every time I strike out,
my father’s voice beats me down, the same as you
I’ve already read the letter a hundred times before,
locked and loaded, the piss down my right leg,
the boys in the band startled into a kind of raucous laughter, as if, as if they
struck gold at the end of the rainbow at the edge of these woods — look at the chink in the shit clothes, crying from her cunt
I ran and I ran into the nearest home, these strangers with their Sears lamps, their hot milk, and their open arms, the pretty lady smelled of pikaki and coffee
while they called my parents — don’t, they don’t —
when the coast was clear, behind closed doors, they took turns
beating me from head to toe, mind body spirit, you know the drill
because they could not bear to stomach their fuck for an easy way out, pretend love for a one-way ticket, Dairy Queen & big, fancy American cars
how can I turn
my other cheek?
he is my only child to your 4 on the floor, the lies, the jokes, the diss tapes
I will not curse him with the same family name
the woods are cold at sunset for a seven-year-old girl,
just waiting for a friend
A weather report, snow somewhere East of here, East of him
A brief glimpse, faint like the sound of a car accident or muffled bullets:
She’s skiing this weekend.
Her Facebook timeline confirms the facts. I wish I could conjure up his cure, too afraid to look inside his broken doll house, the sticks, the dreams
In a Nyquil dream today, I walked into my ageless son’s room. His toys roll toward me, a dog from a Netflix show barked and whined. My son curled up in a ball in my father’s smokeless living room.
We need to move.
No jobs on Linked In. Just a private message from a beautiful singer who blames me for costing her everything. I write for free, in between time I don’t have — the cancer growing. She says I am a bad person, in not so many words.
But I was kind.
So, I listen to Mark Wade’s new album, “Moving Day,” to keep me warm and help me forget my sniffles.
Who is the foreigner on my shelf, bathed in a bass blush? (Photo by Alex on Unsplash)
20 years ago, I saw myself in a lovely ballgown, green and grey, blue and flame-red like smoky alabaster
I was a little girl again in this cover model body, surprising in the mirror,
checking the price tag — that’s my dad before the divorce they never saw coming
on another page, I saw her young, lovely pastor’s wife face break out in a thousand-watt smile
after a dream about the abuse, the betrayal, the lost years because he would not obey
I warned her, I said, “You are a superhero and a villain. Choose one. Choose wisely. Choose your family, your husband and your children, they are your salvation.”
maybe I was talking about myself
I am the heretic on the street corner, next to the vagrant and the drug dealer,
a virgin prophet, the Scarlet letter, his dirty little secret, the one he keeps between the folds of his post-gastric bypass and those late nights fisting lube & memory
the small man in faded denims, spectacles, sensible shoes — Lord, how I hated his mean-spirited sermons posing as the frontierman — preaching fire and brimstone, you are a piece of shit!
I watched the dog-and-pony show
all the pretty little Christians lined up in rows
behind careful smiles, crafted masks
waiting to throw them at me
I read the headlines: God is dead,
they raped her body in the woods, then raised a glass in Tinsel Town
Hooray for Hollywood.
this can’t be my world
tonight I look for the man with brass who can take down an entire forest in the middle of a desert
with one note
I know, I saw him
he always waits for me in the cabin beyond this bridge over troubled waters between Seattle and Vancouver, his books and his music, an Irish pub and the neighborhood street fair
it is 1947 or 2012
he loves me, the way the waves love the shore when tourists leave town, leaving us to the moonlight
he watches me make the slow dance toward him, arms limp yet light as a ballerina, his ballerina, drunk with sleep, in everlasting dreams
we watch the setting sun from his backyard mottled with cattails, green tea warms in my hands
he smells of honeysuckle and home
a church on a hill, below secondhand smoky fog
the rising Cliffs of Montauk before splinters of him sprayed in a majestic husk
oh how thunderous the stars over Honokaa, an exit mile post to that bleary-eyed Haleakala morning
flickering snapshots of blue silk, arriving postcards, the wise sentinels of Red Rock
“Mommy, do plane people change the scenery around while we eat nuts and drink Coca-Cola?”
“He not your father.”
little rapes through a thousand years, I write down the figures as fast as I can as the bodies fade, borrow memories from fancy men in black suits, their six-figure whores in the back of a stretch Hummer
Am I the author of my own movie? Or are these images dream flashes not mine?
The Dark festooned with residue from Hollywood’s cutting room, too much oboe, the voices do not match this unswerving frequency we’re on.
I either miss a man TPTB made up in casting, or one of my own invention.
Attached at 80, 8, and this nowhere in between, waiting for Prince Charming in his therapist overcoat to wake me up with a kiss and familiar conversation, waiting for the key in the logic of his subversive, subtitled conversation.
A flash as I drive carefully into the side of this ruinous house — this voice, this face, old and young, wise and reckless —
several hands hold him back as he shouts, “I can’t just stand here while they hurt her!”
I plunge into the deepest, darkest hole. A monastery of Lego block cinders, where I learned to read at the kindergarten level and, glorious music. The Cliffs, where I saved those children, and later, unable to save myself from a grandmother who spoke not a word of the Queen’s English, intent on aborting me three years into a rudderless future, I fell hard and fast.
Smooth, scripted conversations on the fly, behind screens of brown, city lights.
Their Facebook holiday played out for street urchins.
Busy work, my marker.
he borrows lube from the nightstand drawer,
the same drawer he keeps the gun
he’ll stare and stare at this beautiful, undressed stranger
until warm flesh meets cold, pixel pussy — 42 inches from bliss
does he ever think of me, down in the tunnel of my self-imposed exile,
a happy prisoner of the fiction they fed me to keep my hungry, half-starving body full
somewhere I am still in the dungeon of my forever home,
trapped inside this twisted, fevered mind missing time, so much time
endless afternoons stuffing my face with $10 pizza and ice cream sandwiches from the vending machine in the laundry down the street, two for a quarter
mom is screaming at my lifeless body, tubes and wires, metal and plaster he doesn’t love me he never loved me he never will
oh why did you have to lie?
I knew, I knew in between the bedroom feedings and the midnight snacks,
the bright sunny day I shit down my legs in front of the Hammering Man
this man 42 inches away, words on a pixel screen, borrowed and hollow, cranked and sore — as if rehearsed from his parents’ hand-me-down play, before and after the arranged marriage — run away with me, my own personal Britney Spears in that music video beachside scene
an old woman who lives in a two-story bedroom town meant for a family of four
crochets scarves for kind strangers who will die and leave those scarves for Goodwill
on life support, crossing every “T” and dotting every “i”
just in case she presses the red button
lust for love
love for comfort
a lifetime of happily ever afters for … duty