Tuesday, December 11, 2012



why is One Direction

theyre everywhere
being all young and hip and beautiful
and young

and like how old are you because im pretty sure
youre like twelve and what. even. is up because
this is probably the first time ive seen a boy and been like
u rnt attractive u r a child

all over my Tumblr dashboard
and im like I cant
i cant even
i literally cannot even

i cannoT EVEN

Monday, December 03, 2012


I was surprised
when my mother told me that my father missed me.
She must have been mistaken--
my mother doesn't lie
to anybody except herself.

Monday, November 26, 2012


My eyes hang heavy.
I think once of Mishima,
and I press my tongue
against the roof of my mouth.
I can't stop yawning,
but the world I have to live in
is a morning world,
running away from the night,
dragging me to wakefulness.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

You Think It Is But It Isn't

It isn't that hard.
You think it is, but it isn't.
The unscalable wall
is a hologram;
you can step right through.
It's only until the first time you touch
that it appears solid
(solid to keep you from freedom,
solid to protect you from yourself).

Monday, November 19, 2012


The closest you can come to me
is just as close as I can come,
as close as tiny particles
can come to other particles,
as close as anything can be
to anything, which is to say:
infinitesimally close
but never close enough to touch.

Monday, November 12, 2012


There's this boy who works at Wendy's down the street,
and he's really something else.
I can't tell how old he is
because he's like seven feet tall
and incredibly skinny
and he has the face of an unusually naive 15-year-old.
He's the most polite person I've ever interacted with,
and it doesn't even make me feel flustered
that he calls me "ma'am".
It sounds respectful but at the same time
like we could be friends.
He always has a smile in his voice
--on his face, too, but his voice permeates farther into me--
that makes me think, wow, am I
supposed to be happy, too? Because I
think I might just be happy now,
like it's an instantaneously communicable
He's the best part about lunch,
and I think maybe even if I didn't like the chili,
I would go to Wendy's anyway.
I wanna smile at him because
somebody should smile at him, because
everybody should smile at him, because
he's beautiful.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Reading Cities' Names

Reading cities' names,
I just got punched in the gut.
All of these people,
all of these streets and houses:
I don't know any of them.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Sonnet LXXXIV: Esteem

It's for the thousandth sword I wait,
every breath anticipation;
it's for that glance of scornful hate,
changing to appreciation,
for my violent collision
with the man possessed by vision,
for him to find me, blind and lame,
and give to me a new-made name.
All the weaknesses he wrestles
I wait to bolster with my sword,
like water waiting to be poured
into smaller, finer vessels.
For words, for laws to sleep beneath--
I'm waiting for a single sheath.


Isn't it strange
that what happened to me
is exactly like what happened to you?

You warned me,
and I came here anyway,
reckless, because I did not value my life,
just as you did not value your life--

I could see your shame in your forehead,
your uncertainty in your hands,
and I won't be like you,

but I like you.

I didn't know how easy it is to lose a person.
I've never had the opportunity before

but I am so delighted to learn even this,

and that's what I wanted to tell you.
Read it, please,
in the fingerprints I left on your face.


Anteros answered my prayer,
and the curse is a deep one:
we share it like a huge piece
of hideous, too-rich cake,
eating from it long after
it begins to sicken us--
this, the last thing we will share.

São Paulo Doll

When I was six, my favorite stuffed anim
al was named after a cartoon character, 
but I lied and told everyone he had a di
fferent name.
              I used to think that the c
anned recording of rain sounds that puts
 me to sleep was ugly because it is muff
led and repetitive and doesn't quite sou
nd like real rain. I used to think that 
the little doll I bought in São Paulo sh
ouldn't be displayed because it was made
 for tourists. I used to be ashamed of m
y taste in music and movies and games, a
s though the fact that these things are 
cheap, simple, and mass-produced makes t
hem worthless.

