Posts Tagged ‘Nicole’



They didn’t tell me, when I moved to Phoenix

that I would have to bring my own water.

That was OK, of course, since I’d been born in Chicago

and had the entire Lake Michigan at my disposal.

My parents still live in a hut

in Saugatuak. I ask them to send my share

of the Great Lake, my birthright,

in individual plastic bottles.

It comes by train. My wrist is sore

from cap-twisting and though I only take

sips, the ounces last for barely an hour.

Some days even I,

as I lie in February, under my blossoming

bougainvillea, listening to the freeway

moan along without me,

dream of the lake’s sandy beaches

that take up the even snow.

With Gary, Indiana to my back,

Milwaukee, Wisconsin to my front,

the white smoothes me plain.

The snow snows there in three full

states, maybe more. The snow has flattened my

Chicago like it flattened the whole

Midwest but thanks to that one-note

frozen landscape, I reach across whole

states and across them my visibly wet breath.

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The Cheaters

They want the kind of pity the Potato

Eaters generate. They want you to believe

Their desperation, in the brown colored cloaks

Their lives were hooded with. They want you

To feel sorry that they had only one

Potato to themselves and who doesn’t want

More and more and more potato?

Pretty soon, they don’t even know

Their own ground any more. They wake up

Thinking how much they prefer this russet over that

Yukon Gold. Look I want to shout. We’re all just as lumpy.

Look at the moon instead. See how it reflects? The marriage

finally broke apart when Mary started seeing Keith. Mark still

seethes at Keith’s name even though Mark is remarried and even

though he and Mary have been divorced for years and even though he’d done more cheating on her than she on he. When you’re cheating

on someone, you forget that someone. Their face is eclipsed

by your desire for someone else, for your desire

not to think too hard about what you’re doing.

But when you’re the one being cheated on,

when you lie down to try to sleep at night, alone, wondering

where your someone went, all you can see is the image of that person’s

face where yours is supposed to be. Mark imagined Keith in his car,

on the edge of his kids’ bed, on his front porch, on his bicycle. Keith’s face took the place of Mark’s in the mirror and now Mark can’t even

shave without his hand shaking. The face of the other woman, or in Mark’s case, the other man, is like a moon. Even when new, you can still make out the outline of its curve.

I want to feel sorry for the cheaters. I want to tell them I understand.

And I do, I do. I cannot say I’ve never tasted other potatoes.

I cannot say that I don’t like my potatoes whipped as white as any

moon but mirror looking in is a vast abyss, not a place where some

one can hold your hand and say if you weren’t getting

what you needed, you had to go elsewhere. If you needed to go

elsewhere you should have gone there first

and when you’re sorry you find out there just serving the same old potatoes on

the moon and you want to come back to the lumps you know, the mirror you think is

shaking is really just turning away.

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April 10?

Scientific Dating

There was a fall or a sharp edge
or a disavowal of love. There was a rug
burn or a rope burn or the face of him
popping up online like an ad
for E-trade. There was a broken arm,
a bicycle, a scraped knee and someone
who promised forever forever ago
reappeared just like he said he would.
They never really go away. They just
slide under the epidermis. If you peeled
back you’d see the roller-skate bite,
the Big-Wheel skid, the bruise
on the forehead from the bedpost
(don’t wake up). Layer by layer,
like some sort of dendrochronologist,
he dates you like old skin. He knew your
skin. He knew the moled-surface surely
but he also read the core sample. He knew
how old you really were
and you haven’t let anyone know since
and at night you have to tell yourself
It’s OK It’s Ok It’s Ok It’s OK
to try to make it be OK
but if no one knows how old
we are, how will we know when
we’re going to run out of skin?

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The wind has come to this mountain town
like a man looking for a job.
These are hard times and the train, like the wind,
comes straight through here. The jobs are as bare
as the ponderosa-pushing duff. How can trees
grow out of dry dust? The man is hired to
be a dishwasher but has to bring his own water,
his own soap. This is not quite the job he had
in mind. In Juarez, he knew drought but not wind.
There, he, in his garden, could coax a tomato
out of volcano and bat guano.
In this mountain town, he’s lost his hat.
He’s pretty sure he’ll lose his hair. The ponderosas
shake their needles on to the ground. Maybe that’s how
they feed themselves, he thinks as he bites
his own fingernails.

It’s worst at night when his hands are so cracked
from washing the dishes with the water.
He wished he could squeeze out
that water and take it home to save for tomorrow
but the wind has already divested the water from its sponge
and the man’s fingers are cracked as the desert floor
and he can’t tell the sound of the wind
from the horn of the train and so he can’t tell
if he’s just arrived or just left and the ravens
in such dry wind walk rather than fly and look
like shadows of crosses scratching
out windy names like they’re calling people
home. But people only home in valleys.
On tops of mountains, they flag.

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Poetry Month

Here is one poem. Perhaps there will be more. Thanks to Dr. Write for making this happen.


As if there was anything bad to say about April. It’s a fine month. There are
plants coming up and the wind is allowed to be creative with your hair and
roots of young trees are soaking up what’s left of the melting snow. There
is promise in the air. Folded bits of lilac poke at your kitchen window
listlessly. Well, maybe there’s one bad thing to say about April. It
is a listless month. It keeps falling backwards into ideas of deprivation and
survival even though the worms are starting to move. You keep
considering the tall staircase and the way a head could bob
ridiculously against the banister. But then you remember. It’s better to be
useful. To think positive thoughts about the way spring
evades the darker stuff by covering it over with new grass and
light daffodils. Your job is to
effervesce. To lighten up. You are spring, goddammit.
Now unbutton the stupid jacket you’ve been wearing to look
official and professorial. Think of rhubarb, fava, morels, and spring onions
until you imagine some sort of dinner that can make up for all that
goulash and roast beef of winter. Eat some polenta. Some radishes.
Hunger for spring so hard that you almost forget the layer underneath.

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