songs of paralysis, part 108

you prick me into silence. my mouth that opened to you
and let you inside, split my whisper of a frame into two
halves– it no longer works, it is wordless and frozen shut
but still hurts like a bloody, bloody cut.

you sting me into stillness. my hands lay dead at my side,
hands that felt the bird-beat of your pulse that hides
beneath your skin, your vulture’s wings and browned talon
that tear into my heart, collect my insides by the gallon.

you lacerate me into numbness. my body is now without
any feeling, empty as a promise, and there is no doubt
that you have turned me into nothing more than a plaster cast
of who i was, just a discarded thing of your past.


my father’s brain

i drive with my father’s brain
wedged between the seats. we go
to get coffee and i sit with it
for a while in the car, listening
to its insistent questions
“can you get me a glass?
can you get me a pudding?
can you get me some ice?
can be a good daughter?”
i know how to do all of the above
except for the last one
somewhere, wedged in the back
of my brain
is an image of my father
standing in the garden
and letting me use
the hose and miracle-gro
on the plants.
i didn’t grow much that summer,
or maybe i did.
somewhere, wedged even further back
is the memory
of unemployment
of slamming doors
of thrown objects
of screaming
of broken things
but mostly i think of my father
of the wadded-up napkins
on the radiator next to his
favorite chair
and the strewn newspapers
pudding cups
empty glasses
and his blue eyes
that are always tearing
for some reason.
i carry my father’s brain
on two shiny compact discs
to the neurologist.
“here is my father’s brain,”
i tell the medical receptionist.
she probably hears that all the time.


i swallowed the hive of bees to keep from eating but it was no
good. they stung my lips, my bee-stung lips pouted and pressed
against yours, my teeth nibbled at you like you were a chocolate
easter bunny (always the ears first) then swallowed capsules to
ensure you would be expunged from me later. my fingers gripped
the rim of the toilet and it has such a bad rep but then it is
light like emptiness, empty like lightness. but i am still swollen
with need, my lips are stained like plums that have too many carbs,
i want to cry the fat out of my eyes, i want to vomit up my organs
because they are so heavy inside me. i slowly lick the magazine
covers to taste what skinniness tastes like, which is like nothing.
i eye you where you lay spread out on the bed like the sweetest
banquet, your head like a soft peach, your heart dripping caramel.
and i am a hungry girl.

spigots and ingots

i strangled the veins in my neck until my face blackened and fell off
but you still knew me anyway by the ink in my skin and the length
of my nails, they matched perfectly to your bloodied back and when
will i feel clean enough to get out from beneath the spigot of regret
and when will my brown hands whiten and stiffen like the most perfect
sculptures that would cup over your ears so that you might hear the sea
where floats the world. a half grain of sand closer and you might fall
into the space between my headboard and pillow, where i kept a dream
too wizened to be called beautiful, too secret to be spoken. you smile
with gold teeth and i pluck an ingot from beneath your tongue but it is
only pyrite, and who is the fool now.

the sexy femur

who knows how many bones lay beneath the sea. there’s a fish swimming
round and round my femur, when skin was there he said i had nice legs
who knows how many children the escalator has eaten, i do not wait,
i walk up the escalator when i can, maybe that is why i have nice legs
who knows how many landfills are made up entirely of scratch-off lotto
tickets, i used to go dumpster-diving behind the dunkin donuts, my legs
sticking straight out–here i hit the jackpot, i saved you a chocolate
one. i look at pictures of myself when i was a girl, how skinny my legs
were, thin as fish bones, how i didn’t know that men could (and would)
like them, that they were something someone would want to touch,
now whenever a man grips my leg i just think of the bone inside, hip
to knee, flesh stretched over (i suppose in an attractive manner)
and though it may be the longest bone in my body, don’t think you’re
going to go that length because behind that scratch-off there’s only
a hand waving goodbye.

songs from the shells

the bright urge of her summer-shocked patch of sea in the cape
lay as immersion naked but for the solution of salt–she shunted
sand, castle-like delusions of grandeur (formed, of course, by dyed
plastic, the hollow turrets radioactive) and found no shells this
season except for the conch of his ear, delicate spiraling
into unreachable blackness that her tongue-tip could never touch,
and something had to die inside it for her to be able to cup it
with her palm and whisper the siren song of madness and rage,
of breadth that cannot be measured except by thumb, of stars
that willfully trace their own paths across the sky, of love
in the curl of a wave that always, always breaks. and somewhere,
she blows softly and a mollusk dies, and he can hear it.