Regular Poem: if i die young

7 Feb

if i die young
don’t bother
with the satin and roses
just set me up with
one of those
$599 cremations
they advertise on billboards on the highway
put my ashes
in a cigar box
and my dad will place it
lovingly on his tv stand
right next to the ashes of his dog
who died quietly at 17
right on the living room floor
just gasped and died
and probably whispered
the rest is silence
in his dog language

i will have of course said
what is done cannot be undone to bed to bed to bed
or hopefully
father into thy hands i commend my spirit
but either way
it will have been finished

(i would prefer
of course
to have my body donated
give my myopic eyes
to some sap worse off than me
they’re pretty
at least
but mostly useless
[i won’t draw too many parallels
until maybe when i do
later in this poem]
my heart and lungs and kidneys and liver
ought to be all right
not great perhaps
but better than nothing
what other transplants do they even do
skin for burn victims maybe
i’ve got a lot of scars
and i sunburn easily
but like i said
better than nothing
and the leftovers
to a medical school
or something
pump that stuff in my veins
to keep them from collapsing as
scalpels pierce and peruse them
most of the bodies they get
for things like that
are old
nothing’s wrong with an old body
but variety is nice

anyway
i just don’t think my dad
would abide that
he’d want me next to oscar
so i can watch ncis with him
on tuesdays

of course there are also
other people
who might lobby hard
for an embalming
put me in a blazer with a brooch
red lipstick
so they can see the wax sculpture
that might’ve been
if i’d gotten famous

but dad would be bankrolling the thing
probably
so cigar box
it is)

someone please
finish my vampire novel
pretend
i had an outline to follow
and praise my genius
(and don’t you even dare
add a romantic subplot)

remember that genius
and forget my faults
forget
like most of my life

and remember only
that i was faithful
dutiful
beautiful
clever

forget
i was
a gossip and a drunk
almost totally worthless

use my credit union savings
to pay off my convertible and credit cards
write a terse obit
that makes me sound glamorous and eccentric

depending on circumstances
the cops might be involved
and uncover some weird stuff
(nothing too weird
probably
but you know
don’t be alarmed if they do)
but forget that too
just

remember
the best
version of me
and imagine it all
in that cigar box
which is like
exactly the size
for the best parts of me

Regular Poem: Just How Many Garages Does a Girl Need?

4 Feb

well you see
the one is attached to the house
and it’s a two-car number
packed with ancient mechanical devices
and tools and dead appliances
weird old-timey chemicals
a bag of birdfeed from that time i had a cockatiel for a few months
home to a heavy bag
and a crummy radio leftover from a former roommate
a vindictive former housecat

and the other
is detached
also two-car
but much larger
to accommodate an RV
that it no longer accommodates
but don’t worry
there’s plenty in there
still
extra tables and chairs
file cabinets and abandoned projects
three badminton sets two bicycles two hammocks
shelves and shelves and boxes and boxes
a metal detector
a cabinet record player that doesn’t play records but collects dust and plays am radio just fine
oh and also two cars

and of course a shed
a yard isn’t
a yard
without a shed
with at least three defunct mowers
and some antique cedar mulch

my concern is
how many cats
and other creatures
have taken up residence
in the detached garage
since my ex-cat escaped
the attached garage
and darted around my property for a few days
and showed her face in the detached garage long enough
for me to take pity on her
and move her food and water dishes out there
only for her to
zip in the back door of my house
as if she owned the place
and demand food at her spot
on top of the dryer
which is close enough to
the attached garage
for me to have thrown her back in
the attached garage
knowing she probably wouldn’t escape again
because she was probably already pregnant
enough to satisfy her?

i ought to move that cat food
i ought to
do a lot of things

raze it
salt the earth
change my name
skip town

“why yes
miss doe
this houseboat comes fully furnished
with third-hand furniture in dark neutral colors
the record player doesn’t play records
but it picks up am radio swell
and a houseboat isn’t
a houseboat
without wood paneling”

i unclench my fists and look
at my real estate agent
in my new town
and the words slip out

