Not in a Ha-Ha Way

If you wake up late for your job at the mill
screaming until you wake the house, tell
my sister that you need your time card
need your hard hat, need the number of
that electrician and then next week you
are in Korea, having downed your plane
and are screaming about bananas, seeing
them again for the first time as they grow,
upside down and then you are in a prison,
your leg caught on the bars of your bed,
calling my mother a bastard, calling my father
a bastard, asking where the other bastards are
so you can call them too, saying you were never
any good or I’ve never seen you before or you bitch
you bitch you’re trying to kill me, then one day you are
at the table eating a grilled cheese and when we ask what it is
if you say a desk, then I am sorry but we laugh.


Published in OH NO 2011.


I know how to disappear.
I learned it from my mother
who learned it from her mother
and my great grandmother
who went poof! one night
right in the middle of dinner.
After that, my grandmother went,
in between white sheets hanging
on a line in the yard, poof!
Then my mother as she held me
in the hospital, leaving me squirming
on her flattened gown. Even as a baby,
I could see how it was done.
At home, I would catch the men
standing outside at night with their palms
turned upwards. Once a cousin brought home
a magic kit and everyone howled for days.
When I left, they watched me with binoculars,
the horizon dotted with reflecting eyes.
Here, no one believes me. They laugh
at me at dinner parties, spilling their drinks.
They tell me to prove it, and I would.
But it’s the kind of trick you can only do once.

Published in Open Thread 2009.

Watching Episodes of ‘I Shouldn’t Be Alive’ in Reverse

We like tears sucked into ducts, the way
waterfalls look running upwards. Viewed in reverse
the sea ejaculates helicopters and lightning.
Bears appear with limbs in loose jaws, healing
hikers and tidying campsites. A ribcage coughs up
buckshot. The mountain inhales its shelf of snow.
We like the hour condensed, flares asleep
in their nests, lifejackets stowed safely overhead.
We like to watch the ice beards melt, the sallow
eyes give up their yellow. Everyone grows handsome
and hopeful. We think it better to end at the beginning,
husband kissing wife hello, child tangled into arms.
We think love can exist independent of shipwrecks
and shark attacks or just that it can be enough,
just that you shouldn’t have to earn it.


Published in Night Train 2011.