Making the Cut

You’re young, and your mom cuts the crust off

your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

and then you’re old, and the director is yelling “cut”

and it’s all over.

We can talk about a life cut short but

I’d much rather talk about cutting across the dance floor

in the arms of someone who thinks

you put the stars in the sky.

We can talk about the economy and “cutting corners”

but I’d rather mention shortcuts through

forests that take you to the stream.

Yeah, there are words I omitted saying here,

lines that didn’t quite make the cut,

but what about cutting class

to go to your favorite author’s book signing?

Yeah, I did that, don’t talk to me about

having your ideas cut down, say something

about lawns and fresh-cut grass.

How do you prepare your vegetables and your children?

Do you cut fine or do you cut into pieces -

do you hack or are you tender? -

Do you boil them or just leave them raw?

People will cut you in line,

and cut you off while driving,

but I want to hear a poem about cutting down

the rope they’re about to hang you with.

Paper cuts exist, but so do haircuts -

people can be made new again to your eyes.

Don’t tell me about cutting throats,

let’s talk about cutting loose,

break through the bonds,

cut through them with the scissors that are

just there in your pocket, I promise.

Cut out your favorite quote and tape it to the

wall above your bed, read it every night

before you fall asleep and cut through that darkness

like the fearless Mississippi cuts through this country.

Cut your initials into the trunk of an upside-down tree,

leave a carving behind to tell that your hands were here.

Yeah, you can tell me to cut it out,

you can cut me out of your life,

but I want to cut right down to the bone

and leave no part of life untouched

and I invite you to grab my shaking wrist

and help hold this knife steady.

Tracks

The railroad tracks for us to bury the dead, for us to look
at the corpses all stacked high like a house of cards,
one touch of the finger and you’re pushing humanity
off the brink.
This is our history.
And the poets looking on at it through stained glass
windows will write how flowers will grow from the graves
but those of us really here aren’t thinking about flowers,
we’re thinking of the skin and how long it’ll take to start smelling.
This stench will someday fill the world.
The side that wins the war
writes the history books, tells the story,
and the side that loses gets tossed down here.
These railroad tracks, after the train has gone by
storming through the air, whistling and screaming,
and we’re left in the dust of it,
to remove shoes from swollen feet,
and watches from limp wrists.

Dear Jack Kerouac

Somewhere there is a couch no one is sitting on,

this is the saddest story we know.

Where is the music? Where is the sky?

Point me to the clouds I want to crane my neck and look.

Where does the road go? I’m following someone and I can only see their back.

I’m a piece of poetry, I’m The Road Less Traveled and

everyone interprets me the wrong way.

Close the door behind you because I know you’re not staying.

I sold my heart at a garage sale, I can’t remember who to.

I’m ready to leave this world for the next one

and I want new eyes.

Pull the fire alarm and stand me under it, I haven’t felt the rain in years

There are people who have never seen fireflies before and I want to bathe in their newfound wonder.

The moon has yet to stop howling at me.

Let’s talk about haircuts and paper cuts and the kind of cuts you can get and the place where lost things go.

Take my hand let’s go home to our no-home.

Jack are you proud yet Jack am I writing with a beat yet Jack is this good enough for you and your On the Road soul?

My keys are around my neck but where the hell is the door to which they go I don’t even know and I guess this is how soul mates work?

I don’t know where to go so I guess I’ll just keep rolling on under the stars

Am I a round peg in a square hole yet?

Jack, darling.

The world sticks its tongue out at you and you think maybe it wants to French kiss but really it’s just making fun of you, this is how I sum up the universe.

Jack if you’re not proud yet I don’t think you’ll ever be.

Is this beat yet? Am I just beating around the bush or beating these keys hoping music comes out?

