April 8th, 2018

Here is a promise:
I will not kill myself
I will not curse my health
I will not cut off hope
I will not be a trope
I will not stay in bed
I will not hate my head

I will be that girl in the attic again.


A Poem About Driving Anxiety

You’re good for a while
(I mean, you’re good now
but you did think about stopping the car
to lie on the pavement and scream
so I suppose you could be better)
but anyways—you’re good for a while
and then there comes a time when you trip
it could happened to anybody
maybe they’re good at recovering quick
and maybe they don’t get so tripped up when they trip
maybe you just didn’t expect
and that’s okay
roads have shoulders
and you can rest your head there if you so please
but even if you don’t
you are safe, I promise
the last four times promise
the last two years promise
and you know that
and now you know it again.


Oh God, help me

keep my fingers above my waistline

and away from the filth at my hairline

give me a song so I can tap to the bass line

and not sit counting all pastime

that I’ve scratched neatly into rows on my neckline

tally marks in a straight line

each fifth thrown across like a lifeline

that I miss and watch sink into the blue tide

my God, did I even try?

A Prayer

You mustn’t think her out of line
she’s a starving thing
only ever fed by her own, desperate hand
so when you ushered her in and sat her
at a table no less
with a plate and fork and knife
and taught her how to cut along the flesh
and to chew slow
she could hardly fathom it
with a fire in the hearth too—!
you’re mad to think she would leave the same way she had come
or at all.

“And what do you have for breakfast normally, sir?
I hear around here they serve cheese in small balls;
I have never seen such a thing.”

Well, of course she means to spend the night.
Is that not why you’ve lit the fire
so she could make herself small beside it and thaw her fears?
You do mean to thaw her fears, do you not?
To let her rest against your lap and shiver out the spirits
while you whisper and kiss the hollow beneath her ear
at last no longer possessed
she is taken by sleep?

Surely you must have known!

Dear God…
I pray for both your hearts.

Green Window

Mary in the dark room
with the green window
and the ceiling that sprinkles warm rain
dances like a lonely demon
gasping and sighing
writhing against a phantom frame.

Expelling All Risk

Do not eat fruit until it is washed
until you’ve run it under the designated faucet
and the water comes down
ringing against the sink like silver coins
expelling all risk

Do not laugh in the street
the rupture will make your bra snap
and out you’ll pour—
when it’s done
we will blame you
because there will be no one else

Do not have sex with a black man
our nation would fall
and we’d all sit solemn
lips against prayer beads
waiting for the bed springs to stop groaning
and mark the hour of our extinction

Do not go to London
it will kill you within a fortnight
if not knifed on your first train ride
then pissed by your first night
in hysterics at the priest’s joke
who is now cleansing the inside of your mouth with his tongue
rotating like a microwave
TV dinner
cling film in technicolor

and, I beg you
for everyone’s sake

Do not stray
from the picnic table
your uncles will have to spread out to look for you
and your mother will stagger
calling the name we once gave you
the name you once used to answer.


War has been rationalized
and yet
she dares not eat red cuts of meat
sticky, slow-cooking sauces
potatoes with the peels cut off
soft buns with glazed crusts
hot cheeses
pulling and pulling
lest she remind her body of luxury

she is yet to toss the ration stamp
stashed in her purse
along with the green bills
and the orange ones
and the blues
even the bomb shelter—
the basement, she means
is regularly stocked and the beams
checked for reliability

war has been rationalized
and yet
at night
with her feet not quite on the bed
and her eyes fixed on that point beyond the window
where the hill dips into shadow
and the grass shivers in the breeze
like the fringe of a child
nestled in the warm bosom of sleep
she feels somehow
a dark mass spinning
like propellers
tenderly slicing.