You are beautiful

Though you may never have known it

I do.

When we met, it was as if everyone else became less important

Because you were a lovely, wild satellite

Spinning above me

You look in the mirror and see labels affixed

Ugly, worthless, failure

And I see none.

Sometimes I want to learn to undo

The outcome of those years before I met you

To show who you really are

Minus the words that caused you pain

You are in every way

A creature of the ice and mountains

Your eyes burn into me like warm coal

Your fantastical mind unfolds

And I follow in your every creative wake

If you were earth and clay you’d breathe warm life

If you were a lake you’d have a golden light on your surface

If you were snow, you would fall, in slow motion

Wetting the eyelashes of us

Who look up in wonder

You are those forces of nature

You are color, stained permanent

The white tip of a hawks head, flashing against dipping moon

All these things

Are you


For all

Before, it would vex me when my nose ran and I didn’t have a tissue

when the tap dripped and no matter how I jiggled it, the drip drip drip would perpetuate, leaving a little rust stain, impossible to clean

when the cat would kick his litter out and eating fast, his food would spill, over the side, as he bent to consume just to again use and befowl

his cycle of eat/pee/poo seemed deliberately artful as if should he speak he’d say; that’s what I think of you

I would be annoyed at myself, when I forgot to latch the garden gate after mowing

and at night hear the sound of things moving, wondering at the fragility of life, should something creep up and strike

how easy to be hit by speeding car or thunder bolt, I spent far too long worrying the clouds of their impending storm

before, I would stand in front of tiny mirror, angled at my waist-line muttering things, without knowing how shallow I’d become

the baubles and the bells and whistles, trappings of someone as yet to acknowledge herself

just the illusion, the dress, the costume

I built castles and didn’t consider the ground

I forgot the child’s dear wish to fly and thought only of earthly options

my head was packed with good sense and no dreams

it mattered more that I possessed signs and wonders than to be real

in time as our tinsel fades and the corners of our smile grow brittle

when challenges mount formerly wrinkle free forehead

we stand so far from truth we could not hear if it shouted

come back from the festival, where drunk on yourself you see

only reflections of you in the carnival mirror of the sea

spend time stripped of your attachments and awards

they serve no purpose when they matter not at all

stand a while with nothing, sense the pleasure of a day

born only once

the joy of survival

a moment without pain

where like children we find wonder

In those days of simplicity beneath the sun

before we learned to live so thin, nutrition coming from emptiness

before it would vex me that the bulb needed replacing, garbage taken out, the dried remainder of eggs did not come off breakfast plate

and now

I smile when for a moment I am peaceful and the lap of night winks closed for another day to unfold, the first strain of pink ushering dawn

and hope

for it takes only one change, for all.

Fixed on open door

If you said today

Run away

I’d reply

I’m too old of heart for taking chances

And yet

If I could leave behind

These footprints of hell

I’d turn my bag inside out

Leave the clothes that made me and now don’t fit

They can hang on tree limbs for another girl

Who hankers after fushia and magnolia

If you can live without

A stomach

I’d set mine free

And empty as a cloud, run

In your direction toward the sea

Where salt spray would take the last

Residue of this awful time, turning back horror

Remind me of joy I once took as permanent

Clamboring through live oak, like fairy folk,

Rays of light like stars shine down from sky

Happy dogs, wet with run, tongues lolling, espie March rabbit

The thin stream between content and crestfallen

Just one turn of fate and all you cherished is gone

Reclaiming yourself somehow, among the fallen

How can you expect to thrive when pain halts every nuance?

A burden you do not know how to lift, for it

Wakes you every dawn with insisted sickening

And if you could, you’d disguard the parts that betray you

Run into the heartlands with nothing more than release

And the long legged stride of a creature unwilling

To be shared

For you are a child of this world and no harm is meant

To slow your step, as you cleave toward pilgrimage

One flat foot in front of the other

Setting prints in ochre mud for generations

Where they will ask, how did she keep trying?

Despite the steapness of the trail

And the lapse into despair, how did she

Keep her compass set?

If you said today

Run away

I’d reply

I’m too old of heart for taking chances

And yet …

One foot follows freedom even as the other

Chaffs against chain

It is in my nature, to seek the wild

Among nature, reclaim, loss of liberty

Trying to pin me to insect board

Dry up my dreams, pack away the urge

You haven’t claimed all of me

As long as a part stays

Fixed on open door

I will in time defeat this shackle

Turning into a bird

Threading my flight far

From your waning power.

If you said today

Run away

I’d reply

I’m too old of heart for taking chances

And yet

I want the girl who was just there a moment ago

Who stood on tip-toes and wore clothes twenty years too young

Who didn’t brush the back of her hair and ate with her mouth lolling

If it were a matter of wishing myself better, I’d sell it all and start over empty handed

Reclaim the lost self, in the strange soup of sickness that makes enemies of us

I want to wake up and be, a girl of air and sea and breath

I want to feel whole and no longer racked by hurt

Go forward in time and reclaim what is lost

make me well again, said the child, in the girl, in the woman.

