San Andres

Her hair had gotten longer,

it always did,

those sudden auburn inches

a reminder she was no longer

a part of my everyday life-

its new length always a shock.

Her raincoat matched the pastel

blue of her car, I’m reminded of

when we sang The Decemberist

in our kitchen, that rainy day

so long ago. She was so calm,

fingers danced across the stereo

to find a suitable station.

She asks about my day,

as if she’s just seen me yesterday,

as if we don’t live two worlds apart.

I can only stammer.

She drove us into town,

the new grass just green fuzz in the dirt.

Her legs weren’t stockinged under

a dress, a surer sign of spring.

Hands migrate to my knee, greedily

I grab it, too fast. I should not have been

so eager. Slight smile passed her face

like a wave, I’m taken by the undertow

of our memories.

I forgot our destination, our divide,

let myself get lost in the softness

of fingertips, the cadence of words.

“Boyfriend” rang through her mindless speech,

I looked at her again, the fault

between us reappeared.

I reminded myself,

her hair had gotten longer.

Dinner and Dessert

A small splash captures my attention

on a night that swelters with stagnant sunset’s

promise of cooler air in hours to come.

The culprit is a beaver, he fishes in our bay.

I savor my sweet, cold dessert as

I watch him catch his own dinner.

He disappears again and again until he strikes

the gold of silver scales, fish flashes from

his mouth in dying sun’s rays.

He swims past me, across the small harbor.

Ripples form an aquatic cape behind him,

spread until spans from my dock

into the vast channel, deep enough for

the monsters of freighters to travel.

His fur forms peaks, matted and wet,

the questionable brown of blonde’s eyebrows,

too cautious to fully commit.

Ears flat, two black eyes just above

river’s watercolor surface, they do not see me.

Behind him, inky black tail propels his body,

workmen’s pride; his flat, wide paddle.

I watch him swim, prize still held

by two front teeth. Past neighbors’ docks,

cape’s splay must be across the river by now-

the miniscule waves break on Wellesley rocks.

He follows the shoreline,

around the bend, out of my view.

I take my empty bowl inside and

turn on the light.

Graduation

When I was a 21, I began to

question my mother’s love,

that silky dust grown and born with me

as much as my placenta, umbilical cord.

She lathered her love on me as

an infant, red haired and dependant.

 

That was before I could lift my head,

travel by foot, speak with those

unexpected noises that slip past

my toothless gums. Now, that sacred

substance runs low in the mason jar

hidden behind a shoebox.

 

For years she had scattered it over

my pink bedroom, floral bed set;

smeared it over my blushed cheeks

as she dropped me off at middle school;

speckled it in every day’s bagged lunches,

drives home from school, goodnight kisses.

 

But, for her daughter with no grad school plans

or full time jobs- when she reaches her hand

into that glass jar of rare love,

fingernails scrape the bottom.

Just for the Record

Heartbreak is

the drip drip drip of foreign origin

out of the corner of your ear as you

set down your backpack, home for lunch,

and discover upper neighbors’ plumbing

incompetence birthed a clogged sink

and leaky faucet- twins that soaked

through the ceiling, onto a beloved

milkcrate full of vinyl records.

It took years of concert attendances,

import shipping and handling fees,

and Christmas mornings with the

possibility of those thin, square boxes-

your collection now soggy, black saw slice through

frayed cardboard jackets, glossy insides

turned glue- the kissing images stuck,

leaves papery white splotches.

Collection marred forever.

Love is

the surprise of three brown rectangles

perched on the porch- your name completes

the address of packages you didn’t order.

Rush inside to tear stubborn tape,

reveal shiny shrinkwrapped jackets of

three new vinyl gems you’ve never seen-

can’t meet needle fast enough. Tears well

when the final box is emptied, you find

a slip that carries the name of your best friend,

a boy you sat next to the first day of fifth grade, who

made you feel first heartache at age fifteen, who

drove you to high school all senior year, who

spent visits drunk in your college dorm, who

you love.

Twenty One

Twenty one is not yet old enough

to understand truly the gravity of that

four letter word you two toss around.

