Poetry



Little Deaths

Your bedroom window 
overlooks the graveyard 
a constant reminder 
of where we're all headed 

My grandmother once 
said, “There’s more than one way 
to leave,” but your departure 
was brutal beyond compare 

This what we do: 
wound and abandon 
cold shoulder 
then beckon 

"Don’t you desire to be desired?" 
(Who doesn't?) 

I ignore your words 
and yet 
I search for your face in 
improbable places 
replay all the little deaths 
we shared 
in my head 

At night, the stars hang 
in the sky 
as neglected or forgotten 
as the headstones beneath them

Awarded third place in the 2022 Dakota County Library Poetry Contest




Unforgotten

I reach across the mystery of you with words, write
a phosphorescent spotlight to tempt you towards the page
you were never really mine but our memory is
and I hold onto it, steadfast, love it

harder than the whiskey that sours you from the inside out
harder than the gaggle of pretty girls that giggle at your wit
harder than you devour bloody steaks business deals bank accounts
harder than you hate your mean-fisted father

Maybe I didn’t truly know you but I knew what I wanted to
that was enough, Irish eyes, and in the end
we all want our secrets told
this is mine: I miss you still, and will, ‘til every tomorrow dies

Awarded first place in the 2014 Dakota County Library Poetry Contest


Before the Bruises 

There were breezes
brimming with salt
and rebellious sweat

You in your cowboy hat
Bearded, beastly,
anhedonic

Me in the butterfly freckled blouse
hiding a strap
that kept coming unclasped

Your fingers
fixin’ to be inside
Settled for tongue
in front of everyone

Before the bruises
there were breakfast breads
and roadside phone calls
Coy questions and
bonfire flirtation

We were a mismatch
made for disaster
but went ahead
breakneck
‘cause nobody thought
to ask why not

This is how I choose
to remember you:
Slender and clean,
as an unlicked reed

Wild
beyond the constraints
of your skin.

Awarded an honorable mention in the 2013 Dakota County Library Poetry Contest 


Left Unsaid

Your language has become
So ingrained on my tongue
That sometimes your words
Masquerade as my own

You hold a grudge like flesh in a fist
An unforgiving grip on my throat
Auctioning off the next breath
When all I want to say is

Remember when it started?
Downtown, December
That corner where you kissed me
Is now a crime scene

Awarded third place in the 2012 Dakota County Library Poetry Contest




Untitled for L

I.

His couch swallowed your stuff.

That’s how this all started.

The trinkets:
a sacral chakra rock
a grungy penny
once relied upon for luck are gone

They must have served their purpose
because they led you here
to the bear lair
where the furnace whispers
as your breath harmonizes
with his heart

beat

Just before he fell asleep
he stroked his hairy chest
and teased
“You stole my chi.”

Now sounds
estrogen will not allow you to make
thrum through the room
and his scent is so intoxicating
you’d happily bury your face
in his armpits
(as unromantic though it may seem)

Your body is tender
and sticky and sour
concerns you should have discussed
as responsible adults hover

but…

hmm...

that delicious trickle
like a sexy serum you carry inside
is worth the risk of almost anything

II.

You leave.

Reluctantly?

On the walk of shame you spy
a woman with a holey scarf
hurtling snowballs
at her boyfriend

Fog spreads across the cityscape
like a lace veil waiting to be lifted
and a pair of hoodlum teens
slogging by in saggy jeans
marvel at the balmy quality of the air tonight

It’s March, they say

The world wants to melt along with you
revealing spring, damp and pregnant with promise

You are the only thing that moves
on the road at this hour
the only one running away
from warmth on purpose

Still…

everything is bright and beautiful
and alive on the drive
despite the empty streets

you’re speeding all the same
writing at the red lights
fingers flipping through the stack of sticky notes
and when the lines won’t be contained
you know you’re a goner

III.

You undress at home.

Alone.

