All I’ve got left in this empty house
is lukewarm Grey Goose—
and small talk—that prattles about
in my brain—for hours
—everything I said,
everything I did,
—a rapid fire
of crossed wires and neurons.
My brain’s a wormhole of its own conception
I feel numb. But I was the one—
who looked back.
I don’t care.
I can still hear the flame
brazened body language—
translated into verbs and nouns, now—
as I brood and smoke what’s left
and forgotten, too—
of your cheap menthols.
My spine resembled hers, you said
and it disgusted you. We lay there all night, breathing slow breaths of fire
to opposite sides of the room.
I don’t care.
Maybe it’s staring craters into fine lines
—as the firing squad descends
and a smile as the first shot rings out—
death’s last call.
—Because, what’s anything, if memories are, and will only ever be—
lost projections, set on a timer.
I don’t care.
I’m a derelict kite lost in the flutter,
just restlessly—in search
of some unknown hand
to grab me.
I don’t care,
I think what burns
halos into my corneas as I refuse to unshut,
is that just maybe:
I do care.
Too much, intense. Too—
real. Too obviously caring.
Still as I sit,
I Keep A Menagerie of Men’s Hearts on My Mantle
I killed a man in a county
whose name I forget—
It started out as mere obsession—something my therapist calls:
I was a cheap thrill seeker—
and He was the Denali
on acid. My therapist says—
maybe you should just forget.
—but I’ve already forgotten, and His memory—behind the barrel of His own Smith and Wesson. One hand in my pocket—I laugh as I bring the chamber around
and lock it in place.
I never hesitate,
—my Russian-Red lipstick stained on His cheek.
He washed me away—slow at first, until my psyche was fully eroded—but awake.
I was the other woman—to her.
The woman who knew,
but still—poured a Scotch over neat,
when he came home smelling of sex
The harlequin who carried
His grandmother’s diamond—
and a serrated Santoku
under the pillow.
—I carved this smile myself.
He created a prison for me to inhabit—
a web I spun into fairy dust.
And I bought it with my sanity.
—when it was good,
—it was really good.
But I was so vain.
His power. His wealth—
I was twenty-nine and forest-green
in an arena of fire.
He was another God
I dreamt into existence—
a Fata Morgana on the thirsted lips
of a question.
Two-faced, one cheek to the mirrors edge—
I see myself,
precocious and twenty-something still—
a meadow of crimson clovers
on the dawn of unseasoned-spring.
Other times—blood-shot eyes
and purpled bruises rouged
in bronzer—my neck
between His teeth.
—Maybe the persistence
of memory is mere pestilence to the human psyche—
and I’m sat here pretty
in my own sanctification—
because maybe Jesus—
was just another man.
—crowned by the minds of the sick
and lonely, and maybe we’re all just idealists
—creating wine out of water,
—and dying of thirst
in the process.
Everyone here has a story,
and we discuss it all like old maids
at brunch. I haven’t actually felt the sun
on my skin in fourteen days now. I trace water droplets on foggy window panes as they race towards the bottom to be the first
My roommates from old money— Boca raised, and coming off another booze-hazed bender. This is her fourth time here
—and still, she uses our bathroom to vomit
dinner—no mind who cares. I watch
thick clouds turn into old silent films,
a tapestry of sky under a backlight
of moonlight. I miss the bloom
of my mother’s favorite—
outside the window of my childhood bedroom. It’s violet-blush—violent, against the rest of the winter-dead landscape. I’m five hundred miles away— getting drunk on old cartoons—liquid tv afternoons,
and I think:
I’m getting down with this disease—now.
I eat my Cheerios pre-portioned, from a Styrofoam bowl—raspy to alert
everyone when I take a bite
—with full-fat milk.
I try not to think about the physical action, spoon-to-mouth-thirty-two-times, before I’m allowed to stop—
I think about that fat-bellied iguana
I saw out the bay windows yesterday—when everyone else had visitors—
and I sat alone,
with focused gaze—
a full admirer of his strut across the plush
St. Augustine. He wasn’t even aware
he owned a body.
The nurse wakes the almost dead
first—every morning at five
with a courtesy-hard knock,
and demand: Vitals in five!
I join the rest of the herd who linger —strange ghosts in wait.
We line up, unnamed cattle—ready.
To be weighed and prodded
and pushed down the conveyor belt
—with buckets of chalk-tar Ensure to cushion the landing.
Fattened like pigs ready for slaughter
—I’m allowed outside, but tears are rolling down the window panes again, and the suns still missing.
My white hospital gown billows—
Clair de Lune in the Dead of Winter
Every Sunday when the sun started to bud
its head through the canopy of dead—speckled dogwoods, coffee-tongued
and morning medicated, she’d peel
back the dust covered fallboard
on her time-stained Bechstein,
like she was lifting the lid
off Pandora’s jar.
Her fleshy skeletal instruments—
just bound bone in flickered white eggshell bounded off, across the rosewood soundboard. The glass-latticed sunroom where I watched, and she rarely ever spoke—quivered with a gusto as she warmed up
her nimble fingers. In her criticisms—
she was Monsieur Croche.
She would grab my hands and place them on the bare-polished mahogany and say: Close your eyes.
Feel the music, first.
Then you can play.
Behind paneled gold-floral,
with eyes shut wide.
She became Claude Debussy
in his third movement of Suite Bergamasque. Each note shivered my skull—as tiny-felt covered hammers
inside the belly,
struck steel strings.
A player piano sits in its place now—
The capriccios and concertos
that once throbbed
throughout this house
are all lost with their host,
to the hollow harmonics
of frozen clocks,
Slow Southern State
Dancing on the hardwood feeling good,
I snap my fingers. Listen.
At a horse track in Hot Springs my father bet all his life savings on a palomino Quarter Horse named Diamonds Sparkle.
When my grandfather peppered
his seed across the alluvial floodplain,
cotton cropped up like a southern snow
in September. My grandmother’s hand-stitched quilts lopped like gongs on the washing line. Blighted youth, blackspot
on roses, butterfly milkweed, I murmur
as I tumble ass-backwards—headlong,
my blithe youth behind me. I’ve come this far, barefoot and mean, out of the backwoods of the Mississippi Delta. Dipped in Southern drawl and mud-stained fervor—
a water splintered levee—it doesn’t ask why first. It has a rhythm to it,
a gentle pulsing—
like my grandmother’s spider-veined hands
in the biscuit dough. Her food, thickened
all her toothpick-limbed children,
and my grandfather, mellow like smooth corn whiskey. Under a setting sun,
his bourbon-boozed breath
came in small spurts.
Most folks talk too much,
he’d say, aiming chewing tobacco
into an old coke can.
He never murmured.
Sometimes he’d look
out across at the tar-tinged night
and talk nonsense with the invisible choir
My innocence clucks
like a chicken hauled off to the chopping block. Goodbye fruit flies cruising
the heirlooms. Goodbye pecan pie
and homemade vanilla bean.
Goodbye my cover of coots that grandmother fattened every morning with slivers of leftovers.
Where the word holler was both
a verb and a place—where ramshackle
little mud huts were made.
Some words are rickety doors creaking
open, and I walk on— through another lost summer,
a red-stained road
to an end. The cicadas still sing.
One of these days,
I’ll be gone.