what you say
what you always say
never satisfied
hurting with you
what is mine is yours
and yours
is also mine
even the ugly
but let’s put
a bandaid on that
and some word salve



I unloaded the burden
I told all of it to strangers
and old friends who thought better of me

because it was true
I told all of it
but I knew it was self-serving

an urgency to write myself
taking years to see
that I was the only one I was writing

all their heroes are thirty
just children when we were storming and raging
all my heroes are eighty now

and I see it all so clearly
like through rain as through a glass
as though we all sit together and no one

stays behind

Couples therapy

You are infuriating, he said
(I try, I said)
You drive me wild
(I am wild)
You forget to call
(my heart was calling
I hoped, you had
heard it)

Let’s get away, you said
(I am afraid to fly)
Let’s remember what we
wanted when we started
(I adore you)
I need a break, you say
(you broke me)

You are loud in public
(I wanted you to see me)
You keep to yourself
(it is safer that way)

I adore you
(I feel adored)
I want you
(I wanted you first)

in my forest

when I dream
I see what might have been
if Hansel and Gretel’s father
had a change of heart
if he went into that forest
to find them
before they tasted the candy walls

but this life was destined
to be one of dungeons, pitfalls, and swamps
and utterly
uphill only

The fight

The night is restless
I hear
the backfire of a car
out for a midnight doughnut run
firecrackers in the alley–
and I am awake too–my mind full.
This is not my home

Walls of steel
and your gaze
are not enough
this is not mine
this community
wound tightly
and me still, with
my hands in my lap

What do you suppose it would cost
buying a chance
at happiness
like yours–
do you think
me presumptuous
for trying?

In the arena
The audience goes wild
when the Lions are released–
And I with only my words for defense
might not survive this–
but I just might make it
into the newspapers

Those big cats
reclining and rolling about
yawning and taking their sweet time
–more toying with me than mauling me–
and I make a run for it.

Scuttling past the injured
I smile at each one–treating their wounds
giving them my blessing
their eyes closing as I pass–
they know
I could have done more

Bravery did not stand here
squeaky clean–I got off easy.
Yesterday, I promised you a fair fight
and today I leave without a scratch
my sword still in the sheath
rusty and cold

We are fallen (behind)

Red Rose.jpg


If I could compose
music that would knit us back
where we were
words that would heal cuts
and soothe bruises–
I would have the right
to call me poet

My head filled, with
every mountain we climbed
sand we traversed, and
every time we laughed together
nearly gone now–
aren’t we transparent
when they look at us

After being born
into so little
we suddenly had everything
and we have fallen behind–
our comrades, some
running past
too full of life
to look

Our composition
must not end here
with we–with us
in their dust–
it is time to
complete it, and
to put the
souvenirs back together
to make us whole

Holy Week (split ends)

It came on suddenly–turning toward the mirror–
that which I have avoided like an ex–
the one who holds all my secrets

Turning to profile, I see my split ends
touch the small of my back and I wonder
how it grew so fast– or was I rip-van-winkling
had I stopped looking feeling smelling the time
did I have to remind myself occasionally what day it was
so I would be where I was supposed to be
and on time

I know there are friends
who are done with my nonsense–which is not nearly finished–
as I unravel the threads–the tragedy woven into the mundane
and my only regret in all of it–
my only pause I take in the intense scrutiny
of the woman in the glass–

Is the pain I see around the eyes and the lips–in the knowledge
that I hurt you and your brother
hurt you with months (years) of depression and looking the other way
wounded you with ears that did not hear it all
afraid of the truth in a time when truthful words cut me like rapiers

So I move on so I clash and strain and struggle for you to hear me–
ears that have had it–that love me in their own way–but no longer give credence
to middle-aged fears and jolts–

So I struggle with this, I strangle my fears to leave them back there in the mirror
so that when I see you and you hear me again, my only gift I will give to you again
will be hope

The hope of the Father I found in the sky the flowers the rain and my own hands
more lined than they used to be, dried and cracking around bitten nails from crisis and leaning into the bastard rasp repeatedly until they bled

so that my only choice I am left with, is to look up with hope and prayers, this holy week that went by over and over throughout a decade
and rolls here again, the day I lost my mother slipping by during the holiest of seasons, when love and hope and mercy and forgiveness all are measured into the pot, until what we carry to the table nourishes and soothes the souls that gather there for my only one night

Hot button



Am I mean? Or merely lost
what do you see when you look into my eyes
does my hair snap at you
when you brush past

(and you take me as I am)

I was never a white wine spritzer
kind of girl–you knew that
my outline was drawn
in pencil on newsprint
smudged and smeared

(you never know what you’re gonna get)
(I am sorry)

Does my voice cause a strain
and my eyes flash lighning bolts–
do my shoes clop like horses’ hooves
shall I come in again–as if
we never said hello a thousand times?

(I tug at you like weights)

That dark baggage came with me
through six states
heavier than a five piece set
of Samsonite
(Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania
New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin)
collecting souvenirs like burs

(and you take me as I am)

My own security team on the ready
when terror strikes–
those days when 1971
is thrown into my face
and gentleness is just a fairy tale

(and you take me as I am)

Hard liquor

I thought I could take it down like a man
a grimace at the end and an exhale of appreciation
groomed on wine spritzers, after
being schooled on middle-aged men
at twenty-two, you

were a new cocktail, mixed up
shaken, stirred, and muddled
too many bitters for all the girls to go for you
with an undercurrent of loss and hope
I drank you too quickly, we

left in a stupor, stumbling
through years before once more
dusting off the bottle, the cork
breaking off in pieces until we shoved it in hard
to get at the elixir that would bring us back