kind of a rewrite

Electric Light Orchestra



You lie on your back, singing,

don’t bring me down.


We’re both on the roof,

but only one of us falling –

it’s that kind of party. 


Pop tarts, cigarettes, grape soda —

a broken razor we use

to cut the bad out,

a pink lighter that almost works.


The scenery passes us

three times in black and white.

Your glasses wobble, rise like stoned butterflies.


I’ve tried various ways to forget:

flowers, drugs, electrocution.


The lawn after,

a mouthful of poison emeralds.


It’s been so long, everything smells

like the back of someone’s van;

even the dog ducks away, refusing to talk.


more girly ghosts

Q & A

Are you serious about this?

Here’s your suspense: the story ends with a puff of smoke.

The past approaches on tiny thread-legs, toddling across my plum-colored pillow, rolling in my perfumed hair.

How can I talk when you’re so far underground?

It’s been so long, everything smells like the back of someone’s van.

You once told me, you can’t keep comparing animals to other animals.

We were both on the roof, the sun coming up, but only one of us was jumping — it was that kind of party.

I’ve tried various ways to forget: flowers, drugs, electrocution.

Then, dawn didn’t break so much as swarm into view. Those green shards hid you for months, even the dog ducking away, refusing to sing.

Remember my purple hands?  Pop tarts and grape soda, a pink lighter that worked half the time.

What were you steering for?

more tiny claws and bites

What Got Loose Inside

And so, after ten each night, the animals in the walls stumbled near the ceiling, spoke in low, broken voices, rustled to and fro. I had no idea things like that could be

ended with traps or poison; I grew up thinking that all walls were gnawed thin, infested: sleeping with a heavy flashlight under my pillow to club whoever got close.

like a YA thriller, the animal gods trample my offerings

Notes Towards an Autobiography


Last night, the moon was a limping fox
whining at my door and trampling my offerings:
blue bowls of newspapers, burnt pencils and curdled milk.

I fear the purple lips of my father after wine.

I miss the breath of my horse, how he would tear at my blonde hair.

I love the unhemmed edges, the broken tooth, the self wallowing
in its own pink jail cell.


In my dreams, I ride my mother’s cow over a cliff and learn to fly.

Most of the time, I am climbing the walls of my tree house.

I fear the wasps drown my voice.

My childhood was a boat unbuilt each night
above a marsh of beer and old blood.

I learned to read by the light of the villagers’ torches,
ignoring the pitchfork tines as they tickled my ribs, my spine.

more arguments with ghosts

You Visit as a Bird, a Hat


I am dreaming or remembering.


In the backyard, a flaming hysterical cardinal (or your red cashmere cap) kneads my scalp with tiny sharp claws, as if to burrow inside.


You tell me your hair didn’t “dissolve” – you shaved it first.


And the restapled fabric of the brim fills the air with the sound of someone’s questions, and seizes my knuckle with a greedy, peanut-shaped beak.


You are making that face again but you don’t quite have a “face”.


Knit circles in the shape of roses glued above the left ear, throat pulsing with melancholy whistles, a black riding cap slops about your skull, loose after chemo dissolved your hair.


I start to ask if this is the “ghost you” or the” real you,” then stop myself.


Sometimes I type, “you are I” when I mean something else.


Beside a two-dollar beret the pink of self-pity, a redwing blackbird lifts and swings into mist.

in cheap motel rooms

Shadow Hobbies

Somebody signing the motel registry

left-handed, someone

else pretending to be my dad or brother. The vodka

from my father’s boot

in the pocket of my jeans jacket.

Kneeling, a new kind of cardboard angel.

Bending, and falling

out of windows.

Here’s where the rupture in my ear

holes started, God’s dead music:

a piano playing underwater.

directions to my place


Stop at a turnstile.  Get out a book. No, not that

one. Starlings whistle, old hinges. Instead of a bird,

think “spray” or “eyeliner”. Doors open and close,

a sound like falling wind chimes. Men try to light

their cigarettes on the platform. Wind blows through

their hands, slaps at matches. You never. Instead of fire,

imagine “damp”, think “underneath.” Write, “everyone

can tell that’s a wig.” This time the announcer is a man.  He

apologizes again. The cat in the carrying case cries

like an emasculated wolf, full of miniature fury.  Pretend

not to hear him. In each part of this small night, the night

has been lightening. Your clothes radiate and flutter,

the Gatorade freezes your hands. Neon fathers, small,

disappearing lights. “What’s wrong with your feet?”

More “make” believe, a shopping bag promises. A girl

removes a spray paint can from her back pack, rattles it with

a muscular wrist.   The opposite of girl is “bottle cap”.

Starlings whistle like hinges. An organ held tight.

You never finish anything well, there’s always threads

hanging, bones unmended. The opposite of stars is neon.

“What are you writing?”  “Nothing.” (The opposite of

cloud is mud.) Her spotless tan coat spread around her,

a woman vomits quietly by the trash bin. She crouches down –

soft, fawn volumes arch out, a cloud.  The opposite of hoof is engine.

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