Frog Noses

Mommy holds
my hand
very tight
asks something about a ‘prognosis’
makes me think of frog noses
I giggle, she squeezes, brows
furrowed. I bite my lip.

Later, licking swirly soft serve in a race
against the hot hot heat, she stares
over my shoulder
fist tucked
under her chin, her spoon
forgotten halfway to her mouth.

I want to tell her
she’s dripping on the table-
she hates when things are messy-
but I keep quiet, scared
of her sighs, of the silence
and of her empty eyes.

Grave Digger

We should dig our graves. Then
we might recognize
more often the solidness of earth,
the simultaneous fragility
and resilience of a heartbeat, the fearless
surrender to an eternal embrace,
and the shamelessly indiscriminate fall of dirt
across cheek and hip- a finality
swathed not in resistance, but in rest.

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How to prepare for the Future:

Collect the pebbles of guilt
of resentment
of fear and loss and toss
them over your shoulder
let them scatter
behind you

exhale
consider the inevitability of failure
inhale
pull the warmth of motivation tight across your torso
take a step

sink trust into your bones
infuse your blood with devotion, introduce
humility to the echoes
of voices that vibrate softly at your core until
your own words rise
above the hum
ready to attempt, to risk, to ask and to insist.

 

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Pianist

I once dated a boy who would lie
beneath the piano
as I played, listening
to each note as one might
put an ear to a pregnant woman’s belly- murmuring
quiet encouragements, he kept time
with his fingertips on the grey
carpet of the music room floor. He held
his breath with each
crescendo and sighed as the last
chord faded and I lifted my hands
from the keyboard to rest them on my
knees. Then he would emerge grinning, curls
wild with static electricity, his lips
soft with compliments, his own pianist hands
eager to whirl across those keys, to press
himself into each measure, to
measure his own tempo not
by the metronome, insistent and precise,
but by the space between us; dynamic and alive.

piano hands copy

So What’ll it be?

I was going back through old journals last night and found a couple of lines I’d written- the first and last lines of this poem- and decided to see if I could write a poem from one line to the next. Here ’tis.

 

So What’ll it be?

Your place
or mine or the ocean
in between? What language
should we use? Which words would you
choose to have me declare
my devotion? See, that’s where
you must be confused
if you think I’d drop it all
to follow in your footsteps
when you can’t even decide
if you agree with those three
words. I think it’s time
we had a linguistics lesson- you
must be forgetting
your mother
tongue- the words your mother spoke
first, the words that carry
a world, that wove your life threads,
that hold you even
in solitude. This lesson isn’t free, but I know
you don’t like exchange
rates, so I’ll offer you a deal- you pay
what you want, but just so you know-
here’s the suggested
donation: your heart or
resignation.

 

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sickday

I am swallowing
raw garlic like ibuprofen pills and devouring
kale salad like it’s my job.
Last night I sneezed with Airborne still
in my mouth and almost caused
my keyboard to be a casualty of this
war. My mother used to tell me my body
was a castle, with soldiers to protect me
from sniffles and upset tummies. You have
to help them fight, she’d say, by eating all these
green leafy things you normally leave
on your plate before you declare
the only room left in your stomach
is for dessert. Well, check it out mom- I’m following
your advice and enjoying every bite, but still
I have the thought that I must be really sick
if this is more appealing
than a brownie.

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