Colored pencil and ink on paper 2010.
———–after Michael J. Hartwell
He says the fact that I don’t like it
means I’m getting old. He says
we’ve lived long enough that we’ve
done roses and diamonds to the death.
It’s the future, he says, it’s technology,
get used to it.
But if you’d visit, you’d understand.
If you could see it, orphaned black
box in the front lawn, the flamingos
craning their necks to get a better look,
wondering where the rest of the plane
went down, I know you’d agree.
Didn’t we always have enough light?
When you were a girl, can you
remember? Didn’t we do well enough
without this black mirror? If you’d visit
you’d forget this was your home. The glare
reflected onto the aluminum siding
paints the whole house stark white.
Published in The Oakland Review 2007.
The one-way swing looked like any other. That was half the problem. Not one batted eye until the children started disappearing. We shook down the alley cats first, as they see everything. The calicos were uncooperative, but the solids all suggested the witch. We stopped inviting her to barbeques, not wanting to be too harsh on just hearsay. When nothing came of it we upturned her geraniums and found sapphires and bottle caps fused to the roots. It was something, but it wouldn’t hold up in court. The marching committee suggested a march. The flyering committee suggested more flyering. The committee committee suggested fewer committees and more searching as we’d lost five children during the meeting. Now robbed of his one true calling, the treasurer of the arithmetic committee sulked towards the playground to count abandoned gloves. The head of the marching committee followed and since he possessed a walk of such distinct authority, the town hall fell in step behind him. (He’d been asked weeks ago by the mayor to only walk at night as the constant spontaneous parades he trailed in his wake were causing quite a traffic problem.) We came upon the dejected treasurer mid-swing. We were already too late. Some say they saw a flash of light. Some say they saw him sprout wings from the pleats of his seersucker and take to the skies. One woman says she saw Jesus, but she’s been injecting deities into recounted events for years so no one pays her much mind. The crowd fell into a hush when he disappeared, the seat of the swing jangling wildly from its chains. Someone called for a ladder and the fire truck came blasting through. After an hour of fruitlessly stirring the clouds, we went home. A week later, the committee for yellow tape (which now met secretly in the storm drains like all the others) wove a web around the swing set. Days passed, weeks. The children never returned. Word circulated that the treasurer had been spotted in Tucson counting sugar packets in a retro-themed diner but it turned out to be a dead end. A film was screened in the elementary school health class denouncing the swing in the hopes of sparing more innocents. It was a success, for the most part. Now we only lose one or two a year, usually middle aged men with a penchant for building model planes or young girls in white dresses who don’t seemed thrilled by anything at all.
Published in Gigantic Sequins 2010.
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.
Colored pencil and ink on paper 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.
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.