The women in Romantic paintings
are not always dainty. I admire Truth,
who pushes against beauty––
anger in the hoods of her eyes,
honesty in the folds of her skin
and fat as she climbs.
No mascara could glamorize
her whip’s brittle, broomy eyelashes;
her breasts fall so that her clavicle
can be fully confrontational;
her fingers are designed to propel,
not to nurture. We’d all do well
to meet her sunken gaze, to hear
the black voice that booms
from stone to stone, and to know
that the naked creases of her flesh
are a warning.
a moment’s pause when work
reveals clouds outside
grey and huddled
like a hotel blanket’s
that can never reach
of the sky’s
it’s only a temporary reprieve.
the room of your body
can be put to rest
but before long the clouds
you always wake up
to styrofoam cups
and cold powdered eggs
and cracked spoons.
On roadtrips, we all moaned
of squished toes. The minivan lacked
legroom; it seemed our knees
were millimeters from goring
our eyes. One of us would pull a chair back
and smack into another––
like a humanoid chemical equation,
shifting towards equilibrium,
fluctuating and hitting
each other’s shins.
We spent hours like that. Days.
Mom pulled her hair
and drove with her elbows.
We bickered while leaving the hotel parking lot
in the morning, and we sneered
as the car screeched into the next at night.
That was years ago. With a bigger van
came less time for the road.
We pack lighter now, only seven days
of clothes. We stretch our arms outwards
and still can’t feel the window.
We have space, but no time
for chatter, for yelling, for chair-fights.
The clock moves too quickly
for laughter and violence.
“Oh, I’ll just call a taxi; I gotta get up early tomorrow again.”
-Dodie Clark, “6/10”
To think that the ocean came all this way
for a chance to lap at your toes
is foolish, but you can’t help remembering
the puppy from your childhood home––
his drooping brown belly, his tail wagging
along the carpet, never happier
than when you came back from school
and he could ride the surf of your arrival.
Although it shot aches through his aging frame,
your tiny grandpa never failed
to greet you. These days,
the people you love are more apt
to push you away from their warmer pillow,
sending you a little closer to the carpet
than the ever-thinning blanket.
You wish nothing more than to feel
the sweet sea wind of your love’s breathing,
soft as the eyes of a puppy grown old,
and to know that the tide rises for you,
that at least the water is happy you’re home.
A strand of hornets has formed a nest
around my aorta. I am contorted
as they wriggle and writhe,
a malicious mimicry
of the honeybee’s synchrony.
They must perceive me
as an acceptable host;
the most I can do is hope, mouth
agape, that they will vacate
my cardiovascular space,
granting me privacy,
allowing me to move
by willpower alone, on my own
without feeling their medical-needle abdomens
so tediously close to my blood flow.
I used to think of myself
as quite the little fashion designer.
I spent hours poring over sketches:
young women with block-color hair
wearing dresses full of angles,
collars chopped crisp and low
to emulate the girls I’d seen,
the youthful actresses, the older cousins
who I someday hoped to become.
Every face shone bright
unless it was mine, when I drew myself
in baby blue and titled it “Shy Sky”––
that one features a reserved smirk,
and even the exaggerated emerald
I chose for my eyes falls flat,
impassable. It’s hard to imagine
I once thought of myself this way,
misunderstood and tightly self-reined
when really I have always possessed
the multitudinous vibrancy
of a fully-stocked box of pencils.
I have always sashayed and wept,
rainbows, ostentatious and unafraid
to illustrate myself brightly––
and although nervous to document
my full-blast vulnerability,
I’ve remained courageous in the flesh.
Author’s Note: Okay, so maybe I’m misleading you with the title of this post. The entirety of this poem was created on July 8, 2017, because I was a busy bee on July 7. But don’t worry––yours truly will still be providing a full 31 poems this month for you to enjoy.
If you stand in the middle of a remote interstate,
your nose in line the with the dashed yellow,
and extend your arms outwards
to indicate towards both sides of yourself,
you are likely to insist that to your right
is one field, and to your left,
another. Despite the fact
that the allegedly separate pieces of land
are impeccably identical (you are in an ocean
of cornstalks, beige and bent
like the reeds of countless discarded
clarinets) you don’t recognize them
as a barely interrupted, vast continuum
with a pre-human history wild and unpaved.
The skinny strip of gray
stretching like an arm languid on a table
from here to the hazy blue mountains,
is, to you, a border between two distinct spaces.