When I Go Falling

Tuesdays I fall from burning buildings.
Quickly, in the air, I assemble my wings.
I turn and twist and think about how fires get started, how children aren’t allowed to play with matches, and adults just shouldn’t.
My wings are going to be a rich, milky green. I see the shade I want on the lawn and pop my whole body goes the color.
Mama said fire has a sterilizing effect, and that the best way to clean is to burn yourself alive.
Why do I take everything so literally?
No, we’re not talking suicide, don’t go getting your pocket notebook out, you big therapist. There’s a difference between falling and falling with intention.
My wings are halfway done. I need bone. As the ground gets closer I imagine tree branches and snap they’re glued to my back.
I wanted to fly into the sun. I am further from the fire, but closer to the burning. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.
The truth is, I was pushed.
The truth is, I floated out of my body and pushed myself.
And no, we’re still not talking about suicide.
My wings begin to flap. I heave them up and down, my muscles groaning. They beat against my body. I do not change my angle. I am held to my meteorite ways, falling to earth, and I won’t veer off course. Go ahead, try to push me in another direction – you don’t have the science.
I grew wings because I wanted to be a new kind of fallen angel.
I never said I was going to rise up. You still don’t need that pocket notebook, I still don’t need your diagnosis.
Going now like spit from the sun’s mouth, I fly myself into the ground.

Writing Camp

The colors don’t sit still here.

They shift from foot to foot,

they pace.

They move in ceilings and basements

swallowing us into a world where colors

are more than colors

white has eyes that stare right out at you

and black is a hand you can hold.

The colors here, they stroll -

they go on walks in the moonlight

and you never see the same shade twice.

Each color is a stranger to your eye

who will never become familiar enough

to be a friend.

Mywordpool

It is a pool.

It is not a drawer

or a folder or a book.

It is not organization.

It is open envelopes

spilled out over the floor

and I’m trying to sort

my mail – the birthday letters

from the love letters

from the bills

from the crap

that’s given to

everyone else

and is nothing

worth reading.

- it is a pool.

and not everyone

likes to swim.

It is a pool, but not

a pretty one, not an indoor one,

not even a contained one.

It is a pool of spilled milk

all over the kitchen table

and not everyone is

ready to cry over me

- it is a pool.

and I’m over here

on the deep end

waiting for you to wade in

so I can toss you the lifebuoy

I don’t have.

This is a slow drowning

process, relax. and breathe.

This is not the kind

of pool you swim in -

this is the kind of pool

you die in.

and I’m happy

to have someone here

with me,

but not everyone wants

that company.

This is my pool,

and there are corpses

floating in the water

but also rose petals,

and the last pages of

all your favorite novels.

I love my pool,

I love those who

have been there,

and those who

never left.

I am content to

watch over it

until every last drop

has been evaporated and

carried out into the world.

- it is a pool,

waiting patiently

to become

something else.

To the People On the Other Side of the World

To the people on the other side of the world,

where my day is your night, and

my life takes place in the time

and space between bedsheets

and snores and noises in the dark,

and people stretching out their

arms and legs to get more comfortable,

I’ve had my most uncomfortable moments.

I’ve fallen and scraped my knees

while you clutched your blankets;

I’ve fallen in love and clawed my way out of it

while you adjusted your pillows.

I cried for sleep while you didn’t know

how lucky you were.

To the people on the other side of the world,

I’m as real as the nightmare you shake yourself out of

at two in the morning because you’re an adult

and you’re too old to be having nightmares.

I’m as tangible as the glass of water beside you

in the dark you’re too scared to reach for

though you’re dying of thirst; it’s hard to see

and you might knock me over.

To you, I’m the book lying wide open

on your nightstand that you haven’t touched

in weeks because you were too busy

touching someone else.

I am here but not here.

I am on the world, but not your world.

To you, my life is nothing but

a passing dream.

Deterioration

I would stand on this street corner

a thousand lifetimes with you

watching life and death wash over

like water on rock

while we pretend

we’re not eroding.

*speaking of water, I’m heading to the beach for some waves and sunshine this upcoming week. See you guys when I get back!  :)

Tell Johnny Game Over

The world is repeating its stories

I can’t tell you how many times

I’ve heard the one about

the kid with the bike

and the red backpack

nothing inside but a

toothbrush and a

salami sandwich

running away

from his life

for the first time

peddling like

he won’t be

back in an hour

I know what he’s

tasting and it

isn’t freedom

honestly

I’m tired of him

and I just want

him to go

home