what strange light astride me

strobing winter’s forlorn code

between aged piles of peeling birch

brittle colonnade, keeping secret

summers not seen in years, nascent heat

to stir the shards in winter’s light.

the torpor of the jaundiced skin is

poor, thick in dried veins, veiled lethargy

in the onion smell, bulbs brown beneath

the snow and somewhere deeper

the plaintive shriek of shifting ice

drifts from left to right.

as I child I tread the surface of a pool

of wraiths, unfurling knolls of steam where

water palmed its cloth against the air.

who is it treads my shadow

thin imprints of a footfall haunt

the path behind, some distant throat

carves song into the bitterness

gunmetal braids of glass soprano

vibrato the frost cracks.

the birch slough off their whitest flesh

and waxy fingers heap the piles

a pyre, if fire could be here lit

from bark and bird, and needled pine

weakness, elegance

a single stony leaf, long fallen.



and from a tupperware bowl

in the kitchen

where i wasn’t allowed:

chewing gum

hard candy

a razorblade, nail clippers

turning, wishing good luck

to the traces of girls draped

on the sofa

and half-hidden

by the seasonal floral arrangement

i felt stupid

in the foyer

failing, framed

by the grand arch of the doorway.

and tracing the curves of the foothills

of the valley in the taxi

i paid with credit card

when we drove into the station

where i smoked too many cigarettes

waiting two hours in the dark

for the amtrak -- you know

i believe very strongly

that i hate LA.

and you know

i gave it away with busted knuckles

chapped lips and fresh acne

perched atop my luggage, shaking

hands doing nothing

save moving cigarettes mechanically

i remember feeling thirsty, feeling sure

they could smell it on me:

here is a girl

who cried during the conference call

with her mother but only

after the mention of money.

here is a girl

who refused the plated salad and the glass

of milk

and did not speak

fell asleep

during mindfulness group

and did not speak

smoked on the veranda overlooking the garden

next to the girl

who’s insurance ran out

on tuesday.

here is a girl

who put her fists through the wall

in the hallway

and cried and bled in a crouch

on the sidewalk

because there was nowhere else to go.

and you

are you there

when I am feeling strongly in the kitchen

shoving sugar down

begging my mother to stop me

but i can't


are you there

when i believe strongly

that dripping snot and spit

throating my fist down

will make me feel cleaner

but it doesn’t

and in the mornings

i believe strongly that

slamming my face

against the tile of the shower

over and over and over

will make me feel better

but it doesn’t

and there is nothing else to do

but curse the mocking

rhythmic mimic

of the heart thud

and wonder

if you are listening.