But now I know that these things are wonderful,
worth just exactly as much
as the weight of my love for them.
If I like to look at something,
it's beautiful.
If I want it,
it's valuable.
What's most real
is the thing I'm holding in my hand.

I can care for anything that pleases me

for any reason that seems acceptable
in my own eyes.

I wanted to write a poem

I wanted to write a poem
that would be uplifting and encourage people,
show you that I really am happy sometimes--
increasingly often, actually.
I think maybe I even have real hope
some days,
and I wanted to tell you.

But then my sister texted to tell me about her new baby
and I realized my husband wants to go dancing
--which I don't really like--
and my iPod started playing this song that reminds me of something sad
and when I got home the house was messy
and all my pants are too small.
I guess it's sad that that's all it takes to conquer me

but fuck it,
I don't have to fight unless I want to
There's nothing I have to do
that I actually have to do.
So I will lie with my face in the carpet
and later, I will feel better.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Now I realize
I couldn't say I love you
because I didn't.
Now that I know what love is,
I have the freedom to lie.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Sometimes I make apple pie,
but there's no one to eat it.
It sits there on my table
until it begins to mold,
and then I throw it away:
a waste of ingredients,
not to mention of my time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Three Kinds of Cheese

This piece of found poetry was created from an essay by Ellen Etchingham.

There is a fundamental sameness
the apparent makings of good advertising
It’s big, it’s loud, and it’s on
the shiniest available object
one glob of formless, pointless bluster
just One Great Meta-Product
the One God of the Israelites
the One Ring to Rule them All

Likewise, every player I’ve ever seen
one Hockey Player
blondish and muscleyish
vague, unfocused expression
he’s not entirely sure where he is
low monosyllables
dragging ummmmmm
a laugh that isn’t really a laugh
He always says the same things

What’s your favorite pre-game meal?
Chicken and pasta

It’s always just “chicken and pasta”
Never penne alla arrabiata with sliced herb-marinated chicken breast
or roast chicken legs on a bed of spinach linguine
or even Kraft Dinner and buffalo wings
just “chicken and pasta”
dude just boiled a pound of spaghetti and slapped a slab
of boneless skinless on it
called that dinner.

last Saturday
I saw something on a Jumbotron
a challenge:
guess how many types of cheese a Toronto Marlies player can name.
The fan suggested five.
Then cut to Hockey Player naming cheeses.
He said one quickly, I couldn’t hear which,
Cheddar and Swiss,
and then just stopped.
At three.
Three kinds of cheese.

Everyone can name more than three kinds of cheese
most people have more than three kinds of cheese
in their house right now.

This continent has six fundamental kinds of cheese:
cheese on pizza
cheese in plastic wrap
cheese with ham
cheese on tacos
cheese on pasta
cheese on bagels
not fancy, high-falootin’ cheeses
aged in the dank bottoms of Swiss caves
You don’t have to be uppity to have the basic six-cheese-consciousness
Yet here is an adult human being
who made nigh on a million dollars last year
and lives most of his life
in the largest, uppitiest, cheese-filled-est city in Canada
and his awareness of the food ends
with Cheddar.

“Three kinds of cheese”
the best possible shorthand
for the professional hockey lifestyle:
really, really boring.
Boring for a reason.

For us, things like “dinner” are pleasurable occasions
fulfill our animal need for sustenance
explore a variety of social and sensory experiences

For hockey players
“dinner” is not about silly things like “pleasure” or “food”
It’s pumping fuel for hockey through your mouth hole
as efficiently as humanly possible.
Why doesn’t Hockey Player eat cheese?
Because cheese is food,
not hockey fuel.

Hockey itself is unbelievably intense and dramatic
the off-hours lifestyle is dull, rote, and repetitive
His game day routine
it’s not that different from the average day
of a heavily medicated, institutionalized psychiatric patient.

