Monday, August 6, 2012


on a single bed
blue fitted sheet

we tunafish our slick knees together
and i math the heat in my head until it reads
104 degrees fahrenheit in small sweat numbers
against your neck.

you make a pillow from an inside out sleeping bag
and i swoon
at the way you roll your wrists
or your zipperside in origami fold.

i hold you by the hips until we are squares.
you call me soon like you know me by name.

and when my mouth is moving around words i can't remember long enough to thread together with periods
you tell me
what i am most afraid to hear.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


i push it to the back of my mind.

in the dream the door is open
a bald man who looks like my lack of trust
has let himself in
a kitchen knife and carrots
he bends away from me, busy.

i move my feet towards him until he is a monster, wide eyed
chopping my freedom from me, at the ankles
and all i can do is sound

open eyes.

the warm man in my bed
listens with his arms
wraps a knee around me
until it is light.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


when it was time to wake up, she'd ring a bell.
it weighed about half a pound
small, copper, chipped on one corner.
she'd seen it in a movie once
tucked in beside her sister and father at a black and white picture.
a stout old man in a sunday suit
shook a large copper bell until a puffy black woman
rounded a corner in a white apron.

she had thought it was the perfect thing, kneeling amongst the old porcelain dishes, and dusty picture frames at an estate auction

to call her girls with. to remind them
that this life
was not a vacation.

every morning, the same.
she'd come in from the kennel, the smell of morning work under her arms, already sticking to the skin around her neck.
old blue jeans and a purple sweatshirt, she'd pull off her black barn boots by the front door, washing her hands in the large square sink.

she and the sun would've been up two hours, enough time to build a warm chest of resentment. two small girls, asleep in pink rectangle beds
she had paid for, dressed
while she worked alone in rows of wire cages
scrubbing circles around memories of her little golden girl.

Monday, July 2, 2012

that's nice, thanks

this morning while sipping coffee
i made puzzle pieces from your words
moved them around
til they were a train.

maybe, i'll show you.

it started raining today
while i was deep throating
mint lettuce mushroom wraps
on the floor
listening to a talk about how little
women are asked or heard in the news.

the numbers are interesting.

i mounted my wet bike.
the adjussi who smokes outside the door
told me it was raining
drippy cigarette pointing
at quick darts of water
clinging to my dress and thighs

i thanked him
took off down the street surprised.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

step down please

you like him.
wake up in the bed beside him

a dark room, shutters clicked closed
your dark haired man three hands away
a faded pool of blood at your hip.

you say goodbye
swimming face down in his brown chest
fully clothed

climb down from him
onto your bike.
pedal, stop, step, pedal, sweat, step

put a day of work together
sipping noodles from cardboard cups and coffee water through a straw.

you do it to yourself you know.
but oh how
you love it so.

Saturday, June 23, 2012



you can't imagine loving someone again, although it's clear you want to.

it slips out
when you've had too much to drink
you apologize in the morning
the way a man would say nothing.


the gallery is closed
walk to the cafe.
catch glimpses of yourself in glass doors
in stares from couples in matching t shirts or hair color.

put your head down over a notebook to make something you'd like.
something from your hands that could be good.
connect with a woman over language, or stories about selves

your history in cartoon outlines
hanging on a wall nearby.

Friday, June 15, 2012


you know
i'm not that girl
i say.

i look in the mirror and i see her
the same one
same color, and size and thickness.

i trace myself with a black marker
adding lines
sags around the belly and the breasts.

twenty nine, i mouth
twenty nine,

i ask him, if he likes me, using words
that wiggle less
but fall just as thin and storebought onto his friday night
beers from the refrigerator lined wall
flip flops and checkered shorts.

i wouldn't be here he says
im looking at the mint green chipping away on my left hand
the right fingernails, a pale beige
holding fast.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

can't won't

i tried to crack an egg today
but there was a baby chicken inside.
heavy and plum colored
i dropped it into the sink and now
i can't be near a kitchen.

