There are 33 bobby pins
placed strategically in my hair.
You cannot see, but,
my toe, the right one, is planted firmly,
but not too firm as to show my effort,
on a curling blue X, meant to mark,
without even the slightest misstep,
exactly what a woman like me,
standing in the long history of women, drinking
the pen of love, is meant to be —
can you see the ripe horizon
through this open window?
I wonder, feet planted,
lips taught with powder, curled ringlets
itching the rouge of my cheeks
how long I will stand here while they stare
so long at my white eyes.
They focus lovingly on the detail
captured by Johannes’ golden hand,
perhaps until they realize
that I cannot read.
This morning I woke up still-drunk
Booze-drowned and down,
I browned eggs,
white-iron and yolky.
When an egg is fresh,
picked ripe from the viney booth
of the coop,
it will sit like glue, yolk globed
in one place.
When they are old,
found way back in the box, an egg
white might run, slide
loosely on the side.
The fridge smells
of milk-wine and vinegar.
In my repose, achey and gloomy,
I brown my bad eggs
with a glossy impression
of yesterday’s evening;
I gobbled them wretchedly.
Today as I am lifting Italian ice to my lips,
like I do on Saturday afternoons like this,
I think of all things frozen in ice.
I am staring across the table
at your nose,
sifting through election results,
the state of the American economic crises, poverty,
and your eyes, which are
big and speckled and now
staring back at open my mouth,
is ready to receive its frozen corn-syrup dessert.
From behind the paper,
your mouth tells me again
how much in love you are
with my teeth.
I stare down at this snow-pile,
stacked high atop my teaspoon,
and consider signing up for a certificated class,
one that might teach me about cryogenics,
the miracles of science, preservation —
a class where I might learn the origins
of your inexorable kindness.
Lit, I spread my arms and swallow the sky
and when they come to find me composedly
sleeping, they find only dusty remains
of kaleidoscopic stars, gossamer greens
red and blue; Indeed I shone too brightly.
Sizzled and fallen, the crowd marched home.
Exit, alternatively, a toy of light
reeled upstream, snagging on nothing.
Glimpsed once and imagined for a lifetime.
An Ode to Tattoos
I like the way you have doctored your body.
I like the way, when I read the slow curve of your hips,
I can also read the script in your head.
In swirling black letters, it reads: Swing Through Life!
I don’t know what it means, but I’ll swing through you,
if you know what I mean.
On the top of your thigh you’ve drawn a portrait of your dog,
the one who is dead now. He will be there to pet
I like your thighs, even that one.
On your left wrist, it is written: Infinity.
Or, rather, there is a symbol I have come to learn
means infinity. And it is written right there
on the thin of your wrist!
When I look at your figure, naked,
it is preferred, I wonder
what kind of seeds you must bury, deep
under the thick of your skin
to get bouquets like that.
Everything is the same shade of rose-colored,
rose-watered elastic, pink, pink flesh. I reached
deep into the caverns of the butterfly cave and pull
out torn-up ashed pieces of rose petal, pedaled.
It is pink, soft and brown pink, like the color of bare
back after sun, morning glow yellow. Pink, pink rose,
deep-watered, soiled, splashed rose, pinked up, perked
up after grocery green picnic, tied tight like a bow.
Knotted, double knotted, tied tight like a pink, pink bow.
Wavy-weird, dreamy, creamy pink and white, light pink,
the color of her flesh under clothes.
I want kisses like the underbelly of a kitten.
I want kisses like the red-
pink, puffed-pink of her lips; let me touch you there.
I read that the paw pads of a kitten are made
of the same pink stuff as his cold, wet nose. Everything
is the same taste of rose-colored rose water and I
have pressed her flesh to colorlessness.
Who dares open the doors of its mouth,
ringed about with fearsome teeth?
– Job 41:14
I know my words are not tender.
I know that for thousands of years past
my immortal reputation precedes me.
I was taught by the best:
devil, dragon, titan, whale. I spit poison, burning
the sharp black hairs grown of tentacle arms.
Strength resides in my neck, dismay goes before me.
In darkness, my millions of mutant heads are rigged
beneath the ocean bed, waiting
to slither out and steal fire from the sun.
Nothing on earth is equal –
I am a creature without fear.
Today, my mouth is gaped open
by her biggest blue morning glory eyes.
I do not know how it is that where most
see sharp fangs, bleeding gums
she sees God. I do not know
if that is what He is:
her gentle hands washing the bloody wounds of my war,
her merciful descant of forgiveness as a medicine for venom
her steady meditation on my prayer bead teeth,
her careful precision as she translates the dead language
inscribed on the inside of my cheeks
but if that
is what he is,
let there be light.