Gauze, a Medical Dressing & a Scrim
Originally appeared at Flash Fiction Chronicles, where it won 2nd place in the String-of-Ten Five Flash Fiction Contest in 2013
When they converted the basement into his room, Billy was too young to know any differently. He just wanted his own space, didn’t want to share it with his five older siblings anymore. Then when he was around ten, he stopped eating dinner with the rest of the family. His mother placed his dinner plate on the top stair every night. In exchange he only communicated by notes he’d send or receive by pulley-pails through the laundry drop.
A Medical Dressing
One time when Ethyl, the family dachshund, accidentally ventured downstairs, she was never seen again. Same for one sister, Darla, who thought she’d left a sweater atop the laundry machine. Disappeared. Eventually Billy was indistinguishable from any basement dweller, resembling the spider realm. Webs. Gossamer silver. Detecting vibrations, lurking toward eventual prey.
The family nearly forgot he existed.
Then one day while folding laundry, his mother noticed a note and she decided to read it aloud to the rest of the children at dinner that night: Here is your stormy day, the one with pressing clouds and chilling breeze. Here is your way you fall in step, synchronize laughs and moderate beliefs, acclimatize moods and medications. Here, then your last vestige of blue sky and fortitude. A mélange of mercurial designations. Bastion of sailboats emptying out horizons.
They all craned their necks toward the basement.
When He Left It All to Me
First Published in Miscreant
He had to leave he said
though we’d met only days prior
and like with any men
breaking boundaries we’d lain
together despite barbed wire
fences, pools with fathomless bottoms.
The morning he split, he thrust
his blue down coat into
my arms, said I won’t need
this, but it was a bitter
cold day that December I
found the tape in its pocket.
Eva Cassidy sang Fields of
Gold and I can’t forgive
her for dying so young. Where
did you go? Still can’t listen
to more than the first half;
no, less than a quarter of that song.
Ten Notes to the Guy Studying Jujitsu
Originally appeared at Orion Headless, Special Anniversary Issue
2013 Gertrude Stein Finalist
1. A smile when you read Brave New World, a sort of smirk, like you’re getting away with reading literature that was once banned. Like this is better than Japanese ever was. Except one time when you dreamed that Yoko Ono walked all over your back and ass. This doesn’t come close to that.
2. You took up whistling, jingles from television commercials. Samsonite, Sony, tampon and yogurt ads. It was almost as bad as my ex, Tony, who whistled “If I Only Had a Brain” until I accidentally called him a moron.
3. One morning I woke up thinking, I can’t remember the last time you used the L word. And then I can’t remember the last time you went down on me. Then I recall they used to be linked together.
4.The first time we hooked up was in the back of your truck. It was a hot summer night in the Haight, mosquitoes, scant moon with flutter clouds. It was rough and fast, and you pinned me at one point so I couldn’t move. My neck hurt for a week. And nothing has compared to it since.
5. When you started seeing Brandy, and I’d run into you, you seemed so happy. So alive, when I just wanted to crawl into a hole for a year. I remember thinking what’s she got that I don’t? I mean, besides the obvious. And when I found out she was knocked up , I knew.
6. All that dog shit I shoveled out of the back yard. And it was your dog. Not mine. My yard. But your dog. Yours.
7. My sister would call on Sundays. You’d mouth “not here” and point at yourself. Which clearly was a sign of your inability to commit. Or mine. I’m not sure which.
8. I’d left the gym and saw you that day sitting on a sofa in a coffee shop. Really close to that girl, Tracey, who used to sell us pot. You were laughing in a way that I knew. And for a split second I was thrilled that you were cheating on Brandy. When I got home I drank a six-pack in less than an hour.
9. The weekend before you moved out, you farted in my sister’s elevator and other people got on and you said my name and fanned the air. I pretended it was funny. By then you farted so many times I honestly thought it was me.
10. Seems like someone’s always missing someone. My sister told me that she doesn’t have time for missing anyone- let alone loser ex-boyfriends. Thing is, I don’t really consider you a loser. A little gassy, perhaps. Something always takes the place of missing pieces.
Upon Finding Pluto is No Longer a Planet
What’s left now? The dumb hours of early Pluto?
Thousands have lived without love, not one without Pluto,
only more of it, an obesity of Pluto.
I do not know what it is about Pluto that closes.
Take the worst Pluto has to offer. And still,
it’s like the heaving of Pluto into a lake, before it drops.
You remember the Pluto you got that you did not get:
Pluto in the night shuffling from room to room,
Pluto’s voice dying with a dying fall.
I can understand why some people gave up on fame or religion or Pluto—
it's easy to Pluto things when they're powerless, like children and goldfish.
Pluto the heart, it learns a little self-preservation.
Tell me about Pluto, yours, and I will tell you mine,
how plucking the sweet Pluto makes the stars,
and if you ask my friends: the god inside Pluto has come unshaped
but I wanted to ride this Pluto down into night,
but I love to hear Pluto sung.
Open your eyes to Pluto.
Give me back the old Pluto.
