Friday, December 28, 2012

The Great Seas: Qi Sea

before you start,
close your eyes and breathe.
in through your nose
out of your mouth
in until you can no more
out until you can no more
twelve times.

now you are ready.

what moves us?
take your fingers three places
into the tender spaces
of heat and blood
feel the beating.
the pulse of your life.
the blood does not move herself.
she does not move you or me.
all life is moved by Qi.

what feeds us?
lift your hands to your mouth
into that tunnel
of tongue and teeth and breath
taste the vitality.
earth and leaves and rain.
grain and water sustain partially,
only in containers of Qi.

what awakens us?
open your eyes to the light
into that small blade
of sun
across your sheets
know the awakening in your bones.
the consciousness of your life
moves dreams to reality.
all we know is formed by Qi.

What are we but vessels in the seas?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Great Seas: The Sea of Marrow

who do you think you are?
we are nobody.
we survived bloodied downpours
and starved our way through famine.
how much closer does that get us?
we are nowhere.
the real journey is on the horizon
so don't think yourself accomplished.

what do you think matters?
those grey and white matters.
they build you up
compose your soul
remind you of your wholeness
when you're feeling scattered
so don't think yourself lost.

who occupies our throne?
the seat is empty.
we are stoic and perverse
and our memories have shattered
in hurricanes of unconsciousness
we are everywhere.
the truth lies away from vices
so don't think yourself strong.

what can bind our bones and brains?
something soft and strong
beyond our own minefields
into the sea of great grey
into the wind of great breath
we hold tight to memories-
and one another.
so you can find yourself sane again.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Great Seas: The Sea of Water and Grain

open up your mouth and your soul and eat.
because what is food?
fuel? happiness? nourishment?
choose it now and be full.
fill you up?

no, i cannot fill you up.
and now, after digestion, i know.
i could never sow the grain
i could never break the dam.
yes, that's a damn shame.

the water.
she is still with out a force.
and so i am.
will you swim?
float? drown?
choose your way.
no, i can never be your boat.
it used to be a shame.
now it's just our ride
on the tide
and here comes high tide.
and then the low.

go to the big barn,
there is grain there.
go to the river,
there is fresh water there.

i'll be there before you,
wet or dry,
empty or full.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Great Seas: The Sea of Blood

from the deepest caves it flows
within and up and down and over: fills us
to stay alive and pumping and flushed
the mother of life: carries us
our babies, our dreams, our disease
we, just vessels in the storm
floating: she moves us
riding waves of red in the dark
ebbing and flowing
thriving or dying, we ride
until it flows out
onto sheets and floors
deathbeds and streets
where it cannot be contained
by her warmth or spirit
from the harsh winds
to weary lungs and noses
from the hands of death
to the cool touch of
small fingers
that have lost their grasp.
to the dry and empty wombs
that have lost their heart
collapse: until the next circulation

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

i am a road

and you've happened to wander by.
lost enough to come along this way-
a wild and barely beaten path
a winding and graveled pass so far away
from where you've been
in such a long while
and the barricades still sit
before me
but somewhere along me
hidden among the perils
there is a safe place
and maybe that's why you've wandered by.

and you've brought your dynamite.
enough to level off these bumps
and some concrete to finish me off
for a smoother, safer journey
so much more civilized than i've been
before and after you
but somewhere beyond me
there is a home
and maybe that's why you've wandered by.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

monkey bay

traveler by the bay,
you're so far away.
in the bush
in the heat
in the future
remember today.
and when you go
remember the goats
the orphans
and the gods
they love you.
remember that they do.
hold that ring of bone
hold onto your home
both are in your hands.
remember where you came from.
the crocodiles
the camels
the monkeys
they fool you
but remember
their hiding places.
but remember
the other places,
and your heart there
beside the bay
softly hold your stay.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


smoking affairs drinking gambling
labels for vices
just once.
just because.
a drag a kiss a shot a dollar
risks in their own right.
wrong or right
drugs of choice.
when the void is too deep
you can always run
but you'll always run alone.