And notice you’re holding
his sock hostage
by mistake

A note to self is made:
Do not launder
as eventually you’ll shower
and the traces of him on your skin
will be erased

keep at least
this one piece
of evidence
just in case…

Silence descends and
the place his fist rested on your chest
as he surrendered to incessant sleep twitches
aches in his absence

And it’s then you realize what you missed
in all those agonizing months of waiting
was not sex per se

What you ached for was laughter
the kind of giggling that rattles your ribcage
and leaves you breathless and blushing

you can do everything solo
except incite that level of silliness
in yourself

What you hungered for
was his insistent grip on your neck
fingers in forbidden places
hands so hot they thawed the knots
your (overrated) independence earned

IV.

A man who didn’t want you
once declared,
“You are demanding fire.”

He swore a fearless suitor would arrive
in time and stay
despite the writing cyclone

What if this is him
and instead
you
are the one
afraid of flames?

V.

There’s a song that goes,
“Someday someone’s
gonna ask you
a question
you should say yes to”

You would have liked to author that
because this is not a poem
(you don’t know how to write those anymore)

but a tired attempt at making sense
of that which has no words.

Awarded an honorable mention in the 2010 Dakota County Library Poetry Contest 

Featured in the 2010 Tattooed Poets Project


Heirloom

This love is a shovel
where ground waits to break
Forget cement; sensuality and seeds
are all we need

Eden beneath naked feet
you walk the wonderland with me
Dirt, the purest form of prayer
tattooed on bare knees

Joy drips from gushing lips
when you taste our tart harvest
Welcome to the first bite
of the rest of your life

Published in Issue 24 of 'Save the Crumbs'


Words Caught Crossways in a Woman's Throat

The night we first collided
a twister ripped through town

the rest of the world witnessed

the savage windswept trees
the hail ravaged roads
the apocalyptic cityscape

I didn’t see a thing

I'd been cocooned
in the ecstatic cyclone
of your arms

Published in Issue 21 of 'Save the Crumbs'



Firstborn

Plum rubber hands
Slithered between
Slick thighs

Do you want to view
the tissue?

Tissue
Was not the name
I’d picked
For my firstborn

My baby
Fetal pink
Cleaned of blood
Bobbed in the bell jar
Beside the bed

Sex undecided
Curled and cute
A cocktail shrimp

Skin thin
As shredded Kleenex
Midnight marble eyes
Mitten hands to
Knobby nose

Only burrowed
Eight weeks
In my belly
An abbreviated lifetime

This wounded womb
Will never heal
Scarred and scabbing
Remains unclaimed

Published in 2007 issue of 'Moon Journal'


Muddy Waters

Mist rises in foggy swirls over the water
I start off early
Slowly stroke the lake with my paddle
Ripples chase my worn canoe
But never seem to catch up
Smells of pine and warm cinnamon
Remind me of an uncommon life
On this majestic and ever-changing patch of Earth
When I was young I lay on these shores
Sun warming my back
Fingertips creating gentle tessellations in the moisture
My distorted reflection dissects every movement
Afraid of drowning
I grasp the pole
At the edge of the dock
Submerged in a collage of seaweed and sand
Childhood lost is found again as my boat
Drifts under a willow tree
The vines licking my cheeks
Soft as a mother’s touch
My canoe comes to a sauntering halt
Feel rebel from shoes and I hang my legs over the side
The coolness tickling my toes
Liberating my senses
A hazy sunlight is cast upon the lake
As I lie in the belly of my boat
I watch the clouds slither by
Fabricating fables for each new white shadow
As night falls
Gracefully floating loons dance across the water
Sound out
Tear at my eardrums
I hear chants from a campfire several docks away
I see the blistering flames climb and fall
I smell burnt marshmallows
intoxicated

Awarded first place in the Powderhorn Writer's Festival 1997 Teen Poetry Contest


Why I Don't Write Short Stories

I refuse to indulge fiction
I've earned the right
to write my life
as I survived it

I suffered the experience
now it's my story to tell
on my time

I will claim
that which
belongs to me
in my own voice

Published in the May/June 2008 issue of 'Writer's Journal'