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I've Drawn Monsters since I Can Remember

When I was a child I had a small flip book—a kind of notebook bestiary. Each page was smudged and brimming with portraits made of wings and teeth, of sunflower petals and horns: desires made up of scales and yellowed toenails abutting soft green flesh. I realize now they were reflections of something I did not understand, and collected from ideas of a world that seemed breathtakingly huge and possible.

In hindsight, they betrayed my desperate urge to create something that had never existed before.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve never stopped drawing monsters. But largely, these reflections have shifted from those creatures that do not exist to those that do, albeit ones that are mangled and magnified into ridged, and painful constructions...

Stations

Inside the broken-necked chapel, kneeling in the debris of other people’s faith, she held up a stained glass fragment outlining Mary's perfect suffering.

“I could be like this for you,” she said. “I could mourn you so hard it would bring you back.”

I saw her then, in blue, lips bit ragged and bleeding, eyes luminous with the power of a loss unaccepted. A sunrise or bomb blast would turn the world into her halo.

But there, in the church, she brushed dust from her cheek with a pilled sweater sleeve, then held the colored glass flat between her palms. It disappeared like a street magician's trick.

She was supposed to wink. I was supposed to clap. But I took her empty hands in my own and to anyone looking through the rafters’ gaps, it would seem like we were praying.

Romance

If it became apparent that the world was about to end
some un-deflectable comet slung our way
from who knows where
or rising waters that won’t subside

I would make my way to where you live
and we would run off somewhere quiet
to see out the last day
together...

Bristol Board

I’m not going to respond to your Facebook request of joining a march downtown LA; I’ll simply show up. I can’t reveal how my politics don’t mesh with my workplace values because having a say in politics is no longer safe in a workplace. Not anymore.

I am trying to empathize with the person who wants to help
but also aware how it’s too late.

Because now you know the power of a response, to show your friends what you value. You should have shared that post about a woman’s right to chose is something you agree with, you shouldn’t hide your opinion. Who are you afraid of? Your boss? Your co-workers?

Is this where we are going?
Censoring our opinions in what should be a space of dissent...

Graspability

“How unusual to be living a life of continual self-expression, jotting down little things, noticing a leaf being carried down a stream…”
—Billy Collins

It’s a bad idea to start a poem
with a Billy Collins epigraph.
Not sure if I identify
with my baby or the man

describing himself. Snow
falls on a frozen lake,
this day after this one,
that day after that. Owen...

The Afterimage

On spring mornings,
I carry my mug of Earl Grey to the porch,
settle myself in the splintering chair,
hear the rattle and roar of the school bus,
don’t move.
Resurrect my children’s morning natter
in the playful chirrup of the birds.
Decipher snapshots of their smiles
in the afterimage of the sun.
Lean back
and rock...

Reading the Signs

Praise to the red foliage in the fall,
giving us a focal point in the midst of branch and brown.
The bittersweet, holly, and hawthorn pendulous on vine
and tree, studding the fading green leaves—
the earliest of these carnelian calling cards,
the smooth sumac, edging the woods of trembling
aspen, willow, and birch. Later we exult at the red maple,
the pin oak that awaken our autumnal reverie,
shaking and waving, letting loose their leaves...

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