Let us all be from Pluto
holding up cardboard signs that say WILL WORK FOR PLUTO.
But we have only begun to love the Pluto.
Say farewell to the heron, to the osprey, the Pluto circling the cove—
I’ll never forget. Pluto went out, reeling.
Previously Published by Third Wednesday
My husband has cleared out a corner of my office
to create a space for my inner peace.
He tells me I need it.
He never tells me I need anything, except to take off
my glasses before I sleep or fill my tank before it empties.
He uses a firm, loamy voice.
He never uses a firm anything, not tone or fist or opinion
which was a turn-on once but now this demand ...
I digress, I digress…
I digress daily from Christianity but need a place to ease
the everlasting violet of kneeling and guilt.
A Buddhist friend suggests equipment.
A Feng Shui friend suggests order, the proper placement for
the proper mood to settle me down like a blanket on a bed.
My friends have Merry Maid eyes.
My friends have ideas like aphids, more than I have spaces
to fill or cleanse; I need to Feng Shui my room of friends.
He baskets a bowl for incense.
He baskets deep purple, fireproof, copper top; I am
the Lucille Ball of Zen so safety is a top priority.
I am at one with my first purchase.
I am at once drawn to an I heart Dalai Lama poster,
Gandhi Bobble Head, fire-breathing wind-up Nunzilla.
He draws the line at bobble and wind.
He draws the line at cheap jiggle, though I show him I can be
still as carpet and as soft. He’s not buying a rug-doctored me.
We agree on a puja table.
I agree, though I don't know what a puja is or why it needs
a place to eat; I’ve got dishes, carpool, a sick friend to soup.
He suggests a buckwheat hull zafu.
He suggests a Tibetan Monk CD, 10 full tracks of silence,
ambient lighting, $10 more and my delivery is free.
Previously published in Sweet Curdle (Marsh River Editions) and Sister Satellite (Cowfeather Press)
These are my hands. I dare you
to take them from me. These are all I have
left, these palms poised like fitted sheets,
the pressed angles not quite right.
The mood is all wrong for dancing
but still you took my legs.
You waltzed them across the room
and it was music, I tell you, music
I heard clear above the banshee pitch
of bandsaw, or was it my voice scurrying
to escape before you cut that out too?
In the last day I never felt a single thing,
not the sun as it sliced the window open,
not my son’s sweet breath as he whispered
at my ear, me his trusted sidekick,
his huffing steed. No, not his chapped lips
puffed for one last kiss, not that strange
hairless arm spun out of nowhere
like a spider on my neck, pulling me down,
and down again. No, I tell you, I was busy,
clothes to be folded, dinner on,
a spin of lines in my head.
Now I’m all yours for the taking,
a $5 for everything rummage sale box
because I couldn’t sit still, I was distracted
by bright things and peeling that orange
donor sticker killed time at the DMV.
Now my time will keep on passing in
cold storage, in a dozen tagged bags
in a crime lab, in some Jersey kid’s rib
cage, a spin of life in his chest.
First published in Midwest Prairie Review
There’s a woman from Romania
who daily cleans a room, several,
at a sunshiny resort for those
who do not worry about regular,
decaf coffee packets,
red plastic cylindrical sticks,
towels, snow-forgotten bleached,
in coconut mango combos,
facial moisturizers, aloe infused,
ice makers providing percussion
in the afternoon, between drinks,
Yusmila does the worrying
for her rooms, their clients,
and her family, waiting
for wired money.
She cares more for her green
card, her green send ons
than the resort’s green label.
Never met, name on a card
of welcome, of urgency, need,
never mind, never to be known,
Yusmila shakes pillows,
tosses them like her dreams
into the air.
First published in Verse Wisconsin
When one sieves sand,
each grain yields a view
of its shielded sedimentary sides.
Sand stubbornly sticks in the screen,
just as it stubbornly rolls and tosses,
wave after tumbling wave.
In close examination, twelve grains
are not better than one.
Unique as a winter’s snowflake,
each deserves scrutiny.
With eye rappelling down its shiny face,
the mind recalls past journeys of ions,
of eons of time.
Sand is hem-trapped in the coat of many colors,
thrown upward by Cleopatra’s dancing,
It is the skin chafer of posing Polynesians
in Gauguin paintings of Tahitian tints.
Sand is the firm boot grip on Normandy shore,
the on holiday, head out burial at Brighton Beach.
Sand layers the glass, makes the glass, jar
to show its flickering facets in candlelight glimmer.
Listen to Your Mama
First published at Your Daily Poem
When ocean mama wave sends
her little droplets out to play,
she warns them to stay away
from boats, trawlers, cruisers.
You may visit the sailing ships,
the ones that follow the winds
as we do, the ones that calmly go
in time with us, our currents,
our moon pulls.
They are safe.
Those others with their motors-
they will churn you,
turn you to foam,
make you white with fear,
toss you into the air,
the air which can evaporate you.
No smelling salts can save you then.
Listen to your mama,
you wet behind the ears droplets.
I don’t want to lose you.
Be home for supper.
We’re having hydrogen oxygen casserole
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