Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Hold Your Thoughts

Say no new prayers over me
while my brain pan cools
and that last synapse discovers
no relay and
my self slips into
and hold your thoughts
like you might hold a call
while important business
was engaged in
and you were discovering
not mere words to say--but the right ones.

Stop time by ceasing motion:
no sudden tip of the hand of fate
be here, or now, but let
this blood spilled remind you
of where blood is supposed to be,
and let you know
once again, why it is wrong
to see it on the outside.

Don't cover my bled-out wounds
with bandages of words,
as if, mummified by rhetoric,
your thoughts and prayers
might raise the dead, and even better,
forestall your rush to defend
the bloodless weapon
that did my blood-soaked body in.

Give a little care for
the remnant of this
still-remembered ghost.
I was not your politics
and my still self should not
play its host. I was and then
not. But do not portray
me as victim to ideas--but know a person
unmade me.

And also unmade their self.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Swimming in their Blood

In the beginning was the first blow,
and the first blow begat vengeance,
and the next blow begat vengeance,
and vengeance begat vengeance,
like a family tree of misery.

The never-ending tit for tat
wrenched babes from tit and
tattered the world.
The vision of She Who Ever Fights
wades in the blood of the fallen
and her sword arm never fails.

And with each generation the lie
of who did what to whom and how
blood answering blood
will cancel the stain,
and ever do we see an
increasingly blood-stained history.

And microscopically I see
the everfighting bacilli
invisible to the naked eye
wading in the blood of those who
ever fight, infecting them
with bloody dreams.

For my steel, a needle
I might prefer, to subtly inject
an antidote to this bloody strain
that so poisonously infects,
inoculating with common good
against whatever this is
swimming in their blood.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Regarding Current Athletes

I wonder sometimes about
my body, and how I might have loved it better
had I accepted myself more.

Instead of wanting my
curves to disappear, what if I wanted them to do
things regardless of the looks?

If I accepted my bare self
and all the things I and that body could do
would I have done more?

My forty-ish body has
the beauty of gentle decline, soft
curved, genetically-blessed.

But it never was conqueror
on the field of play, nor exulted in triumph,
being pushed to an extreme.

At a pace where I set my standards high
and made myself the master of these
so many pounds of flesh?

Were my queer-bodied self more
authentically mine, might I have run it to a
more comfortable place?

And found myself more comfortable
in a less-stretched skin that I could live in?
Would I wear a different face?

I can not know, but only rejoice
in those whose bodies have become their voice.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Ghosts of Fallen Women

My head is always beset
with the visions of fallen women
bloody in hotel rooms,
murdered at home,
lying in ditches,
traduced and betrayed,
in Magdalene Laundries,
on coroner's gurneys,
throwing themselves downstairs,
taking pennyroyal oil
and bleeding,
dying for days.

These living women
haunt my conscience,
these girls who shrieked
their labor songs in chains,
or were jailed for dropping
their gifts like stones,
who threaded the path between
their addictions
and the health of two,

who took beatings knowing they
did not
take those beatings alone.

My mind is haunted
with the knowledge of gifted women
happy in motherhood
blessed with strength
privileged in many ways--
and they remind me also
of these so many ways
the freedom to bear
means everything.

And that the freedom to choose
one's life, and
the freedom over one's body,
and the triumph
of the once-"fallen"
is the only redemption I give a damn about.
For the sake of the dead and gone,
for the sake of the here and now,
and for the sake of those
to be.

Only choices
let my
women be free.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Barren land

Barren land that calls to me
for the hope of awakening,
she lies poisoned
and dreaming
plant ruined and soil shot,
fauna fled and
time forgot.

But this is our earth
and our mother
we must bind the soil to nitrogen
and make mother earth
give of herself again.

Barren land that calls to me
salted with iniquity;
dried up lakebed and wretched soil
evidence of toil--heedless.
And this bed unsmooth
the benefit of any lake to you
where water diverted feeds carrots and greens,

and provides for so many amazing scenes.

But now needless.
And the seed that falls
breeds less
on the barren land.
Poorly planned ill-used and unblessed,

We live on the barren land
until we try to need less.

And find the abundant resilience
in the barren land.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Dream is not for The Awakened

The American Dream
is leveraged to the hilt
if you must know what
became of it.
For those whose dream is
America alone--they have it
but for those told that we had such plans
luxurious, great, unbelievable?

Our borrowed education and
mortgaged homes
and credit cards to bandage over
our occasional failures of making
rent remind us that our freedom
to dream is not free
and our human capital
gives us only so much credit,
and it is so very amortized
over time.

The dream of steady work,
pensions, savings,
time to enjoy your spouse
and kids--translate to flexible schedules,
personal savings plans,
and occasional leave.
But none of this was the dream.

