Being Human Hurts

I was once an ugly girl without a single friend
my own mother did not love my face
and many spit upon it
it was difficult, but I learned to read
and laugh, and alone I danced

then I was once a pretty girl
who spit on many faces
because they laid down in front of me
and it was just so very easy
and anyways, they wouldn’t have been there
if I was ugly, so they were not friends to me

now I have grown to become human
chasing this real, fractured friendship
that has come to mean everything to me
and I don’t understand
who has spit in which face
but just that I want you to
come back again

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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 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

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

It’s a New Life

What is it about travel that is so like a mosquito
stricken with malaria who sucks all the blood
in steady dew droplets from a friend
who would once have offered me her arm
to climb across the snow banks
not caring when our boots flooded
in a valiant search to hunt and gather the ingredients
rosemary, chicken broth, eggs, rice, and lemon
to add a warm glaze to our storm

but here, it’s happened again with a different woman
droning the same infectious narrative
like sap, her blood for me drips slowly and freezes
as the smile on my face does
when I see that she’s finally written me
then spares not one warm, friendly word
only that she won’t come home again
and isn’t that exciting for her?

Idiot box

I am rooting through the trash bin

Of my discarded friendships

Balled up like so many old Kleenex

Some of them bloody

Some worn thin

Trying to figure out what happened

There were Alicia, Christine and Mandy

Who got boyfriends and decided they didn’t need me

And perhaps left with the thought

That I was some sort of closeted, platonic lesbian

Just because I liked them so much

Then there was Drake

who in his sex alone was different

He would recite Sylvia Plath

From memory and edit my poetry

I’d drunkenly ask him to go skinny dipping

I discarded his Kleenex

After crying into it

The result of an illwilled

Academic argument

And now there is Lavinia

Sitting in the corner of the cafe

With pigtails and a sour expression on her face

Who says I’m so sick of this mysogynistic idiot box of a graduate degree

It’s to the point that I’m flirting with misandry

She is chewing open mouthed and spitting rage

We have an engaging dinner

Then she demurs, so I pay