After The End

Tell them to open their mouths
and taste the air. If dust has
overtaken the saltiness, tell
them it’s okay to move closer
to the Pacific and that their mother
was not always confined
to this mattress, sedatives
swirling in her blood. Keep your
arms unburdened so they
have a place to drop their tears,
and if one wants to pick through
the detritus of decline, let them
but make room too for the other
who wants to hold the music
that made her hips sway. Tell
them when she was young,

nothing was easy, but there was always
her smile, a sunset breaking into
every room she entered.


Our guide walked briskly, her feet
acquainted with the rocky
trails, while ours stumbled over
the uneven dirt. She took us
beyond the jumping cholla,
their spines straining to tear
our shirts, and knelt briefly
before the skeletal remains
of a Joshua tree. When the heat
had parched enough empathy
into our pale backs, she led us to
a makeshift altar in the shadows
of boulders—a pair of shoes with missing
soles, a dusty lizard curled up
on top of a black t-shirt, and a backpack,
impossibly small, with a faded cartoon
donkey embroidered on the front pouch.  
There are stories better left here—yet
further on, she plucked a blue hair
comb with broken teeth and cracked
rhinestones from the rocks, and cradled
it in her palm like an offering.



Whooo are youuu? ~ Caterpillar, Alice in Wonderland

Fifth grade. Journalism segment of English class. Answer these five questions and you’ve got a story, the teacher said: who, what, when, where, why.

Who… I am a shadow dancing in the dark. I am a meadow, waiting for a lark.

What… does it matter if a man gains the world, but does not have love?

When… do large frightening things grow small enough to fight?

Where… in the world is it safe? Is it light there? Do the kids get to eat every day? I have more questions than answers. Does this mean I don’t have a story?

Why…I read a lot of books. In the Bible, God doesn’t seem to care much for his children. Makes sense, because my parents don’t either. I’m not sure why we can’t just go live with families that really seem to like children.


That assignment says everything about who I was, and how I became. I raise my children under an umbrella of mental illness. I write poems, knowing that I’m not talented enough to count them as a “career choice.” The only thing bigger than my fear is love for my people. I don’t consider myself particularly brave. I just don’t feel like dying today.