Think about the houses
so-and-so invites the cameras into his palatial estate to show it off
sometimes you get guy with a ritzy condo downtown
sometimes you get family dude with a mass of children
who all seem to be the exact same age
playing on stained beige carpeting
mostly you get blondish muscleyish dude
guiding you through an enormous building
that he appears never to have been in before
a really nice enormous building
clearly there have been decorators
a tour of a model home from an extremely disinterested trainee realtor
enthusiastic host desperately trying to get Hockey Player
to express some enthusiasm
Sometimes they get it,
usually for the room with the video games in it.

That’s what hockey players do in their houses
They sleep and play video games and eat chicken and pasta
then they get on an airplane and go to a hotel
they sleep and watch CSI and eat chicken and pasta
then they get on another airplane and go to another hotel
they sleep and watch CSI Miami and eat chicken and pasta
then they go home
do the whole thing over again
a desperate attempt to keep up these dull routines
in an endless succession of generic non-places
in airports and on airplanes
in hotels and hotel restaurants
in the private hotel that is, technically, his house

The routine is necessary
absolutely peak physical efficiency
consistent inputs
regular, predictable, optimal fueling
regular, predictable, optimal sleep
regular, predictable, optimal exercise
constant travel
injuries great and small
illness, exhaustion, stress, anxiety
it takes every ounce of boringness a man can muster
to preserve physical and mental stability
waiting and preparation
rest and recovery
more waiting.

Some players
do interesting things
wearing clothes
a band
a really cool dog
Paul Bissonnette

But how much evidence do you ever see that hockey players
live anything even remotely resembling a superstar lifestyle?
Millionaire or no, celebrity or no,
there’s only so drunk a human being can get
It ain’t any better for Mike Richards
than it is for you

We assume hockey player lives are amazing
because we assume that they get to stick their penises into lots of people.
But there is only a tiny fraction of one’s life
that can be spent with your penis inside other people,
given that one has to wear clothes
and play hockey.

Maybe, once upon a time,
it was possible to play hockey and live like a rock star

Most of that is gone now,
gone with intermission cigarettes and huge steak dinners
gone with the WHA and the bench-clearing brawl
An ever more disciplined game
demands ever more disciplined players

I don’t doubt that there’s drugs and debauchery
somewhere beneath the bland surfaces.
I do doubt that it is so much or so exciting as we imagine
It has to happen in the interstices of the season,
those few precious days when there’s no routine to hold,
no coach commanding a dry island
or checking your key card

The rest of the days pass in repetition,
each much the same as the others,
on airplanes and in hotel rooms,
eating chicken and pasta
and only three kinds of cheese.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sonnet LXXXIII: Eternal Life

If I think of Heaven ever,
I almost weep in my despair
at the thought of ends that never
are reached, horizons everywhere.
For all that I achieve will be
rivers filling up the oceans,
tail-devouring snakes my motions,
all journeys Möbius for me.
They make no sense, the things they say,
for how can Heaven be the way
they describe? Both peace and pleasure,
happiness combined with leisure—
you can’t have both, they’re opposite;
it’s peace I want, to rest, to quit.

Coloring Book

What if I lived forever,
and nothing changed?

It isn't at all difficult to imagine an eternity of days
waking up to the same mess
in a succession of apartments,
apartments that are all the same:
the same teetering pile of pans in the cupboard,
the same hair in the bathroom sink,
the garbage that the cats have knocked over,
the way they knock it over every day.
And if I clean it, it only gets messy again--
my husband's clothes on the floor, the dresser drawers pulled halfway out--
as fast as I clean, it becomes unclean:
the apartment,
my ability to think,
my muscles and my bones.

I can imagine an eternity of days
waking up in the same body,
the one that I'm trapped in,
the one that's not even part of me so much as it is
the thing I can't get out of.
And every motion I tell it to make
is slightly off--
singing to myself, writing a letter, half-heartedly jogging:
it all falls just short of acceptable.
The scope of my ambition is like a coloring book,
and I can't quite keep inside the lines.

