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word problem

she is faithless

the way a valley divides

for settlements and

agriculture and arithmetic

and law and alleys

and red-light, and him

and her


women don’t talk about

their faithlessness, they

do the math confidentially.

the other man I think about

divided into me



an alley, if 1 woman

is distributed among 5 men

unequally and obsessively

over 3 years what are the remainders

and how can they be grieved –


it becomes a word problem

for which there are none.


she is an aberration

I think about him when –

a sorcerer

I’m with you –

an algorithm

I don’t know why –

a fraction

I’m sorry –

within a whole.



gave your body love


among the mountain

of thought you call

we, the diaphanous body

broken at your mouth by

the asking     a fish jumped

gave its body love


seen a mountain twice

once, as companion,

another in the thought of itself

on the face of the lake we

tried to ascend, lip by lip

giving love to its body


gave your body love

out of my broken lips

asking between answering

between light and retina,

sensitivity between skin

some worlds are limitless


given our world a body

jumping for the mountain,

your mouth, a lake, an eye blink,

a bruise of clouds low-hanging

over the sun where we made it up

to our bodies in love


love gave our bodies one

blink of ascension

awake the mountain and open

a lake of clouds halfway between our

twice felt skin between a bruise there

from the climb between the bodies

giving love

to be high

I want to be high on

thinnest breath as

I lay my pillow on rock

by the saguaro, with my head

inside those linear shadows

momentarily forgotten –

how I need these very words –

I want to be high on

need, coming up dry while

the diaphragm pumps away

how I would lie for a language, cheat

and manipulate, how I would throw

my self onto the saguaro or

turn a hoodoo into goose down,

I’ve done it before, gone prostrate

on a thing thousands of years in the

making, and I would do it again,

take a word or two, neglect

their etymon, patch them

with silence,

and defy the natural law

how I would plunge

into the desert belly first chest

to follow, like a piston

and get my fix from a place



To the devil, of thirty years

When I was a little thing, you were always in the backyard,

after dark you would chase me up to the house.

In a few years, you found your way inside

to stand by my bed at night, until my sister’s finger-puppets,

her shadow play, translated into dreams.

At age eleven, I turned to my father to ask –

am I the Devil? – by then you were truly

inside. I prayed to God because of you.

For twenty more years I would do things

I hated, because I should, to be good,

because of you.

You pressed the juice from my eyes;

the ones that used to turn men into syrup,

women into comedians.

The years roll by; you are still

hot on my heels and I am so afraid to look behind me,

I have built the muscles of my back to fight you

I am a grown-up now so I play with my own shadows

to throw you off, like my sister did when we were kids.

But someday, I will turn around. Thirty years is

long enough, I think to myself. It’ll be one gutsy half-pirouette,

but I will finally behold you, and your face will be pretty like mine,

with those same eyes

I thought I had lost.




Buttermilk petals, butter yellow petals, and there is time this morning

to write about these buttercream petals. I left no invocation of yellow unturned;

I combed the metaphors out of Spring; I rolled away the stone but His body

was still there; Mustard is a blister I burst for the honey inside –


I deflowered my own childhood imagination in the process.

Every spoken word was chalk.

I began to hate the shimmy of cream

outside the window whenever the wind picked up


Those little kamikaze


though it was never

really about them, or butter, or

Spring. I just used you, I said.

Your sensuality turned me on.

I wanted something I have never tasted before to fill my mouth


such tiny pools of Sarin, mistaken

for rainwater collecting in each

buttermilk pistil,

were they to find my tongue – what would they make me say?


In the years I learned to love

In the years I learned

to love, my shirt was

low my skirt short

my shoes



There was no more room

left here, in those years.

Nobody seemed to get this.

We all looked for jobs,

there weren’t any

roles to fill.


In the years I learned

to love, I ditched my sweetheart

for a hundred thousand

different men.


Those were the days of drinking,

to unremembered things

that happened to us

when we were

smaller than

a barstool.


In the years I learned

to love, I felt nothing

but a fibrotic clock

inside my chest.


It was an age of righteous causes

and everyone had them:

water, food, and air. Even

the laundromats and bill-

boards would pontificate.

All of us, moonlighting

as diehards, rectifying

our own history,

catching the



Back when the hubbub

was a pacifier that we

sucked at gulping

and greedy until

we learned.


In the years I learned

to love, I hated

easiest of all.



please don’t leave

I keep the words small

to see if they will stay –

the words, I mean, and you

and me, stay put and wait –

for the magic hat


If they are small

there’s more room for you

to stop by, we can visit awhile

the hat is en route

please don’t leave


it has no bottom

it can hold whatever you want

tell me, how’s your wife and

how’s your children


I stay small, keep

out of the way –

there are surely more to come

for the hat to be magic

I need you here


have you seen it before?

no, neither have I, just

wait till you see what comes out

when I reach my hand in –

please don’t leave


so you don’t believe in magic,

no, neither do I, but when I heard

it can be whatever you want,

I thought I will give this hat a try,

only now I can’t find my hand

please don’t leave

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