Monday, December 3, 2012


the sun was so bright
and so was i
the air was so light
and so was i
and i didn't know the road ahead
and i didn't know you would be there
at the beginning and the end of it
i was fifteen and i loved you
i was reckless and i lost you
i was twenty seven and i knew you
i was scared and i pushed you
but the sun returns and asks
if i would do it again
yes and again
and again just for that first touch
and for the last one
to give you the meaning of my name
that is bright
that is shining
that is clear
but not obvious.
would you go back
to the ocean
with me?
winding to redwoods and caves
finding green stones
and closing our jaded eyes
to stop looking
for just a breath
or two
i'll go anywhere
with you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


once in a while the quiet comes in like a grandmother. soft and wise. what is that feeling of solitude? exactly? nearly a happiness. something more profound. something reminiscent of a steepled country church. where silence meets something like a prayer, but it's the smell of the wooden floors and the musty bible pages that evoke those tears not the stories inside. remember though, it's just like that dusty church. but where that quiet nestles in is somewhere else. across different days, during the same times of the seasons. tucked into a cup of coffee or inside an undulating candle flame. above the twinkling skyline. riding salty waves somewhere i've never been. but i know it. and just in that last breath, the quiet slips away again. hunched and fragile and tired. what's left? nearly a loneliness. someplace i vowed i'd never be found. and the things that race inside that space where that quiet was so briefly tucked away; they are deafening. but in that expanse of noise is hint of what who i knew i was and who i might become. and it could only be heard in comparison to that elderly quietness. in that gap i can hear everything and nothing together, and i believe in it. and i believe that i can exist in that harmony of noise and calm. and maybe i won't be there alone. call it naivety. i call it beauty. what is faith?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

home. work.

the hissing and spitting radiators remind me that i won't be sleeping much tonight. the sounds of unsettling heat are just that and there's just a little snow left on the sidewalks outside. tonight some are not hissing and spitting. the cats, anyway. they are curled up inside their own rattling radiators because they are settled. they aren't settling. just settled. and i'm breathing out of my mouth to try to do the same sort of settling. i've put my books down for a while. i've been in them so much i feel like i must smell like a library by now. but they are such good company that i hesitate setting them aside before i take a hot and spitting shower. in the shower i wonder if i could ever really be loved. i decide that maybe if i could breathe more easily i could be. i don't want to eat dinner because i feel fat after seeing myself in the shower and i'm still not sure if i'm lovable. some could. the cats, anyway. they remind me by playing with the curls in my hair. cozying up to me to get their dinner, assuredly. i feel alright about it though because it's not that i mind being manipulated in return for some affection. which i need more than dinner at any given time. don't worry- i'm not starving. just hungry. so i put the huge stack of books into my small lap and swim back into the pages of ancient wisdom hoping for that kind of simplicity. the kind of simplicity that hugs you before you fall asleep and whispers secrets into your ear that mean more than love, commitment, sex, or freedom. Secrets of decocting teas and breathing. that's all i have to do. it's time for bed and the radiators are finally quiet.

Monday, November 19, 2012

post heaven

this is not the afterlife.
but we could have been anything
before now.
one of these days, though
we'll push through to another
another next time
after heaven settles in
into our skin
and we'll sink into another
second skin
for living and dying
for nourishing what we have
exhaling what we can't use.
forming new lives
in our bones and blood-
breaking and swimming

we could become anything
when a day isn't a day,
only breaths in a timeless sea
another eternity.
after we create something new
another life
to give everything and nothing
nourishing only how we can
screaming and breathing
holding on forever
fingers and toes.
we can conceive of anything
before heaven.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

where are you?