Every month we make the same mistakes.
It's almost like time has stopped, except
that with every moment,
I can see my chance to escape getting smaller
and smaller.
I have know idea where all our money goes--
late fees, probably.
I'm not even flustered anymore
when our credit cards are declined,
or when once again, the landlord
threatens to take us to court.

I try my best to do a good job pretending
that I think things can get better,
that I believe that if we work hard and are responsible,
we can fix it.
But even I know that's bullshit--
we're not going to change,
and so nothing is going to change for us.
Sometimes I wish I could just accept it.
This is how life is going to be.
We should thank God
that we're eventually going to die.

But at the same time, I just can't help it.
I can't help wanting to be better.
And I know I could take that desire and use it to power some kind of action,
but I don't think any action would be strong enough
to overcome the laundry,
and the bills,
and eternity.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012


It's just one pointless quest after another,
and I still don't belong
to anyone.
And it's not like I want someone to tell me
that I'm beautiful:
I've seen my face enough,
reflected back to me in the impatience
on the faces of others.
Every gift I have been given
is gathering dust.
Because it doesn't matter what I memorize,
doesn't matter how much pain I've learned to withstand:
I have nothing to fight for.
If I could just have that--
just somebody who could put me to use--
that's what I'd die for
and live for.
How many swords have I collected by now?

By now I know what this is about.

Go on being hurt.
I need you to keep breaking,
again and again,
so I can keep fixing you
(so I can keep fixing me).

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

And then everybody would be safe.

When in the evenings
I dream of my happiness,
I dream about you.
I dream about you dying,
bleeding in a ditch,
a cold, slow death all alone.
And nobody cares,
and nobody looks for you;
it's terrifying,
and it's humiliating--
just ugly enough.
But that's pretty terrible,
wishing for that stuff,
and if I had that power,
I wouldn't cause that.
I'd choose something so much worse:
I'd choose to be free.
I'd wish you were never born,
that you never lived,
that you never existed,
that you changed nothing at all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I will always be in love with you
in a way.
But I  am no longer in love with you
in every way.

Monday, September 24, 2012


If you want to be heard,
listen to the radio.
If you want to be understood,
study philosophy.
If you're lonely, open a novel
and read about an isolated soul.
You can never see your face
unless you hold it up to a mirror.


You can't prove that love exists,
only that it doesn't.

That's why you pry your long, cold fingers
into every crack in my skin.
That's why you wait with terror-fueled patience
as long as it takes to craft your traps.

It's because, until I fail to love you,
love might be real.
It's because, as soon as you break me,
you'll know for sure that love is a lie.

Then you'll be safe,
won't you?

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Why would you teach me
that it's wrong to tell a lie
and also teach me
that it's wrong to tell the truth?
All that means is I can't speak.

Speaking to Iolanta of the Light

Once I referred to myself as "filthy",
and she said, "Why do you say things like that about yourself?"
like I'm not filthy,
like I said it in pursuit of some goal
other than descriptive accuracy.
And I just stared at her.
"Don't you think you're filthy, too?" I wanted to ask,
but then I realized:
she doesn't even know what that means.
So I just stared at her,
and instead I asked, "Who are you?"

Make Sure

Many times in my childhood, my mother said to me,
"Just make sure you never do that to someone".

If someone used me and belittled me? No need to stop being her friend,
just make sure I never do that to her.
If someone hit me and raped me? No need to stop dating him,
just make sure I never do that to him.
If people believed untruths about me? No need to correct them,
just go on pretending I haven't noticed.
Secrets are all we have to protect us, you know.
And wouldn't it be a tragedy if the messy, ugly truth were known?
(How messy, how ugly I am.)
Because you know I'm just waiting to use people,
laugh at them, abandon and betray them,
lie to them, belittle them, dismantle their freedom.
I'm just like that, bad like that, and it's revolting
--so I'd better keep it a secret. No need to burden anyone else with Me.
Just keep constantly telling myself, "Make sure you never do that"
and "Make sure you never do that" and don't ever act, just
never do anything to save yourself. You're not worth the effort.
Maybe if I say it to myself, over and over,
I can keep all the bad from coming out.