There was a time when you or I
settled, eventually
by our fig and vine,
and drank deep of the richness
of life and the reward
of upright and righteous living,
our future generations
planning their way
where a way was clear-cut
and paved.

We drop our generations
into gorse and thistle
and we ourselves beat
among the reeds.

The dream was sold away
by those with seller's lips
and coster's eyes to sell to
us the fruits of our own labor
at a price so dear,
we pass up material comfort
because dreams are cheap,
and success is
priced out of our market.

Why don't we dream?

Because we know.

Why don't we dream?

We have seen.

Don't sell your pitted wares
from this gilded pulpit
and forget the labor that
our wallet means--

You think a dream is our birthright--
but some would sell it gladly for
a hill of beans.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Scar

Between each hip
the scar runs
beneath the navel,
an abdomen bisected
by the blade
to take out
so many pounds of flesh;
as once flesh itself
cut her
below the navel,
her life
to idly insert
new life within.

Those who never saw
nature's bloody claw
will never see that scar,
for the modesty we give
will leave it, for them,
veiled in a mystery.
But those who know
that bite and scratch living
and the pain that throbs in
the vital thrust

that drives the arteries and
the veins and muscular torsion
of all our mammal descent into
life know
this reminder will always stay.
This is the nature of such scars.
One beneath the navel
to go with the half-remembered
cut between the legs.
The incision where
a decision was made
for her
because her body
was too small to protest
and too small to comply.

This reminder will always be
a line to the first
brutal time, and every
brutal time confronted
with the link
her body helplessly
formed in a fear made flesh
and brought into this world
with the violence

A connection to that man.
To his rights.
A gift to him
of fatherhood
unwillingly given
from her who was
called his
sometime child?

And as for well-wishes
and congratulations?
I wish those who made this happen
also wear a scar
being far more culpable for all
that transpired,
dear child,
than you are.

These children,
mother and child--
neither to be shamed
but in no argument
where "consequence"
is spoken of
can it be separated from
the moral frame.
That she "must" suffer
the curse of Eve--
her child,
(although one hopes not)
a mark of Cain.

I could wish you both a better world than this--
this one is always less than safe,
and has a logic worse than sane.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

What Matters

What matters is the terror
that makes the indignity
pale before
the need to cry out
in self-defense
of your body,
notwithstanding the
threat to your mind
or the threat to your
but the terror of control.

That word,
the specter of unseemliness
and the collective distaste
at the messiness
of so-called undignified
or unrespectable people;
the idea there should be self-control--

it's a lie.

When others have control
of you,
they strip that dignity and
they determine what seems
and make a new story
from the silence
of your stolen voice.

That undignified self
is a self robbed of dignity.
That unrespectable self,
is a self denied respect.

That control--
that some people have when
they shoot themselves while in handcuffs.

That control--
that some people have
when they find the strength to heave themselves up
by a bed sheet.

That control--
that some people have when they remain a threat
after ten or twenty or thirty
bullets fill their bodies.

That control--
that some people have when they
can provoke getting their body slammed
with a certain look in their eyes.

That control--
when all the education and self-determination
end up in an altercation
and a trip to a weekend
incarceration--no round trip.

That control, is a control
done unto,
and is done without respect for
your life.

And that is what matters.

And that is a situation very much out of control.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What it Takes

That phantom spell,
that dinner bell
that wreaks the breaks
from the ribs to the legs
My story swollen bellied to tell
richly feasting at
a wishing well.
My addiction lies between my brain
and my hips
to have something pass my lips
my dependency on carbon
fuel and simple sugars
and fats make me all that this body can be--

otherwise in the ditch is me.
Simply stating the biological necessity for sustenance
and who doesn't crave it?
But while we are here
where there is life save it--
restore the ecology that makes
menus complete and feed the faces pleading
that want for feeding
Unless we can feed the least of us--

the worms will make a feast of us.

Friday, June 12, 2015

To the nines

The cordite smell
can not linger
where the scent
of blossoms overtake
the senses,
borne in the arms of
ten million dakinis.

The oldest ruin
can only be so shattered,
but even atomized
it existed
somewhere, somewhen,
in our shared eternity.
And every burned book
contains an unburnable

My muses are better than
your artless god,
and give more joy
than your jokeless farce.
The diamond mind,
crystal sharp,
cuts through the
dross of hateful cant.

The clear sight
of creativity turns
force into a rainbow
that paints the universe--

mark me,

I will illuminate you.

Monday, June 8, 2015


When I pretended I was asleep
and rigid,
I felt something
and my heart sank
for what felt like hours.
And it was weird.