thirteen time zones behind me
and she still shows up on cue
in my sleep.

when she was my mother
a woman in a t shirt that read
god is love in russian or, backwards numbers and letters
red spandex bike shorts in the basement,
she nicknamed me stupid brat
and stood me in the corner for hours
until my knees separated into accordion players
against the bluebell wallpaper.

i spent my first eighteen years on all fours on that farm

collecting hardened dog shit into my cupped brown palms
shop-vac-ing tufts of hair from rough, white linoleum corners
combining dish detergent and clorox in a blue gallon bucket.

but i didn't get fat and eaten
and i didn't live caged and get drowned when my magic was gone
and even though i was pure bred and picked out from a picture because i was cute and pathetic looking
i wasn't sold for four hundred and twenty five dollars
in a pet store window
up and down the eastern sea board.

i called tonight
seventeen synonyms for fine after the beep
i remembered to breathe
and hung up the phone seated
in the first row desk
facing the door.

Monday, April 16, 2012


across the table, i passed evidence of self in a spiral notebook
cringing with every turned page.

it felt like an interview, and all i wanted
was to hold his hand or maybe take my clothes off
in a motel we paid for together
with singles and crumpled up green pieces of paper.

i let his friend write on my under arm skin
in black marker, permanent.
his eyes would wander towards me from directly across the table
i'd remember to slouch in my straight backed chair, beaming indifference.

there was something between us
a broad oak table
half empty glasses of whiskey i'd bought us.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

self destruction. no, self construction.


the first was a mistake, because i was a girl.

the second time, his motto for life was "make destroy". he drew bubbles that were horses, or the air between us when he painted me dark against his upturned nose. he stacked books on a blue shelf over a yellow bedsheet we fucked on every night. so loudly, his roommate downstairs mentioned it once over communal dinner and again while unscrewing gallon jars of lentils in the pantry.

Friday, March 30, 2012


it was cold. they had wandered out the lane slowly, but careful of the time. they couldn't miss the bus.. not after the last time.
she fingered the dents lining the low part of her back.
it was a monday, and she had thought the weekend would never end. chores upon chores plus special saturday cleaning.
and the extra cleaning in the kennel. their fingers still reeked of bleach mixed with dish detergent, and dog hair.
she scuffed her shoes against the pavement, walking quickly, her sister, elyssa, was only two steps behind, but they weren't speaking.
they were having one of those days.
elyssa thought she had it worse.

maybe she did. she'd go quiet for days or weeks. which wouldn't have seemed strange to everyone else.
elyssa never opened her mouth much to others, she doubted teachers or cousins or friends at church had ever heard her utter a complete sentence.
but she always talked to her little sister. often the words were angry, sometimes they were strung in a song,
but most of the time, the opening of her mouth was a clear plastic knob that turned on her tears, full blast.

it was cold, she blew smoke rings that were actually steam, and guessed the temperature out loud
32, i betcha its 32 degrees. freezing.
silence. her sister didn't even look up between the long black bangs that covered her forehead down to her nose.

they drove the mother crazy, deliberate disobedience! she'd shriek, reaching for the nearest wooden spoon or scissors or clenched fist.
what good is a person, if you can't see their eyes, she'd advise
elyssa lying fetal and trembling at her feet.

i learned in mr marino's science class that 32 degrees is the freezing point, and i think this airs frozen .look. look!

but she didn't. instead, she raised her head just a centimeter on the left side, as if she'd heard something,
and sure enough, the yellow bus, E1, pulled up and stopped in front of the pothole at the bottom of their farm lane.

they single filed as always, the oldest first. she was jealous for a minute, wanting to have rock paper sicissorsed for the right to climb up first.
instantly, she regretted her jealousy.

hey eggggroll. fortune cookie.

