Poem Welded Together from 47 Titles
(Poem-a-Day 2019)

I used to be a roller coaster girl, a spoiled child.

My eyes have seen what my heart has felt.

The body remembers hunger, love songs,

what it’s like to have nothing to do,

to shout Now what?, letting the emptiness

become my government.




At night, five moths in the gloaming,

in the roiling night, the changing light.

I never figured out how to get free

of the lap belt, to say “I am a hummingbird,”

to be a meadowlark, be makebelieve.




Will you say a prayer severing the circle,

a prayer on joy and sorrow, on anger,

on Jakarta, January, a prayer for the youth

of Florence, Kentucky, for all

the inevitable just-about-to-break-out

sounds in the fragmentary blue?




We are all waiting for answers,

for a louder thing at the grave of the forgotten,

so many untitled names: Dear Nainai,

Dear Deliliah! I imagine each woman—I picture her lips

are copper wires; her hair is a petting zoo;

her heart is a trumpet.



Half girl, then elegy, somewhere deep in the cell,

in the mortal lease, there is a war within myself.

In the final loop-de-loop, I can see this much

and more—triple moments of light
and industry, one geography of belonging,

of color, of landscape, of tenuous rope.


I Was Me 


I dreamt we were in our old kitchen:

You were you, and I was the vegetable peeler.

I peeled carrots for you,

long strings of orange longing,

but you were too distracted to appreciate

them. I peeled cucumbers,

sparing the sweet white

flesh and taking only

the hard, waxy rind.

I wanted you to put more

vinegar in the dressing.

You were wearing a yellow

flowered apron and singing

the wrong words to "Pink Houses."

I wanted to tell you that if it had to be

John Cougar Mellencamp, "Hurts so Good"

was a better choice. But my lips

were two razor blades angled to slice

skin from bone. If I could only

press my sharpest self

against your lips, maybe take off

an eyebrow. Your new girlfriend

was trying to peel an apple

with me. I wanted to scream, Apples

are not vegetables! Get a different peeler!

She's an idiot, you know. She made you

give up cheese. Is lactose intolerance

catching? Later, I heard

you two in the other room, spooning

on the couch like lettuce leaves,

and I wanted to hurl myself

head-first down the garbage disposal.

In the morning, as you tried

to put me back in the drawer, I got

you, took a small hunk

out of your finger, and you bled.


photo: James Rattigan