once i had a dream about you.
(a hundred times, actually).
dishonesty is a bad way to start
(i suppose).
but it's landed
you there
me here
and now it's all in between
dreams and white lies
sleep and omission
(a hundred miles apart, actually).
i'm thinking about the ocean
the cliffs and the birds
but only in the wake of my tears
(i suppose).
the perfect place to set up
for heartbreak
(just one of a hundred, actually).
in the sound of wave breaks
where was i?
i'm here now
(i suppose).
and where are you?
maybe you dreamed about me once.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


into the earth. deep.
through soil and moss and roots
where warmth is relative
so if i don't move
one inch
the heat will stay
inside my fur
a while
the blizzard passes
and the wind is calm
and my own tail
is all i need to sleep
soundly enough
but winter edges. closer.
and spring is just a dream
for now
while i am tucked away
under the hill
under the cobalt sky
beside myself

Friday, November 9, 2012

riding on a train

thudding and pumping and screaming and smoking
under my feet rumbling,
i could hear it coming.
a speeding wreck,
somehow right on track
to my doorstep.
a few sparks and then
boarding time.
had i waited all those years?

i'm a passenger, i'm asleep
it's thudding along,
it's time to eat
and i just have tea
because the seat beside me is empty.
the beat of steel on steel tracks
will be my company
for another year
but when the phone rings
it's a stranger from the coast
and we don't speak.

tunnels gape open into mountains,
and eat us up
because you're here now
your face aglow in the machines
your shoes untied and hurried.
we slumber in sleep cars
sometimes together,
when you're not counting
the passing lampposts
when your mind quieter than the night.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

remember love letters? talking to the curtain.

i've never gone to confession.
but, we could talk just as openly
about what i have done, or thought
or didn't do.
the water is hot and you're hanging there
and even though i'm naked
and vulnerable you're not looking.
you don't have eyes,
just rings and plastic and that's best.

tonight is about blankets,
the pile of them beside me.
as warm as they seem
somehow my toes are still cold
and rolling around in my own clothes doesn't even help
this time of year.
i know you're not listening.
if i wanted to feel heard
i'd go to the mirror
she's wide-eyed and sympathetic
and knows that i'm a serial sobber
and cries with me
even when i'm at my ugliest.

so i could stare blankly into the dark
or i could stare at the blankets
or keep talking to you.
so what?
lately i'm writing out checks
instead of love letters.
i can write checks instead of poetry-
for a while.
and try to not check out
i'll try to write prose instead.
like i used to.
i think there are some love letters
tucked into the back pages of a novel.
we'll dig them out once the smoke clears.

thank you for the talk.
sorry to leave you hanging.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

wishes (and other selfish, senseless things)

i wish that you weren't reading this. it's going to be bloody and sappy (and other disgusting, sticky things). but i know that you (and other things) are going to read it and obviously at least one of my fingers doesn't care.

i wish that i was that little bitty, blissfully stupid eight year old me riding my pink bike with bloodied knees and unruly snarled hair and koolaide stained smile speeding down the torn up alleyways of that dumpy little college town not looking both ways, not giving a shit if my legs were torn open or if a boy saw my disgusting hair, or that i was one pothole jolt away from puking my guts out from the red dye #40 which riddled that koolaide i had just recklessly downed heading home to my mother who would inevitably be smiling for me and cooking macaroni when i blew through the back door, so masterfully hiding her tears because there wasn't money for more than kraft and dad was working late giving his secretary an early holiday bonus in some sleazy trailer park two towns over so he didn't have to face my salty koolaide face (or other sad things).

i wish that four inches taller.

i wish that when it was midnight on a tuesday night and i said that i was going out to the bar by myself to drink that he would wish that i didn't want to go not because he wants to tell me not to but because he wishes that i would rather give him a kiss and crawl in our warm bed and slide his clothes off and not stop kissing him and not be thinking about drinking stale beers (and other things) next to strangers- but he knows that i'm bullshitting and that when i leave for the bar i'm actually just going to my car to turn on the heat and listen to NPR for ten minutes to see if he'll text me to give me a reason to come join him at home in our bed and of course he doesn't because he doesn't really care what the hell i do and even if he did he knows that i'd rather feel desired than drunk and anyway he's the one who will stumble in at 2am puking and reeking of smoke, not me, and so, actually, i really wish that he would rather crawl into bed with me than crawl to the bar but i'm not good at being aloof so i just cry about it and wish that i was all that he needed because when he's holding me, it's all that i need- so i wish that i didn't. cry or care.

i wish i didn't drive my grandma's old one- head-lighted mercury.

i wish that i could say this out loud.