tiny snowballs of paper and spit flew towards them as they turned left at the drivers seat and scanned the bus for empty seats.
it was the big boys, the flunkers. spit wads and tiny corners of math and english homework pelted her sister and ricocheted off into her face.
the little one reached up to protect the northern hemisphere of her face, magnifying glasses framed in plastic tortoise shell.

hey eggroll! fortune cookie! you ugly chinkeyes! go back to japan.

it didn't make sense , and she wanted to say it, to slam their faces into the the metal frame of the window and shriek it,
but there was nothing to be done. she shot them a glare. their snaggle teeth and home made mullets, more humiliating
than anything they could manufacture from their mouths.
the sisters single filed into a green seat on the right side of the bus. elyssa was sobbing, of course, but this time not talking. a silent retreat.
the younger one was quiet as well, picking at the green duct tape on the seat back in front of her, with her peeling fingernails.
a small, red seething had begun growing warm inside of her, jaw set, she sat clicking out comebacks on the typewriter roll in her mind.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

the only story i know

they married in the winter, between valentines day, and her 21st birthday.
this is how it was.
she was the basketball star. blonde hair to her waist, one of three beautiful sisters,
narrowing the halls of the mennonite high school with her brightly colored flannel mini skirts. she was a dream.

he was one of six, a twin. the hair started to thin at the age of 16. in the front, and soon whole handfuls from the top of his head disappeared.
he was quiet, she said, handsome but not noticeable. he followed at a close distance, watching but never extending his hand. he pulled on his unlettered jacket in the afternoons, rode in the passenger's seat of his sisters car. when they were seven, after another dinner of blueberry soup, he and his twin sister jan, packed a feed sack of apples and dinner rolls and ran away.
a search party of 2 neighboring amish families, numbering in the 20s, scoured the summer corn with utility flashlights and and an approaching fire siren.
the pair spent the evening, howling their regret from the dairy barn.

when she was 19 she lived in upstate new york. an orphanage. rooms of children on single beds under green blankets. they wanted mothers. they wanted fathers.

in 1981, she gave birth to her second perfect child. a blonde halo of hair, blue eyes like her father, a sharp chin like her mother. her whole hand around her brother's little finger.
she, was the plan.

in the don't touch anything room of our house, the brother and sister's picture hung in a gold frame on the south wall. "where are you in this picture?" i asked the blonde brother, slouching in a striped sweater at the kitchen table.
"i was in heaven" he replied. "i was in heaven with sister. you've never been?"

i put myself to bed early. gathered my knees and hands close, for prayer.
they only let children with halos in to a place llke heaven.
and i , had been born
under a dark, black, cloud.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


there's something i have
palm readers on post street call it an aura
purple, green
the angle i tilt my chin.
my hair smells of mint listerine.
my mouth tastes like unwrapped butter waffles.

i met her on the standing side of a dinner out
she was with her husband.

trusting her, i put down my tray
spread out her map
finger pointed
them to their new life.

her eyes
shining with something
i see in my sleep.

i've always been like this,
how, i am completely unsure.
i separate my issues into small piles
hang them up with clear plastic pushpins before bed.

on the far side of a glass pitcher of ice and orange slices
we watched the sun find us.
we ate vegan sandwiches and seasoned potatoes.
she told me about dying.

the telling was so natural
laughter and the breaking of her neck at intervals.
i gathered it in, her story
asleep for months in a hospital bed
pictured it
awake in an upstairs of white light
like she was reminding me
golden bodies and the absence of night.

i packed her light into a blue backpack
climbed on a plane,
floated it across the ocean with me
to this place.

i walk around without fear.
breaking my neck at intervals
move forward, back, forth
into formations of girl, into sitting in a corner or floating next to a chair.
the front compartment of myself
open and light.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

dear m--

it is time to let this go.
slow and steady.

she was ten. she was ten. she was ten. i was eight.
i shudder at the sound of pants unzipping, instead i pull mine off from the shrinking of hips
metal button scraping soft stomach.

here is how i describe you.