And I sat with myself,
not asleep,
for hours, wondering,
why and what, and what should
I even do.

And nothing came to mind.

I could do nothing, or say

Because nothing good comes
of saying something,
and nothing is always right,
because in the beginning was

and that was good.

And if I were good, nothing,
no, nothing happened.

And after all,
the best dreams come
when one is asleep.

Monday, May 25, 2015


Leave these
newborn graves
unbaptized with
fresh blood

and plan no
new battlefields
on the still-unsettled
dust of the old,

and have these parades
file silently by,
and finish
with "Taps"at twilight;

for we have
hallowed-up the dead
to deny to ourselves
that war is hell,

we have justified
our foibles on
their deaths' sake
and romanced

the gun that cuts
down lives
over their dead bodies.
Right or wrong--

their service was paid,
in the fullest measure
and should be played
for no dram more--

we honor them best
without glorifying war.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


The sky was white
and gray and stayed that way,
with dark leaves
of damp trees above
and the sound of one bird
chirping from
the feeder--
sounding like a recitation
of a to-do list.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Her Body: Brutal

She came home brutalized.
Her eyes were like dusty hollows
where pupils flitted like ghosts,
and her voice was a whisper, and she was ours,
even though her skin
was raised and angry
like she had slept with fleas
and her lank hair
begged for a wash.
And all we asked was that she kick--
not the rehab this time,
but we would watch her, and this time it would stick.

And that was the first month,
and we knew she was sick.
Doing it cold was like rebirthing daily;
I shuddered at her, and poured
the cough syrup down the drain, and
pitched the alcohol from
the medicine chest.
A toddler again, she wasn't trusted
with any poison under the sink,
but food she threw up like
a champ, and hygiene was like ambition,
and the second month she was talking
And I realized what she never asked for.
So I had to ask her when.

At 95 lbs if that why should she?
And when she was that far gone,
how could she?
And she didn't really know when she stopped.
Only it was a relief,
because it was another fucking thing
to cramp about. And then we got her tested.
(And for AIDS, and for Hep C.)

And blessedly it was only the best
and worst of the three
I thought about. Probably
first trimester, then,
although I couldn't imagine how this came about
except I could,
and how, and when,
and that she spent it on a fix,
and probably
wouldn't have thought of it again.

And it was it seemed suddenly
too likely, given all the math,
21 weeks or so when it happened.
Or had to have.
And what would we even call it?
Rape? How could that be proved?
And I would not have dared to ask her
and she lived under my roof.

And she didn't want it.
She wanted to kick.
And she didn't want it.
She wanted to go back to school.
And she didn't want it.
Because it couldn't work in her too-sick
too-small body, how frail,
and could not fit into her too-new
reborn life.

But none of that mattered.
Her body, like a wrapping
for an unwanted gift,
shredded so that she
could see the
generation she
left to be raised by me.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Her Body: Graveyard

The first time at twenty-five
I felt the child inside me alive
until the cramp and blood--
the violent ending,
of my unsung son.

And the second time,
she barely registered--
a missed period, a test,
and I guessed,
maybe yes--this time
I'd fight my biology.
But I fought nausea
and in tears knew
how quickly
ceased to be.

My hard-fought fertility
has taken me from
the bed to the ER
to doctors and the spare
couch where I have sat,
paging through unaffordable options,
to have
just one, adorable child.

So tell me,
when this one dies,
if it dies, under my heart,
when do I start to heal--

with a surgical finish
and a promise that we will meet again?
Or will some
jumped up motherfucker
make me leave his little
joined in me until the
rush of
thankless labor
some days off
let me unburden the ghost
of another child I did not have?

Make my heart a
and inscribe there
their names unwritten
for what your laws will make
of my potters' womb.

A monument to death in me.
My life a tomb
for your

After this.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Her Body: Home

She saw the pills in the drain of the sink,
covered in coffee grounds.
He could have rinsed them down--
but he wanted her to see.
She thought about rinsing them off
and hiding them somewhere like her purse,
but she didn't. Playing that game
would only make it worse.
She told herself she could get more
if she said she was just seeing her ma;
he would let her go then, she could
make it quick--it wasn't so far.

And then a week went by and she didn't go.
And then there were two.
By the third week she thought
about it a lot; by the sixth week, she knew.
She couldn't say a word to him--
he'd only rub it in her face
and she didn't know what story
might get her to that other place,
the one halfway across the state
with the 72-hour wait.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Her Body, Battlefield

The battle was here
on her skin,
under her nails,
thick in her nostrils,
warm at her legs,
for moments,
desperate for weeks.