“but what about the garage situation”

she checks her clipboard

“could i interest you
in a storage unit”

i should’ve
practiced but i didn’t
so i say
on instict

“like a fresh one
with nobody else’s stuff
in it already”

she sees
my accidental sneer of
disbelief

“that’s the idea
miss doe”

deal breaker
or
deal maker
i can’t discern

Regular Poem: Fantasy on Garage Cat

19 Jan

current impetus for self-loathing:
garage cat

she’s nuts
and i’m nuts
we’re all nuts
here
except the dog
she seems to be holding up all right
but dogs are hearty stupid creatures
idiotically loving and joyful
happy to chew on a piece of bark for hours
or just stare adoringly at you
until you say something to them
any
thing
will do
and the tail wags and the eyes are alert
and whatever you’ve said
the dog heard
i love you we’re going on a car ride

cats have too much pathos
for their own good
for anyone’s own good
some subtle shift
in the wind or cat hormones
sends them on a sentimental journey
except with less saxophone and Doris Day’s mellifluous alto crooning
and more
pee everywhere
mournful yowling at nothing

she might as well
be dressed in a silk robe
smoking a cigarette
sloshing her bourbon
as she gesticulates a little too forcefully
accusing me of cheating on her

i haven’t even looked at another cat
i swear on my mother’s grave

your mother isn’t dead
you two-timing so-and-so
she says dangerously close to my face
i can feel the sizzle of the slap before it happens
and it doesn’t happen but i still feel it
and she turns
to pace and pounce
to wait and play games
to goad me
until i’m in my own silk robe
screaming and pleading
and i swear she’s smirking

am i george or martha in
who’s afraid of virginia woolf
there’s no way to know

all my clothes are out on the lawn
the next morning
the locks are changed
you mighta took my car keys
but you forgot about my old john deere

and i mow and mow
and now
she’s garage cat
and i hate everything

Regular Poem: Bullet Journal

18 Jan

My dad’s been bullet journaling
for years
except his is just a list
of stuff
he’s done or
is yet to do
in scratchy cop penmanship
on a yellow legal pad.

His idea of self care
is quite different
from a Millenial white girl’s,
but it exists
in some realm
in different words.

So as I start my bullet journal
as the Millenial white girl
I am
I can’t
help but think of
this list
my dad’s kept
for years.
Ahead of the curve
yet
behind the times.
A progressive pragmatic racist
who would’ve voted for Bernie Sanders
if that had been an option
and
if that were something he did.

(I did vote,
and I hated myself afterward,
and he knew.

I went to his house,
and he met me on the porch,
and I’ve always had the worst poker face,
and he said,
“What’d you do?”
and gave me a hug
as I confessed.

He ribbed me for weeks.
But he also consoled me
and talked it out.
When he’s sober he’s the best;
when he’s drunk
I’m free to be
the worst.)

Anyway,
I’ve started
my bullet journal,
and I can’t help but think
it’d be just as useful

if I were shooting a gun.
Bullets are
bullets are
bullets.

Regular Poem: Lamentations

12 Nov

you don’t feel so bad
when you just

live and struggle and hate and rage and ache and hunger and grieve and repent and pray and wish

and it’s just what you do
like unloading the dishwasher
or flossing your teeth
a routine
a ritual
automatic and nothing of note

but when
someone loves you
so hard
and
sees

sees
knows
feels

i don’t have a good poker face
but i thought i was better at a whole mask
but i’m not apparently
the lipstick shields me
from other eyes maybe