the family i lived with --- no--- the people
they were not mine.
paper hands in an old square house. a yardstick.
both sides of a scream in the same room.

you taught me to stand still, to simon says
nothing. you'd say, you are nothing.

damage. i dare not dwell.
every night, i undo you
walk around my room
fingers pruned with
the percentage of you
that makes me up
a truth i can't finetooth comb away.

i tell the story so well.
white out from my lips that paints you clean
cold edges of someone i forget to tell.
i am careful with your picture.
in it, you are a woman with a husband and son.
in it, you are a victim, and i am a child with simple needs.

on your lap every morning,
on the floor every afternoon,
hands over my head
i held the hardest parts of me

the softest strips of body open
i let you straighten me out
knees and arms drawn in.

love, you always said
is not a feeling. it is a decision.

i can't feel anything. i decide to dress up like a woman
and then i undress, a stranger's hands around my wrists
and waist and neck.

but everything i feel
has been pressed in through my skin
and seeps away just as quickly.

you sliced me so thin
horizontal lines around my eyes and ears.
a field guide of scars around my shoulder blades.

at night
dogs and cats in wire pens roam around a painted gray floor
forget to eat, get lost on their way to the front door.
i carry them around with me, come home to them, like they are mine.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


it is early and she's up before noon for once. the second alarm gets her full attention.
open eyes, bending upwards at the waist and then the knees.
she has started sleeping on a blue trifold cushion, the length of her body.
the low parts of back ache again today, she fumbles for her glasses,
heavy in her hand, then on the low valley of her nose.
seated on the toilet, she contemplates sleeping on the bare floor,
like most koreans, or on the sofa bed like a normal person with furniture.
but the back she can ignore.
the pain is worth the sleep she's been soaking in.
she fights the daily desire to stay there, dipped
in the "vivid blue" nylon zip cover of sleep that draws around her like
this dark winter.

her sister has sent a message and they will look in on each other through computers
for awhile before she needs
to bundle up for the short crunching steps to the corner, to a taxi, to the fifth floor school hallway and u formations of desks.

she clicks the right burner on under the water, considers washing the teetering brown pool of dishes and water under the spigot.
decides against it. brushes her teeth for less than a minute, spitting out red streaks of bubbles.
the blood these days, it's always there. she pushes down the stress that always comes
with the burden of self care. she wets her hair with two handfuls of water, readies her body in an underwire bra,
thick tights and a new dress.

she laughs at herself in the mirror, vain.
a year ago in san francisco, she boarded a plane with two suitcases. one filled with drawings, colored pencils and books.
the other, zipped full of multi seasonal thrift store finds. she was dressed in "the uniform": a breastbone baring men's vneck, a lace rubber band excuse for a bra and
, a tattered black sweatshirt.

a runaway, a san franciscan, a taurus. she had been too careless to worry about something as trivial as fashion or femininity.
yet here she is, one year and two underwire bras later, dressed up like a korean female :
short hemline, collar bones buried.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

subject to change:

in a shallow bowl with a spoon
i drip out, thick over rice.

everyone i press against leaves
a red inked stain on my forehead

an itching that cannot be toothcombed from skin.


dressed up
like a monday

i unpeel chin from chest

two birds
my very own paper hands
float out across the body.

speaking only in past tense
i hate everything
about expectation i tell him

my socks and then my sweater
a lumpy wool tower by the door.

mottled in flesh bitten plastic bags
we extend
sounds from pink corners of mouths.

no one is waiting at home.
just too warm bottoms of feet
that can't sit still for long.

Monday, January 23, 2012

your wings unfold

with the hollowed bird bones of an all grown up victim
you tie red ribbon around
sandpaper wrists

done, you tell her
to react.
a self declared brush
press the warm
tricolored promise over her mouth.

to dust out intention.


a monster without fangs or fiery breath, it lowers towards me
divides into grapesized whispers.

unglassesed against the pillow
i rattle beneath blankets
willing it away,

open eyes
only find it trembling towards me