Friday, October 26, 2012

sleep you off

i was sleeping on the shadowed side of the mountain
where it was dark, cold, and turbid
where the slivers i called eyes were also
heavy, wet, and dark blue
swelling in the deep lake i called home.
i was alone
and i was sleeping.
then you nudged me.
in the beginning
just a ripple
unsettling the surface of my dreams
and the faintest of light
throbbed in my eyes
like a hangover or a sorrow
i was saturated
you were lucid
tipping the balance in turn.
the motion jolted me awake
and i was dazed and hot and angry
burning away.
and then i wanted to sleep
in the warmth
and the bright side of the mountain
wasn't far away.
boots and tents and coins
and another mile
exhaust me
and i lay down where i am
though i don't know where i am
my eyes seal up
and tomorrow i could rest
in the warmth of your hand
if you touch it to my shadowed heart.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

in case you were looking for a light at the end of the night

fog rolls in on this city, or town as some would say.
two cities, twins, are one in the thickness
and now differences are small:
the heat on the pavement, the wetness in the air.
i can't say it will be warm in the onsetting days
but tonight the fog sleeps in the nooks of chill
waking and wrestling with the heated rain
and i remember nights like these when i was lost.
though i am still lost
i trip along sidewalks that are more promising
while strangers pass by and promise nothing.
i can't say i prefer fog to smog,
only that i sleep less soundly on concrete.
you can be my street lamp
i can be your candle.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

frolic for fall

rabbits do what foxes do, but only when they're willing. on forest trails or concrete alleys. they dig and and save and tease and nuzzle until they're sure they're not dinner.

foxes do what rabbits do, in turn with seasons, colors, magics and evenings. they chase and sleep and elude and wink until their paws are kissing.

Monday, October 15, 2012

to my dearest bastard, sleep

at 3am you're flushed like an adulterer's pink skin in the late hours of affairs and when you roll over i'm feeling cheated and exhausted and you've got that sweaty smirk again. just before you creep away you suck away the last warmth from the sheets and i am cold and nearly naked. i don't know why you had to go. i know that i've been needy and dependent and weepy. but you're never here and when you are i'm afraid that you're going to light a match in the night and be gone at the flicker of my eyelids. do you remember the night that you never came home? i've never felt so lost. i threw up twice and drank some wine and took some pills and you still never showed. i would have changed the locks but we both know i'm too weak without you and all you have to do is lay in bed with me once and i'll forget everything else. so you've got the upper hand. you always fucking have. i'm just desperate enough now to admit it. when i was younger you used to be all over me. i couldn't keep you off. we'd lay twisted in the sheets until noon. i'm still that girl but i suppose i perfected playing hard to get and you liked it so well that now that's all you want. it's time to relax and stop playing games. so i've got plans for you tonight. i've cried enough over you and i'm done trying to understand or sway you. stay or leave, either way i'll be wide awake.

slippery pulse

she asks what happens to me
when everything is falling apart
i can feel my blood pulsing under her fingers

just a surface burn
on my skin
shaped like a cigarette

a sore muscle
in my shoulder
from heavy a weight

a headache
between my sutures
crushed by paperbacks

a heart attack
in gaping mouths
when i can't sleep

i answer her with tears
and then i say "tears"
because i know what it means to fall apart
and i wonder how deep my injuries go

