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

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Mother, if you’re reading this (knowing full well that you shouldn’t)

I have been invited as a speaker
on the subject of poetry
by a local high school
and Boston University

So I guess you were wrong
when you said higher education
wouldn’t be a fit for me
and that I was doing well enough
as a cashier at Macy’s

and maybe you shouldn’t have thrown out
that poetry book I made for you
dedicated, decorated and bound
while I was in high school

citing the reasons
that it was a study
on your bad parenting
and that you found it depressing

because someday
it could be worth something

Sell everything

The christmas decorations are put away

And we think of selling everything

This coat? That set of plates?

To pay off our debts. I keep the decorations hidden.

I had 40,000 in the bank

Our credit could’ve been better, but it was ok

I was going to buy a building and charge rent

All I ever wanted was an extra bedroom

And an extra small person to tuck into its bed

Instead, we have decided to start paying our debts

These are the games people get tired of playing

On the day they are promoted to partner of the company

They see the last ten years wasted

They think of Belize, about how they always wanted a puppy, about making pancakes on a Sunday morning

They sell everything and they leave

They start a new game with a better reward system

Which takes into account the possibility of death

Smoking a joint over your shoulder

And breathing asthmatically

We know that, for some of us, retirement is just a dream

And all we will have in this life is our sundays

Those of us plan accordingly

Guess what?

There’s a toilet paper holder
to put the toilet paper on
and its right by the toilet
and my dog is right around the corner
he comes and kisses me whenever i call him
and theres a bathtub which i need
with lavender and epsom salt-everything!
and this is my permanent, forever housing

How I Outgrew my Pseudonym

When did I grow out of my pseudonym?

at that bed and breakfast in the countryside

of south korea, where these red, plush fruit

were dangling just outside the window

and i plucked one and set it down on the bedspread

while i found a knife and a plate to cut into it

 

No, that’s when i picked up the name Persimmons.

It’s not significant. I just found I really liked them.

 

But on that same trip, my boyfriend couldn’t figure out

how to work the heat and i told him i would handle it

We were freezing. Of course, I didn’t know how to handle it

I was in my twenties. But I pressed some buttons

applied some tin foil, adjusted the cords

and it worked, i got us warm-ok, now we’re getting closer

but that wasn’t the moment i grew out of my pseudonym

 

so maybe it’s this. A room full of people shaking my hand

because they know ive been in their position

refined my expertise on it, and am now

prepared to give lessons on overcoming

 

or when i realized being full grown means taking care of my partner

and letting him take care of me. Or my inbox full of niceties

and confidentiality and love notes, some of them

advice seeking. and i love everyone

but i also love being alone and reading

and i lost my taste for poison

 

So how did i outgrow my pseudonym?

my days are sectioned off into squares

with to do lists on them and food

for the taking and i am more than ok

with everything that’s happening

How could i not be?

I penciled this in

What I Wanted

The disappointment came in droves

knocking me right out of bed sometimes

and flat into a puddle onto the floor

after touring the lush, green campus

charming my way through introductions

giggling with the dean, the secretary

all the students, learning names

old feuds, hobbies (mostly knitting)

running my fingertips along

the stone buildings

and eating for free

alongside the ladies

adorned in pearls

who talked about

becoming pregnant

and leaving

 

they told me I would

live on campus

and that this job

should i choose to take it

would be all-encompassing

and I thought that’d be good

less time to think

(i didn’t have a single friend)

i didn’t necessarily

look like those ladies

but that was nothing

a new wardrobe

couldn’t fix

 

i didn’t get the job.

for awhile after that

I thought I made a decent waitress

until my boss disagreed.

Then, how cool I thought it would be

to become an editor

and never have to talk

to anyone again

except it wasnt

 

I also wanted to join the army

when i was sixteen

before they laughed me

out of the office

for inquiring after

vegetarian options

 

I couldn’t go back to

that first campus now

there’s not enough left

of me to encompass

i want time to think

and no amount of pearls

would have made

me one of them

 

nothing really

panned out for me

food lost it’s taste

unless it was free

by the end of my twenties

i had tried nearly everything

 

Which eventually led to

knowing my preferences

God, does it feel good

to be 30, with a corner office

and a window peering out

to a more beautiful view

than i could’ve imagined

time enough to think

a vegetarian diet

and the knowledge

that this is really

what i wanted

The Least Successful Person at the Party

What kind of woman do I want to be?
Do I want to be the brunette with two babies on her knee
taking all her time to coo and feed her party of three?
Do I want to be the reporter for the boston globe
asking the other guests to regale her with their stories
before they chastise her, “Don’t you already know
who won that superbowl?” “Oh, yes,” she admits,
“I could ask the coach myself, I suppose
but I like to hear you tell it.”
do I want to be the Disney executive
represented only by her mother’s
diamond Mickey Mouse necklace?
Or do I want to be myself in the kitchen
wearing someone else’s Sicilian apron
asking the hostess, “Please, let me
do something, give that to me, I can stir it.”