You might think you love her

when she lifts that magnificent curtain of

shimmery hair, her necklace

held together by a paperclip,

or when you hear her tiny, familiar whistle

escape from those two sweet apple slices,

she searches for you among crowded grocery aisles-

you can’t help but run to her.

 

Will it still be love when she calls

from a movie theater on an unsuspecting

afternoon, and your lips curl up when her

name lights the screen. But the mood changes

once her words cut the string you tied to her

months ago and her far away fingers reach over

the satellite connection to steal

love right out of your throat-

she’ll keep it balled in her pocket,

surrounded by swollen fist.

Adderallnighter (A Pantoum)

After sitting through hours of darkness while

nimble fingers type straight through the night,

I stand in sunrise rays on the porch

ready to stumble into the bright day.

 

Nimble fingers type straight through the night,

disregard the small hours growing larger.

Ready to stumble into the bright day-

after this perfect paper’s final sentence.

 

Disregard the small hours growing larger,

time is irrelevant now, for

after this perfect paper’s final sentence,

the grade will reflect my work.

 

Time is irrelevant now, for

there is no way I can survive the night,

the grade will reflect my work,

will I even pass the class?

 

There is no way I can survive the night,

it’s early, but my fingers are silent

will I even pass the class?

I wasn’t made for this shit.

 

It is early but my fingers are silent,

there is no way I will finish this paper

I wasn’t made for this shit-

I should drop out and be a stripper.

 

There is no way I will finish this paper

due tomorrow and it’s already midnight!

I should drop out and be a stripper,

I haven’t even read the prompt yet.

 

Due tomorrow and it’s already midnight!

The professor warned us not to put this off-

I haven’t even read the prompt yet!

Guess I’ll have to pull an all nighter.

Some Clown (A Sestina)

Randy’s bicycle helmet could never part with his hair,

forty years of paranoia convinced him of brain-bucket God.

Faith in his hat assured his facial features have an anchor,

the heresy of a naked skull or even chinstrap unclipped- a sin.

He’d rather believe this, headgear to keep his face from damage,

than for people think last week’s circus had misplaced clown.

 

But the small town did host that night a certain lost clown,

a wanderer who wove through the world like girl’s braided hair.

She held no agenda for life, for Lane had seen too much damage

caused by everything but the grace brought by her two feet, and god

how every night a new town felt as sweet as saint’s first sin.

She skips the smooth rock of security on silent water, no need to anchor.

 

Randy leaves his flat after sunset, strange sounds throw a heavy anchor

into the bottom of his gut- fear. As a toddler cowers at the sight of a rodeo clown,

he cannot tolerate the dark streets, alleys laced with night’s sin.

Summer storm’s angry winds reach below Randy’s helmet, teases his hair.

Randy considered the trees, swayed by wind’s force- wonders what god

would give this invisible hand such potential to damage.

 

Randy ventured out for butterscotch pudding, but plans suffered damage

when he could not find that food he eats thrice a day, his anchor

to end every meal. He’s heard ambrosia was the nectar of god,

believes it must taste like butterscotch. The familiar package, cartoon clown

clutches spoon drawn larger than his head, carmel globs in rainbow hair-

how can it be out of stock? He hoped the store felt this new sin.

 

Night’s sorrow caused clouds to sob with rain as cold as sin.

Townspeople scrambled to shelters, safe from storm’s damage,

but Lane had no roof to keep the sky’s frustration out of her hair,

desperate to steal any new treasure as stormy anchor,

her eyes scan the sidewalks until she spots some clown-

a man in a helmet, but with no bicycle- swear to god.

 

Lane shouted at the sky as if she was talking to god

and wanted him to hear crystal clear every sin,

one eye peeled opened, she tracked the attention of the clown.

Waited until when he stopped, turned- Lane decides on her damage.

She was swift when she struck, tore his helmet, his anchor

away so quickly, Randy could only clutch his exposed hair.

 

Randy walked to the bridge over the quarry, contemplated Lane’s damage,

He was a freighter moored in rapid waters, Lane pulled up the heavy anchor.

Randy swiftly ran aground, no helmet protection when rock meets hair.