I went to your lifeguard job.

Asking if you wanted to show
me your mussels – you know what
I mean – said yes as you
clamped a hand around your pipefish,

said yes to the whitecap wave
of your shoulders – I mean it –
pinched by the unwelcome mitten crab
then, going out with the tide
and coming in, and even then

to come upon fluorescent monsters, inkling
a newborn squid- that ancient tingling.   

The Inconsolata and Wounded

At the edge of stuck time, a tribe lived near
to where the whole world softens to a point-
the bayou ghosts are swirled through
with vacuum dust from the future
and trees bloat with the excreta
of parasite operations-

The Inconsolata
built unholy boats on the beach,
fathers fathers sons sons
cleaving skin from muscle among the old and diseased-
the hulls were quilts of human need

Unstitching time inside the caves,
sad shapes of women
blotched deep-purple, swollen thumbs  
stained with blood and blackberries
something starved-black
and gaping
out of the backs of their swathed and boiled heads

The Inconsolata
who have seen their boats dissolved-
brother-sisters and sister-brothers
called to the depths, in lulls or storms-
those on the shore
who have seen the black doves take wing from water
to manage the sinking, in coupling,
and byzantine aerial formations 

to manage the wounded, quietly suffering
left to soak in silver pools, miles below mountains
wishing to be lain beside rivers
where the moss
could sprout from their chins-
wishing for a green kind of help
from a tribe
interested only in skins.


You probably didn’t know this, but I used to hide
in the trunk of your car.

I saw myself as a gorgeous outlaw, putting on my makeup
and touching my red lips to the gun barrel. It was too dark
to see my reflection, but I knew how well my eyebrows
waved hello and how
my thumb would look inside your mouth. 

How you saw me was different- I know
like that girl who always wore the same t-shirt
day after day,
with a picture of a moose on it only instead of a moose it was
a picture of two people who are both halves of a horse, but keep
missing each other
day after day, oblivious
to the threat of extinction.

(and you never knew
and no one asked, ever)

While you were at work
I tucked my legs up into your perfect shoulder blades
while you looked for the right paperclip
which is the wrong color
and you will always be looking for it- I think
that if you wanted me to hold the pages
I would meet you halfway
I would stay in the trunk
and you could take me out
whenever you wanted to.

(I wouldn’t hide)


if I was a bear
i would lumber and
i would make into my home
the cave behind this waterfall,
and wait for you
to flail over

i would punch your fish-face
with my head-sized paw
until your
gills caked with blood
until your
popcorn brain
eked out even one thought,
i would spin you on my claw
i would watch the water fall
and listen
for larger prey than you-

i would peel off every single scale
and underneath you would be blue.

What Remains, After Exhumation

We all remembered
how our great-aunt Helene’s
house was
noisily full
of retired ghosts, dragging
abacus chains, clicking
black eyelids
which seemed just like two halves
a bivalve shell.

my own room was cold
empty with
the silence of all the elephants
dull pink with mud flaps

run out of it.

seeing that
the mailbox bird outside
is a crow, of course leaping
right at the
man with a green horn
right at the
sitting duck eyes, gleaming
a gleeful stab! –
the way Helene wants it
the way

a spider
could live in your cheek
or you could wake up every
with flecks of rust, staining
the pillow
and no idea if anyone in your
family is still alive.

We watch the
old black-and-white reruns
from the
backs of couches.

Lock this boy up,
he crashes his cars together-
trying to untape desks
Cut off the goalposts
And eat them tonight
Mom-in-the-kitchen stuff
Landing on her chin.

Wet shoes on the rubber mat-
Trying to read street signs
For what the earrings had cost
and for other articles
on subjects
on the milk-spilled floor.

A (partial) Found Poem, from Caroline B. Cooney’s “The Face on The Milk Carton” 

An opaque wine bottle
cracked over a headstone
blisters longing,
scabbed heat
below the grass
night cools and
bones devour

over time, oil-slickened roads
red petals open onto breasts, shift
dresses and murky longing

too much meat
too many people
wrung their hands
the soil is dark, mixed
poured like marrow
below the grass
a worm pushed through rot-

a  yellow fingernail
with someone’s
heart still in it.