Musical Chairs

In fifth grade, our class chewed up and spit out a revolving door of music teachers. Our first victim was Mr. Alexander, a tall Asian man with ruthless expectations. He demanded “tone, tone, semi-tone” until we could hear it no more and locked him in the vault, which happened to be the music office. He got his revenge by leaving kids at the side of the road on a field trip, but by then it was too late- Mrs. Hyde had arrived.

Mrs. Hyde/Jekyll stamped her heels with such enthusiasm that eventually, one flew off and struck a student in the eye. Given our campaign (in progress) to record (in secret) her violence to use against her, the principal had no choice but to introduce Mr. Gilbert.

The old man disappeared on an alleged cross-country motorcycle trip. This, of course, when we had just begun to like him.

Watching out for Birds with Ruin Written on their Wings

I watched the explosion from my chair outside,
mesmerized by little paws, dancing all along the edge
of a wall
pushed out of hoof-chewed ground-

this is the way our town burns down.

Fire licks and whines along the edges
scarring streets and buildings-
our family home assumes the shape
of some small person
shrouded, crying

next to a house departed as ash.

It is the kind of winged migration
that rides the wind too far, too fast.

Heartbeet

She held out a heart like a cold beet,
skinned & pickled, with two tiny hands
at the end of stems which held a little heart also,
with tiny hands which held another
on and on
through the blunt scene
of hearts hurled blindly down halls, against
rising water, against nail-dotted walls
against computer screens, against chests
sagging-
or slashed up,
against heaving, sweat-slick breasts…

we experienced a love that was new
there was at least that, if not the rest.

Thub-thub, the beet droned and its stammering-
it moved through us like hammering
as our animals lay down beside us, in gardens
or in grass- in a kind of memorial
we imagined their death
in terms of sacrifice & lest we forget
when we should have seen it coming,
seen them faltering & starving
neatly dropping at our feet while we ran on
without them…

not noticing their hearts were beat-
we had been running all this time without them.

A Version of Thorns

Behind a sinking, healthy & back-lit sun
A sort-of-game played with your feelings

That is why you are this person.

One team wore white, like brides & napkins
Their lips shimmered dully
bruised stars
an aversion to thorns.

A second team is everything the first team could only hope to be
The team loves you, and their hearts match their red socks
and the way they held you
and still getting dust in your eyes
the sand kicked up to last, and last, and last…

You can’t imagine how they loved you into becoming this person.

Your split-lip self was a consolation prize
& You were not supposed to go down like that
& You are turning to face me in the library
And you do not show your face
it clings fast to your skull
your hand curling out of a cloak
into begging & being
the bloated fingers
of a man

who’s blue hand

has been swimming for days.

you’re welcome

Out of a long list of lovers
Someone’s neck smelled like gingerbread.

Yes, it is possible for someone to follow you down the elevator
There is such a thing as laundry room etiquette-
flip through a magazine and know it.

There is half of a welcome mat outside my door
I put the other half where I jump off the balcony.

I am on the eighth floor and the squirrels still find me
They are welcome because I am nuts.

This is the Opening Paragraph of My Autobiographical Novel as a Wealthy British Man who has grown Long in the Tooth

It later occurred to me that had I awakened that morning not as a hysterical prisoner of damp and twisted sheets, but having instead been deposited by some dreadful means into the scene of a recurring nightmare. I shouldn’t have regarded the day’s events as any less extraordinary, for by that afternoon, I would find my circumstances so frightfully confused that I wondered if I might have fared better as the doomed victim of my own tragic hallucination. Disturbed as my condition was, the prospect of a watery grave had grown increasingly attractive, and I wished desperately to be stirred into the reality of that slight, trembling boy balanced precariously against the cliff’s edge, whose terrible anguish had the haunted, distanced quality of a dream. Resignedly helpless to the brutal activity of crashing about the jagged rocks, salty thunder swirling inside my skull- consistent with the unforgiving manner with which the wind had taken to whipping about my helpless form. As it happened, the day could not have got off to a more unremarkable start, save the noisy rattling that had quite suddenly begun in the old house, startling myself (and, I believe, the house, for she groaned as if to explain that she, too, had slept fitfully).

I’m Afraid of The Idea of You, If Anything

Learning not to be the best at learning by doing.
Learning to swim.

Staying under the radar, red lights
smoking & popping
& licking & wrapping around
the ankles of spooked calves-
slicing palm hearts
into quarters before halves.

Leaving without asking & before taking
Leaving with an ugly rash and more medication

Making friends with criminals
You walk the line, hypocritical
Your voice carries from here, reaching
a small child
left alone in a plastic pool
drowning in 3 inches of water
at low tide.

Elma

I should just write on my face
EATS WHEN SAD-
The Sharpie would probably
Stick in my cheeks 

I’m sick of the bubblegum girls
And their Ring-Pop tits
My tits are a backpack
In reverse-mode 

My armpits
Have not made me friends
Well, it depends
Not on the subway, but
They’ve kept panzerottis
And take-out manicottis
Warm for a friend.

It takes just about all of me to pretend-
Because everything tastes bitter
But I eat it in the end.