The Infamous Shaira

Everyone in my life recognizes

That Shaira was a very special person in my life

Except Shaira, who has reduced my importance

To the occasional Facebook message

And wouldn’t make the trip for my funeral

Let alone my wedding

But everyone is dying to meet the infamous shaira who

When asked about my time in Korea

Was always the protagonist

Even her name now brings to mind

Four or five anecdotes

Worthy of a captive audience and a fair few chuckles

Poignant silences, groans

They say they’re curious to meet her

Dying to even, and that according to my stories

There’s no one in the world like her

That she’s very unique

But the stories come less and less easily to me


Grown Up Games

Since butterflies went out of style and dragonflies are in
you realize you are too old to play with barbies
just because Carol says she is
even though you mostly use them
now to simulate sex with ken
she’s traded hers in for a spiral notebook
and different colored glitter pens
coded to disguise her fascination with real men

so you tell your mom to throw yours out
and she does, she doesn’t save them
when you realize they’re really gone
you cry until the morning
and tell no one, ever, what’s wrong

you leave Carol for another friend
whose mom has a kitchen island
where you can play drunkards
sit at the pretend bar and order
a shot of apple juice and start acting silly
when she tells you that you’ve had enough
you stumble and slur, “Hit me again, bob!”

she compliments you on your hair
because she knows you have a bowl cut
and hate when people do that
so you’ll wipe your nose then rake
your fingers through your bangs
saying “Thank you, it’s snotural, baby,”

and your secret handshake involves
pretend drugs-maybe she has a coin
you have a crumpled up ball of paper
you meet each other in the middle of the room
glance around surreptitiously before whispering
“You got the stuff?” and she, “You got the money?”
exchange the fake drugs and fall down laughing

The Day’s Ending

We were slightly too old to play such a game
Ranging in age from twelve to seventeen
When my five pale white-headed cousins and I
decided to take a stance against the tide coming in
in a fruitless effort to resist the day’s ending
we were spread out like icecaps dotting the sea
except we kicked, grabbed handfuls of foam
threw them at one another and screamed

there were three leftover at the last funeral
there will be just two by the next wedding
Wilhelm, who told Deborah I was bitten by a shark
when our two eldest cousins carried me away
that day, after I scraped my knee on a rock
succumbed to a heroin addiction
almost ten years ago now
Sarah had kids and stopped talking to anyone
it’s almost the same as Jakob
except he felt the need to change continents
to get away from us and Chris
we never quite figured out
what happened to him
except that he’s possibly autistic
and last we heard, driving trucks

Tomorrow, I will play a game
for which I am slightly too young
I will fight the waves of sleep
brought on by my latest medication
and doze through my ending days
unless I kick and throw and scream
it will be as if I am bleeding out
after a shark has bitten me
and maybe, like that day at the sea
right after I was carted off
someone will take Wilhem’s place
and tell a ridiculous lie about it
until Deborah, still the youngest
will break down crying
and be afraid of the tides
forever after the false ending
was whispered into her small ear

but before the malicious lie of the shark bite
from that little boy, Wilhelm
our parents said something worse
when the tide comes in
we’ll have to go home
because there will be no place
for your sore old parents to sit
and it brings me joy to remember
how angry we were about the day’s ending 
each time I drift into sleep again
without meaning to do it