All we ever are

Remember when

Prediction wasn’t predictive text

It was submersion

Lying still on the bottom of the swimming pool

Blinking upwards at frantic milee of kicking legs

Oh what a noise we humans make

Prediction was the rune you gave me at seventeen

The ink of your influence still in my blood

Riding the ferris wheel in Ireland, watching ourselves convulse

I could smell you on the old letters I kept until last year

I could guess what you’d be doing and what color you began to wear

As things changed for us both, still we stayed tethered

By our invisible dive and the angle of seeing the world

Without air.

There’s a little known secret

in the recess of a soul, put there before birth

find strength from suffering, then appreciate the good days two-fold

and when the time comes for a long hot walk

the road forks

one direction takes you back in a circle

where forever you’ll lament the reunion of your despair

the other road is perseverance, filled with danger

so high it goes, you cannot be sure of air

to breathe, you reinvent gills and return to the source

brine and water, that’s all we ever are.


She used to tell other girls

Sista! Stand up for yourself!

And when others needed her voice

She lent her ROAR

Don’t be quiet and let them walk over you, she cautioned

But when it came to her own

She sat demure, a photo in old box

Doe eyed and blinking

Knees together, ironed hair

Palms touching in supplicate

Head keenly nodding on hot wire

Stomach lurching like unmoored ship, drunk on the dream of voyage

All the while

A scream building inside


I am not a number to be parceled and coded

Spat out and told, we have no answers, for we have no understanding of the soul

I FEEL and in the night, if you listen closely at my door you’ll hear me pray

To every spirit and four leaf clover, even, the lopsided rabbit in my arms

As time flickered away with each new day of sickness

She needed an advocate

To be her unguarded voice

Which had become lost

In all the twists and turns.

And the tall doctor

He was no mind-reader

He had his well rehearsed routine and could if needed, click his ankles in mid-jump

She wasn’t easy to label and dismiss

Nor did she want to be, a compliant good girl

She wanted to question until they dragged her out into the street

Writhing to the sound of her own outrage

That we are abandoned by medicine in our most desperate hour

Leaving unhealed like scabs, without voices, our ill tended shadows

She wanted to understand

And find ways that didn’t involve dependency upon pills

He was a blonde marionette, testing his overbite

Talking in her head, Yak yak yak

The sound of chomping wood and splinters for lunch

She heard no future

Unless she spoke up

But where was her tongue?

Where had it gone?


I am the beadsman, sold into profession, by an ounce of circumstance

Once a swimmer until my leg broke

Once a fisher, but the fish swam faster than me

I listened to the sun as it sank, on my youth, dissolving quickly, orange sugar behind veil

And wondered how it was, I felt nothing for everything

I am the beadsman, came by this life as a bird comes by worm, wriggling out as rain hits earth

Turning what was dark, into caramel storm, such is the road I began, and it forked, gently like an accident, leaving nothing to chance

My father inherited this blood, wasn’t born, wasn’t his way

Came as a religious man to Africa, made the beads his faith

This is the inheritance that sits for me on the thin branch

Watching the way I live my life until it is time

To take my place where he once sat

No bead is identical, even children know that



Chaplin_The_Kid_editThey said she was uncool

they laughed at her pathetic attempt

to fit in to the A-Crowd and be

whatever cool intended

she was not able to tan with

baby oil and lemon

therefore didn’t look good in yellow

or the teeny tiny jock shorts

all the girls with the floppy hair

and shiny legs knew

if you wanted to be an A-Lister

better get bronze and angular

she had the legs of a cross-legged child

with fat bits that poked through

her back wasn’t too straight from hunching

over the tv with bowl of Coco Puffs

they said she was uncool

because she couldn’t spell and didn’t know how

to french kiss or accept blow backs

of weak marijuana in local park

she didn’t stand as tall and couldn’t climb up

to fondle faceless boys who shriveled afterward

she wasn’t full chested, more of an empty shirt

what’s the point? one asked, just give me a hand job

and she didn’t know it took so much momentum

of her thin unused wrist

so she had to prop it up with the other hand

and everyone took the piss

you can’t even wank a boy without losing steam

how are you going to ride him?

she didn’t want to ride a boy, or even a horse

she didn’t need to be cool if it meant spitting out semen afterwards

her freckles and her pasty face, weren’t the sum total of her soul

if it’s uncool to be an outsider, she thought

I’ll make it into an art-form

so she wore purple when the IT color was red

flattened her chest instead of wearing WonderBra

liked polka dot panties over thong

didn’t touch cold-sore boys, even with gloves on

watched the girls from the A-List grow fatigued

of sore jaws and empty hearts and stained skirts

whilst she painted and danced and cycled and swam

climbed trees, shot arrows, read on roof tops, ate bags of blue gumballs

her teeth were not as white as those with lithe brown thighs

her sneakers did not have the right logo

she wore thrift store sweaters and Hello Kitty socks

they said she was uncool

for not knowing how to pleasure and perform

she told her dolls and her bears

it meant she got another summer without having to worry

about being pinched and poked by thirsty boys

with Ralph Lauren t-shirts and Converse All Stars

taunted by girls with Abercrombie skirts and Victoria’s Secret push-up

comparing cleavage and score cards

what a relief to be uncool

her name didn’t begin with A

it began with C and she preferred hanging upside down

from the jungle jim

watching the world fool

young girls