Monthly Archives: July 2010

hotels and trapeze artists are a lot alike

i met the strong man last night- you know, the one in circuses
who amazes everyone at how powerful he is
even though he really can’t bear anything more than the next person
(it was dark, and my eyes were green for decay, decay for old things that
don’t work anymore and
i think they turned down the volume on my memory machine
when i woke up.)

but i remember there was a lot of sadness in the room,
not all of it was mine, which
makes sense, i guess-
where is there strength but in sadness?

and he reminded me of someone
whose face i couldn’t see and whose voice i couldn’t hear anymore
but who i loved and still half taste in those seconds before sleep.

i was awake in the dark,
and i saw only with my fingertips, everything except what was solid,
and i remember i wanted to cry but instead i just let my fingers
explore the darkness,
trying to understand where the root of this sadness was,
and i couldn’t find it,
so i went away and swam in a fake ocean

where at the bottom i found something i still don’t want to think about,

something i am not going to try to remember.

i came back to tell him that
i am not a waste,
and took one look at him and did not want to cry
so i didn’t tell him
because when you are not a waste
you care far too much and crying is to easy.

i should have told him that.

he might have listened to me like no one else.
maybe i could have brought him back what i found
and he really would have cared,
and known the bitterest part wasn’t losing what i loved
but that there was a reason to love it in the first place.

he had my sister’s dress, i remember now,
the little pink one that i thought was too scratchy,
with the green turtle on it.

it wasn’t strange in my dream, i think.

i asked, why do you have her dress,
not in the tone of someone asking about something silly or surprising
but someone who’s curious about something
that’s too painful for them to understand

and now i am crying trying to not remember if there was an answer.

in the soreness, i let the inexcusable flow out,
rage at things i hadn’t understood before oozing
from my eyes and mouth and nose and ears.
you bastard, i burned,
i hate you,
you become such a waste,
i hate that you became a waste,
you were such a liar and i hate your lies
and your words
and that you asked me to let my heart waste as well.

the strong man listened to the unforgivable words come
and when i was done
he smiled and nothing has ever tasted so good
and so real and i remember i made myself smile too
even though it ripped the skin on my face open
and hurt like writing love letters on your hips with razors
and in the ripping i was able to hold onto him and borrow his strength
for one night.

i remember we both ached
and i tried to dig my fists into his muscles
hoping maybe the soreness could be shoved away
and it couldn’t
so in the end i rested my eyes on my hands and breathed.
breathing was like honey.
it wasn’t dark, i remember now.
there was no light,
but his skin glowed like my fists had been coated in sticky amber liquid,

but it was just a dream
and i woke up
with hate on my lips.

i still wonder, though,
since my fists can leak honey,
maybe there is some sweetness inside of me
if only in my sleep.


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maybe we could have flown home together

there were dead butterflies scattered on the highway
i looked at them and couldn’t stop looking
make them be gone, i thought, but
of course
no one did
and i wanted to roll down the window and lean out and
let my fingers gather them up
i wanted to kiss each broken body

i think i could have kissed them back to life again

but i didn’t

why couldn’t i make them better
maybe they would have kissed me back
but now they are just disassembled wings stuck to the tires of passing cars

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what is that over there

a flash

sparks are flying in the grass
and floating through the trees and sky

something is moving in the bushes

so tiny

these little lights are going to go up in flames
they are going to settle on the bridge

and then
i want to see them travel up up up


burning and turning
to phoenixes and
being rebirthed again and again



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drowning grounds

standing in the waves, warm rain falling on  my shoulders, dress billowing and sticking to my legs. pelicans and seagulls fly overhead, crying and looking wisely down on me.

my hair is sticky and red in my eyes, stinging as it catches in my eyelashes. lightning crashes on the dark grey horizon. my toes discover shells, burrowing into the sand. i pick up the broken fragments and let the water rinse them off before i set them down. i want to rip the stupid scorched skin off my back and i want to make the sand less dead and i will wring the neck of the next seagull that tries to hover over me.

i am supposed to feel small right now and i am supposed to long to go underneath the waves. but “all i want” is to be somewhere where you are not, where you can’t even enter my mind. only the desert is airy enough to hold us all. without headphones, without any other connection, everyone finds each other unbearable, themselves most of all. it’s cold here. cold and stifling. he can feel free to belong here, i don’t.

i am here to understand that this is not an option. that home, brown, open, busy, and alive, is where i can breathe and love and hurt and heal. it’s where i can lose people best, where the people who love me truest decided to stay. maybe it’s not my forever place, but it’s my true ocean, my anchor. all i longed for was a metaphor, that fantasy world i dreamed up with captain hook.

you can’t really hear those lovely chords and dreams over the waves, over the rushing of the sea. what you hear are only the echoes of your head. the danger is in finding out that no amount of water can change you, and that you have to climb out and go back to the desert and cry yourself to sleep through a prayer. the drowning isn’t in the waves, it’s in the escape, in the moment where you hit the bottom only to discover that what you were swimming away doesn’t know you and is staring up at you with dead blue eyes.