And I always thought I would say the same thing
to my daughter when I had one. But now
I'm not going to have any children, because
I'm never going to do that to someone.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


I don't have enough
to tally up
all the things that have been stolen--
not on my fingers,
not on my toes,
not in the hairs of my head.

And you can't give them back,
and I'll never see them again,
and I'm not allowed
to search for them,
not even in the dark places
or the quiet places.

You can't help it,
and you don't know any better,
and I, too, am a thief--
but I can't stop wanting to destroy
the hand that tore out
my spine through my lungs.

Cute Together

People are always saying
that we're really cute together
or asking how long we've been together
and saying, "You must be so glad that you two--"
or, "I bet it's nice that he's--"

They send us cards on our anniversary,
congratulatory messages.
They're so proud of our marriage,
always reminding me of how good a choice I made
when I gave in and said yes.

I don't have to agree or disagree,
because they don't give me a chance;
they just barrel on through their happy assumptions,
and all I have to do is keep from
exploding all over the place,

keep from tearing their blind eyes
out of their stupid faces,
ripping the ears that they've shut to me
off the sides of their stupid heads,
and screaming, "THIS RELATIONSHIP IS A LIE".


I want her,
but I can't invite her here,
no matter how much I want to see her,
knowing what her life would be--
days spent wondering what's wrong with me,
nights spent knowing there must be something wrong with her--
not enough, never enough moments of relief
to tip the balance.
Though compassion is futile any way you reckon,
my heart won't allow me
to bring her into this hopeless world.
I know now what I have to do,
so if you can't listen to my reasons,
don't ask to hear them.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hyun Ki Joon

I did not believe
Fate had eyes that looked at me.
But now I believe:
I fell in love with someone
we all know I shouldn't have.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hyun Sang Hee

For three years I have done penance
for sinning against my brother.
What sin stains the soul so deeply?
Only love.
And since I learned the source of my error--
the failure of Reason, the wet sponge of feelings--
I have walked too carefully in my carefully bought shoes.
But I came to the end of the sidewalk.
All that is left to walk across is empty, white canvas.
Even clean shoes would leave marks.
But I and my feet will smudge it blacker than cavities,
for in all my years, I have not gained
the strength to overcome love.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I remember once--
I was about nine years old--
when it was snowing,
and beneath the snow lay ice,
permeating Earth.
Already I knew
the names of many demons,
but I did not know
what it meant to be frozen:
I'd never melted;
there was no comparison.
I had learned to breathe
beneath mountains of oceans,
learned to push through them--
they were so heavy on me.
And the snow fell down,
lighter, softer than water.
I took off my shoes,
left my coat on the hanger,
bared my arms and head,
walked out of my father's house.
I tested the snow,
felt with the palms of my feet.
I was astonished
because it felt like nothing:
the snow and my feet
were consubstantial, like God.
That's when I lay down
and let the snow wrap me up,
swallow my body
like a god or a mother
or a cannibal,
and I felt for the first time
what it is to be
inside another person,
consumed by something,
what it feels like to belong,
what it is to share.
The snow accepted it all,
leeched it out of me,
took my life and gave me peace,
and it didn't hurt.
I thought about my own death,
and I decided
that this is how it should be:
dignified, restful,
unified oblivion.
There began to be
prickling pain through the numbness;
I wanted to feel,
so I lay and felt it grow.
And after a while,
I felt empty, felt better.
I got to my feet.
I went back inside the house
with my books and paints,
pleased, for the cold still lingered
in my frozen hands,
made clumsy by lack of blood.
Neither my mother
nor father knew I returned
or left or was gone.
But I should not have felt these
true things, old things, and
I ask the consubstantial:

Where was my mother
while the blood left my body?
Where was my father
when my death brought me comfort?
Why did they not fight
the force that made me brittle
and hardened me against touch?


