Intruder

My boyfriend will ultimately be forgiven

For any stupid thing he ever says or does

Because in his mind, also, I can do no wrong

You would do well to remember that

The next time you try to come between us

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The Private Place Where You Live With Me Part Time

You are at the sidelines of my poetry
only because you take your place
as the centerpiece on my kitchen table
in the form of a bouquet of roses
we bought for International Women’s Day

the red crowns so dark they are almost morose
and born of thorns leveled out
by the innocence of baby’s breath
when you went off to work, I sat by them
thinking back to my Victorian lessons
both of these clusters representing
if I recall, everlasting love and marriage

and I ran my fingers and thumbs
across the petals, fingering them
right off their stems until they fluttered
down to the table raining white and red
before I knew it, I had made a mess

then I gathered the discarded petals
the red and white settling into a path
to my bedroom and the shape of a heart on my bed
to stage the appearance that all I had done
while you were gone is wait and pine for your return

A Rescue Plan for the Woman who Lays in Bed Whining

Tyra would not get out of bed on her thirtieth birthday
or let me celebrate with her in any way
although she left the door open so I could let myself in
she tucked the blankets into all her edges
including her feet, with only her face bare
stubborn and grimacing

I tried to untuck her for a tickle into laughter
but she had armed herself against that favored tactic
I told her I would buy anything she wanted
or that she could buy it herself
because she was so much more successful than me
–nothing.

Then I huffed up my frustration and almost turned away
I muttered, Well, you’ll have to give up
And keep me company anyways
Because all of the idiots are going to do stupid things
And start dying off around this age

She didn’t say she didn’t care or cry or moan
so I looked over at her to find my reward
that she was grinning, so that was what worked
she slowly dressed and let me take her out
for dinner and dessert

now I refuse to answer my boyfriend
because I am thirty and unlike Tyra
spend almost all my time sleeping
so he prompts me with the baby voice
he uses to represent our puppy
a voice I could never argue with

and says, I have one hero, my mommy!
Oh really, Grendel. Why is that? Mommy hasn’t ever
accomplished anything but giving you belly rubs
and making you dog food omelets.
Not true, mommy! You saved me three times!
Really?
Yes.

The time there was a price on my head
You saved me from the Russians in Lynn
Who kept me in a cage and lied about my heritage
as if being a purebred would make me worth more than I already am
you saw past my knotted hair, bad breeding and ill manners
and paid an exorbitant price for me, always saying I was worth every penny

then at the dog park, when that scary dog put me in his mouth
and shook me while I screamed and bled
and all the other pet owners stood stunned
you ran past them, punched that dog in the mouth
and rushed me off to the hospital
where you held my paw and sang me songs

and then when our house burned down
you picked me up before you even put your shoes on
and carried me out snuggling my nose into your jacket
to protect me from smoke inhalation
and cooed to me so I wouldn’t be frightened
and rubbed my feet so they wouldn’t be as cold
as your own feet were getting, bare against the snow

you have done way more for me
mommy, than Tyra could ever have dreamed
of doing good for anyone by the time she was thirty
so how is she more successful than you, again?
I don’t know, I answered, but I’m feeling hungry
so I got up smiling, and dressed slowly for our dinner party

You were such an asshole

I felt like a fish

you had scooped out

of our aquarium

and pinned down lazily

with your pinkie finger

while you talked to other women

i was just trying to get to a place

where i could breathe again

 

and all of our fish

died soon enough anyways

from your loud music

and my screaming

i cried all night for them

while you stayed out

partying

They were wrong – I found someone

my first boyfriend threatened

that no one would ever love me again

when I left him-my second boyfriend said the same

and worse. That any man who wanted me

must be a monster looking to take advantage

of how sick I really was and that I would be driven

to overdosing – he said he’d look for me

in the obituaries. my mother admitted that

she subscribed to the paper for just that reason

I told her I wanted to go to college

she said if I didn’t die by the time

I finished my application

maybe I could be a receptionist

 

I was not born a daughter

into a conservative household

with silk scarves, salmon, greens

gold and silver jewelry plated

with my name-but look what i’m wearing

all golden “G” bracelets and rings

for Georgia, from my aunt

who mothers me once a week

 

tonight, we sat on her couch

with my arm over her shoulder and watched

the moving vans take her furniture away

over tea and for the first time I felt

like I was losing somebody