she feels slippery spots and my pulse disappears

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I remember taking the backroads. We took them because after a while, they were the only way. The highway turned into two lanes, which wound around a field, getting dustier and more littered with roadkill all the time until it was just a dirt road with no sign. And I'd fly over that hill in my uncle's silver two door-something. At the end of the road was a tree-tunneled driveway and if you followed that to it's very end there was a red house with flower boxes on the windowsills and my grandmother's silhouette. There were times when I practically lived there and times when I hadn't been there in so long that I had forgotten that grandparents age, and so driveways need to be paved to be more safe and less wild. I always wish that I was there when I am feeling afraid and directionless and wishing that I was less wild. To sit in the hot kitchen and watch the hummingbirds while she hums and bakes bread.
There is a bakery in a shack beside the ocean. With creamy, rich coffee and sinful French tartes. The back room of the kitchen smells of yeast and weed and the man who makes the pastries could, all physics aside, be Jack Nicholson from The Shining but with dreadlocks and bare feet. If I wanted a cup of his coffee I had to budget in roughly 20-50 minutes of conversation with him when he would ask me some version of the same three questions and about 20 random, new questions during each visit. It always involved me turning down a drag of his joint and him telling me the best beach to go for a Pacific sunset (which was different every time). I decided that every beach was the best for a Pacific sunset, and I concluded that because I, being from Wisconsin, was a newby when it came to the beach and I was thrilled that it was sand and not snow, and that I didn't need any sort of drug to enhance that thrill for me. However, the little,fat palm trees that looked like pineapples, the creamy coffee, and Big Sur were not able to keep me tucked away in the lazy town on Monterrey Bay.
But now I've come to the city. Where there are only wide, busy asphalt roads that lead everywhere and bleed together in dizzying tangles. I try to leave my car hugging the curb of my street and instead ride my bike. My mom's Huffy from the 90's that we tore apart and practically glued together with chewing gum. I painted it pink because something about that makes me feel young and carefree and safe and that's exactly how I feel when I'm weaving around the city sidewalks around people who are giving my nasty looks for not using the bike lane. But, I'm too afraid of the bike lane, and it makes me feel too much like I'm driving a car. I don't like using my bike to get places. I only like it for aimless rides around the old, victorian neighborhoods where there are still crumbly brick and cobblestone streets and hitching posts in people's front yards. And in all of the serenity of a Thomas Kinkade print, the sun starts to set, the old stone houses with their crawling ivy and not-too-groomed hedges glow in the sun and the streetlights begin to flicker on, and I turn and take the few blocks home.
I am always comforted to hear the late summer buzz of the cicadas in the oak trees in the city or the suburbs because it reminds me that the country and the city are homes to the same creatures, just living in different homes with different chores. Even my grandmother in her floured aprons and rows of carrots is only a half day's drive from the heart of Manhattan where other old women bake the same bread, but wear fancier aprons. Even my small urban apartment is only a few hour's trip into the heart of the North Woods and all of the wilderness that it houses along the shores of the Big Lake where I take a wooden canoe along the curvy rivers rather than my mismatched bike along tattered cobblestone.
At home my cat flops on the windowsill, watching the neighbor's shadow on the curtain bounce here and there in the orange light of the street lamp. He isn't amused by the whine of the ambulances or the clattering of the recycling bins. He twitches his whiskers, only mildly entertained by the squirrels than run along the power lines- which happened to also be the highlight of his afternoon while he lived in the woods. Windowsills are all the same and I am always the same.
Velcro shoes and training wheels or high heels and a taxi ride. Growing up or aging. I'll leave it all at the intersection of McFadden Road and Ocean for a nap on 7th Avenue West.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

land of the bear

i stayed up too late.
that scent that was on your face
shaving cream and kisses
was on a pillow, too.
that made me miss you.
like i used to.
i felt your chest.
that way you heave sleepy sighs
up and down over and under
dreams and rest.
i'll keep the door open
like you want me to.
i spun my brain out.
that feeling that was on my mind
exhausted or outshined
was on yours, too.
but you fell asleep.
like i should have.

security blanket

here comes the quiet again.
the one that drifts in on the cold.
before nighttime dreams run babies ragged
in their cribs, with no one there to hold.
when heavy breaths lapse over sleeptalk.
now they can hear everything, and nothing.

here comes the quiet again.
the one that stuffs mouths with chalk.
after hollow lessons have been learned
in the wake of mindless, tired talk.
when dust cements atop memories
from times that meant everything, and nothing.

here comes the quiet again.
the one that you no longer feel.
while the safety bed you lean on creaks
on a discontented frame of steel.
how you cowered in folds of silence,
holding onto everything and nothing.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Into the Wild Blue Yonder

I wound around One like ribbon
Fraying in the cold along the coast
I coasted on
from one state to another (later on).
the difference between sober and toasted?
“You don’t have to take what you’re given”
I said to the ocean.