I wonder sometimes when I look at people
whether they know
or they don't know.
They must know--they must see--
because even when I hide it, it's written
on my forehead and the backs of my hands;
it comes out when I speak,
a steady undercurrent beneath my words.
You have eyes, you have ears,
you have a heart and a butterfly-filled stomach,
so you KNOW, you MUST know

but you can't know because if you did know
the knowledge of it would overcome you
and you'd stare at nothing, lose time,
lose your breath with the pain of not
being able to cry, and I can see you,
I can see that you go on living
and so there is no possibility
that you know.


I don't want to have feelings anymore;
they make me sad,
and even though I know that I'm strong now,
that they'll go away if I wait,
it's tiresome to sit here and wait for them to pass,
troublesome to go around afterwards
and clean up, saying,
"Did I hurt you?" and "I'm sorry I was weird" to everyone.
Makes me wanna hide when I'm like this--
crawl under a table, behind the drapes,
bury my head.
If I close my eyes, do I become
It's just that I ache to burrow my nose in
against a shoulder,
but I'm like a vacuum; I don't stop
until I've taken everything--
so I bite my pillow and hold it all inside my eyes.


I imagine that you taste
like salt and water;
I want to put my hands on you
and hear your open sounds.
Don't you want to be filled,
want to be named?
Because I have so much to give you.

it is you whom I worship
as the gods my parents spoke of
fade until their blurred outlines
match their indifference.
At every moment--
when I am with others,
I ignore their speech
to meditate on your face;
when I am alone,
I stretch my hands out,

Where are you?
Did you die
when I was reborn?
Or are you coming,
coming to balance the tilting easel,
to be just as empty as I am full?

The shaft of the arrow is not of gold
nor of silver,
but of the laurel tree,
the point dipped not in poison
but in ambrosia,
and I fear that I
have wounded myself
with my own bow.


Down at the bottom,
you break yourself when you hit.
When you breathe again,
you find out you've stopped falling,
and you cry with gratefulness.

Once She Asked Me a Question

what do you want she said
and i said i want you to tell me what i want
and she said no what do you want to do
and i said what i want is for you to tell me what to do
and she said you don't understand
i'm asking what you want
and i said i want what you want
and she said stop being like this if
you're not going to tell me then
i don't know what to do with you
look i'm going out of my way to show you a good time and
you don't have to pretend to be unselfish
and i said i thought i did tell you what i want but
never mind it doesn't matter

I Was Surprised but I Should Always Have Known Always

I love your blue and
red and yellow
your white
and your black, confident outlines.

I love your simplicity the way
there is no smoke in your
face the way
you see you can see
see see see

I love the day we spoke
you love ice cream and it's
so normal so supposed-to
you are clean nothing but clean

I love the day you said to me look
showed me how to see my heart
I thought it was made of ice but it
never was never has been not even
for a moment no I have always been


She pushes; I want her to push,
and I squeeze my eyes shut--
no, I relax my forehead--
and I think in my head (not my heart),
Yield, yield, yield.

Her hands, the hands of a stranger,
but my face is hidden where no one can see,
and I am safe, very safe, if I can keep quiet,
and I can keep quiet; it hurts but so
does everything.

I accept this pain; it is nothing
I accept this pressure; I yield
--that is, I try to yield but even as I
tell myself to yield I can feel myself
tense, tense like I'm fighting it, and I don't want
to fight it but I fight it.

I know--or I fear I know--
what she'll have to do before my body
will allow her to mold it.
She'll have to break me,
push so hard as I push so hard back
until I can no longer continue,
and I crack and crumble like I did that day
I swore I'd give up fighting

and I don't want to break; it's so
but my body won't stop pushing,
won't yield to her hands,
won't yield to the commands of its own mind,
can't let me be free.


