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i tell tales tall as cliffs

Drunk Poetry

I wish I’d gone to Sweden. I said
that last night. On the porch I learned
that my grandmother was raped. 

Twenty-three and care-free in Philly
on the L to home. I can carry that 
for her. It is not mine, but I claim it.

I wish I’d gone to Texas. I said
that last night. My mother remembers
things differently than most. 

Thirty-three and desperate, I cooked
mac’n’cheese for my brother while pills
worked through her system. 

The genetics of memory are terrifying. 
The DNA of womanhood is heavy.

I should be in Sweden. I realized
that last week. I should be anywhere
else but here, right now and always.


There are echoes in the alley
that rattle my little bones in
their sockets like little leaguers’
little fingers wound in a chain
link fence. There is a residue
of smoke that marches over the
car, squeezing breaths with nostalgic fervor.

I cannot move, but wait
which silence in my situation might imply
surrender, or better yet forgetfulness.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident…”
she chants between the snaps and pops
and cracks and claps. “We. Hold. These.
WeHold-These. We.Hold.These. We-
Hold-” Mouth sprinting.

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941-
a date which will live in infamy…”
she recites atop the valley, deep
and thunderous and merry.

A burst of red then blue then gold
and there were shadows behind her
with up-stretched hands that pulled
at me, at her and died, yet left me
historically terrified.

Things I’ve Learned IV

I clapped my hands
and a mosquito ceased
to exist in my palms.

You licked your lips
and I felt the same—
a thunderous boom
the world deafened
in a wondrous silence. 


The Mayans booked the end of the world
hundreds of years in advance without a 
pause to wonder if they would exist to see it.

Tell the clockwork sky you trust it. 
Hold out your fingers to the bare-ribbed dog.
Listen to the wind that has worn away
the very ground you cling to stubbornly.

The Mayans trusted the sky, with the gods
and the stars who have been dead for as 
long as they knew they existed.

The single mistake of human history rests
deep beneath the fainting sun,  fabricated 
in furnaces and cauldrons, but it is not 
natural or kind or right.

It comes from lover’s lips caged in other’s ears
muttered in god-like promises. It is lost with
the math but remains understood, though 
universally ignored.

“Let me make plans.” Though I knew this all,
I was Lot’s wife. Mankind can barely trust

Tropical Storm Debby


I crafted a flood on your lower back
from dewy drops blown through 
the open window. In under a day
I defied the Romans and fabricated
a spiny aquaduct from your Elysian shoulders
to a new lake, dammed by unclad skin—

it was not a flash, 
but a methodical collection 
reservoired by ebbing fingertips.
It was not by chance,
or miracle, that I waned
and waxed across that sea,
trembling mightily after parting
it for much the same reasons
Moses did once or twice before. 

You have only
to be still. 


My muscles tremored under Herculean 
labors. The sheets came undone,
indolently unfit and apathetic, and I
dipped my finger in the lumbar
stoup more reverently than my
heathen hand would fathom

Though I shook, I crossed 
your shoulder blade. 

Heredity XXI

My inability to do the crossword
In pen is genetic. I have my Grandpa’s
Obstinate refusal to believe that
Any of my answers are incorrect. 

My name is an heirloom from a 
Woman I never met. She died before
I was born, probably fearful of it
just as I am now becoming. 

I have my grandma’s thighs, and 
The soapy, wet spot on the 
Front of my shirt after doing
dishes is my birthmark.  

Not only have I
Heard I have his smile,
but I feel my dad’s listlessness
in my sinew, combined with
an innate distrust of monogamy. 

All of me is terribly borrowed.

Buenos Aires

I found Van Gogh on a bus bound
For Buenos Aires. The windows 
Sweat and tiny rivers of rain 
Throbbed and tangoed until each
Streetlight was an orb and star
And trees were shadowed spires. 

For twenty five hours an elderly
Argentinian brushed his teeth
At every stop and rubbed his hands
Until they peeled and shed on his
Meticulously crisp pants. I asked him,
"Who should I be in the world?"
And he told me, “si.”


To kiss is
to earn it.

Like a child
an orange 
In their 

Softly peeling
The grainy rind
To find the 
Pulpy flesh
Sealed by 
Merely a 
Flimsy, flaxen

I bite your 
Plump lips
Much the same—
Like a reward. 

Like the treasure; 
Greedily and

Digressions (Rewrite) [messagemecriticism] [itturnsmeon]

I like when you are restless
so I may lay-
     or lie;
     or lay
         and lie-
settle my fingertips atop
your ivory-skinned ribs
that they wobble and tremble and resonate and groan and pulsate
as an organist
     our morning
I spread my fingers
to cover spaces
betwixt pulmonic polemic octaves planted perchance
as roots are purportedly from the impenetrable swamps of the Amazon
with fingers plunging into water and fishes
watlzing between
I trace it as a sloppy
Kindergartener creating a hand-crafted construction paper turkey and

You lie
     or lay;
     or lie
          and lay 
so to unfold hymns
against my palms
that cease to exist in an exhalation paralyzing me
yet emerge primarily
primally as chants again
with the next.

(Source: pygmyshrew)


I like when you are real
and I can lay-
     or lie
     or lay
         and lie-
put my hand on your ribs
that they wobble
and tremble 
like an organist
     is  mourning 
     this morning

I spread my fingers
to cover the
black key spaces

rooted like trees
from the swamps
of the Amazon
with fingers plunging
water and fishes
swim between

I trace it as a 
Kindergartener making 
a construction paper

You lie
     or lay;
     or lie
          and lay 
on the bed
while I put the dirt 
back in our flesh. 


Why didn’t you
puncture my eyelids
in magnificent patterns?

With holes, 
tiny, like a million stars
and a planetarium
with every blink.

And you could have
written every thing
you’d ever known
and I’d keep it closer
than if you tapped
a Morse Code into my bones. 

Why didn’t I
puncture your eyelids
in magnificent patterns? 

Haiku XVII

What am I to do
when you have lips like muskets?
Just bite the bullet?

Describing Love to a Friend.

It vibrates my lungs
like my diaphragm is
in a top hat 
and has jittery feet.

Until my very alveoli 
pop (to be more precise-
Boom) like confetti-filled
party favors

My chest reverberates
with cannon fire volleyed
between the warring tribes
of my clavicles.

This is what
Solomon once felt
at least once.


When I imagine my mother
in Confession

she is kneeling
and crying.

She stares at the wall 

and honest

to her very breastbone,