(but i was right
i’m not the same)

but the difference
between our theories
on the origin of the change
is that
mine details my own faults and failings
masochistic self-loathing
prognosis chronic recurring incurable
treat symptoms with day dreams and liquor

she knows
something did it to me
disrespected me enough devalued me enough
so often and so long
that i’ve internalized it

presciption skipping town

not in so many words
but it’s the same idea
the same idea
i’ve had and discarded
but coming from her
it sounds more reasonable

it’s not a houseboat
but it’s something
a hope

someone believes in you
and always has
and still does
even though
you don’t
anymore

prognosis acute deadly
prescription amputate

any pills will overload the kidneys
any injections will poison the liver
excise while you can
the rest can be salvaged
will phoenix itself once the tumor is gone

but what if
everything is the tumor

and you get rid of one
and two more sprout
you skip town
and it’s the same everywhere
because the problem isn’t the town you’re skipping
but the skippee
He hath set me in dark places
as they that be dead of old

it is good for a man
that he bear the yoke in his youth
but how long is youth
truth is objective
but a lot of the intracacies
of same
are subjective

he sitteth alone and keepeth
silence
because he hath borne it upon him
heaping my own hot coals onto my own head

and still
there’s this
anticipation
everyone has
everyone
but you

the masochist the feminist
everyone
inside you
screams and screams
and
cries and cries

(and the glossy tears unshed
making your alto a tenor

a ’40s melodrama heroine conflicted
about leaving her cheating husband
or writing a salt-stained letter
confessing to a murder)

someone knows
more than you
everyone
knows more than you
in certain arenas

what evidence
is trusted
is the jury
vetted

His compassions fail not
they are new every morning

i am different
but
He is
who is and who was and who is to come
and i just gotta
be
a little longer
and maybe different me
will do different things
or die trying

Regular Poem: Vice

28 Aug

There’s nothing
new under the sun. All
is vanity and vexation
of spirit.

I open this way both
because it’s true
(all scripture is profitable
for doctine and instruction etc.)
and because it’s the way
all my poems should open.
They’re all the same, even the one
I didn’t write
two weeks ago
and then
really
didn’t write
when I realized
Miranda Lambert had written it
for me.

Country western songs
are all the same, too.
Patty Loveless
probably wrote it for her.
Loretta Lynn probably
wrote it for Patty.
Kitty Wells probably
wrote it for Loretta.

And Solomon
wrote it for all of us.
David wrote it for him.
And the Holy Spirit breathed it
into him,
convicted him
to cry out
and accompany himself on his harp,
selah.

(To the chief musician,
most country western songs
are in a major key,
but why?
Yours,
A)

You start a fire from
the bottom.
Catch the tinder
and it lights the kindling and frame
and then the rest
burns, too. Slowly sometimes.
The sins
I’ve thrown
on the top of the pile–
vices to add to my list (that
was the starting point
of that poem I didn’t write
two weeks ago)–
are the ones I’d like
to see consumed
first.
I should’ve shoved them
in the bottom.
But that’s so dense already.
How’s any air supposed to get in?

How fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous
(that’s how the Amplified Bible often further explains the word blessed)
it is then
that the Holy Spirit
breathes
so much.

Regular Poem: Significant Quotations

20 Jun

Where were we
when we were here
before?

It’s one of those
repeated phrases
meaningful and meaningless
a motif
(bigger than a symbol
smaller than a theme
I used to explain
when I used to do
that sort of thing).

“But can’t
an author just write something
and it’s that something
and not something else?”
someone would inevitably say.
“Yes, but that’s not
why they pay me the big bucks,”
current me would’ve glibly retorted
if she’d been there.
I can’t recall
what I probably said then–
some diatribe
about the merit of literature
some obtuse
thing
to inspire thought
but mostly confound
and that’s why I got fired.
(That’s another motif.)

Regardless
here I am again,
here under a full moon,
a rare astronomical phenomenon,
like so many before–
blood moons and eclipses and super moons–
each coming and passing
and all promising and not satisfying,
romantic yet nothing–
“Do you always
watch for the longest day in the year
and then miss it?”

If my voice
must be full of money
why can’t I be, too?

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