Reading love stories
makes me see that I'm lonely.
I can't stop reading,
driving that fact in and out,
an oil well, one of thousands.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Little paper doll,
I want to teach you to breathe,
want to unfold you--
but then you won't be a doll.
What I want, no one can give.


Last night, suddenly,
unexpectedly, we spoke.
We were both civil,
and I didn't start to cry
or to get angry--
I was just a little sad
when I discovered
that you are still so scornful,
full of bitterness
because the world is the world.
You hate childishly
without understanding why
or what you despise.
Look at you, listen to you;
you steam up the air,
stewing in your bitterness,
a poisonous brew.
Can you really be so young?
I forget sometimes.
And I don't know anymore
to which standard to hold you.


I didn't expect
for you ever to love me.
I only wanted
your attention and your praise,
your condescension,
for you to think first of me
when you need something,
and for you to be worthy
of all I gave you.
But it was too much to ask:
you don't want to be perfect.

To T. R.

I haven't spoken
to the girl with waist-length hair
for weeks now, I think.
But I see her every day,
whenever Reason chides me.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

To T. S.

If I had your courage,
I could do what I know is right,
and if I had your strength,
I could keep myself from doing
what I know is my right.
If I had your eloquence,
I could shame others into righteousness,
and if I had your wisdom,
I would know when to give up.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Sonnet LXXXII: Shigemori

If subject turns on lord to fight,
my ties to others are no guide;
when right and wrong stand side by side,
I cannot choose but to do right.
The debt I owe my sovereign's might
is more profound than fabric dyed
deep red, than twice-dyed red, more wide
than piles of gems, ten thousand, bright.
No course is open for me now;
no choice is possible to make,
for all the loyalty I feel.
It now seems best to me to bow
and simply to request you take
my head, O Father, where I kneel.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


When will the day end?
All my work brings no profit;
pleasure is pointless,
and every moment of rest
fortifies the soul
for more profitless labor.
No one gains a thing
except for a lucky few.
We don't get to choose
whether we're lucky or not.
But I want to live
day after day in this world,
my heart full of its beauty.


I want to be free
but the sky's not big enough
to hold all of me.
I keep growing and growing
until I fill the whole world.

Sonnet LXXXI

Would I exist no more if courage came
and I tore all the muscles from my face?
If cheek to cheek I cut, would it erase
my thoughts, unsay my words, unmake my name?
If I could dig each eye out of its frame
or yank each of my hairs out of its place,
would all that is me leave and leave no trace?
Would I no longer need to feel my shame?
If I could slit my belly, setting free
the sins that press me, turning inside out,
exposing everything that built and bred
to cleansing light, where everyone can see,
would they evaporate--the guilt, the doubt--
and leave no part of me, alive or dead?


Glowing, the far-off, red-stained planet spars
nightly with Saturn, drawing close to tie
into a triangle of heavy bars
it to itself with Spica where they fly
in the Southwest, too large for us, too high.
Watching, I wonder, What does this portend?
What sort of war does bright and virile Mars
wage against Saturn, making him defend
some unknown prize that must in Virgo lie?

If there were answers found among the stars,
then I would turn my face up to the sky,
like as a child to fireflies in jars,
and I would ask the Heavens, Who am I?
Why do I live? And Why may I not die?
Why do I long for those who, in the end,
scorn or ignore me, leaving me with scars,
while for so many souls who call me friend,
I can feel nothing, even though I try?


Like the one-winged bird,
I cannot fly by myself,
and so I cry out
for my mate, for my other half--
yet I am tied to a stone.

Monday, August 06, 2012


I can never say
how very sorry I am
enough to cleanse me,
enough to turn my true self
into what it ought to be.


Have you ever known
what it is to be melted
and feel waves break free?
You lied to me, lukewarm girl,
when you said you felt passion.


