Collage Poem

Conversations with Mother


You have to enter the forest to meet its characters. The buffalo is about being tamed and untamed. As well as preserving, classifying and displaying. “Can you see the air?”

A peach-infused pink rug, light turquoise brushed up against the walls. Windows shudder, rooms heave as if turned by a broken machine: trying to simulate that which cannot be simulated.

Without guilt or limits or satiety or exhaustion.

One huge eye, no wings, and long, curving legs.  All its feathers sketched in, but with such tiny marks, they look like fur.  This on a set of plates in your cupboard.

She grinds the cigar embers out with the toe of her white sandal.  Three bracelets on each wrist, and even their rattle sounds mournful, mortal.

Her lap: a grid of imperfect white dots against a black background.

Sword = snake. “Thing” to sleep against with a cold sharp grasp.

“Stupid dog”, she calls, “It’s not even supper yet.”

“What kind of animal is this?”  Ashtrays, paper plates. “Do you even know its name?” Just sits and stares blindly, forgetting everything.

One glass jar containing one hair bow, one gem razor, one pair tweezers, and  one set rubber “hillbilly” teeth.

You worry about hurting the bird as you eat, about scraping her skin or beak.

The mouth of the sink speaks slowly, in a voice you almost recognize.

“Give me your hand,” she insists, “I’ll break it down for you.”



(Notes: Some lines taken from Spalding Gray’s It’s a Slippery Slope (1997), PRINT, 66.4 August 2012, Freaks, by Leslie Fiedler (1978), and The Wonderworld of Science, by Warren Knox (1940).

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.