When the
became her emergency
the truce flag
was waved
not by herself
but by the heroes
she thought might
have saved

but she
was given up for dead
on the battlefield
of her body
(or at least, hors
de combat),

and her occupier was
treated with
as if
she mattered no more.
For on one battle
rested her entire

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ley Lines

Who am I
when these changes come
and yet they only gracefully intersect
my centered lines?

My lines are not broken
with my past,
my heritage,
my family,
my self-knowledge--

I grow bigger with
more knowledge,
stronger with more choices,
happier with more freedom,
satisfied with more truth--

and your truth doesn't cancel
out mine,
nor your activism
shade me.

My magnetic pull
is true north-bound
to the pole star
I'll fix my instruments by,
but I

know my journey will be varied

and many stars are out there,
and this ocean is wide enough
for your journey and mine.

So I will honor both the places we intersect--

and know the places where we don't.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Her Body Migrant

They wanted her
back down,
no hope,
used, traded.

nightmares only.
Freedom denied
and penetration
Stolen life
a story
of transit-points
and bargains
and sometimes,

she was the chip.

This seed
that tastes like shame

holds a body in bounds,

and would you dare bargain for her
freedom with indifference to her

not call this thing "rape"?

Make her body the place
you sink in your
staff and wave your
merry flag? A fish and a cross?

Fuck yourself.

Her body is her proof.
Let her have her freedom.

And leave your beady little conscience
to its worrying stones.
She bore her cross
why should she bear
a crown of thorns?

Her body is not your business to shame
but the burden you
to know.

And if you do not dare--
speak no more of her fate
slink down from your place;
for you have no right to
what you would
not face.
Her body,
and the sanctity of its life.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Eating Dust and Bone

Eating dust and bone
with  bled-out mouths
through tears too dry
to leave traces,
they were staring out
at a land called hope
with no hope left
on their faces.
When the danger fled,
danger still hung on,
the form of a brother
changed to a
treacherous friend--
the story so old
they could tell it to
with an ending
that tastes of dust
and bone.

Ten long years back
they were brave and awake
that the danger faced
could be made erased.
But that treacherous friend
simply lay in wait
letting the danger come back
by looking away.
They were promised guns
and the fat of the land
and got decades of war
and the back of the hand,
Could one be sore?
No, it was written in stone
if only they ever read
they would see,
that promises made were ever
dust and bone
and all they ever could be.

But the promises made
that lead to lives far worse
should be understood as
evil as a magician's curse
and the echoes back
from where they began
should cause sleepless nights
for the certainly damned--
as they sit at great tables
in their stately homes
may they taste nothing
but dust and bone.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Asphalt and the Silvered Sea

The shine under the streetlamp
shows frozen ripples,
silvery and wet,
and smoother than belief.
It's a hazard to walk
this mirrored way
or drive even in the black
hollows where
tires have gone before.
The salt is buried,
crystal within crystals,
a white blur in the slick
clear sheen--the steps and
the railings are glass,
the cars are glazed,
and the rain all silver--
a gentle mist,
transforming to
a pounded hardness
against an asphalt ocean,
the dark road
to a silvered sea.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Insurgency

It's like imagining the stained glass
and the mosaic floor
the perfect solemn light
that once led your
youthful eye looking
to the heavens--destroyed,
The spiral markings on the floor that
welcomed you as a crawling child
to the mysteries from your
mother's womb,
to the family tomb--
blotted out with
swirling and unstoppable--
and you wonder--

Is your identity effaced?
The self erased?
When the things you felt
because of the culture you were dealt
were displaced?
Or defaced?

Time crashes in
on your timelessness,
needs sucks up to your nourishment,
want crowds your mental wealth,
dignity of man ascends to
lean on your spiritual health, your ladder
no climax above this fleshly hell,
learn this well--

this edifice of faith
was fairy cake
meant to melt eventually,
beautifully decorated,
but your truth
must be
with you.
Decide (deicide) if you break free
to  reality or
let your umbilical
be your noose
and drop like a stone unborn
to the watching world;

Because your life is a burning candle in
a stiff breeze,
dampening your wit by degrees
and a rock or a hard place is your only bed--
sleep well.

You wrestle with angels on the morrow.

Friday, January 9, 2015

No Place To Lay His Head

The shops were closed
and before dusk
the temple was vacant
as not
since the war.

As many masjids
as there were hours
saw broken glass,
or threats.
And people feared.

And the pens weren't
and neither were swords,
as some struck with letters,
and others, firebombs.

As, a thousand miles away,
villages disappeared
in a blasphemy
more vulgar than any
comic's art;

While a writer
tasted the first of a thousand lashes.
As innocent as a prophet
and clothed with the same flesh,

twisting with nowhere to lay his head.
While I lay safe in my hole
as birds in their nests...
sharpening my quill.