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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We Were Atheists

I read about the temperament of Inuit parents
from the night into the morning
and the disciplinarian tactics
they use instead of yelling at their children
the softly spoken folklore of so many generations
that if you don’t wear your hat in the winter
the northern lights will pluck your head of your shoulders
and play soccer with it!

My beautiful mother might’ve passed for Innuit
if she covered up her course, stubborn black mass
of tightly bound ringlets with a hooded sealskin jacket
a wild Grecian afro which I was always trying to unfurl as a baby
by grabbing pieces of it and pulling with my fat little fist

she told me once that Satan lived across the street
would raise the blinds in my bedroom
and point at the little brick house before I fell asleep
although I’m not sure why she did this
my reaction was mainly wondering if she was sick
and seeing horrible things I couldn’t

and she taught me to twirl my rage flagrantly
as a baton with fire on both ends
and the metal on the staff also burning hot
until her hands and mine were a blistery mess

everywhere she went a trail followed
of vehemently rejected apologies
smashed vases, scattered roses
people who used to be friends or boyfriends

and then there was me–I ended up hiding
we were not Innuit or Mexican
or any culture that can be celebrated
in a Pixar film or an NPR article
we were atheists
I’d like to raise children, now
but I don’t know how to do it

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

Will you shut up?

The ropes of your braids

swing into my view

i want to kiss your palms

and the soles of your feet too

i want to cradle your head

tickle your spine down to

your sweetest spot

will you sit on my lap?

will you sing your songs?

will you shut up?

your lips are soft

will you let me

yank you down

my bed is soft

where you are rough

i want to taste

your textures

will you shut up

 

 

Dressing the Part

people behave badly from all positions of the totem pole

i never liked squishing my square feet into triangles

or the sound of heels clacking against a tile floor

but i inherited such ample choices

in the footwear department

as well as silk scarves and pins

that my closet is overflowing

with the ambitions of my parents

they aren’t ideal choices

for a job waitressing

where i can make no use of

suit lapels and i need to wear

sneakers. so i am applying

for some higher up position

ill say goodbye to my friends

and donate my skimpy dresses

 

 

The Stilted Phone Call

“All right, well I’m just gonna go.”
“No, I really want to cheer you up, Georgia.”

I indulge in a deep sigh, before figuring

oh, what the hell. “Ok,” I offer, “Go.”

“Oh,” he said, “I didn’t really have

anything planned as far as right now.”

“You’re kidding. Not even a knock knock joke?”

“I’m sorry. Did I mention that I’m extremely drunk?

Let me cheer you up Wednesday, with some alcohol

and some well timed anecdotes.”

“Fine,” I sigh, “I’ll put it on my calender

and set an alarm, and just wait here in bed

till you re-discover your charms.”