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stage one, summer vacation

new mexico

it amazes me; one day we are people and the next we are names nailed alongside highways. light and rain are streaming onto the yellow hills and fences. maybe the clouds think we are the ones floating along, turning our ant patterns into shapes and pictures. they’re hanging down low and across across us, pregnant piles of misty sky advancing on the other unseen armies of cloud behind us. we can’t run away, only scuttle around beneath them, dodging tiny, crystal bombs as they pour down on our silver shell. everyone is stretching in their own ways. a man bounces a ball at a rest stop, the kind that people pretend will make you feel better if you squeeze it instead of slapping some poor fool in the face.


the air is heavy here. back home, everything is bare and brown, and the air is light enough no one notices it. here, breathing is more like drinking, inhaling soupy, warm moisture.
my first discovery: cole slaw is bearable here.
second discovery: being the only white person in sight makes me awkward and inexplicably happy.

urgent care

this is quite clearly not where we’re supposed to be. plastic covered chairs in a waiting room, hushed voices, and three other people who would rather be someplace else. it’s nothing. this place is only a precaution, but nagging worry still manages to creep through sky blue walls. what if? i’ve mentally begun analyzing her every bruise, ache, tired spell, and complaint. it could all add up to a combination of jetlag and excuses, but the small chance it could be something more has me watching her closely. she’s perky again, playing an annoying game with an overly cheery tune, but too many stories of nothing turning into something serious keeps me praying. more whining children and loud mothers come in, burned faces and strep throat in tow. we spend an hour listening to complaints and vague parental threats. they call her name, and we sit behind as she follows the nurse in. after the burned, tired kids are called in as well, an older man catches my eye and almost imperceptibly shakes his head and rolls his eyes. i grin and nod back at him. a half hour later they walk back in, her holding a temporary tattoo and piece of paper stating that she’s fine and needs only avoid dairy and stress for a few days. i smile at the man we we walk out the heavy metal door, slamming shut to hold in the cool air and worry behind it.


she makes friends everywhere she goes. from the sweet older woman at the receptionist’s desk to the pentecostal preacher at mcdonalds, everyone falls in love with her. strangers ask to take pictures of her and tell us she’s beautiful. now we sit to wait for the ferry, and she begins to show off her temporary tattoo to a woman with a mohawk, piercings that look like she fell in a tackle box, and arms covered with pictures that are clearly not removable with baby oil. it’s a look i secretly rather like, but she doesn’t see often. mom looks slightly wary for a moment, but hope takes a seat and begins to fill her in on every detail of her history, from the tooth she pulled from her own mouth a few weeks ago to the plane flight she took from korea to america when she was seven months old. i can’t help smiling at how open she is with everyone, no matter how they look or sound or how different they are. maybe part of it comes from her being used to looking unlike everyone and being proud of it, but i think most of it is pure spirit. i hope it takes a good long time for the world to break her of the habit of trusting so freely. it’s an ability that can built a person or rip them apart, and i want her to reach as high as she can before we teach her to know better.

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for those of you who love mail as much as i do

as i mentioned a few posts ago, i’m going to be driving across the country in a few days to spend a week in north carolina and a week in d.c, hitting about fifteen other states along the way. my mom is, as usual, insisting i pick up postcards, but i usually end up with a thousand that i never send and eventually just throw away. so, in the style of  holly and all the people at postcrossing (which, though i am not a member, is an amazing idea) if you would like a postcard from one of the various states i will be in, email me your name and address to and i will mail one to you. :)

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musings of a temporary teacher

their faces make me lonesome and cheery all at once. messy fingers, intense eyes, raised hands and vaguely crooked mouths. i favor these over the big ones. this isn’t where any of us belong, reading scripted questions and looking for cliche answers. i can read the real question on everyone’s lips, that inevitable “why” that we are so heavily encouraged to ignore. these are the really dangerous ones; the ones who are not supposed to think for themselves yet, the ones who understand too much, the ones who have never fallen in love, the ones who have never been allowed to bleed, the ones who watch. the ones who follow. the ones i am trusting to take my place.

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