anguish and famine at their own intervals: stage notes

here comes
famine, the warring
spirit,
knocks over your tea
scoffs at the baklava

not precisely unkind
yellow-belligerent
will dance you from this
room while
you hug her neck, suck
like a baby

famine
if nothing else
will hold you.

anguish the goldenrod
flourishes in a corner
coming          spectacularly          undone
he cannot write your letter
of recommendation
                                                     all things
                                                     so busy belonging
to someone else
too much
                                                     to bear

(anguish pulls his cape tighter)

then here comes you
a lovely-quick stardust pocket
a cinnamon and sandalwood
girl-universe seeping
the tiny confines of body

famine falls before you
anguish splits open to pour laughter
at your feet

the only thing
they cannot do for you
is disappear

mornings

(a poem about mothering. in honor of my late grandmother, patsy johnson, who made sure i didn’t walk through this life uncovered after my mother passed away.)

mornings,
sunlight is a cruel authority.
my bones whisper one word:
“buckle.”
then the ocean-tide
of your sleeping breath.
the heartbeat of you.
i defy my skeleton’s
seductive stasis.
i move.
it does not matter that this
isn’t joy.
this is the slick-stout medicine
of what is.

mornings,
knees groan, feet swell,
and the warm architecture
of your forehead
instructs me: move.
this is no whimsical aching
in the blood.
no sweet thing.
this is the unquivering jawline
of a million women,
comprising the hand of God.
this, hard and simple.
because you are here,
i move.

meta

childhood: the frailest thing we all fling.

a memory catalog, except all is symbolic.

divine sweet metaphorical moments and spirit-

biting bald sadnesses.

the only thing for which you can express

your dislike by saying it doesn’t exist.

never a dull moment.

there had to be,

but who remembers.

your childhood sat on a swing one day

and nothing much happened.

no bullies hurling a small body bloody akimbo.

no reaching treetops with sneaker-clad kicking feet.

just swinging.

why recall that when your adulthood

demands an archetype

of impermanence, of longing?

so many thousand leg-pumps away

from simplicity.

adulthood insists:

no kid on a swing is JUST a kid on a swing.

by 22 we’ve forgotten

how to leave anything to itself.

listen:

my childhood played with bugs,

favored the word “grody” over “gross.”

how many times did your childhood skin her knee?

how many times the scab only a scab?

did she eat it?

mine, maybe,

poked at tender dermises,

made a game of not letting a cut heal.

what metaphor there?

vote now on your phones.

this is the bored curiosity to which i’ll assign

all the relevance I wish was stored

in laundry days, direct deposits

(a kind of magic that makes my money a ghost)

or that time the boy you crushed so hard on

felt you up on a church pew

while two other youth groupers

hid, heard you slurp, pant,

confess virginity –

the ridicule a ritual,

you’ll later determine,

to prepare you for what adult thing?

almost any. from political convictions

to full-time employment

what if some shiny announcer

popped up shitgrinning at each

ambivalent spot in your young life,

snapped, “remember kids,

this might mean something someday!”

would anything change?

traumatize? metastasize?

would that girl you were,

skeakerfooted and scratched somewhere

(surely)

stiffen and drag her leg muscles to a stop

or just swing anyway?