We Were Atheists

I read about the temperament of Inuit parents
from the night into the morning
and the disciplinarian tactics
they use instead of yelling at their children
the softly spoken folklore of so many generations
that if you don’t wear your hat in the winter
the northern lights will pluck your head of your shoulders
and play soccer with it!

My beautiful mother might’ve passed for Innuit
if she covered up her course, stubborn black mass
of tightly bound ringlets with a hooded sealskin jacket
a wild Grecian afro which I was always trying to unfurl as a baby
by grabbing pieces of it and pulling with my fat little fist

she told me once that Satan lived across the street
would raise the blinds in my bedroom
and point at the little brick house before I fell asleep
although I’m not sure why she did this
my reaction was mainly wondering if she was sick
and seeing horrible things I couldn’t

and she taught me to twirl my rage flagrantly
as a baton with fire on both ends
and the metal on the staff also burning hot
until her hands and mine were a blistery mess

everywhere she went a trail followed
of vehemently rejected apologies
smashed vases, scattered roses
people who used to be friends or boyfriends

and then there was me–I ended up hiding
we were not Innuit or Mexican
or any culture that can be celebrated
in a Pixar film or an NPR article
we were atheists
I’d like to raise children, now
but I don’t know how to do it


Still mad

You once said I wasn’t like anyone you’d ever met

After our fight, I can say the same thing

I knew you could be arrogant

But I never knew anyone to be such a bitch

I’m so mad at you that I’m writing a Russian novel about the way you blew me off

She was my friend when you weren’t
not only did she say I could visit her
but that I could stay for months

you didn’t even say
it’d be nice to see you, but
so now you are the downtrodden character
in my novel, who will eventually die
all alone in the Siberian forest
from frostbite, maybe, I haven’t decided yet

but the important part is the phone in your hand
which will be bagged for evidence
by the local police department who will contact me
because after all these years
I was the person you ended up texting
at the end of your life, you will think of me

and I will say, sorry
I don’t understand Russian
What is this, some sort of a scam
no, I don’t want your prince’s money
in a lump sum and I wont give you my information
and I will hang up on them even though they said your name
it will have been too heavily accented
and too far lost by then for me to comprehend

A Careful Measurement

It’s all I can do since you stopped writing to me
to recreate your image in a story
in which you are as tall as you ever were
and as sleek with the same bushy hair
but I’ve added some embarrassing skin afflictions

you are trotting across a country road in the rain
and to my credit, I don’t let any cars hit you
there is nothing but thunder and lightning
striking through the gravy of a sky
with the consistency of porridge
I have surrounded you with this setting
as a suffocating, lonely blanket
the mud staining the bottom of your skirts
and all the cows and horses in hiding
somewhere warmer than you will be able to find
until several chapters later
the scene is lumpy gray with mud and clouds
both splashing and infuriated
then, as you are running, your heel breaks

that is exactly how much I hate you today

I was absolutely right, but she doesn’t need to know that

When an old friend says Fuck you
and Go fuck yourself in quick succession
I tell her the conversation has ended
and it was completely inappropriate
and uncalled for to use that kind of language
that I just won’t stand for it

then I have to dust off
my internal Rolodex of all the times
i have used these phrases
against the patriarchy, mostly
or those who have tried to impose it on me
in my poetry and drunkenly
but never to a friend
just, you know, every lover
I’ve ever had

I have other friends, I started thinking
who still actually live in this country
and are vying to see me
too many, actually
I could use the gap of one less
to my advantage
I could use that time
to read or pick up a language

it is my ambition to never be sworn at again
and i could do it — for the most part
over the past few years, i have
but wouldn’t I miss her?

I pull over to the side of the road
on my way home, put the hazards on
and email her a question
are you ok? and then i add
a totally unwarranted apology
for both of our benefits

Dear Trump, you should be ashamed of yourself.

“This is a very scary time in our country

where men can just be accused of anything

and it seems like until they’re proven innocent

they’re guilty.”


“President Trump, do you have a message

for the women?”


“Women are doing great.

I have nothing to say to them.”


you have nothing to say

to over half your country

about the fact that this

home of the free

is one of the most dangerous

countries for women


Here’s a hint

just because straight white men

are finally taking a hit

does not mean that minorities

and women are winning






and you know what i hate most

more than half the time im too afraid

to even leave my apartment- most recently

a man told me i can’t have the preference

not to read straight white male poetry

and then he told me to delete

all the poems I’d written

and then I was afraid he had a gun

so i apologized to him

and i just stayed in


But yeah, it’s a very scary time

for men.