Variations on a theme

feels like summer 1989
as we walk past the flamingos
the zoo
has nothing on us
all our instincts

to have accepted us as intimate
to trust even one word
did not know me
and now he is gone

I want to see my mother again
to tell her what has happened
and that she was right

Last words:
I want her to know, that
I am not alone any more
not bereft anymore
and I am not afraid




What do you suppose it takes
to conquer the will, and
bring under submission–
thoughts. urges. inclinations.
regrets. procrastinations. yearnings.
So that no one could say
this is mine you are me
and attempt to drive away
my essence. My me. My center?
I will continue to fight you
as long as I breathe. There is
only one of me and someone
my heart says will be in need
of that me some day. So, I
ought not change the colours
lest I be hidden in the crowd
when me is sought after.
It could even, you know, be
you some day. And I could be
hiding. So look hard. Be brave.

What have I lost?

Lost a suitcase with too many love letters. Held too long and too fast. To last.

Lost my heart to the man I did not understand. So foolish a young girl. What did I know of love

to hold on to it that well? Lost socks. 147 over a lifetime. I imagine they are somewhere with him

my stalker hoarding even the ones with the hole at the big toe, sitting with needle and thread painstakingly

mending what others call refuse. I refuse

to acknowledge the one that got away. I worked too hard and long

at giving myself away and only just now have I found myself, what was lost in some infernal junk drawer of miscellany is now mine again, bedraggled, blood-parched, begging me for mercy for one more go around the bend.

Let us do it–let us gather what is lost and grasp what so far
was never ours to hold

Ballad of me and Rachel


She held the handle of the hairbrush
provocatively, and
I wondered what was about to happen
what was going to happen
when she took the steps across the room
to reach me
or my feet, frozen to the floor
would make their way to her–

I didn’t know her very well
but she knew me
She knew every spot on my body
that made me stay
every spot on my body
she knew where to touch
to get her way, every time

She said, ‘I like this neighborhood
I want to stay
to find a little place where I can paint
a little place to paint and say
I’ve been somewhere
and I belong somewhere
where someone loves me.’

Love, did she say love?
my mind and body confused
she wanted to stay and I wanted that too
but the word got in the way
four letters got in the way
but not that day, that day
we went everywhere she wished
without leaving my place

Years later I think of her fondly
I remember her soft hair
I remember how her hair lay over my chest
but I couldn’t say
we went every where she wished,that day
but four letters got in the way
and I couldn’t say why
but I wasn’t ready to say, ‘stay’.

All my reasons

He left wearing his game face
past adobe archways
mid-century balconies
threatening to pour down
on his sore head
passing a row of casement windows
shaking off yesterday
and all my reasons

I insulated my boudoir
my heriot paid in full
a coat of arms on every wall
with something to prove
but my vassalage is for life
all the dried flowers littering
the base of hoary shrines
are no proof that my heart
is on his sleeve

He replied to my missive with sadness, papers
clearly wet first, then dried
still unsure how to tell him
that I am enclave’d here
where melancholy is indigenous
but I stay, I stay and no predator
will yank me thus, so long as
this undeserved forest
shelters me

72 rue de Belleville

I can’t get in front of it
wide berth
soft shoe
every listed thing
from all the January’s
I have lived

When you come to me
I can give you all of
the patience love and waits

But I am not enough
for me
for what I wanted
what was planned
during each hurricane
through which
I have lived

I am not enough
and I do not know
if I can live with me
I do not have the patience
to wait
for me to catch up


Two hours
I have been reading instead of writing
because my tank feels empty

Two hours
left to accomplish a goal that takes five
oh grief, let me be

Two hours
lazy and sucking down eggstoast and coffee
feelin’ guilty about

Two hours more, to
take a walk
read three chapters
write a letter, do my hair
and show up looking
like there is life

in here

On finding old cherry tomatoes in the back of the refrigerator

Why do I feel sad, pulling them from the back with some resistance from a bit of old green Jell-O gluing their container to the clear glass shelf

their red firm flesh when I bought them, cylindrical and perfect; I paid twice what they were worth in order to have that pop-into-my-mouth sweet satisfaction–how I don’t bite with teeth but compress between tongue and roof of the mouth until


the juices wash over tongue and teeth and slide down the throat–

and now I see the puckered old skin and raisin-like rind, and I almost cry for what is lost what was and what could have been

in a salad, or sitting on a plate plump, ripe, and ready for tasting

In the ring

Each day we brushed
up against one another
(we could have had
all the chocolates
a friendship can offer)
sweet notes
spoiled by bitter tones

I was in awe
of you on a pedestal
you did not ask for
walking around me
in bullfighter stance, when
bending my head to charge
I watched you crumble

While regrets ate my resolve
no sleep, and no inclination
to count days
measuring quality of life
sucking up oxygen
and strawberries