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


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

A Story

once, i thought i listened to a story

while wondering only if i couldve written it

had i tried harder or been raised differently

and found I wasn’t really listening.


it could have been about

mermaids or the sea

or even been centered on

that guy, or that one

who raped me


Since then, a piranha

of a doctor told me to open wide

for a big surprise

and took out half my teeth

He also stole a rib from my side

You’ll notice, now, I look skinnier

from the left. Her name was Clara

and I never even got

to hold her hand


She could’ve been

anything-but I only thought

the worst. About pirates

and graveyard shifts

I didnt know much.

Not the whole genre of romance

or even the existence

of the kind of sex

that’s not coerced


Walk of Shame

Once there was a girl
(or boy, it doesn’t really matter)
who didn’t have a name
(or had one that was shattered)

who wrote too much
then spoke too much
then matured backwards

he or she would only
shut up inside a tavern

then was only seen outside of it
tightroping the distance
between that person’s self
and other people’s houses

A Hundred Pennies

a brain so heavy and full of cavities
and bells ringing like the sound
of a hundred pennies thrown into
a savings tin, or into the garbage

into a savings tin or into the garbage
those two sounds would be very different
a mottled thud or a hollow, high tinging

a girl who is deciding whether to see him
thinks about a thousand things.
are there poetry subjects that are banned
by their poets, like me? I won’t write about
him ever again. my brain ripples
and shuts down. it thinks about jonny
and it drowns in the images:
jonny, falling asleep
into a meatloaf. jonny, saying “Let’s
celebrate something.” Jonny, reading poetry
Jonny, barely standing. and then
there will be jonny, again at the end of it,
finally dying.

It thinks about jonny before the heroin
got him. it thinks about spring, coming.
it thinks of what would happen
if she finally, finally saw him.

it thinks,she would be frightened.
her fear takes the shape and sound
of the hollow high tinging, a hundred pennies
thrown into a savings tin. it’s loud
and long lasting. to take in the sight
of him, she would also have to take heroin.
to turn the tinging into a mottled
sort of thud, and to waste her money.

she decides not to see him. She chooses
the savings tin. she invests in earplugs
since she hates the sound of everything.

A Challenge

My friend says,
“He’s manipulative!”
and I nod, grinning
because I immediately think
at least he’s clever enough
to be such a thing-
he is so much more interesting
than the guys I’ve been dating

I lean forward and admit,
“I really like him.”
and she laughs,burying her head
in her hands and says,
“See, this is how it happens;
smart girls like you
just love a challenge.”

I boast, “You have to admit,
he’s a real live wire.”
and she corrects me, saying,
“Yeah, well, he’s certainly

“Yeah,” I smile, “he really is.”
and she flags down the waiter
for two more drinks.