Last year at this time
the trees were full with green leaves,
rain poured to the earth,
and each day I spoke with you.
That is when you said
the words that earned you my heart
for eternity.
And though I never asked you
for even a kiss,
before the leaves had turned red,
you had betrayed me,
used what you knew of my heart
to pierce and bleed me,
to suck me dry and leave me,
with no word of thanks.
Red blood blossomed in the snow,
turning all my world
angry at the thought of you
when pain stripped away
affection that blinded me.
I saw what you are:
just a mannequin of ice,
empty and thoughtless
and greedy for compliments.
Even so, my queen,
I can never stay away.
With each new green shoot
that pierces the crust of Earth,
my heart is so pierced
by the knowledge that I fail--
I fail to forget;
I want to think well of you,
and I search for ways
to purify your motives.
This summer is cold,
cold enough to see my breath,
and although I know
you have no wish to hear me,
that you would mock me
or belittle my feelings
if you heard these words,
I want to make you listen,
make you understand
if you can understand them
through the icy shield
that hardens around your heart
and poisons even summer.


Saturn meeting Mars--
neither outshines the other;
neither will give way.
But I always yield to you,
for that, too, is Nature's law.

To M.

Beautiful and young,
you are what I long to be--
you have no set path.
I reach out to surround you
and draw back before I touch.


A content spirit
results from a focused mind--
so wisdom tells us.
She who experiences
only what is there
during the exact moment
of her consciousness
will conquer unhappiness.
But I do not know
how to rein in my own mind.
Shame from long ago
hovering over my head,
very visible,
like Damocles's weapon,
I dangle above
the dark, bottomless future.
Without a firm stance,
I rush ahead to the goal
until it is reached,
and then I scramble to find
a new direction.
Could I only float instead,
I might learn to breathe again.


Even I can see:
nothing in the world changes;
nothing stays unchanged.
But to change or not to change--
already I cannot care.


Because each morning
may be the last of summer,
all my happiness
is underscored by sadness--
water in a cloth bucket.

Saturday, August 04, 2012


The summer moon hangs
above the forested hill,
made red by the heat
of ten thousand live bodies,
still rising from the long day.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Sometimes, in a face I see you--
young men hurried away by their tasks
or striding through the crowd in pairs,
so tall, so straight,
too fresh and vivid for me to catch their eyes.
You flit across those eyes,
through the muscles of their cheeks,
caught a moment too long in the pools of their dimples;
you echo in their laughs
too fast, too fast for me to catch.
How many of us are left behind you,
unable, unworthy to touch?
How many of us will never know
what it is like to possess perfection?
For even the young men do not know you:
we have no knowledge of our beauty
until it has left us far, far behind.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Unsuitable things - Snow falling on the houses of the common people. Moonlight shining into such houses is also a great shame.

Judging the world, discerning butterfly,
what is your aim?  How helpful can this be?
Making no move, you watch and sing and lie.
How can you wield those eyes that conquer me,
sharper than swords, and still refuse to see?
Would you forbid this river, when it floods,
even to touch the thirsty and the dry?
This is too much, but still you kiss the buds,
blind to the rot that's poisoning the tree.


Lovely, graceful vine
casually choking the tree--
to preserve the fruit,
we tear it up by the roots.
Which one deserves more to live?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Train from Chicago to St. Louis

Barren browns and grays
focus and blur and focus,
smeared on my window,
lifting the yellow grasses.
The sky is heavy
with pregnant bottoms of clouds;
the lingering snow's
ragged edges become mud.
I can never see--
I can never see it all--
there is far too much,
even in just one still shot,
and the world changes.
Still, I look out, panicking,
desperate to see,
hungry to take it all in
before it passes--
so I am suddenly stricken,
my face cut open,
overwhelmed by piercing joy,
when I realize
that it will all continue
every day that I have life.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Imprints of the holes
dug deep in my fingertips--
my hands shake too much
to write even my own name--
my mouth still open,
tongue ready to catch a taste
of that which lingered
a second too long aloft
and gave its secret away.