“The Midwest suits you better”
I said into the mirror
after a stoic week on the beach
I was thinking clearer
The choice: a tee shirt or a sweater?
Or between extra calories and a gram?
(a mound of snow or a castle of sand).

Missing those golden animals,
I drove back to simple cats and retriever
Wasting gasoline, feeling wasted
“It’s just weather”
I said into the receiver.
The difference between here and there?
It’s just me.
"I'm Weathered, not broken."
I said to the ocean.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I'm a second in her memory

I've always been her favorite. I know because she's been telling me for as long as I can remember. She slouches in her wing chair. Alive, I think. Most times I can see her chest rising and falling slightly. Once I put my fingers by her nose to see if I felt the breath coming out. For one millionth of a second I wondered if she would be better off if I just pinched her nose for a few seconds. she wouldn't have to be so scared anymore. She could see her husband again. Most days I'm sure she thinks we're trying to steal from her. Her car, her imaginary house, her mutual funds. I don't think she remembers that she's rich anymore, actually. She knows that she has drawers of diamonds. She used to smuggle them to me in her napkin under the dinner table. She knows that when she wants to buy crystal covered rose petals and fiberoptic Christmas sleighs, she can. If she can calculate the right amount of cash, that is. I remember the last time I saw her try to use a credit card. It was three years ago. She took me out to one of her favorite restaurants- the type of place where you look like a mess if you're not in heels. She handed the waitress her credit card and told her to keep the change. When her card was returned with her slip, I saw her concentrating. She laughed and went to use the ladies' room. When I glanced at the slip, I saw that she had added the date to the total and signed her name on the tip line. I wanted to cry. On the ride home, I did. Last Tuesday she banged on my bedroom door. She screamed at me and asked me why I had stolen her car.I wanted to cry. Today, I did. I guided her to her chair and gave her a cookie. Pecan shortbread. It's always been her favorite.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I like shoes. I like you.

rest your arm on mine.
our colors mismatch in pieces
ink sleeves and goosebumps
you wear your heart there-
in pieces.
i wear my peace there-
in feathers.
cold and exposed are okay,
as long as your heart isn't in pieces.

tap your foot to mine
our shoes are mismatched soles
canvas and leather
you wear your toes
in holes there
i wear my heels
in hopes of heights
holes and heights are okay,
as long as your soul doesn't have holes.

rest your lips on mine.
our words match in meaning
laughing and singing
you wear your smile
i wear my smile
more often
buying me those amish shoes is okay,
as long as you remember i love you.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

where is the fir tree?

on a faded page in his pastel clothes
that naughty rabbit ran home.
he dodged the farmer
he lost his tail
but he never turned around-
not until he reached that tree.
blackberries and beds and mother.

on a faded path in my pastel dreams
i'm searching for a home.
i was trapped by the gardener
i cut my off hair
and i always turn around-
i never reach that tree.
olives and sand and peter.

i will run until i find the fir tree.

snow rider

i ride the snow to the edge of the lake
the wind biting my cheeks, i grit my teeth
it's too old here
it's too cold here
i'm starting to fold here
along the edge of the ice
and i'm stuck in my car
and i've lost control of the wheel
and i've lost my ability to feel
i ride the chills until i shake

i was a blur, rushing with the white
in a dream i climbed out, once
snowbanked in my grandma's car
i had her diamonds there
i had my mittens there
i heard a thudding there
it was my savior up there
and i grabbed his hand and climbed
and the blizzard raged
and the highway lines were gone
i made my way into the night

i flew here from the north
to the bottom of this well
climbing up and digging out
it's the hope i have to ride