say, Misspell and misspell your name
Words say, Leave this life” ---Michael Palmer
looked so correct reflected on
the tin-foil tray.
Jhnson, so plump in green
play-doh, rolled so carefully round
by the arc of my five-year-old palm and
leapt to the air waving like red-hot
thermometers, I was
sitting on a
steam of coals, waving for response from the
round mouth of Mrs. Van Ness.
slapped her full mouth
forward into my freckled face.
With the shadow of her hand
she brushed away my
sculpture, put the play-doh back
yellow can like a bad genie.
pulling a thick, red
pencil from her hair,
so thick it took
my whole hand
to hold it in mid-air,
her hand eclipsed my
wove onto the rough brown paper
all day every single
with the treasures they’d
from Mrs.. Van Ness’ box.
the words, felt each letter
form from the
paper to their
brain, to their play-doh-
carried their prize pinned
to their shirt:
a scratch and sniff of gasoline,
a pocket full of rainbow erasers.
My tongue has always
For four years I was dragged
through the gray
fog of school mornings
to the portable classroom
sssss---like a snake
still my tongue sank
as if it held too many stones.
when, in the fourth grade, I stood trembling
auditorium of eyes
I did as I should and stepped to the
repeating my spelling bee word: Sheriff,
heavy tongue slipping on that bright
S---H---E---R---I---F, sheriff, I
just to leave that weight behind and sit down.
cedars wrestle their boughs nervously.
We lie, weighed beneath
Above, the still dark sky simmers—averse
the damp rot of earth – the not yet knowing.
burn a hundred times awake
the stars, whose translucent down
until cedar branches illuminate
of the lilies’ desire:
a new life nestled in their
Her face not yet seen -- a sky full of
already bends to the weight of the dawn --
weight of what she will become: ours.
The down of dawn,
that-rosy fingered bliss
We drown in the grenadine of love’s
View from Mercer Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA
sits eleven stories up
pressed in glass--a cool eye skating
river that interrupts in ice—below.
He is a
man between--a butterfly
observed on pins: his own imprisoned
reflecting back at him--a stranger, thin and
place. A gray man in a gray place.
Who wouldn't believe
escape? That just
one bright apple, crisp to the lips, wet
the touch, might be permitted. But, the
recoils. The stomach sulks. The walls move
Until he no longer sees his own face
back--just the cool, gray, river below
city, forever carried
on its back.