Turquoise. Sway
with me, I say, whirl. Mama isn’t here
now. You know what she’d say. Dance anyway.
Whisper in my ear. I’ll whisper in yours.
So many ways for two to fit through doors.

* Zipper

So many ways for two to fit through doors,
but simplest is to hook arms together,
the way cotton bolls can stick to the bur,
the way zipper hooks catch on each other.
My grandma picked cotton. My mama, too,
summers, when she was little. My grandma
cooked for nuns; sewed zippers in cashmere wool,
blue satin, wine red jacquard, black broadcloth.
The broadcloth was for her, but the others
were for fancy folk. She saved up the scraps
to make dress-up clothes for my dolls, covers
and coats, wide brim hats and ballgowns with straps,
snaps, & ties instead of zippers. Make do,
do what needs doing. Those things she knew.

* Zodiac

Do what needs doing — those things she knew.
She knew not to talk when the stars were out.
To set the table, make salads, and do
the dishes, but nothing else. Never shout.
The alligator lay down with the goat,
and the goat cried. The pelican flies off
without hearing. Nuzzling, then spurned, the shoat
wanders into a trap. Cottonmouth scoffs
loudly, hisses with rage. Mosquitos whine,
the possum hides in a bucket buzzing
with flies. Swamp music and vines carve a sign,
a sky littered with critters, just busting
out full of danger and awe. The goat cried,
keeping quiet such a long time, dry-eyed.

* Zombie

Keeping quiet such a long time, dry-eyed
and wet-boned, gone all limp and loose and lost.
There’s the little cave they keep you in, tied
to bricks so you won’t float away, arms crossed
over your chest. Is that to hold your heart
in your body? Does it really matter?
Some day, you’ll get out — a black arts jump start
for all the bits and pieces in tatters,
or do you even need that? It feels like
the nightmares that surround you don’t let go,
and bad dreams alone could raise you lifelike,
guide you along an astral tether, so,
right back to where we began, in a park,
with a shimmy and a shiver in the dark.

* Zydeco

With a shimmy & a shiver in the dark,
let’s dance a two-step while the squeezebox curves
in the light, ripples with movement, with sparks
that bounce & sizzle. Sweaty dancers swerve,
missing other dancers, tent posts, and chairs.
This is music made out of leftovers —
hay rakes & spoons, washboards & croons, old cares
& new wounds, cut & cut down like covers
& quilts. Nonc Pee-Wee had a Cajun band,
but grandma grumped he sang more like a frog;
said, “Only dirty people speak French!,” and
lost her cool when grandpa muttered, “Coon dog,”
(except the word he actually used stunk).
The whole Cajun branch of the clan had spunk.

Zest Sonnet

The whole Cajun branch of the clan had spunk.
Zesty? “Yes, you better believe it, chère.”
(That’s what my grandma called me, in a funk,
when she wanted me to listen and care
about the old Cajun stories, but not
too much, because that was her job, not mine.)
She’d nod solemnly, pursed mouth, and then rock
back in the green and white lawnchair, sip wine,
shaded by our Iowa hackberry.
This was before indoor air, before shade
became redundant in summer, when we
carved our lives around weather, lemonade
and lime pie, water with a twist of rind,
storms that just twist, and old gals still sharp-eyed.